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Key dates indigenous history

1770

April 29 Captain James Cook in the Endeavour enters Botany Bay.

1788

18 January Captain Arthur Phillip enters Botany Bay.

1790

Pemulwuy spears Governor Phillip’s gamekeeper and Phillip orders the first punitive expedition. Pemulwuy leads a guerrilla campaign.

1813

Colonists, with the help of Aboriginal people, cross the Blue Mountains.

1830

Start of the Black Wars in Tasmania.

1835

John Batman attempts to make a ‘treaty’ with Aboriginal people for Port Phillip Bay. It is later declared to be invalid as only the government can make treaties with Aboriginal people.

1838

On 10 June, 28 Aboriginal people are killed in the Myall Creek Massacre.

1842

Governor Bourke of NSW orders the establishment of the Native Police, in the Port Phillip district.

1883

The Aboriginal Protection Board is established in NSW.

1886

Western Australian Aborigines Protection Act establishes a Protection Board; the Victorian Aborigines Protection Act changes the definition of ‘Aboriginal person’ to exclude ‘half castes’ and nearly half the residents of reserves have to leave their homes.

1890

Jandamarra declares war on European invaders in the West Kimberley and prevents settlement for six years.

1897

The Queensland Aboriginal’s Protection and Restriction of Sale of Opium Act establishes reserves and provides for the appointment of protectors.

1901

Australian becomes a federation of six self-governing colonies.

1909

NSW introduces the Aborigines Act, making it illegal for ‘half-castes’ to live on reserves. In 1915 and 1918 amendments to the Act give the NSW Aborigines Protection Board greater powers to remove children for training as domestic servants.

1928

Thirty-two Aboriginal people are killed in the Conniston Massacre in the Northern Territory.

1938

On 26 January, the Aboriginal Progressive Association declares a Day of Mourning. A protest occurs outside Australia Hall in Sydney.

1945

Aboriginal pastoral workers in the Port Hedland, Western Australia, strike for better pay. The following year, Aboriginal pastoral workers in the Pilbara, Western Australia, also strike.

1953

Atomic tests are conducted on Maralinga lands, South Australia.

1962

The Commonwealth Electoral Act is amended to give the vote to all Aboriginal people.

1963

The Yirrkala bark petition against mining on the Gove Peninsula is drawn up by the senior men of the affected clans.

1966

Aboriginal workers at Wave Hill walk-off in protest against intolerable conditions and poor wages.

1967

The Commonwealth Referendum passes.

1968

The Commonwealth Office of Aboriginal Affairs is established.

1969

Aborigines Welfare Board in NSW is abolished.

1972

The ‘Aboriginal Embassy’ is pitched outside Parliament House in Canberra, calling for land rights; the community controlled Aboriginal Medical Service is set up in Redfern.

1975

Racial Discrimination Act (Cth) comes into force.

1976

Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act (Cth) is passed.

1985

Uluru is handed back to the traditional owners.

1988

The Barunga Statement is presented to the federal government; large numbers of Aboriginal people protest in Sydney on the bicentenary of the establishment of the first colony.

1989

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) is established.

1991

The Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody hands down its Report and Recommendations.

1992

Prime Minister Keating delivers his Redfern Park Speech at the launch of the International Year of Indigenous People. (See on YouTube or read transcript.)

1994

On 1 January, the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth) becomes law.

1997

The 700-page report of the ‘Bringing them Home’ report on Indigenous children removed from their families is tabled in Federal Parliament.

1998

The Native Title Amendment Act is passed.

2000

28 May, more than 300 000 people walk across the Sydney Harbour Bridge in support of reconciliation.

2005

ATSIC is abolished.

2007

The Northern Territory Emergency Response is rolled out with bipartisan support.

2008

On 13 February, at Parliament House, Canberra, Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd apologises to the Stolen Generations. (Transcript of speech)