The Aborigines

Essay by sweetstar_16High School, 10th gradeA, February 2008

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Outline the struggle of Aboriginal people for land rights and native title. Has this struggle affected Aboriginal people's rights and freedoms? How and why?The Aborigines struggle for land rights and native title began when Captain Cook first set ashore the east coast of Australia in 1770. He knew that Aboriginal people were living on the land, but he according to him, the land belonged to no one according to terra nullius. There was no marked land ownership and so he simply took possession over the land without consent of the Aboriginal people. However this should not have been the case, when the British had taken over land in any part of the world, there had always been treaties and negotiations involved, however no such things happened in Australia.

Although many Aboriginals from the early 1800’s lived on reserves, they were never given the right to reserve lands. It was up to the government to sell and lease the land.

Even after the policy of assimilation, when all reserves were closed down, submissions from Aboriginal people for ownership and land compensation were rejected.

Although Aboriginals eventually gained land rights and their native title, it was a long struggle. The first steps of the struggle began with the many protests during the post-war period. Such protests such as the Bark Petition, which involved government leasing of land reserve to a mining company without the consent of the Yirrkala people, achieved recognition of aboriginal people land ownership rights. The Wave Hill Walk Off, sparked media attention and a lot of public support, when the protest over wages became land claim instead. Other protests, such as the establishment of the Tent Embassy became not just a land rights issue, but also an issue of civil liberty involving the rights to peaceful protest in a...