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Indigenous rights and freedoms

Investigating the changes, 1957–75

Front cover unit of work: Indigenous rights and freedoms

Curriculum areas: Australian history, Indigenous culture & history, English, media

Years: 8–12

Key curriculum links: Time, Continuity and Change; Culture; Natural and Social Systems; Investigation, Communication and Participation, Thinking Processes and Communication

In 2008 it was the 70th anniversary of the 1938 Day of Mourning and Protest. Held on 26 January, this Aboriginal-only protest meeting was a response to the 150th anniversary celebrations of the arrival of British settlers in Australia, and the inferior citizenship status of Indigenous people.

This theme of the struggle for full Indigenous citizenship rights is a significant and continuing part of Australia's history.

The National Museum of Australia has a wealth of primary and secondary source material available to students of this theme on its website Collaborating for Indigenous Rights.

In this unit we provide a timeline of developments from the 1950s to the 1970s, with suggestions for ways that students can explore aspects of the theme further through the rich resources of the National Museum of Australia website.

The student activities included in this unit cover the following topics:

  • key concepts of land rights and civil rights
  • Indigenous rights timeline, 1930–79
  • Warburton Ranges controversy, 1957
  • Albert Namatjira and citizenship, 1958–59
  • Social service benefits, 1954–64
  • Mapoon, 1962–64
  • Yirrkala, 1963–71
  • Equal wages, 1963–66
  • Freedom ride, 1965
  • Wave Hill walk off, 1966–70
  • Lake Tyers, 1962–70
  • Aboriginal Embassy, 1972