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  • Title: Investigating the changing rights and freedoms of Indigenous Australians, 1957–1975
  • Topic: History, Civics and Citizenship, Society and Environment, Indigenous Studies, English, Media Studies
  • Type: Curriculum materials
  • Years: 8–12
  • Key curriculum links: Time, Continuity and Change; Culture; Natural and Social Systems; Investigation, Communication and Participation, Thinking Processes and Communication

Main purpose and content

2008 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.

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 wide range of primary source materials including petitions, Hansard speeches, Cabinet documents, newspaper articles, posters and museum exhibition displays that are available on Collaborating for Indigenous Rights.

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, 1966–75
  • Lake Tyers, 1962–70
  • Aboriginal Embassy, 1972.

Unit downloads

Part 1: Understanding the key concepts of land rights and civil rights

Part 2: Activities on Warburton Ranges controversy, Albert Namatjira and Social Service benefits

Part 3: Activities on Mapoon, Yirrkala, Equal wages, the Freedom Ride and the Wave Hill walk-off

Part 4: Activities on Lake Tyers and the Aboriginal Tent Embassy

Full studies unit: Black and white version of the full studies unit

Full studies unit: Colour version of the full studies unit
Freedom Ride

Teachers resources

Go to 1967 Referendum unit of work

Teachers resources

Contact us for help

If you are unable to download the above resources, please contact the Education section at

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