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Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

What does it mean to be an Australian citizen? Is everyone’s experience of democracy the same? Find out about how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have experienced democracy and citizenship in Australia.

Democracy and citizenship 04:52


Choose a key activist for Indigenous rights from the 20th century (e.g. Vincent Lingiari, Faith Bandler, Neville Bonner) and present their life story in a creative way.

Australian Curriculum links

Year 6 History

Experiences of Australian democracy and citizenship, including the status and rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, migrants, women and children (ACHASSK135)

Year 5 Civics and Citizenship

How people with shared beliefs and values work together to achieve a civic goal (ACHASSK118)

Year 6 Civics and Citizenship

The shared values of Australian citizenship and the formal rights and responsibilities of Australian citizens (ACHASSK147)

Related resources

1967 Referendum 06:10

The 1967 Referendum as told by historian David Hunt

The Stolen Generations 18:01

The history of forced removal of Indigenous children from their families

In our collection

Kinchela gate, 1950sThis is one of the original gates from Kinchela Aboriginal Boys Training Home near Kempsey in northern New South Wales. This gate, along with its pair, formed the front gates of the home and was replaced and discarded in the 1950s. At the time, Kinchela was promoted as a place of success in assimilating its residents into the E...
On display
Australian Aborigines League banner made by Bill OnusA rectangular calico banner featuring an inscription in blue and red paint which reads 'THE AUSTRALIAN / ABORIGINES LEAGUE / THE ABORIGINE SPEAKS_ / THE VOICE of THE ABORIGINE MUST BE HEARD'.
On display
Australian Citizenship Quilt and two pieces of black fabricIn 2005 the Australian Citizenship quilt was pieced together by the Canberra Quilters from squares contributed by Australian citizens. An initiative of the Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs in association with Better Homes and Gardens magazine, Australians were invited to craft squares on the the...
Our vote, our futureA circular plastic coated metal badge. The badge features a group of people shown as black head and shoulders siluettes, set against a yellow and orange sunset background. Text across the badge reads 'OUR VOTE' and 'OUR FUTURE'.
On display
1967 Referendums booklet, produced by the Commonwealth of AustraliaA booklet titled 'REFERENDUMS / to be held on Saturday, 27th May, 1967 / on the Proposed Laws for the alteration of the / Constitution entitled - / CONSTITUTION ALTERATION (PARLIAMENT) 1967 / and CONSTITUTION ALTERATION (ABORIGINALS) 1967 / The Arguments FOR and AGAINST...'.
'Dark palm tree', painted by Eddie Mabo, c1980A watercolour painting featuring a silhouette of palm trees against a sunset. The painting has a black cardboard mat around it, and is framed in a wooden frame. The frame has gold coloured decoration around the inner edge. Some of this gold and the wood beneath it has been damaged.
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