Indigenous Rights in Australia / Yothu Yindi

Essay by Luke Foster

“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow.” Unknown indigenous author

Perhaps it’s a little strange for a white Australian to talk about Aboriginal issues but I have some ideas on the subject. While studying Aboriginal culture at school we only studied about the ancient hunting and gathering lifestyle of Aborigines and about their dreamtime stories. We didn’t study anything about the civil rights movement of Aborigines to get the opportunity to vote and other basic human rights.

“For much of Australia’s political history, tens of thousands of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people couldn’t vote in state or federal elections. In 1962 the Australian Parliament passed a landmark Act to give all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people the option to enrol and vote in federal elections. But it was not until 1984 that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were finally treated like other voters and required to enrol and vote in elections. “Digital Classroom

The civil rights movement in Australia mirrored what was happening with African Americans in the United States under the guidance of Martin Luther King.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” Martin Luther King

Other memorable issues of importance for Aboriginals in Australia include Mabo where packets of ancestorial lands were repatriated to Aborigines and Sorry Day and Kevin Rudd’s apology to Aborigines for all the injustices against them. Kevin was the freshly elected labor Prime Minister

“We’ve been farming on that place before your mob set foot on the land. We handed it down from father to son. How can we not own it?” Unknown quote in relation to Mabo.

I feel a lot has been achieved in relation to Aborigines human rights and power to govern themselves but a lot more can be done.

Eddie Mabo