A TIMELINE FOR RECONCILIATION
Australia is home to the oldest continuing cultures in the world, with over 60,000 years of human history. The arrival of the First Fleet in 1788 had a devastating impact on these cultures, which continues to this day. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples have never ceded their sovereignty.
The following timeline provides a snapshot of key events in Australia's reconciliation history. 1961 to 1980 1962 - The Commonwealth Electoral Act is amended to give the vote to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples at Federal elections. 1963 - Yolngu leaders present the Yirrkala bark petitions to the Australian Parliament, protesting against the seizure of more than 300 square kilometres of Aboriginal land in Arnhem Land for mining. 1965 - University of Sydney students, including Charlie Perkins, launch the Freedom Rides, travelling around New South Wales by bus to draw attention to discrimination against Aboriginal people. 1967 - On 27 May, 92% of Australians vote 'yes' in a referendum to give the Commonwealth the power to make laws for Aboriginal peoples and to include Aboriginal people in the Census. 1971 - Neville Thomas Bonner becomes the first Aboriginal parliamentarian following his election as Senator for Queensland. 1972 - On 26 January, Tent Embassy established outside Parliament House in Canberra. It continues today. In December, the Commonwealth establishes the Department of Aboriginal Affairs. 1975 - Federal Parliament passes Racial Discrimination Act 1975, to help ensure that Australians of all backgrounds are treated equally and receive the same opportunities. 1976 - Federal Parliament passes Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976, becoming the first legal recognition of an Aboriginal system of land ownership. Patricia (Pat) O'Shane becomes Australia's first Aboriginal barrister. 1979 - Aboriginal Treaty Committee is formed and the National Aboriginal Conference calls for a treaty. 1981 to 2000 1985 - Uluru is handed back to its Traditional Owners. 1988 - The Barunga Statement, calling for self-management and land rights for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, is presented to Prime Minister Bob Hawke, who indicates his support for a treaty. 1990 - The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) is established. This evidenced a significant shift in power from government to an elected body. 1991 - The Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody presents its final report into the deaths of 99 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australian jails. The Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation is established. 1992 - The High Court recognises native title in the landmark Mabo v Queensland (No. 2) (1992), busting the myth of terra nullius. Prime Minister Paul Keating delivers the 'Redfern Speech', recognising the history of dispossession, violence and forced removal of Aboriginal children. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner position is created, with Professor Mick Dodson AM appointed to the position. 1993 - Federal Parliament passes the Native Title Act. The United Nations declares 1993 the International Year of the World's Indigenous People. The first National Week of Prayer for Reconciliation is supported by Australia's major faith communities. 1996 - Following on from the National Week of Prayer for Reconciliation, the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation launches Australia's first National Reconciliation Week, from 27 May (1967 Referendum) to 3 June (Mabo Day). The Wik Peoples v Queensland (1996) 187 CLR 1 decision is handed down. 1997 - The Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission releases the Bringing Them Home Report into child removal policies. Apology is one of the 54 Recommendations of the Report, including Reparations. The Australian Reconciliation Convention takes place in Melbourne, with more than 1,800 participants. Grassroots community action gathers momentum in support of native title, following plans to amend the Native Title Act - 10 Point Plan. Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation (ANTaR) established. Local Reconciliation Groups flourish with the support of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation, State Reconciliation Councils and ANTaR. 1998 - National Sorry Day is commemorated for the first time on 26 May. 2001 to 2020 2000 - Corroboree 2000 celebrations. Hundreds of thousands of Australians participate in bridge walks. The Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation presents the national reconciliation documents and its Final Report -Roadmap to Reconciliation. Council ends its term. Reconciliation Australia is set up, as recommended in the Report. 2004 - Federal Government establishes a memorial to the Stolen Generations at Reconciliation Place in Canberra. ATSIC is abolished. 2005 - The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Report calls for governments to commit to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and life expectancy equality within 25 years. From the Report, the Close The Gap Campaign for Indigenous Health Equality is developed. National Reconciliation Planning Workshop is held, attended by the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition. 2006 - Reconciliation Australia launches the Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) program. 2007 - Federal Government passes the Northern Territory Emergency Response Act 2007. This legislation excludes the operation of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975. Australia opposes the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP). Australia is one of only four nations to oppose the Declaration. 2008 - Prime Minister Kevin Rudd delivers the National Apology to the Stolen Generations. COAG commits $4.6 billion towards Closing The Gap on Indigenous Disadvantage for projects in health, housing, early childhood development, economic participation and remote service delivery. 2009 - Australia supports the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People. 2010 - National Congress of Australia's First Peoples is established. Government commits to a referendum to recognise Indigenous peoples in the Constitution. 2011 - Expert Panel on Constitutional Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples hands its Report to Gillard Government. 2013 - Act of Recognition is passed on 13 February, with two year sunset clause for consideration of Referendum. Recognise campaign is launched by Reconciliation Australia. 2014 - Adam Goodes is named Australian of the Year. 2016 - Victorian Government commits to advancing self-determination for Aboriginal Victorians by working towards Australia's first treaty with First Nations Peoples. 2018 - Victorian Treaty Advancement Commission begins operation, following the appointment of respected Aboriginal Leader Jill Gallagher AO as Commissioner. 2019 - The First Peoples Assembly of Victoria is elected and established. Aunty Geraldine Atkinson and Marcus Stewart named as Co-Chairs of the Assembly. The inaugural meeting of the Assembly is conducted in December of 2019 at Victorian Parliament House. 2020 - The Bla(c)k Lives Matter Movement draws attention to the oppression, contemporary systemic racism, and police brutality against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples. Tens of thousands of people attend peaceful rallies and protests calling for truth, justice and self-determination for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples. 2021 - The First Peoples Assembly of Victoria announce the establishment of the Yoo-rrook Justice Commission, committing to acknowledging the truth of Victoria’s history, and addressing both historical and ongoing injustices committed against Aboriginal Victorians since colonisation.