Integration, self-determination and self-management
1967 to mid 1990s

Integration, self-determination and self-management


1967 saw the commonwealth referendum and Aboriginal peoples were granted the right of citizenship.

The federal Labor Government led by Gough Whitlam adopted the policy of ‘self-determination’ for Indigenous communities in 1972. This policy was described as ‘Aboriginal communities deciding the pace and nature of their future development as significant components within a diverse Australia’.
It recognised that Aboriginal people had a right to be involved in decision making about their own lives.

Self-management policy
The federal Coalition Government led by Malcolm Fraser, which came to power in late 1975, adopted the policy of ‘self-management’ which focused on Indigenous communities managing the government projects and funding locally but with little say in what projects would be created. The Hawke and Keating Labor Governments from 1983-1996 used both self-determination and self-management as key principles in their Indigenous affairs policies and Keating began the reconciliation movement in 1991.



Dates and facts
1937 - The Commonwealth and States agree that the process of assimilation be adopted. The destiny of the (half caste) natives lies ‘In their absorption into the white community'. The era of assimilation continued until the mid 1960's.

January 26 1938 - The first Day of Mourning for Aboriginals was held in Sydney. Delegates came at great personal risk to themselves; some were banned from returning to the settlements and missions to their families. On this same day, Aboriginal performers who were forced to perform in a re-enactment of the landing of Arthur Phillip. All of these people came from western NSW, and all were threatened with loss of rations and liberties if they did not consent to participate.

1939 - The Cummragunja Aborigines protested over bad treatment and malnutrition on the mission.

1941 - Child endowment was introduced to all non-Aboriginal Australians.
All children in the NT missions evacuated to Victoria, South Australia and NSW following the bombing of Darwin (some say this was to prevent Aboriginal people collaborating with the Japanese forces).

1946 - Aboriginal children were allowed to attend public schools only if they had a medical certificate allowing them to, and if all the parents of the white children were agreeable.

1948 - The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is adopted by the United Nations with Australia's support.

1949 - The Convention of Genocide is ratified by Australia.

1953 - The first round of Atomic bombs were tested in South Australia.

Source: Australian Museum

More Dates

More dates:
Australian Human Rights Commission
The history of the separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families



READING: 1. Aboriginal people in NSW

  • Reading 1A Before 1788
  • Reading 1B First contacts
  • Reading 1C The Frontier War
  • Reading 1D Under the Act
  • Reading 1E 1967 - 1997

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission 1997

READING 6: Trauma and Grief

Reading 6A: Introduction
Reading 6B:Transgenerational trauma
Reading 6C: Post Traumatic Stress
Reading 6D: Collective Trauma
Reading 6E: Destruction of Indigenous ways of dealing with trauma
Reading 6F: Cultural Trauma

READING 4 : Paul Keating Redfern Speech

This speech, on indigenous issues, was given by the then Prime Minister of Australia, Paul Keating, at Redfern Park in Sydney on 10 December 1992 (For non-Australians, Redfern is an inner city suburb of Sydney with an historically large Aboriginal population).
Australian Launch of the International Year for the World's Indigenous People

READING 5: Bringing them Home - History

  • Reading 5C Towards self-management

Upper Hunter Case Study

READING 103: Upper Hunter History of Aboriginal and European contact: Part B

  • READING 103B : Aboriginal Men, Private Contractors and Lid dell Power Station

READING 104: Contemporaries

  • READING 104E: Traditional knowledge



Video Clip H: First Australians Ep6 1965 Freedom Ride & 1967 Vote (5min 39 sec)

Video Clip K.: eating's Redfern 1992 Speech (4 min 1 sec)