How have government policies towards the Aborigines changed between 1901 and 1967?

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Government policies towards Aborigines experienced drastic changes during 1901 to 1967. In 1901, a policy of protection and segregation was in place, which changed into a policy of assimilation and finally one of self-management.

When Australia federated in 1901 the newly formed constitution did not recognize Aborigines as Australian citizens. In the early 20th century it was commonly believed that Aborigines were a dying race soon to disappear, because of this, a segregation policy was put in place. This policy tried to 'protect' the Aborigines from dying out by requiring them to live on reservations away from the whites, thereby segregating them from the community. Aborigines did not enjoy the same rights and privileges that other Australians enjoyed.

Decades later, it was obvious that the Aborigines were not dying out and that the number of 'mixed-blood' Aborigines was in fact increasing. For this reason, a change of policy to assimilation was adopted in 1937 during a federal and state government meeting.

This policy was an attempt to make Aborigines slowly adopt white Australian culture by 'breeding-out' their race. It was a common belief that white Australian culture was superior to that of the Aborigines. It was assumed that Europeans were doing the Aboriginals a favour. Fair skin Aboriginal children were removed from their families and placed into institutions or white families, usually by force, which lead to one of the most derogatory aspects of this policy, the stolen generations.

During the 1920s to 1967 these policies that discriminated against Aboriginal culture sparked the start of the Aboriginal protest movements which slowly gained them favour, acknowledgement and recognition from the Australian people. By 1960 Aboriginal protests movements had gained such momentum against the government that it could not justify the assimilation of aborigines and so racial discrimination in State and...