Short Speech: How Has Aboriginal Citzenship Changed Since 1901

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At the beginning of the Commonwealth of Australia?s history, Aborigines were not counted as citizens. Section 127 of the constitution stated, ?in reckoning the numbers of the people of the Commonwealth or of a State or other part of the Commonwealth, aboriginal natives shall not be counted?. This meant they did not vote, they did not pay taxes and they could not hold Government Jobs. In many facets their rights became significantly less over the years but overall they certainly didn?t start improving until 1944 with the sickness benefits act.

The laws said that each state would make its own policies in regard to Aborigines, which was a blessing and a curse in that laws could be more specialized but might also might be uneven. From 1904 to 1911 the states introduced their ?Aboriginal Protections Acts? unfortunately these gave ownership and responsibility of Aboriginal and ?half-caste? children to the state, who removed them from their family.

This protectionist policy collaborated with the thought that Aborigines would die out relatively quickly. The theory was that if you separated them until the bloodlines were really thin, there would be no more dark coloured people.

During 1910-1960 Aboriginal children were stolen from their families. This ?stolen generation? grew up without an identity, they lost their language, customs and ancestral ties. They were taken for two reasons, the white government judged that the Aboriginal parents were unfit to bring up their children and to assimilate Aborigines into white culture.

Before the referendum of May 1967, Aborigines were still not counted as Australian citizens. After a massively positive campaign, 90.8% of people voted to give Aborigines a political voice. This was a culmination of protest movements that started in the 1940?s. The referendum also removed a section in the constitution (s. 51 xxvi)...