Timeline results for 1970 to 1999

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  1. Land & land rights

    Ayers Rock is renamed "Ayers Rock / Uluru", becoming the first official dual-named feature in the Northern Territory. The order of the dual names was officially reversed to "Uluru / Ayers Rock" on 6 November 2002 following a request from the Regional Tourism Association in Alice Springs.

  2. Land & land rights

    In response to the landmark 1992 High Court Mabo decision the federal government passes the Native Title Act 1993 after one of the longest and most divisive parliamentary debates in Australia’s legislative history. This law recognises Aboriginal peoples' land based on the recognition by the common law and allows Indigenous people to make land claims under certain situations. They cannot make claims on freehold (i.e. privately-owned) land.


  1. Native Title Tribunal is established to hear land claims. Indigenous Land Fund is established as part of federal government’s response to the Mabo decision.

  2. Going Home Conference in Darwin. Over 600 people removed as children, from every state and territory, meet to share experiences and expose the history of the removal of Aboriginal children from their families and the effects of this policy on Aboriginal people. They discuss common goals of access to archives, compensation, rights to land and social justice.

  3. Land & land rights

    Native Title Act 1993 becomes law.

  4. For the first time, Australia Day is celebrated nationally on the same day. Previously, states and territories had their own individual days.

  5. Recognition

    The UN’s General Assembly marks this day as the International Day of the World’s Indigenous People.


  1. John Ah Kit (Australian Labor Party), from Darwin is elected to the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly representing the electorate of Arnhem.

  2. Land & land rights

    Justice Drummond in the Federal Court makes a decision that the claim of the Wik and Thayorre Peoples could not succeed over the areas that were subject to pastoral leases. The judge’s reason was that he considered that the grant of pastoral leases under Queensland law extinguished any native title rights.

  3. The National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from Their Families is established in response to efforts made by key Aboriginal agencies and communities. It examines the effects of separation, identify what should be done in response, find justification for any compensation and look at the laws of that time affecting child separation.

    The inquiry holds hearings in all states between December 1995 and October 1996 and received 777 submissions, 69% of those from Indigenous people, 6% from churches and 1% from government.

  4. The Australian Government proclaims the Aboriginal flag as an official ‘Flag of Australia’ under section 5 of the Flags Act 1953.

  5. Arts Stamps
    A still image is shown along with the title of the film.
    Jedda was the first Australian feature to employ Aboriginal lead actors.

    One stamp in the Centenary of Cinema issue features Jeddathe first Australian feature film to use Aboriginal actors in the lead roles and the first to be filmed in colour.

  6. Arts Stamps
    A young man with headphones looks sternly into the distance.
    Len Waters was a fighter pilot for the RAAF. Streets in ACT and Sydney bear his name.

    In its second Australia Remembers issue, Australia Post features Len Waters who became the first Aboriginal military pilot accepted into the Royal Australian Air Force and the only Aboriginal fighter pilot to serve during World War II.

  7. The Reserve Bank of Australia issues the $50 polymer banknote showing David Unaipon, a Ngarrindjeri writer, preacher, inventor and advocate for his people, on the front. The banknote features drawings of his innovative mechanical hand-piece for shearing sheep, an extract of the preface of his book Legendary Tales of the Australian Aborigines, and the mission church in Raukkan (Point McLeay Mission), South Australia, the community where he was born.


  1. Northern Territory and Western Australia pass mandatory sentencing laws which affect particularly Aboriginal youths.

  2. Pauline Hanson and her One Nation Party campaign against Aboriginal ‘special treatment’.

  3. Richard Frankland becomes the first Aboriginal director to win an AFI Award for his documentary No Way To Forget.

  4. Australia’s first Aboriginal judge, Robert ‘Bob’ Bellear, is sworn in as a New South Wales District Court judge. Bellear dies on 14 March 2005, aged 60.

  5. Paul Harriss (Independent) is elected to the Legislative Council in Tasmania, representing the electorate of Huon.

  6. The Council for Reconciliation starts its first National Reconciliation Week.


View article sources (1)

[1] 'First Nations Peoples and Australian Banknotes - Innovation', Reserve Bank of Australia Museum, available at museum.rba.gov.au/exhibitions/first-nations-peoples-and-australian-banknotes/innovation/

Cite this page

Korff, J 2024, Timeline results for 1970 to 1999, <https://stage.creativespirits.info/aboriginalculture/timeline/searchResults?page=10&q=&category=any&yearFrom=1970&yearTo=1999>, retrieved 15 April 2024

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