Timeline results for 1970 to 1999

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  1. Second Report of the Aboriginal Land Commission (The Woodward Report) is tabled, acknowledging Aboriginal people’s link with the land; ‘to deny Aborigines the right to prevent mining on their land is to deny the reality of their land rights’. His report is accepted in principle by all political parties and most states.

  2. A Commonwealth Act establishes the Aboriginal Land Fund Commission to buy land for Aboriginal corporate groups. Since then many properties have been acquired throughout Australia. The fund was replaced by the ADC (Aboriginal Development Council) in 1980.

  3. Eric Deeral becomes Queensland’s first Aboriginal Member of Parliament. He goes on to represent the seat of Cook in the Queensland Parliament from 1974 to 1977.

  4. Hyacinth Tungutalum (Country Liberal Party), from Bathurst Island is elected to the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly, representing the electorate of Arafura.

  5. Geologist Jim Bowler discovers the oldest remains of a First Nations man, at least 40,000 years old, in the Willandra Lakes region of New South Wales. The remains become known as "Mungo Man", referring to Lake Mungo where they were found. The historic discovery increased the age of Aboriginal culture by about 20,000 years.


  1. The Senate unanimously passes a resolution put by Senator Bonner urging the Australian government to acknowledge prior ownership of Australia by Aboriginal peoples and to introduce legislation to compensate them for dispossession of their land.

  2. Australia ratifies the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, guaranteeing self-determination to Aboriginal Peoples.

  3. The National Aboriginal and Islander Health Organisation is set up.

  4. Gurindji people receive leasehold title to some of their traditional land (Wave Hill Station) in the Northern Territory.

  5. The Laverton Royal Commission in Western Australia investigating clashes between police and Aboriginal people at Laverton and Skull Creek in December, 1974 and January, 1975, found that police were unable to justify arrests and that some parts of the police story had been invented. The Premier, Sir Charles Court, dismissed the report as “a waste of money”.

  6. Ranger Uranium and Environmental Inquiry examines the effects of mining on Aboriginal people.

  7. White Australia immigration policy ends.

  8. Racial Discrimination Act is passed in the federal parliament. The Australian Senate unanimously endorses a resolution put up by Senator Neville Bonner acknowledging prior ownership of this country by Aboriginal people and seeking compensation for their dispossession.


  1. Establishment of the NSW Aboriginal Education Consultative Group (AECG).

  2. Commonwealth Aboriginal Land Rights (NT) Act implements the main recommendations of the Woodward Report. The most significant land rights legislation in Australia, the act transfers reserve land to Aboriginal ownership (around 11,000 people) and administration to Land Councils. It gives statutory recognition to the Northern Land Council and the Pitjantjajara Land Council is formed. In first claim under the Act, Mr Justice Fox, who ran the Ranger Uranium and Environmental Inquiry recommends that traditional owners in the Alligator River region be granted land. Mining and tourism continue to operate in the area.

  3. Census establishes national Aboriginal population at 160,000.

  4. Three Land Councils are founded and an office of Aboriginal Land Commissioners is created.

  5. Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency is established, rapidly achieving a 40% reduction in the number of Aboriginal children in children’s homes. It is followed by the South Australian Aboriginal Child Care Agency (1978), Karu in Darwin (1979) and the Western Australian Aboriginal Child Care Agency (1980).

  6. Pat O’Shane graduates from the University of New South Wales, becoming the first Aboriginal person to be admitted to the Bar.

  7. The Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, Hobart, Tasmania becomes the first museum in Australia to repatriate Aboriginal remains, with the return of the remains of Truganini to the Tasmanian Aboriginal community . The Royal Society of Tasmania had exhumed her body 2 years after her death in 1876 and put her skeleton on public display for 40 years.


View article sources (1)

[1] 'Remains returned to New Zealand', Koori Mail 403 p.7

Cite this page

Korff, J 2024, Timeline results for 1970 to 1999, <https://stage.creativespirits.info/aboriginalculture/timeline/searchResults?page=3&q=&category=any&yearFrom=1970&yearTo=1999>, retrieved 2 March 2024

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