Timeline results for 1970 to 1999

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  1. Arts Stamps

    Australia Post issues a set of 5 stamps with details of Aboriginal crafts. The stamps show patterns on a basket (from Arukun, QLD; 37c), a spear thrower (Warburton River, WA; 3c), a bowl (Pintubi people of Central Australia; 37c); a belt (Arnhem Land, NT; 37c) and a shield (New South Wales; 15c).

    Five stamps show different patterns of Aboriginal craft.
    Aboriginal people used ochres and grasses of different colours to create the patters seen in their craft.


  1. Sydney activist Burnum Burnum (Harry Penrith) plants the Aboriginal flag on an English beach to claim Britain for the Aboriginal people.

  2. High Court judgment affirms power of Commonwealth Racial Discrimination Act over discriminatory state based legislation. The Court hands down decision on a claim by Mer people for native title rights to the Murray Islands. It allows the original claim to be heard, which the Queensland government had attempted to block by introducing retrospective legislation abolishing land rights.

  3. A commemorative $10 banknote (the first printed on polymer substrate) shows on its back the image of a First Nations youth with dotted body decoration. Behind him is a Morning Star Pole, used in the funerary rituals in Arnhem Land, NT, for the transportation of the deceased’s spirit, and to the left is an ancient rock painting's figure. The background shows different artistic techniques, such as hand stencilling, dot painting and cross-hatching.

  4. Second Aboriginal cricket team tours England.

  5. Human Rights Commission reports that conditions at Toomelah and Boggabilla settlements are worse than in Third World countries.

  6. Australia’s representative to the United Nations Human Rights Committee acknowledges ‘public policy regarding the care of Aboriginal children, particularly during the postwar period, had been a serious mistake’.

  7. Justice Muirhead presents interim report on Black Deaths in Custody.

  8. Arts Stamps
    Two scenes showing a naked Aboriginal family watching ships arrive in a cove.
    Aboriginal people's reception of the First Fleet was not as passive and peaceful as shown here.

    Two stamps of the Australia Day issue show an Aboriginal family watching the arrival of the First Fleet. They are relaxed and just looking on, a misrepresentation of the resistance Aboriginal people showed when they first encountered the British.

  9. Protest

    Tens of thousands of Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander people march through the streets of Sydney on Australia Day to celebrate their survival during the previous 200 years, while non-Aboriginal Australia commemorates the bicentenary of their immigration. Aboriginal people rename the day ‘Survival Day’.

  10. Protest

    For the first time in the 10-year history of the Mardi Gra there is an First Nations float featuring gay First Nations and South Sea Islander Malcolm Cole dressed as Captain Cook standing on a boat pulled by white men.

    It is enough trouble being black, let alone gay,

    — Malcolm Cole

  11. Treaty

    A statement of Aboriginal aspirations is presented to Mr Hawke at the Barunga Festival ("The Barunga Statement"). The Prime Minister responds by calling for a treaty to be negotiated between the Aboriginal people and the government of Australia.

    There shall be a treaty negotiated between the Aboriginal people and the government on behalf of all the people of Australia.

    — Prime Minister Bob Hawke
  12. Treaty

    The use of the term "treaty" ignites much public interest, and Mr Hawke remarks, "It's not the word that's important, its the attitudes of the peoples, attitudes of the non-Aboriginal Australians and of the Aboriginal Australians if there is a sense of reconciliation... whether you say there's a treaty or a compact is not important, but it is important that we do it."

  13. Arts Stamps

    Australia Post issues four stamps celebrating the Art of the Desert. All paintings selected for this issue depict an event in the Dreaming: Bush Potato Country (Turkey Tolsen Tjupurrula & David Corby Tjapaltjarri, 37c), Courtship Rejected (Limpi Puntungka Tjapangati, 55c), Medicine Story (unknown artist, 90c) and Ancestor Dreaming (Tim Leura Tjapaltjarri, $1).

    Four stamps showing paintings of desert art.
    The issue features four stamps from the Flinders University Art Museum that depict an event in the Dreaming.


  1. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) is established as main Commonwealth agency in Indigenous affairs.

  2. The government introduces the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Policy, the first policy of its kind to explicitly address the educational differences between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples.


  1. Royal College of Surgeons, Dublin, Ireland gives back the head of the great-great grandfather of Tasmanian lawyer Michael Mansell after he went to Dublin petitioning for the return of Aboriginal remains including the one of his family .

  2. Bob Hawke's Labor government establishes the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) through the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission Act 1989. It allows elected regional councils and a board of commissioners to make decisions on policy and funding.

  3. Founding of the Aboriginal Provisional Government (APG) which sees Aboriginal people as a sovereign people and campaigns for Aboriginal self-determination and self-government, rejects assimilation into the Australian state, and maintains that Aboriginal people have the right to decide the future of their lands and lives to the exclusion of colonial interference.


  1. The Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation is set up, funded by the federal government, with cross-party support. The parliament noted that there had not been a formal process of reconciliation to date, “and that it was most desirable that there be such a reconciliation” by 2001.


View article sources (3)

[1] 'First Nations Peoples and Australian Banknotes - Towards change', Reserve Bank of Australia Museum, available at museum.rba.gov.au/exhibitions/first-nations-peoples-and-australian-banknotes/towards-change/
[2] [2a] 'It's the black and white Mardi Gras', SMH 27/2/1988
[3] 'Quest for the missing dead', The Guardian, 24/2/1990, ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/dingonet/questfor.htm (25/12/2008)

Cite this page

Korff, J 2024, Timeline results for 1970 to 1999, <https://stage.creativespirits.info/aboriginalculture/timeline/searchResults?page=8&q=&category=any&yearFrom=1970&yearTo=1999>, retrieved 2 March 2024

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