The 16th of December marks 43 years since the passing of the 1976 Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act.
The Act was introduced one year earlier on 16 October 1975 and became law in 1976. Under the act, more than 50% of the Northern Territory was returned to traditional Aboriginal owners in the following 30 years.
A really big deal.
This bill was so significant because it was the Australian Government’s first attempt to legally recognise the Aboriginal system of land ownership. For almost 200 years, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people had been losing rights to their lands as white settlers encroached. This Act was the first step to enabling Indigenous Australians to regain these rights.
Group of protesters at the Aboriginal land rights demonstration, Parliament House, Canberra, 30 July 1972 - Image source - Nation Museum Australia
When the Act was passed, the former ‘reserves’ became Aboriginal land. The land was granted without the need for a land claim. It is referred to as Schedule One land.
We remember this day as being one of the first major steps forward toward the recognition of the traditional custodians of the land, and there have been many more since. However, we acknowledge that Australia as a whole still has far to go.
Earlier this year, the long-awaited (and long overdue) ban of visitors climbing the sacred site of Uluru came into effect, which was another huge win for Indigenous Australia and its ancient culture.
We at Life Apparel sincerely hope to see many similar changes for the better appearing in the coming years. Together, may we continue to promote unity and due respect for First Nations people, cultures and communities, as well as the land on which we all depend.
What are your thoughts on the issue? We’d love to hear them in the comments below.