Civil rights movement

Aboriginals' fight for civil rights

At the beginning of the 20th century, Indigenous Australians had very limited rights in society, as their access to voting, pensions, maternity allowance, and employment in certain industries as well as enlistment in the Armed Forces was restricted.

The first major protest by Indigenous people took place on 26 January 1938, as Australians celebrated the 150th anniversary of European settlement. Around 100 Aboriginal men, women, and children gathered in Sydney for what they called a Day of Mourning and Protest, to create awareness of the mistreatment suffered by the Indigenous population at the hands of non-Indigenous people. The greater objective was to repeal legislation which allowed the government to have wide-ranging control over Aborigines and to gain full citizen rights.

The protest eventually led to legislative reforms and, through the Australian Citizenship Act of 1949, Indigenous Australians were given the right to vote in Commonwealth elections. However, they could only do so if they were enrolled for State elections or had served in the military. The right to vote for al...

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