Aboriginal Political Movement in Australia

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Question: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island peoples have since colonization been politically active. Discuss drawing from readings and research about various forms of political engagement. Since the beginning of European colonization in 1788, Aboriginal people have experienced displacement, have been the targets of genocidal policies and practices, and have had families destroyed through the forcible removal of children. Decades of colonial exploitation and a prolonged systematic attempt to destroy Aboriginal people and culture have led to legislations and policies that are punitive and restrictive towards Aboriginal people. Such legislation reflects the dominant society’s perceptions of Aboriginal people and how they ought to be treated. The period of colonization has profoundly affected the lives of Aboriginal people because they still continue to face the stresses of living in a racist world that thoroughly devalues Aboriginal culture and people. However, Aboriginal people have persisted to resist and struggle for justice and have been continually creating a movement for Aboriginal rights. This movement began in the 1920’s with the start of Aboriginal political organizations and support groups, led particularly by William Cooper. Overtime, these organizations have led to political acts such as the Freedom Ride, the Aboriginal Embassy, and the Mabo case. All of these movements represent powerful actions of resistance in the fight for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders’ equality. William Cooper, an Australian Aboriginal leader, was a mobilizing force in the early fight for Aboriginal rights. Cooper believed that Aboriginal people should be represented in Parliament. By 1935, he had helped establish the Australian Aborigines League and sought for “inclusion, rejection of racism that denied their humanity, and rejection of treatment as if they are inferior.” Cooper circulated a petition seeking direct representation in parliament, enfranchisement, and land rights (Attwood & Markus, 2004). However, seeing the failure of using democratic means, Cooper’s Australian Aborigines League joined forces with William Ferguson’s Aborigines Progressive Association to arrange a Day of Mourning. This Day of Mourning started a silent protest against celebrating the settlement of the British people on Australia Day, 1938. The protest was the first significant Aboriginal political action in the 20th century that promoted public awareness. Cooper supported the fact that Aboriginal fight must continue the struggle until they win their objectives. He urged to bring the poor conditions of the reserves of the Aboriginal people to public and political attention (Attwood & Markus, 2004). It is evident that Cooper started a wave of Aboriginal political activism. The continuity of struggle has lead to unrelenting political action by the Aboriginal people. One of the most inspiring public actions performed by Aboriginal people was the Freedom Ride. On the 12 February 1965, 30 university students from Sydney boarded a bus and set off to campaign in some of the most notoriously racist country towns of New South Wales. Officially called Student Action for Aborigines (SAFA), they were led by Charles Perkins, a young student born in Alice Springs, who would become one of the most important Australian Aboriginal activists. Their purpose was to draw public attention to the poor state of Aboriginal health, education, and housing and to lessen the socially discriminatory barriers which existed between Aboriginal and white residents. They also wished to encourage and support Aboriginal people themselves to resist discrimination (**). After visits to five NSW country towns, the students were shocked at the living conditions Aboriginal people endured outside the towns. Dispossessed from their lands, they were forced to live on reserves and missions, and small settlements on the outskirts of towns. Conditions there were extremely...
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