ABN 70 592 297 967  |  The National Museum of Australia is an Australian Government Agency, The Untold Stories of Cook and the First Australians, Australia's Defining Moments Digital Classroom. Source: Barry Christophers Papers, MS 7992, box 16, National Library of Australia, Canberra They were unsuccessful and the petition was torn in a scuffle with police. [3], petition written on bark by Aboriginal Australian people of Arnhem Land to the government in 1963, asserting rights over their land, The text of the Bark Petitions is available. At present, John has to walk 200 metres to get his medications, twice a day, and has to stop twice to rest each time, all while under guard. Up until this point the Yolngu people were unaware of the development plans, or that the government had made it legal for the land to be removed from the reserve for mining. The Yirrkala bark petitions are among Australia's landmark constitutional documents because they bridge Commonwealth law as it then stood, and the Indigenous laws of the land. The first of these petitions was presented to the House of Representatives by Labor MHR Leslie Haylen on 14 May 1957. While millions of dollars continue to be wasted on proving how punitive the Australian government can be, individuals like Mr Webster are denied dignity that could be granted with the stroke of a pen. Thus, the petitions are the first formal assertion of native title. It was printed on paper then glued to a piece of bark that had been painted traditionally. The petitions requested parliament to appoint a committee to hear their views before permitting the excision of land from the Arnhem Land Aboriginal Reserve for mining... Collaborating for Indigenous Rights 1957–1973, Australia's Defining Moments Digital Classroom. Lawson Crescent Acton Peninsula, CanberraDaily 9am–5pm, closed Christmas Day Freecall: 1800 026 132, Museum Cafe9am–4pm, weekdays9am–4.30pm, weekends. Nabalco was allowed to continue with its operation despite the concerns of the Yolngu. The petition began by drawing attention to the fact that the 'Aboriginal Residents of Australia suffer under disabilities, political, social and economic' and argued that the situation could not be remedied 'without Amendment of the Constitution'. This petition was the brainchild of Jessie Street, who had drawn it up with Brian Fitzpatrick of the Council for Civil Liberties and lawyer Christian Jollie-Smith. The petitions have been listed on UNESCO's Australian Memory of the World register. A lease was signed with the Gove Bauxite Corporation, a subsidiary of Pechiney. They are on permanent display at Parliament House, Canberra. The petition, signed by nine men and three women, stated that 500 people were residents of the land that was being removed, and that the whole deal had been kept secret from them. However, the Aboriginal flag does not fly permanently atop of the Sydney Harbour bridge. The petitions reflect the determination of the Yolgnu people of Arnhem Land to protect their land. The people from north-east Arnhem Land are known as the Yolngu. Headed Gwalwa Daraniki, which means ‘our land’ in the language of the Larrakia people (the traditional owners of the Darwin area), the petition was signed by more than 1000 Aboriginal people from all states of mainland Australia – some with their names, others with thumb prints. Download Petition for a referendum, Federal Council for Aboriginal Advancement, 1958 295.5 kb pdf [ PDF | 295.5 kb ] This was the first of many petitions which the Federal Council for Aboriginal Advancement ran to press for a referendum to get the federal government to accept responsibility in Aboriginal affairs. Section 51 (xxvi) stated that: Campaigners wanted the phrase 'other than the aboriginal race' to be deleted so that the Commonwealth could pass special laws to assist Aboriginal Australians as a people. Records held by the National Archives of Australia help to tell the story of Aboriginal activism from as early as the 1930s. ... Sign this petition. Petition by the Aboriginal Advancement League, 1937. The petitions stated that "the land in question has been hunting and food gathering land for the Yirrkala tribes from time immemorial" and "that places sacred to the Yirrkala people, as well as vital to their livelihood are in the excised land". In July 1963 two Labor members of parliament travelled to Arnhem Land — Kim Beazley and Gordon Bryant, who was also senior vice-president of the Federal Council for Aboriginal Advancement. After the High Court’s ruling in Love v The Commonwealth (2020) that Aboriginal Australians cannot be regarded as aliens under the Constitution, we took John’s case to the Federal Court to fight for his right to release and to die with his family. Join Human Rights for All and 90,558 supporters today. The Larrakia people attempted to hand the petition to Princess Margaret during her visit to Darwin in October 1972. Aerial view of Yirrkala, Northern Territory, June 1964. Following the passage of the 1967 Referendum campaigners urged the Commonwealth Government to use its powers against state legislation which was inconsistent with Commonwealth laws. Petitions were often concerned with citizenship rights and the conditions and treatment of Aboriginal people but also addressed specific matters and situations. 35–36, Source: Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, MS 9377, State Library of Victoria. The organisers repaired the petition and posted it to the Queen. Ronald M Berndt and Catherine H Berndt, Arnhem Land: Its History and Its People, Cheshire, Melbourne, 1954. Petitions are an important part of this story. The bark petitions asserted that the Yolngu people owned the land and protested the Commonwealth's granting of mining rights to Nabalco of land excised from the Arnhem Aboriginal Land reserve. They also asked that no arrangements be entered into with any company which would destroy their livelihoods and independence. In 1968, tired of having their appeals to parliament ignored, the Yolngu decided to launch legal action against the Nabalco mining operation in the Northern Territory Supreme Court. The Yirrkala bark petitions, sent by the Yolngu people of Arnhem Land to the Australian Parliament in 1963, were the first traditional documents prepared by Indigenous Australians that were recognised by the Australian Parliament, and the first documentary recognition of Indigenous people in Australian law. Source: Barry Christophers Papers, MS992/6, National Library of Australia. Although the government declined to forward the petition, it remains an important chapter in the history of Aboriginal activism. [249] A translation was submitted with these petitions. Please sign and share to demand that Ken Wyatt, Peter Dutton, Alan Tudge and the Department of Home Affairs release John to spend the remainder of his life surrounded by the care and love of his family. "Journey goes full circle from Bark Petition to Blue Mud Bay", "Report of the Select Committee on Grievances of the Yirrkala Aborigines, Arnhem Land Reserve", "Mining Agreements: Negotiated Outcomes in the Australian Minerals Sector", "Aboriginal Land Rights Commission, First Report", National Archives of Australia - Yirrkala bark petitions 1963 (Cth), Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies - Yirrkala bark petitions 1963, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Yirrkala_bark_petitions&oldid=968887767, Pages with non-numeric formatnum arguments, Short description with empty Wikidata description, All Wikipedia articles written in Australian English, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, This page was last edited on 22 July 2020, at 03:47. Mr John Webster, who identifies and claims lineage as a Wathaurong man from Victoria, and who is a New Zealand citizen, is currently in immigration detention. They paved the way for the Aboriginal Land Rights Commission and the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976. From Buckingham Palace it was forwarded to the Governor-General. In the mid-1930s William Cooper, the Secretary of the Australian Aborigines' League, gathered 1814 signatures for a petition to King George V seeking … A number of Aboriginal groups have used the petition — to monarchs, to the Governor-General and to parliaments — since Tasmanian Aborigines petitioned Queen Victoria in 1846. Other people also wrote petitions concerning Aboriginal affairs. The petitions called on the House of Representatives to "appoint a Committee, accompanied by competent interpreters, to hear the views of the people of Yirrkala before permitting the excision" of the land for the mine and to ensure "that no arrangements be entered into with any company which will destroy the livelihood and independence of the Yirrkala people".

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