11 July 2013
In 1963 the Yolngu people of Yirrkala in northeast Arnhem Land prepared two bark petitions protesting the Commonwealth’s granting of mining rights on land excised from Arnhem Land reserve and sought the recognition by the Australian Parliament of the Yolngu peoples’ traditional rights and ownership of their lands.
The Bark Petitions are seen as being a catalyst in advancing changes to the Constitution in the 1967 referendum, the statutory acknowledgment of Aboriginal land rights by the Commonwealth in 1976, and the overturning of the obstacle of the concept of terra nullius by the High Court in the Mabo Case in 1992 that recognised the traditional rights of the Meriam people to their islands in the eastern Torres Strait.
Earlier this year the Australian Federal Government agreed to hold a national referendum to amend Australia’s Constitution to recognise its First Peoples and reflect the principle of racial equality.
Visit the Recognise website to learn more about this opportunity to show respect to the First Peoples and ensure their fair treatment.