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timeline

1960's
1970's
1980's
1990's
2000 - Present
1990
The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) is established, replacing the DAA and the Aboriginal Development Commission.

1991
The final Report of The Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody was tabled in State and Federal Parliaments. The Royal Commission made 339 recommendations.

A special Royal Commission Cabinet Sub-Committee was announced by the Western Australian State Government.

In August 1991, the Commonwealth Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation Act establishes a Council of 25 members to promote a process of reconciliation between Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders and the wider Australian community.

1992
High Court hands down its decision in the Mabo v. Queensland No. 2 case, rejecting the doctrine that Australia was 'terra nullius' (land belonging to no-one) at the time of settlement and holding that the common law of Australia recognises a form of traditional native title.

The Western Australian State Government indicates its full, qualified or in principle support for all 339 recommendations of the Report of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody

At the Australian launch of the International Year for the World’s Indigenous People at Redfern Park in NSW Labor Prime Minister Paul Keating acknowledged colonial culpability: We took the traditional lands and smashed the traditional way of life. We brought the disasters. The alcohol. We committed the murders. We took the children from their mothers. We practised discrimination and exclusion.

Position of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner was created by Federal Parliament.

1993
Release of Western Australian government’s Aboriginal Plan providing a clear statement of State Government programs in Aboriginal affairs.

Federal Parliament passes the Native Title Act, 1993 as part of a response to the High Court’s Mabo decision. The legislation establishes the National Native Title Tribunal and governs how native title is dealt with across Australia. Western Australian Government challenges the constitutional validity of the legislation.

The Western Australian Land (Titles and Traditional Usage) Act replaces Aboriginal common law rights and entitlements with rights of ‘traditional usage’ of Crown land. High Court challenge by the Wororra People.

1994
Report of the Task Force on Aboriginal Social Justice (known as the ‘Daub Report’) is presented to the Government.

Western Australian Aboriginal Affairs Department is created.

1995
High Court declares Western Australia’s Land (Titles and Traditional Usage) Act 1993 to be inconsistent with the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth) and therefore invalid under the Constitution.  Land (Titles and Traditional Usage) Act 1993 repealed.

The Western Australian Commission of Elders is established with representatives drawn from each of the seven regions.

Regional Aboriginal Justice Councils established in the Pilbara, the Metropolitan region, the Goldfields and the Murchison/Gascoyne.

National Inquiry launched by the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC) to investigate the separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families.

1996
Wik High Court judgment states that a pastoral lease does not necessarily extinguish native title.

1997
HREOC Inquiry reports in Bringing Them Home: a guide to the findings and recommendations of the National Inquiry into the separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families. The Premier on behalf of the State and Parliament formally offers an apology to Aboriginal people affected by past Government policies and practices for the removal of Aboriginal children from their families and communities. 

1998
Sorry Day is held one year after the tabling in Parliament of the HREOC report.

1999
Prime Minister John Howard passes a formal motion of reconciliation. 

WA Museum
Government of Western Australia