Resistance and Survival

  • The early part of the 20th century saw successive governments replace Protection policies with Assimilation policies, wherein Indigenous peoples were forced off the reserves. Formulated without any consultation with Indigenous people, these policies were designed to encourage Indigenous peoples to share in the benefits of 'Western civilisation', but only if they lived as white Australians did.
  • Assimilist policies were strongly resisted by Indigenous people who were convinced that their survival as a people depended upon retaining their Aboriginality. Also, assimilist policies put at risk the little security of land tenure offered by reserves.
  • In 1965, the Commonwealth Policy of Integration was developed, to be followed in 1972 by a Policy of Self Determination. Civil action taken by Indigenous peoples in response to exploitation and deprivation of their human and civil rights largely prompted this latter policy.
  • The 1970s were marked by the growth of community organisations established and administered by Koorie people. These organisations responded to specific areas of socio-cultural need, and supported Koorie people in their struggle for justice and human rights.
  • The 1980s saw a strengthening of local and national Indigenous organisations. The revival of Indigenous cultures and the re-emergence of a strong identity are at the heart of current political and social developments.