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The 1967 referendum essay Essay

The 1967 referendum is about the aboriginals trying to be counted in Australias census. They are trying to change their rights and freedom. The aboriginals were treated unfairly during this time and was discriminated against. There are many aspects to the referendum including the lead up to it, the context on which it was presented, the referendum and finally the impact it has on the aboriginals.

The 1967 referendum is about including Aboriginals people in the census and allowing the commonwealth to make laws for the aboriginals. At the same time of the referendum, harold Holt was the prime minister and liberal was in power. Before the referendum, there was a question in the census to establish the number of full blood aborigines society viewed aboriginals as a disadvantage. Aboriginal were able to vote in 1962, however they have no potential power and although they are allowed to vote, they are not counted in the census. Australia became more aware of the discrimination and of what other countries think of them and they finally removed the discrimination from federal legislation. At this time, the laws regarding the aboriginal is the responsibility of the states government. Consequently, if an aboriginal moved to another state, their rights might be gained or lost. Furthermore by the end of 1966, aboriginal people has been granted legal rights but not citizenship.

A boriginals tried to be counted as Australians and a referendum was done to change the australian convention. A referendum is a voting system, where people vote yes or no to something and a majority of vote will win. Therefore the federal council campaign for a yes vote in the referendumThe context of the referendum is quite good. The aboriginals were hopeful towards the referendum and has faith on getting counted in the census because they successfully gaines the rights to vote in previous times. They believe that their chances of winning this referendum is strong. In addition, the Government also wanted to change the Australian constitution as they were viewed badly by overseas countries, so citizens were encouraged to vote yes. A booklet is usually handed out, in prior to the referendum. Usually it has information on the yes or no vote case and the disadvantage and advantages of each; in this case only the yes was printed out. This shows how much they want to change the constitution.

The referendum took place on 27th may 1967. It read; do you approve the proposed law for the alteration of the constitution entitled – an act to alter the constitution so as to omit certain words relating to the people of the aboriginal race in any state as so that the aboriginals are to be counted in reckoning to the population? for the referendum to be a success a majority have to vote yes. The referendum achieved the change in the convention as 90.77% voted yes to the change. Although the states with the most number of aboriginal have the most no vote, the constitution was changed. However, even after the change, aboriginals still didnt get equal treatments as the state government still had power over the laws regarding the aboriginal in their state. The laws that were newly obtained from the constitution were not used until 10 years later.

The referendum didn’t really have much impact on australia or the aboriginal. It was seen as the beginning of a new contract for the aboriginal. They assumed by changing the constitution, all the discrimination would be taken away. But this was not the case; The rules of the aboriginals were still left to the individual states to decide. Furthermore, the government was still reluctant to acknowledge the aboriginals. However, there was some good things that come out from it. The thing that the aboriginal gained was additional money to fund for the improvement of their housing, health and education. Moreover, a council of aboriginal affairs were established. In 2008, 13th February is a significant day for the aboriginals, asutralian prime minister, john howward apologises for.

All in all, the referendum is a very important time for the aboriginals. However, although the referendum was a success there were not many changes that affected the aboriginals way of living.


Anderson, L. Low, A. Conroy, J and Keese, I. Retroactive 2 John Wiley and son Ltd Sydney 2000Attwood, Bain and Markus Andrew. The 1967 referendum: race, power,and australian constitution. http://www.aiatsis.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/7892/teachers_notes.pdf (12/02/09)

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