Aboriginal Day of Mourning: Activism for Rights and Citizenship


Aboriginals, Australia's indigenous people, honoured Aboriginal Day of Mourning to fight for their civic rights and well being. The event collided with the celebration of the white settlement known as Australia Day.

On 26th January 1938, the Aboriginal Australians held a public event, to protest against mistreatment by the white men, who invaded their land (Bollen and Brewster, 2018). This annual event commemorates the day the indigenous Australians earned their rights as Australian citizens. It also marks a significant milestone in activism movements worldwide.

The event held by the Aboriginals has since marked a significant milestone in terms of activism among groups of people who desire change in their political, social, economic, and cultural society. According to Misgav and Fenster (2018), this protest was purposely held on the same day as the European's Australia Day, to signify the invasion and displacement of Australia's indigenous residents.

The contributors of the protest included the Aboriginal people as well as non-indigenous promoters, who held the event in Sydney.

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Aboriginal Day of Mourning marked an important day in history and is held yearly to this day.

The Effort of the Event

Minority Parties

Jack Pattern and William Ferguson initiated the establishment of the Aborigines Progressive Association (APA) (Kerin, 2016). APA was formed to fight for the rights of the Aboriginals, a well as the Australian Aborigines League, also known as AAL. Both the APA and the ALL leaders boycotted a series of celebrations of Australia Day and sent petitions to the Government of Australia and the Government of the United Kingdom (Kerin, 2016).

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However, their petitions were futile, and they got dismissed without any recognition. As a result, they were compelled to be more organized in their political activities. They vividly planned for a severe petition that would not be ignored by both the media and the government.

The formation of minority groups today is legal, and the United Nations Charter has derived principles that can help resolve issues between the states and the minority groups. State roles are therefore declining, and the minority is rising to get their voices heard.

In most circumstances,people in minority groups do not have their freedom of opinion. The Aboriginals, for example, aired out their concerns for decades and were ignored, even by the media. It took constant compelling and drive that led them to resolutions. Today, minority groups still exist and are protected by international bodies, and this increases the possibility of resolving their calamities (Leonard, 2019).

Nonetheless,the states are still the primary lawmakers of their specific jurisdiction in matters concerning human rights. Successful communal groups solve conflicts when a dominant group threatens their capacity to develop either culturally, religiously, and in any other form.

In matters concerning discrimination based on race, communal contenders struggle for equal enjoyment of rights compared to the majority group (Leonard, 2019). For this reason, APA is significant in history and serves as a great influence on groups struggling with citizenship rights and full political rights.

Future Direction

The Aboriginals' protests against the denial of their rights to education, citizenship, among others, were significant to them, and it continues to be significant today. They protested against racism, lack of acknowledgment, mistreatment, among others.

The Australian nation voted for them to have their fundamental human rights, and laws were amended to fit this decision. Years later, the National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee replaced the Day of Mourning, and the group still sought to increase awareness of the Aboriginals (Fattal and Alon, 2018). Activism plays a significant role in ending challenging societal discrimination such as slavery, racism, denial of human rights, among others.

Today, communal groups are formed to solve conflicts between majority groups and groups that are not well represented. Margaret (2015), suggest that minority groups get compelled by circumstances such as unequal treatment that displays others to have much power over them.

Cultural identities such as skin color and differences in language also distinguish one group over the other. This discrimination also includes religious and socio-cultural groups. Aboriginal Day of Mourning and other historical activism propelled minority groups to seek the opportunity to be accepted and respected.

Activism and Call for Citizenship

Activism and Civil Rights

Only Aboriginals attended the Day of Mourning Congress in Sydney. The attendees, about 100 Aboriginals, witnessed one of their major civil rights gatherings. The AAL and APA aired out their concerns and appealed for the civil rights to the congress (Hoch, and Abdurrahman, 2019).

They demanded back their rights to own their land and properties that were taken from them by the British when they invaded Australia. Australian citizens were asked to vote on whether they supported the plea, and the majority of them agreed that the Aboriginals had full rights of Australian citizenship and the advantages that come with it. Consequently, activism is a form of democracy, a form of self-defense, and responsibility with action.

Democracy is practiced by countries that grant their citizens the right to choose their leaders. Activism encourages people to practice their democratic rights by airing out their views on areas affecting them. Public demonstration of views is thereby encouraged, which may assist in solving various conflicts that might arise. (Victoria, 2018)

Observes that activism encourages minority groups to make decisions and to publicly command their rights without any form of war or threat to community.The Aboriginals marched publicly and protested against the Australian government peacefully.

Exhibit of a peaceful public pleading challenges the idea that war is the only counter-discourse that could solve conflicts. Furthermore, a group's solidarity contributes to successful protests and group empowerment. Democracy, therefore, is polished through public activism, as displayed by the indigenous Australians.

While some people hurt in their grief, activists choose to share their concerns regularly. Self-defense is, therefore, one of the pillars of direct action that ensures minority groups of their human and civil rights. The indigenous Australians refused to suffer in silence and broke out to fight for their rights (Crawford, 2018).

Today's minority groups use activists to avoid being silent as well, and this form of peaceful self-defense has become more acceptable. Because activism requires actionable demonstrations, it is widely known as responsibility through ability.

Full Citizenship Rights

One of the manifestos of the political event held by the Aboriginals was their claim for citizens' rights. They protest of 150 years of misery and mistreatment by the white people ever since they invaded their land.

Successful resolutions were met to amend the laws concerning the edification and care of the Aboriginals, complete civilian prestige, and impartiality contained by the municipal. During the 1990s, the regime increased the wages of the Aboriginals, their welfare benefits, and other legislative rights (Ponti et al., 2018).

Citizenship protects people by giving them the right to have rights. Waal (2016) argues the right to be a citizen of particular state grants the right to enjoy all the benefits of being that state's citizen. The indigenous Australians faced such circumstances, and they managed to enjoy all the benefits of being Australian citizens after full citizenship.

Thousands of people have been denied citizenship in their areas of residency due to religious and socio-cultural differences, not to mention race (Ciuriak, 2017). Consequently, minority populations suffer economically, politically, socially, and even religiously. Through continuous activism, international measures have been implemented to solve this problem.


The Day of Mourning was a propellant for many future activists events and movements. The Aboriginals received full citizenship, which increased their autonomy and dignity.

The protest achieved its purpose of attracting the media and the prime minister, but more so, it serves as a great motivator to thousands of minority groups throughout history. Activism is consequently viewed today as a form of democracy, self-defense, and responsibility of minority groups.

It is also a form of free and fair display of public opinion. Activism, therefore, resolves conflicts of minority groups. Through activism, measures of conflict resolution should be addressed to fight discrimination and to pursue the right to acquire citizenship among the marginal groups.


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  • Ciuriak, D. (2017). Is There an Economically and Socially Sustainable Solution Space for the 21st Century Economy?. SSRN Electronic Journal.
  • Crawford, C. (2018). Can the international human rights framework improve the rights of Indigenous Australians?. NEW: Emerging scholars in Australian Indigenous Studies, pp.62-67.
  • Fattal, L. and Alon, S. (2018). Constructing Global Awareness Day-by-Day. International Journal of Multidisciplinary Perspectives in Higher Education, 3(1), p.xx-xx.
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  • Ponti, M., Hillman, T., Kullenberg, C., and Kasperowski, D. (2018). Getting it Right or Being Top Rank: Games in Citizen Science. Citizen Science: Theory and Practice, 3(1).
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  • Waal, T. (2016). Ernst Hirsch Ballin, Citizen's Rights and the Right to be a Citizen. Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy, 45(1), pp.89-91. -0713_2016_045_001_009
Updated: Nov 30, 2023
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Aboriginal Day of Mourning: Activism for Rights and Citizenship. (2019, Nov 26). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/introduction-aboriginals-australia-s-indigenous-people-example-essay

Aboriginal Day of Mourning: Activism for Rights and Citizenship essay
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