State of the world’s Indigenous People documented globally
Launch of the United Nation’s first report on The State of the World’s Indigenous Peoples.
New ‘Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commissioner’ starts
Mick Gooda, descendant of the Gangulu people of Central Queensland begins his five-year term as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commissioner.
Vindaloo against Violence
Vindaloo Against Violence: Thousands of Australians show their support for Indian communities by eating at their local Indian restaurants throughout Australia.
Indigenous peoples written into State Constitution
The Queensland Parliament passes legislation to recognise Indigenous people as the first Queenslanders in the preamble to the State’s Constitution.
Andrew Forrest launches Generation One
Australia’s richest man, Andrew Forrest, launches Generation One, a campaign that aims to encourage all Australians to help end Indigenous disadvantage.
Summit on cyber racism
The Australian Human Rights Commission and the Internet Industry Australia co-host the Cyber Racism summit in Sydney.
Australian Multicultural Affairs Council launches The People of Australia
The People of Australia, the Australian Multicultural Affairs Council’s statement on cultural diversity and its recommendations to government, is presented to Australian government ministers for immigration and multicultural affairs at Melbourne’s Immigration Museum.
National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples
National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples launched, becoming the first national Indigenous representative body to be established since the dismantling of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission in 2005.
Victorian Premier supports multicultural growth
The Victorian Premier and Minister for Multicultural Affairs, John Brumby announces support to the value of $12 million would be provided for the development of cultural precincts as part of the Cultural Precincts and Community Infrastructure Fund in the state budget.
Julia Gillard becomes Australia’s first female Prime Minister
Julia Gillard takes over leadership of the Australian Labor Party from Kevin Rudd: becoming Australia’s first female Prime Minister.
First Aboriginal Australian elected to House of Representatives
Ken Wyatt, a Liberal from Hasluck in Western Australia, becomes the first Aboriginal Australian elected to the House of Representatives.
Expanding community – based detention arrangements are announced
Responding to community concern expanded community-based detention arrangements (formally known as residence determination) for unaccompanied minors and vulnerable families are announced by the Prime Minister and the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship.
Involuntary repatriation of failed Afghan asylum-seekers
The Australian Government signs a Memorandum of Understanding with the Government of Afghanistan, permitting the involuntary repatriation of failed Afghan asylum-seekers from Australia to Afghanistan, including unaccompanied minors and other Afghan children who have become separated from their families.
NSW Department of Education and Training’s Anti-Racism Policy
The Manager of Multicultural programs, NSW Department of Education and Training, publishes online the department’s Anti-Racism Policy which commits the department to the elimination of all forms of racial discrimination in its schools and worksites.
The People of Australia-Australia’s Multicultural Policy launched
With advice from the Australian Multicultural Affairs Council, the Australian Government announces a new multicultural policy, The People of Australia, which recognises the breadth and diversity of Australian society and reaffirms the government’s support for a culturally diverse and socially cohesive nation. The policy has four principles with supporting initiatives.
Minister delivers on government commitment
The Minister for Immigration and Citizenship announces that the Australian Government has delivered on its commitment to move the majority of children in immigration detention into community-based arrangements.
Research highlights refugee contributions
A research report by Dr Graeme Hugo, one of Australia’s leading demographers, is released, highlighting the many economic, civic and social contributions made by refugees and humanitarian entrants to Australian society.
Government signs ‘Malaysia Arrangement’
The Australian Government signs an arrangement with the Malaysian Government to transfer 800 asylum seekers who arrive by boat in Australia to Malaysia, in return for Australia resettling 4,000 refugees out of Malaysia over the next four years. The policy is condemned by NGOs in Australia and around the world.
High Court rejects Malaysia arrangement
The High Court of Australia rules that Australia’s transfer arrangement with Malaysia cannot proceed due to the absence of legal protections for refugees and asylum seekers in Malaysia.
Scanlon Foundation Mapping Social Cohesion Report 2011 launched
The Scanlon Foundation releases the Mapping Social Cohesion Report 2011. The report examines people’s attitudes on a range of topics from social harmony, immigration, asylum seekers, intolerance, and trust in government. It confirms that more than 94 per cent of respondents have a strong sense of belonging and a majority support policies that foster and maintain a shared sense of community.
RCOA celebrates its 30th anniversary
The Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA), the national umbrella body for refugees and the organisations and individuals who support them celebrates its 30th anniversary. RCOA’s own work is centred around five key areas: policy, support for refugees, support for its members, community education and administration.
UNHCR commemorates convention anniversaries
The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) commemorates the 60th anniversary of the 1951 Refugee Convention and the 50th anniversary of the 1961 Statelessness Convention.
Federal Court of Australia rules on discriminatory comments made by Andrew Bolt
The Federal Court rules that the comments made by Andrew Bolt in two newspaper articles and online are discriminatory. The complaints were made by a group of Aboriginal people named in a series of articles implying that they were not genuinely Aboriginal. This case is regarded by many as the catalyst for attempts to either diminish or abolish section 18C from the Racial Discrimination Act.
Number of places in the Migration Program increases
The number of places available in the Migration Program for 2012–13 is 190 000, which is 5000 more than the 2011–12 planning level. Of the 5000 places, 3400 are allocated to the Skilled stream. This is to help meet the demand for skilled migrants.
Australia’s policy of mandatory detention
May 6 marks the 20th anniversary of Australia’s policy of mandatory detention.
Asylum seekers and crew loss of life reaches 964
From late 2001 to June this year, 964 asylum seekers and crew have been lost at sea on boats carrying asylum seekers to Australia. Of these, 604 people have lost their lives since October 2009.
Prime Minister seeks advice to safeguard asylum seekers
The Prime Minister invites the former chief of Australia’s defence force to lead an expert panel to report on the best way forward for Australia to prevent asylum seekers risking their lives on dangerous boat journeys to Australia.
Stronger Futures legislation passed by senate
The Stronger Futures policy, a multifaceted social policy of the Australian government concerning the aboriginal population of the Northern Territory is passed by the Senate. The policy intends to address key issues that exist within these communities such as unemployment, school attendance and enrollment, alcohol abuse, community safety and child protection, food security, and housing and land reforms. Several years of similar initiatives have preceded the policy, including the Building Stronger Regions, Stronger Futures policy, New Local Government policy, and the Northern Territory Emergency Response Act.
National Anti-Racism Strategy – Racism. It stops with me. campaign
To support the Australian Government’s new multicultural policy, The People of Australia, the National Anti-Racism Strategy is launched. The Strategy, which will be implemented between 2012 and 2015, has been developed through a partnership led by the Australian Human Rights Commission.
It includes the Racism. It stops with me. campaign which calls on all members of the Australian community to work towards eradicating the barriers to equality that result from racism. It aims to ensure more Australians recognise that racism is unacceptable in our community, give more Australians the tools and resources to take practical action against racism and empower individuals and organisations to prevent and respond effectively to racism.
Report of the Expert Panel on Asylum Seekers is released
The Report of the Expert Panel on Asylum Seekers is released. The panel makes 22 recommendations to shape Australian policy making on asylum seeker issues. It is the Panel’s view that the balance of risk and incentive must be shifted in favour of regular migration pathways and established international protections, and against dangerous maritime migration. A ‘no advantage’ principle should apply whereby irregular migrants gain no benefit by choosing to circumvent regular migration mechanisms.”
Australian Multicultural Council (AMC)
The Prime Minister launches the Australian Multicultural Council. The AMC’s priorities are to advise the government on multicultural affairs, have a formal role in a strengthened access and equity strategy, have a research and advisory role around multicultural policy, assist with cultural diversity celebrations and Harmony Day activities and to implement a ‘People of Australia Ambassadors’ Program to articulate the benefits of, and help celebrate, our multicultural nation.
Applications invited for Multicultural Arts and Festival Grants
In February 2011, the government launched The People of Australia – Australia’s Multicultural Policy. One of the policy’s key initiatives is to provide funding for Multicultural Arts and Festivals Grants (MAFG). The Department of Immigration and citizenship invites application for grants. $125 000 per financial year has been allocated to MAFG over the four years to 2014–15.
Multicultural Youth Sports Partnership Program funds available
The Multicultural Youth Sports Partnership (MYSP) program is an initiative of the Australian Government and forms a key part of Australia’s multicultural policy. The objective of the program is to create sustainable opportunities for youth from new and emerging communities and culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds (CALD) to participate in sport and physical activity within local communities. $900,000 is committed over three years to the MYSP program, which commenced in 2011-12 . Applications are invited by the Australian Sports Commission.
Australia transfers asylum seekers to Nauru
In September 2012 the Australian Government re-commences transferring asylum seekers who have arrived in Australia by boat to Nauru. These transferees’ claims for protection will be processed under the laws of Nauru.
New President of the Australian Human Rights Commission
The Commonwealth Attorney-General appoints Emeritus Professor Gillian Triggs to the Australian Human Rights Commission as its President. Professor Triggs hopes to focus her Presidency on the implementation in Australian law of the human rights treaties to which Australia is a party, and to work with nations in the Asia Pacific region on practical approaches to human rights.
Australia transfers asylum seekers to Manus Island
In November the Australian Government recommences transferring asylum seekers to Manus Island in Papua New Guinea (PNG). These transferees’ claims for protection will be processed under the laws of Papua New Guinea.
ABS commences the largest Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health survey
The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) commences the largest Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health survey which will improve knowledge of the health issues affecting this group of Australians.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples Recognition Bill 2012 passes the House of Representatives
With support from across Parliament the House of Representatives passes the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples Recognition (in the Australian Constitution) Bill 2012. The Bill includes a statement of recognition of the unique and special place of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples that largely reflects the wording suggested by the Expert Panel on Constitutional Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Ernie Bridge dies
WA politician Ernie Bridge, first Indigenous Australian to serve in an Australian Government Cabinet, dies. Mr Bridge was a descendant of First Fleet convict Matthew James Everingham.
Adam Giles becomes first Indigenous head of government
Adam Giles is sworn in as Chief Minister of the Northern Territory on 14 March, becoming the first Indigenous head of government of an Australian state or territory.
Amendments to the South Australian Constitution give recognition to Australia’s Aboriginal peoples
Amendments to South Australia’s Constitution include a statement of acknowledgement and respect which records the Apology to the Stolen Generation given in Parliament in 1997, acknowledges and respects Aboriginal peoples as the State’s first peoples and nations, recognises Aboriginal peoples as traditional owners and occupants of the land and waters in South Australia and acknowledges that the Aboriginal peoples have endured past injustices and dispossession of their traditional lands and waters.
Australia’s population reaches 23 million
Australia’s population reaches 23 million and is growing by an estimated 1000 people every day. Australia’s population is one of the most culturally and linguistically diverse populations in the world. Australians have over 200 birthplaces and speak over 200 languages.
Families to be considered for bridging visas but ‘no advantage’ principle applies
The Minister for Immigration and Citizenship announces that bridging visas may also apply to families who arrive by boat and seek asylum. Some families may be released into the community on bridging visas but will remain subject to regional processing arrangements and will be not be processed any faster than had they waited in a refugee camp overseas. The ‘no advantage’ principle still applies.The Minister for Immigration and Citizenship announces that bridging visas may also apply to families who arrive by boat and seek asylum. Some families may be released into the community on bridging visas but will remain subject to regional processing arrangements and will be not be processed any faster than had they waited in a refugee camp overseas. The ‘no advantage’ principle still applies.
Adam Goodes urges Australians to take a stand against racism
Australian of the Year and AFL legend, Adam Goodes urges Australians to take a stand against racism and speak out when they hear racist comments.
He features in a Community Service Announcement developed by the Australian Human Rights Commission.
Adam Goodes shares anti-racism message video clip
Draft changes to the Racial Discrimination Act
A proposal to change Section 18C and Section 18D of the Racial Discrimination Act incites much debate in the community.
Summary: Racial vilification under sections 18C and 18D of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 and The Australian Human Rights Commission responds to the debate.
Four million Syrians displaced during Syrian War.
A social media campaign condemning Islamophobia under the hashtag #illridewithyou is launched after an armed man who may have links to radical Islam takes hostages in Sydney. The campaign is in response to fears that Australian Muslims could become the targets of racially motivated retaliatory attacks.
‘People have the right to be bigots’
The Attorney General Senator George Brandis declares “people have the right to be bigots” as he confirms plans to remove sections of the Racial Discrimination Act.
Racial Discrimination Act – 40 yrs
Racial Discrimination Act 1975 is 40 years old.
Nauru allegations review is released
Review into allegations relating to conditions and circumstances at the regional processing centre in Nauru released.
More humanitarian places available to refugees from Syria and Iraq
Government announces that it would make an additional 12,000 humanitarian places available to refugees from Syria and Iraq.
AHC releases guide for government to build strong, cohesive communities
The Australian Human Rights Commission released Australia’s first comprehensive online resource, Building Social Cohesion in our Communities, a guide for local government to help build strong, socially cohesive communities.
Bendigo to develop a cultural diversity plan
The City of Greater Bendigo announced its intention to develop a cultural diversity and inclusion plan to ensure its community is inclusive and prosperous.
Australian Border Force Act
Australian Border Force Act takes effect 1 July 2015.
‘The Forgotten Children’ report
The Forgotten Children: National Inquiry into Children in Immigration detention 2014 report released.
Bendigo’s anti-mosque protest
The United Patriots Front, an anti-Islam organisation and nationalist group organises demonstrations against a proposal to build a mosque in Bendigo. The demonstrations attract many protestors from outside the region.
“Je suis Charlie” vigils across Australia
Armed Al-Qaeda terrorists force their way into the offices of the French satirical weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris. Armed with rifles and other weapons, they murder 12 people and injure 11 others. Several related attacks follow in the Île-de-France region, including the Hypercacher kosher supermarket siege where a terrorist takes 19 hostages and murders 4 people. Vigils take place across Australia, with thousands holding “Je suis Charlie” signs.
Elimination of Racial Discrimination day, 50th anniversary
50th anniversary of the United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination – 21 March
First Aboriginal woman elected to serve in the House of Representatives
Linda Burney, first Aboriginal woman elected to serve in the House of Representatives.
Leading for Change: A blueprint for cultural diversity and inclusive leadership launch
Race Discrimination Commissioner Dr Soutphommasane and Westpac CEO Brian Hartzer launched Leading for Change: A blueprint for cultural diversity and inclusive leadership, challenging organisations to reconsider their cultural defaults on leadership. The blueprint for change was developed in partnership with the University of Sydney Business School, Westpac, PwC Australia and Telstra.
Indefinite mandatory detention for asylum seekers continues
Asylum seekers who arrive without a prior valid visa (by sea or air) continue to be subject to indefinite mandatory detention.
Walk Together events
Welcome to Australia organises Walk Together events across the country.
Wotton v State of Queensland
The Federal Court has ruled that the State of Queensland, acting through officers of the Queensland Police Service, engaged in unlawful discrimination under section 9(1) of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth) (RDA), in relation to their actions on Palm Island between 19 and 28 November 2004.
Yule River Bush Meeting – ‘Now here we are, fighting for our rights’
Traditional owners in the Pilbara pass a motion of no-confidence in the Western Australian Aboriginal Affairs Minister, Hon. Peter Collier, after he declined to attend an on-country bush meeting to inform traditional owners about proposed changes to the Aboriginal Heritage Act .The changes would effectively strip away protection for Aboriginal people’s heritage throughout the State.
The amendments are inconsistent with both the Commonwealth Native Title and Racial Discrimination Acts; under section 18 of the Act. Under the changes a developer proposing to destroy an Aboriginal site has a right of appeal to the Minister, whereas the Aboriginal custodians of the site do not.
The community is unified in opposition to the amendment and the Yule River meeting of traditional owners is attended by 350 traditional owners representing almost every family group in the Pilbara is a huge show of strength.
One Nation Senator Pauline Hanson’s “Swamped by Muslims” maiden speech’
Senator Pauline Hanson repeats calls for a Muslim immigration ban during her first speech to Senate and the Australian Greens party stage a walk out, saying “racism has no place in Parliament”.
Dondale Detention Centre mistreatment of Aboriginal youth
A shocking video showing a 17-year-old boy, Dylan Voller being strapped into a mechanical restraint chair in the Northern Territory Dondale Youth Detention Centre in March 2016 is aired by the ABC Four Corners program. The Human Rights Commissioner Gillian Triggs subsequently calls for a formal inquiry. Andrew Jackomos, the Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young People in Victoria, says the problems at Dondale go beyond the youth justice system to the relationship Australia has with its Indigenous peoples.
National census a culturally diverse community
The 2016 Census data shows that two thirds (67%) of the Australian population were born in Australia. Of the 6,163,667 overseas-born persons, nearly one in five (18%) had arrived since the start of 2012.
While England and New Zealand were still the next most common countries of birth after Australia, the proportion of those born overseas who were born in China and India has increased since 2011 (from 6.0% to 8.3%, and 5.6% to 7.4% respectively).
The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population has increased since 2011 from 2.5% to 2.8% of the Australian population. Further information on the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population is available in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Population data summary.
Melbourne’s “family-friendly” Moomba Festival is disrupted when street fights break out. The response to the events of the night spark a wave of unsubstantiated, heavily racialised media narratives about “African gangs”. A Report exploring the effects of media narratives on the young people of Melbourne’s South Sudanese community is released. – ‘Don’t Drag Me Into This’: Growing up South Sudanese in Victoria after the 2016 Moomba ‘Riot.
Challenging Racism Project 2015-16 National Survey Report released
Research by the television network SBS for the documentary entitled ‘Is Australia Racist [PDF]’ finds there is much support for multiculturalism but also demonstrates some ‘limits’ to the extent to which cultural diversity is viewed as beneficial to the nation.
Report shows increase in Antisemitism
The Executive Council of Australian Jewry’s annual Report on Antisemitism [PDF] in Australia 2017 notes a substantial increase (9.5 per cent) in the number of anti-Semitic incidents compared to the 2015-16 period, which it attributes to the rise of far-right activity.
ANTaR calls for an alternative date for Australia day
ANTaR, a national advocacy organisation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander rights calls for a respectful national discussion [PDF] to find an alternative date for Australia Day.
Uluru Statement from the Heart
The Uluru Statement from the Heart [PDF] by delegates to an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Referendum Convention, at Uluru in Central Australia. The statement calls for a ‘First Nations Voice’ in the Australian Constitution and a ‘Makarrata Commission’ to supervise a process of ‘agreement-making’ and ‘truth-telling’ between government and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.
Senator Pauline Hanson wears a burqa into the Senate
Senator Pauline Hanson wears a burqa into the Senate which she claims “oppresses women”. Attorney-General George Brandis receives a standing ovation from Australian Labor Party and Australian Greens senators after he makes an “emotional” speech declaring, “To ridicule that community, to drive it into a corner, to mock its religious garments is an appalling thing to do.”
Aboriginal woman, Ms Dhu denied medical attention and dies in custody
Ms Dhu, a young, Yamatji woman was arrested and taken into police custody for failure to pay fines in 2014 and she later died in detention. Ms Dhu was already injured as a result of domestic violence at the time of arrest. Ms Dhu was arrested along with her attacker and denied medical attention. Both police and medical officers claimed she was faking her injuries.
In 2017, the West Australian State Coroner Fogliani found Ms Dhu’s death was preventable, and police were ‘unprofessional and inhumane’. Saying “this is a community wide issue and until there is a seismic shift in the understanding that is extended towards the plight of Aboriginal persons, the risk of unfounded assumptions being made without conscious deliberation continues, with the attendant risk of errors”
An article by by Alice Barter & Dennis Eggington, in the Indigenous Law Journal [PDF] states – “This case epitomises the problem of institutional racism in Australia. The interaction between Miss Dhu and the people entrusted with her care, and importantly, the interaction between the medical staff and the police, demonstrates that their racist assumptions convinced them to believe she is ‘faking’ her symptoms.”
Reconciliation Barometer launched
The Reconciliation Barometer [PDF], a research study is launched with the objective of developing a tool to measure the progress of reconciliation between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-Indigenous Australians.
“It’s ok to be white” Bill
Government senators vote in support of Senator Pauline Hanson’s infamous “It’s ok to be white” motion in the Senate (support later retracted). Senator Hanson’s motion followed the maiden speech of Queensland Senator Fraser Anning, who called for a “final solution” to Australia’s immigration problem.
Population reaches 25 million
Australia’s population reaches 25 million with approximately one quarter of residents being born overseas.
Immigration numbers cut
Prime Minister Morrison declares he will cut immigration intake declaring roads and public transport in Sydney and Melbourne “full”.
Call for restrictions on immigration based on religion
Fringe political groups including the United Australia Party call for restrictions on immigration based on religion.
Concerns about immigration
The Lowy Institute Poll 2018 finds a majority of Australians oppose the current immigration rate with 54 per cent believing that the total intake of migrants is ‘too high’.
First Aboriginal Member of Parliament responsible for Indigenous Affairs – Hon. Ken Wyatt
The first Aboriginal Australian is elected to the House of Representatives, the first to serve as a government minister, and the first appointed to cabinet. Hon. Ken Wyatt is appointed Minister for Aged Care and Minister for Indigenous Health in the Prime Minster Malcolm Turnbull’s government in January 2017. He is elevated to cabinet in May 2019 becoming the first Aboriginal Minister for Indigenous Australians.
Senate censures controversial politician Fraser Anning over Christchurch shooting comments
Senator Anning is globally condemned for linking the mosque attacks that killed 50 people to Muslim immigration but repeatedly refuses to apologise for his comments.
Attack on a Mosque in Christchurch NZ
50 people die when a self-described white supremacist opens fire in a Mosque in Christchurch New Zealand. This atrocity prompts a conversation about the normalisation of hate speech on social media and online.
Sonia Kruger’s Islamophobia judged as racial vilification
Sonia Kruger, an Australian television presenter, vilifies Muslim people and calls for Australia to close its borders to those of the Islamic faith. Her comments followed a terrorist attack in Nice on Bastille Day. In 2019, NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal declare that Kruger’s “vilifying remarks” in July 2016 “amount to a stereotypical attack on all Muslims in Australia” and have the capacity to “encourage hatred towards, serious contempt for, Australian Muslims by ordinary members of the Australian population” .Sonia Kruger, an Australian television presenter, vilifies Muslim people and calls for Australia to close its borders to those of the Islamic faith. Her comments followed a terrorist attack in Nice on Bastille Day. In 2019, NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal declare that Kruger’s “vilifying remarks” in July 2016 “amount to a stereotypical attack on all Muslims in Australia” and have the capacity to “encourage hatred towards, serious contempt for, Australian Muslims by ordinary members of the Australian population”.
Manus Island detainee calls out Australia’s Government’s cruel treatment of refugees at the UN
Abdul Aziz Muhamat, a refugee and human rights defender, who spent six years detained by the Australian Government on Manus Island, addresses the UN Human Rights Council to highlight the inhumane treatment of people seeking asylum.