Almost 40 years after the referendum which gave the Commonwealth - rather than the various states - power to make laws covering the Aboriginal people of Australia, there is little evidence that any real progress has been made towards bettering the Aborigines' position. The key issue during this time has been the battle for Aboriginal land rights. Despite High Court decisions on two cases favoring the Aborigines' cause, any real benefit to them has been largely negated by prolonged litigation over granting title, and by arguments as to whether the land in question should be used for economic benefit or simply retained for cultural preservation. Much attention and considerable financial resources have also been directed to Aboriginal health, where traditional areas of health concern have been replaced with problems such as alcoholism. Successive federal governments have devised numerous policies and programs intended to give Australia's Aboriginal peoples the right to self-determination, and have provided large sums to make this possible. On some occasions these policies have been replaced within twelve months indicating their lack of success. Aboriginal Affairs is a detailed and objective account from the time of the referendum of 1967, and argues the case for a total overhaul of government policies and programs.
01 February 2006