Aboriginal Referendum 1967: Article written in 1966 Colin Cowell Hadfield High Student News


Background to the first article I wrote on Aboriginal issues 47 years ago:

Hadfield High School Newsletter 1966 (Northern Suburbs of Melbourne)

The referendum of 27 May 1967, called by the Holt Government, approved two amendments to the Australian constitution relating to Indigenous Australians. Technically it was a vote on the Constitution Alteration (Aboriginal People) 1967, which became law on 10 August 1967 following the results of the referendum. The amendments were overwhelmingly endorsed, winning 90.77 percent of votes cast and carrying in all six states.[1] The other question put in the referendum, on the composition of parliament, was rejected, receiving less than half as much support.[2

We must help Aboriginal to achieve equality

Please note I have not changed any of my words:

All of us at some time in our education have studied the Australian Aborigines. We have dealt mainly with their past traditions and hunting habits. Yet most of us tend to forget that this ancient race must have a future.

What type of future will they have ?. Will it be similar to that of the Tasmanian Aboriginal ?. Will they become extinct ? or will they become the centre of a racial conflict as the negroes in America ? The answer to this depends on us, the young generation. We must help these people to achieve equality. It is our duty, firstly to humanity, and secondly to our own history.

Numerically the Aborigines are weak. At the time of the first settlement they numbered 300,000. It has since declined to 130,000, many of whom are only part Aboriginal. This may seem a slight decrease but compare it with the white population. In 1788 it would have been about 400. It is now 12 million.

The Aboriginal way of life has always been nomadic. However settlements have been organized and specifically designed to the assimilation of the Aborigines into our society. Unfortunately some of these settlements are in a decrepitated state, and render themselves virtually useless eg. Lake Tyers in Victoria. Others such as Tramlingham and Rumbalara have proved a little more successful.

Many of these settlements utilize “transitional housing schemes” in order to prepare them for the step into a home of their own. These schemes consist of bringing an Aboriginal family into a housing unit. At first the units are basically simple, often constructed of concrete, sheet iron, aluminium. The bare essentials of furniture are placed in it and the Aborigines are taught how to use and care for them. They are charged a small rental fee for these houses, in order to familiarize them with financial matters. When the family is ready to move into a home of their own they may, if they so desire, apply for a loan from the Government which then enables them to purchase a house.

The educational opportunities of the Aboriginal are not equal to those of the white population. The schools are there, but the parents of many Aboriginal children do not realize their children to attend. There are also some parents who cannot afford the expenses of education and as a result the children suffer. The lack of education opportunities is made obvious by the fact that there have been only a minority of Aboriginal University graduates eg. Charles Perkins, less than ten in the whole of Australia. Very few Aborigines complete their secondary education. The majority have left by the age of 14 or less.

Education is the key to this situation. By educating these people they will learn to understand our way of life and vice versa. Through the means of education they can establish their own leaders and be truly represented in their own country.

We can help these people to attain their education by raising money for scholarships. Under the Carey Aboriginal Scholarship Scheme the expenses to put one Aboriginal student through one year of secondary education amount to $260. The student receiving this scholarship may shift his residence and live with a white family, or he may remain in his own home depending on the circumstances.

The aim of Hadfield High School is to raise $260 by the end of November. YOU, the students of this school can help. Attend all functions held for the benefit of the Aboriginal Scheme. You can part with a mere five cents. After all you have the security of knowing your future role in life, but the future of our Aborigines is largely dependent on us.



No comments yet.

Leave a Reply