The Institute Times

1975 - Racial Discrimination Act

The Australian Parliament passes the Racial Discrimination Act 1975.

The Act aims to ensure that people of all backgrounds are treated equally and have the same opportunities. The Act also makes discrimination against people on the basis of their race, colour, descent or national or ethnic origin unlawful.

1975 - Inaugural NADOC Week

The inaugural National Aborigines Day Observance Committee (NADOC) Week from the first to second Sunday in July is held to remember Aboriginal people and their heritage.

1975 - Liberal Country Party officially abandons Assimilation as a policy

1976 - The AIAS welcomes its first Torres Strait Islander Council Member

Ephraim Bani , first Torres Strait Islander AIAS council member.
Ephraim Bani, courtesy of the Bani family.

In 1976, the Governor-General appointed Mr Ephraim Bani as the first Torres Strait Islander member to the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies (AIAS) Council.

Mr Bani was born on Mabuiag Island in the Torres Strait and was the 7th Traditional Chief of Wagadagam and the most significant person to reside as Chief on the great Goemulgaw Kod. In his early years, Mr Bani worked as a pearl shell diver and shell grader.

Mr Bani’s uncles (Mawai) taught him the ways of survival, the recognition of spirituality and affiliation with nature.

He worked as a pearl shell diver before he commenced his formal training with the School of Australian Linguistics in Darwin in 1975 and later travelled to Alberta, Canada to spend a year studying linguistics at Calgary University.

Mr Bani was dedicated to recording his culture and through a small grant from the AIAS, he was able to publish a number of articles on the Torres Strait and also prepare a dictionary of the Kala Lagaw Ya language.

He was also a visionary leader in the establishment of the first Torres Strait Islander Cultural Centre, Gab Titui, which today, still takes pride of place on Thursday Island.

1976 - Australian Parliament passes the Aboriginal Land Rights (NT) Act 1976

In February 1973, the Commonwealth Government set up a Royal Commission under Mr Justice Woodward to inquire into how land rights might be achieved in the Northern Territory. The Northern Land Council and Central Land Council formed in the same year to assist with the work of the Commission.

The report by the Commission heavily influenced the creation of the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976, which was eventually passed by the Australian Government on the 16th December 1976 and came into operation on 26th January 1977.

1977 - AIAS appoints first Aboriginal Woman to Council

Margaret Valadian, first aboriginal woman with voting rights to sit on the AIAS council.
Courtesy of Margaret Valadian.

Ms Margaret Valadian becomes the first Aboriginal woman with voting rights to sit on the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies (AIAS) Council after winning a secret ballot, to fill a vacancy left by a member on study leave.

Brisbane born, in 1966 Ms Valadian, joined the elite and few Aboriginal graduates in Australia when she received a Bachelor of Social Studies in Social Work from the University of Queensland. She went on to complete a Masters in Education from the University of Hawaii in 1967 and a Masters in Social Welfare from the State University of New York in 1973.