The Institute Times

1977 - AIAS assists Northern Land Council with claims

Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Ian Viner speaking at the first meeting of the Northern Land Council.
Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Ian Viner speaking at the first meeting of the Northern Land Council. Courtesy of AIATSIS.

In 1973 the Commonwealth Government set up a Royal Commission to inquire into how land rights might be achieved in the Northern Territory. Both the Northern Land Council (NLC) and Central Land Council (CLC) formed in the same year to assist with the work of the Commission.

After the Aboriginal Land Rights (NT) Act was established in 1976, the AIAS was approached to become involved in the preparation of land claims due to the NLC's lack of funds and personnel to carry out the work.

Council agreed to support the NLC and other interested parties with funding support and expert personnel who could advise the organisations in the preparation on land claims.

1978 - Aboriginal Affairs Minister requests research into social impact of uranium mining

In 1978, the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, the Hon Ian Viner invited the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies to monitor the social impact of uranium mining on Aborigines in the Northern Territory. The consequent research program involved establishing baseline data on the social environment and providing updated information before attempting to monitor and report changes as they occurred. The Institute reported to the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs at quarterly then at six-monthly intervals, and could report directly at any times on issues of the moment.

In an address to the National Press Club in Canberra the previous year, Mr Viner had indicated the economic planning for the proposed mining in the area were the least of the difficulties.

'What will be more difficult is the mammoth task – and it will be mammoth – of social planning to avoid social disruption, particularly to the Aboriginal communities involved', he said. 'This will be a sensitive and delicate task.

'If we fail to provide opportunities for the Aboriginal people to participate in any uranium developments, the whole Australian community will be diminished.'

Source: Uranium's social impact stressed - The Canberra Times Friday 8 July 1977 p6 Trove


1979 - We Call For A Treaty within Australia, Between Australians

We the undersigned Australians, of European descent, believe that experience since 1788 has demonstrated the need for the status and rights of Aboriginal Australians and Torres Strait Islanders to he established in a Treaty, Covenant or Convention freely negotiated with the Commonwealth Government by their representatives. Australia is the only former British colony not to recognise native title to land. From this first wrong two centuries of injustice have followed. It is time to strike away the past and make a just settlement together. We believe this would be a signal to the world that we are indeed one Australian people at last.

In New Zealand, at the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, the Maori chiefs were guaranteed by their conquerors "full, exclusive and undisturbed possession of their lands . . . so long as it is their wish and desire to retail the same", and most of these land were later bought. In North America, Indian tribes negotiated treaties with their conquerors, who recognised the principle of purchase or compensation for the loss of their lands. The colonial authorities were directed by the government in London to deal with the tribes as "foreign nations". In Papua, in 1884, the conquerors assured the people "your lands will be preserved unto you’, again until they decided to sell. But in Australia there was no recognition of Aboriginal land ownership, no compensation for dispossession, no treaty, despite the resistance of the Aboriginal tribes to their conquerors.

Indeed, the absence of a settlement leads many Aborigines to conclude even today that their resistance is not yet over. It is a sad conclusion, for all of us, after so many generations of living together in this country. We believe there is a deep and wide concern among Australians of European descent that our ownership of this land, as defined in the imported European law, should still be based solely upon force, without any documentary recognition of the quality and courage of those who were conquered. It is time to right this wrong.

Source: The National Times, Week Ending August 25, 1979 AIATSIS

Handbook for Aboriginal and Islander History cover.

1979 - The Handbook for Aboriginal and Islander History

Published in 1979, the Handbook for Aboriginal and Islander History, edited by Diane Barwick, Michael Mace and Tom Stannage, was a groundbreaking publication produced with the assistance of the Institute. Contributors included bibliographers, technical experts, anthropologists and linguists.

In a review in the Canberra Times the work was described as an imaginative production that should be of immeasurable help to anyone who is convinced that in 1788 Australia was actually invaded, not 'founded', and that our history has been sadly distorted in the past.

THE 'great Australian silence' about Aboriginal history, as diagnosed by William Stanner, has by now been broken but the new sounds have yet to be widely heard and appreciated...

Hence a valuable service is performed by the Barwick, Mace and Stannage manual.

Source: Trove

1979 - AIAS launches the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Biographical Index

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Biographical Index (ABI) is a personal name index to published material held in the AIAS Library.

The ABI is compiled by an indexer who reads through books from the library collection and creates records for the names of people mentioned in them.

The items indexed cover the whole of Australia, including Tasmania and the Torres Strait.

The ABI later became the AIATSIS Family History Unit (FHU).