The Institute Times

1981 - First Link-Up established

First Link-Up established by Kooris in New South Wales to help Aboriginal people who had been forcibly removed from their families to trace their genealogy, family history and potentially reunite with their families.

Link-Up (NSW) Aboriginal Corporation

Michael Anderson, tent embassy founder in a group at the UN
Courtesy of Michael Anderson.

1981 - Tent Embassy founder Michael Anderson first Australian Aboriginal to address the United Nations

1982 - Edward Koiki Mabo launches Native title case in High Court

1983 - Aboriginal Land Rights Act (NSW) established

In 1983, the Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1983 became law in NSW. The preamble of the Act recognised that land is of spiritual, social, cultural and economic importance to Aboriginal people.

Initial response to the Act was not all positive with the newly formed NSW Aboriginal Land Council (NSWALC) attacking it, suggesting it was so watered down that it looked like a public relations exercise for the state government.

Under the Act there was a requirement for self-funded and self-regulated network of independent Aboriginal Corporations. As a result, NSWALC identified its first priority as forming strong local and regional land councils … while at the same time ensuring the State Government kept to its election promise to hand the freehold title of Aboriginal reserves to the resident communities.

Source: Land Act attacked - The Canberra Times Wednesday 15 June 1983 p19 Trove

Source: NSW Government Office of Communities Aboriginal Affairs.

1984 - AIAS Uranium Impact Project comes to a close

In 1978 the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs invited the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies (AIAS) to monitor the social impact of uranium mining on Aborigines in the Northern Territory. To give effect to this brief, the AIAS Council appointed a Uranium Impact Project Steering Committee. This Committee included experts in political science, anthropology, Aboriginal sites, and Aboriginal representatives of the Oenpelli community and the Northern Land Council. The Committee also had the power to co-opt non-voting participants.

The project by Institute researchers involved establishing baseline data on the social environment and providing up-dated 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.

At the end of five years the Minister was presented with the Consolidated Report of the Project, which was tabled in Parliament in October 1984, and several accompanying volumes that were not tabled.


1987 - Prime Minister of Australia announces Royal Commission into the causes of deaths of Aboriginal people in custody

Prime Minister Hawke announces Royal Commission into the causes of deaths of Aboriginal people in custody
Courtesy of the Australian Human Rights Commission.

On 10 August 1987 Prime Minister Bob Hawke announced the formation of a Royal Commission to investigate the causes of deaths of Aboriginal people while held in State and Territory gaols. The Royal Commission was in response to a growing public concern about deaths in custody of Aboriginal people were too common and poorly explained.

Led by the Royal Commissioner, the Hon Mr Justice Muirhead, the Royal Commission examined all Aboriginal deaths in custody in each State and Territory which occurred between 1 January 1980 and 31 May 1989, and the actions taken in respect of each death. During this period, 99 Aboriginal deaths in custody were investigated and the Commission created or collected about 200 shelf metres of records that dealt with the investigation of individual cases.

Source: National Archives of Australia

Impaja television station
Courtesy of Christine Guster.

1987 - Imparja Television Company receives the first TV Broadcasting licence issued to an Aboriginal organisation