First Nations Recent History 2000 – Today
March: Australia appears before the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. The committee criticises the government’s inadequate response to recommendations from the Bringing Them Home Report.
27 May – 3 June: Corroboree 2000 is held at Sydney Opera House to mark 10 years of work on reconciliation. Here, the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation presents to the nation Corroboree 2000 – Towards Reconciliation which includes the documents ‘Australian Declaration towards Reconciliation’ and ‘Roadmap for Reconciliation’. The roadmap outlines four national strategies to advance reconciliation.
28 May: More than 300,000 take part in the People’s Walk for Reconciliation across the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
Cathy Freeman wins gold in the women’s 400m at the Sydney 2000 Olympics. The opening and closing ceremonies celebrated Indigenous cultural identity and history and provided some deft political comment on contemporary Aboriginal issues.
An Aboriginal Tent Embassy is set up in Sydney during the Olympic period to attract world media attention to Australian Indigenous issues.
The Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation ceases to operate by the end of 2000. It is to be replaced by a new national body, Reconciliation Australia, in 2001.
The Northern Territory overturns its mandatory sentencing laws.
The Yeperenye Federation Festival outside Alice Springs becomes the largest corroboree ever staged in Australia, involving more than 25,000 people of 40 Indigenous nations. The programme is a celebration revolving around the theme of the Yeperenye (Caterpillar) Dreaming story and federation as seen from an Aboriginal perspective.
Aden Ridgeway is the first Aboriginal person to be elected as a parliamentary leader when he holds the position of Deputy Leader of the Australian Democrats from 2001 to 2002.
Carol Martin (Australian Labor Party), becomes the first Aboriginal woman to be elected to the parliament of an Australian state when she wins the seat of Kimberley in the Parliament of Western Australia.
The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Dr William Jonas, presents the Social Justice Report 2001 and Native Title Report 2001 to the federal parliament. In the report he questions: What happened to reconciliation? Both reports express serious concerns about the nation’s progress in recognisising Aboriginal rights.
The Senate Legal and Constitutional References Committee commences an inquiry into the Progress Towards National Reconciliation and is due to report by September 2003.
The first member of the Stolen Generations is awarded compensation in the NSW Victims Compensation Tribunal for the sexual assault and injuries she suffered after authorities removed her from her family.
The government starts using Shared Responsibility Agreements (SRAs), voluntary written agreements, which set out outcomes to be achieved and the agreed roles and responsibilities of governments and Aboriginal communities in relation to particular projects or activities.
The Commonwealth government establishes a memorial to the Stolen Generations at Reconciliation Place in Canberra.
November: Mulrunji Doomadgee dies in a police watch house on Palm Island, 70 km north of Townsville in north Queensland. His death sparks violent riots during which the police station and officers’ quarters are burnt down. Senior Sergeant Chris Hurley is found guilty of causing Mulrunji’s death, but in late 2006 Queensland’s Director of Public Prosecutions, Leanne Clare, opts not to prosecute him. In February 2007 the Premier Peter Beattie orders a judicial review of the case and Hurley is charged with manslaughter, the first time ever in Queensland
that a police officer is charged over the death of an Aboriginal person. In June 2007 an all-white jury finds him not guilty. Hurley returns to work after having been suspended on full pay. An Aboriginal man, Lex Wotton, was found guilty on 24 October 2008 of “rioting with destruction” and sentenced to six years in prison.
The National Indigenous Council is appointed to be an advisory body to the Australian government, chaired by Dr Sue Gordon, a Western Australian Magistrate. It winds up in early 2008.
21 November: Casey Donovan, at just 16 years of age, becomes the youngest and first female winner of Australian Idol. She releases Listen to Your Heart a few days later.
Michael Long, a former Australian Rules footballer of partial Aboriginal decent, sets out on foot from Melbourne to Canberra to speak to Prime Minister John Howard and raise awareness of the plight of Aboriginal Australians. His walk becomes known as The Long Walk.
The organisation ‘Stolen Generations Victoria’ is set up as a result of the 2003 report of the Stolen Generations taskforce. Its purpose is to establish a range of support and referral services that will assist Stolen Generations people to reconnect with their families, communities, cultures and lands.
The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) is dismantled by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission Amendment Act 2005 and replaced by a Commonwealth government-appointed advisory board.
The first official Sorry Day ceremony outside Australia is hosted in Lincoln Fields, London, on 25 May 2005.
17 May: Boxer Danny Green loses to Aboriginal man Anthony Mundine by points decision over 12 rounds. The fight remains one of the most watched bouts in Australian boxing history.
31 May: Victoria is the first state to formally recognise the sacrifice and service of Aboriginal servicemen during the inaugural Honouring Victorian Indigenous Returned Service Men and Women Shrine of Rememberance Service. The service is held each year since.
19 September: A federal court ruling grants one of the nation’s largest native title claims to Perth and its surrounds (three times the size of Tasmania) to the Noongar Aboriginal people. The West Australian government instantly appeals the ruling.
October: The first Stolen Generations compensation scheme in Australia is set up in Tasmania by the Stolen Generations of Aboriginal Children Act 2006 (Tas).
26 November: Jessica Mauboy comes second in the finale of the 4th season of Australian Idol, starting her singing career.
Intervention & punishment
15 June: Pat Anderson and Rex Wild release the Little Children are Sacred report which reports ‘widespread sex abuse’ of children throughout communities of the Northern Territory. The report makes 97 recommendations.
21 June: Prime Minister John Howard and Indigenous Affairs Minister Mal Brough announce the Northern Territory intervention. Staged as a response to the ‘Little Children are Sacred’ report, the intervention is widely criticised because it also legislates to remove the permit system for access to Aboriginal land, abolish the Community Development Employment Projects (CDEP), quarantine 50% of welfare payments, compulsorily acquire Aboriginal land and subject Aboriginal children to mandatory health checks.
While the intervention receives bipartisan political support, many opponents label it an ‘invasion’ and promise a ‘Little Children are Scared’ report (a wordplay on the Report’s title).
1 July: The Corporations (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) Act comes into effect, aiming to strengthen governance and management of Aboriginal corporations with consistent practices and standards.
13 July: National Indigenous Television (NITV), Australia’s first national 24-hour Aboriginal television service, starts.
24 July: Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarra’s painting Warlugulong breaks all sales records for Aboriginal paintings when it is sold at an auction for $2.4 million.
1 August: Bruce Trevorrow is the first person to receive Stolen Generations compensation by a court. A court awards him $525,000 for ‘pain, suffering and false imprisonment’ .
30 August: The High Court rejects legislation passed by the Howard government which denied all prisoners the right to vote. This law was challenged by Vickie Roach, an Aboriginal prisoner in Melbourne. But the Court upheld the validity of the law providing that prisoners serving a sentence of three years or longer are not
entitled to vote.
13 September: 143 member states adopt the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Along with Canada, New Zealand and the United States, Australia is one of four nations to vote against the declaration, while 11 nations abstain.
14 September: The National Aboriginal Alliance (NAA) forms in Alice Springs as a response to the intervention of the government in the Northern Territory. It describes itself as completely independent of government and committed to Aboriginal people’s right to self-determination .
24 November: John Howard loses the federal election in a landslide (‘Ruddslide’) defeat against the Australian Labor Party’s candidate Kevin Rudd. Rudd promises to say sorry to the Stolen Generations and to consult with Aboriginal people.
Marion Scrymgour becomes the first Aboriginal person to lead a state or territory government when she becomes Deputy Chief Minister of the Northern Territory.
January: Ngaanyatjarra Elder Mr Ward dies in the back of a prison van because the two officers failed to give him water and offer him breaks while driving 320km through 42-degree heat in Western Australia. ⇒ Deaths in custody
12 February: For the first time in government history Aboriginal people perform a Welcome to Country as the federal parliament opens after the break.
13 February: The Australian Parliament apologises to the Stolen Generations. Both the government and the opposition support the apology and say ‘sorry’ to Aboriginal people who were taken away from their families from 1900 to the 1970s.
1 May: South Australia creates the SA Aboriginal Advisory Council (SAAAC) which advises the government on programmes and policies on Aboriginal people. The council is meant to fill the void left by the abolished ATSIC.
20 May: Patrick Dodson is the second Australian to receive Australia’s only international peace prize, the Sydney 2008 Peace Prize.
June: Aboriginal people in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) vote for Australia’s first elected Aboriginal representative body since ATSIC’s demise in 2005. Seven representatives will be elected every three years to advise the ACT government on policy that affects the lives of the ACT’s Aboriginal population.
27 June: Nathan Jawai is the first Aboriginal Australian basketball player to be drafted into North America’s National Basketball Association (NBA), playing for the Toronto Raptors.
3 July: 400 Aboriginal men take part in an Aboriginal male health summit and issue the Inteyerrkwe Statement, an apology from men to women for violence and abuse.
31 July: The High Court hands down its Blue Mud Bay decision which says that the Northern Territory government could not grant commercial fishing operators licenses for areas within the boundaries of the Aboriginal Land Rights (NT) Act. This affects 80% of the NT’s coast and tidal rivers where revenues of licenses flow now to Aboriginal people instead of the white government.
August: The Canberra suburb of Bonner names public places and roads after prominent Aboriginal leaders and their supporters. The suburb itself was named after Neville Bonner, the first Aboriginal person to sit in federal parliament as a Senator for Queensland from 1971 to 1983.
1 September: In his swearing-in speech, High Court Chief Justice Robert French acknowledges the Ngunnawal people present as the ‘traditional people’ of the area and pays tribute to Aboriginal culture and history. It is believed to be the first time such comments came from Australia’s highest legal seat.
September: Freddie Timms’ ‘Wunubi Spring’ is the world’s first chemically protected Aboriginal artwork which uses a chemical fingerprint to protect the painting.
28 October: The Devils Marbles (Karlu Karlu) site in the Northern Territory is handed back to traditional owners after a 28-year native title battle. Its owners consider Karlu Karlu as one of the most significant sacred sites.
29 November: Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting where state and federal heads announce they will contribute $806 million (federal) and $772 million (all states) into Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health over the next four years, the biggest single injection of Indigenous health spending in decades.
13 December: The Queensland government announces a new Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Council. The council should provide a direct link between Indigenous people and the government. The 14 members are appointed for a two-year period.
1 January: The NT government rules that the first four hours of education in all NT schools will be delivered in English, putting an end to 34 years of bilingual education in the Northern Territory by ending the nine remaining bilingual programs.
9 January: The Western Australian government announces the formation of the Indigenous Implementation Board to improve social and economic outcomes for Aboriginals. The nine-member board aims to ‘enhance Indigenous involvement in local decision-making and strengthen corporate and non-government contribution to Indigenous affairs’. Members are chosen for their expertise, not as representatives.
26 January: Aboriginal law professor Mick Dodson receives the 2009 Australian of the Year award for his lifetime commitment to improving the lives of Aboriginal people and helping to close the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.
30 January: The Northern Territory government and traditional owners settle one of the longest native title claims over the Cox Peninsula, about 30 kms west of Darwin. 80% of the area will be designated Aboriginal land for the Larrakia people.
February: Reconciliation Australia releases the Australian Reconciliation Barometer, a first-ever study on how Aboriginal and other Australians see and feel about each other.
30 March: The Federal Court makes the largest native title determination in South Australia’s history when it regognises rights of the Adnyamathanha people to land in and around the Flinders Ranges.
3 April: Australia supports the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). After 20 years of negotiations, the declaration was formally adopted by the UN General Assembly on 13 September 2007 with the support of 143 member states and the opposition of four (Australia, Canada, USA, NZ). The Howard government had rejected the declaration fearing a separate customary law.
May: The Australian government allocates the largest amount of funding for a single year in the history of federal budgets to Indigenous affairs: A$4.8 billion. The biggest single item with A$106 million is for the Canberra bureaucracy to manage the income of Aboriginal people under the Northern Territory intervention.
The Football Federation Australia announces a ten-year Indigenous Football Development Program to give soccer a higher profile in the Indigenous community and to lift the percentage of Indigenous players in the sport’s elite level.
Boxer Anthony Mundine claims his third world boxing title.
The Northern Territory releases its first-ever policy for homelands and outstations, setting out how the government intends to provide services and infrastructure to assist communities living on Aboriginal-owned lands. ⇒ Aboriginal homelands
July: After months of pressure Tangentyere Council reluctantly agrees to hand over Aboriginal community land to the Australian government for 40 years, in return for A$100m to upgrade housing and services in town camps in Alice Springs.
15 July: When their community’s sewerage system fails and raw sewage floods the street many members of the Ampilatwatja people walk off to camp in the desert during the Australian winter. ⇒ Aboriginal houses
27 August: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner Tom Calma outlines the proposed model for a new national Indigenous representative body to fill the void since the demise of ATSIC in 2004. The model enables representation by Indigenous land councils, peak bodies and other Indigenous organisations, as well as a place for leaders operating at all levels. It has a 50/50 gender rule for representatives and an overseeing role of an ethics committee.
16 November: The Prime Minister Kevin Rudd says sorry to the Forgotten Australians which include migrants and Indigenous people who were victims of abuse in orphanages and institutions between 1930 and 1970. The Forgotten Australians suffered abuse similar to that suffered by members of the Stolen Generations of Aboriginal peoples.
17 November: Marianne Mackay and Glenn Moore found the Aboriginal Political Party, where every candidate identifies as Aboriginal.
22 November: The government announces its support of the new representative body for Aboriginal people, called the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples (NCAFP).
17 December: 50 years after the British military exploded nuclear bombs on their lands without informing them, the South Australian Maralinga Tjarutja people are returned their land. ⇒ Native Title
January: The Aboriginal Political Party and the Ecological and Social Justice Party unite to become the Western Australia-based Ecological, Social Justice, Aboriginal Party (ESJA) with its inaugural President Glenn Moore.
26 January: About 12,000 people attend the inaugural Saltwater Freshwater Festival in Coffs Harbour, reclaiming Australia Day as a positive inclusive day for the Gumbaynggirr community.
12 February: Indigenous Sport Queensland launches the Queensland Indigenous Sports Hall of Fame.
13 February: The Indigenous All Stars team plays the National Rugby League All Stars, two years after Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s apology to the Stolen Generations.
17 February: Singer and actress Ruby Hunter dies of a heart attack aged 54.
23 February: The Queensland Parliament amends the Constitution of Queensland to include a preamble recognising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the First Australians. The preamble now reads: “The people of Queensland, free and equal citizens of Australia… honour the Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islander peoples, the First Australians, whose lands, winds and waters we all now share; and pay tribute to their unique values, and their ancient and enduring cultures, which deepen and enrich the life of our community…”
19 March: Australia’s richest man, Andrew Forrest, launches GenerationOne in the presence of the Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and celebrities and actors such as Cate Blanchett and Russell Crowe. The campaign aims at convincing Australians to help end Indigenous disadvantage.
Australia changes with each one of us making a change… Let’s change Australia for the better.—Prime Minister Kevid Rudd launching GenerationOne 
20 March: Veteran Aboriginal rights activist, Charles ‘Chicka’ Dixon, dies aged 81. Dixon was active in the Federal Council for the Advancement of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders and its campaign for the 1967 national referendum. Dixon was also active in the Aboriginal Tent Embassy movement in the 1970s and a major player in establishing Australia’s first Aboriginal legal and medical services. He received a state funeral on March 31st.
19 April: New Zealand signs the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, leaving only the USA and Canada rejecting it.
May: Aboriginal academic Megan Davis becomes the first Aboriginal person appointed to a UN body when the Australian government nominates her for the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.
The left wing Ecological, Social Justice, Aboriginal Party unites with the First Nations Original Peoples Party to form the federally registered First Nations Political Party.
28 May: Michael Leslie wins the $50,000 Red Ochre Award for lifetime achievement in Indigenous dance.
June: 19-year-old Aboriginal model Samantha Harris makes it to the cover of Vogue Australia’s June issue. Harris got her first break into modelling after entering a competition in the Australian teenage magazine Girlfriend in 2003, aged just 13.
9 June: The Resale Royalty Right for Visual Artists Act is introduced, entitling all artists to a 5% royalty whenever their work is re-sold. Thousands of Aboriginal artists can benefit from the scheme. ⇒ Aboriginal art profits
12 June: Timana Tahu, an Aboriginal player of the Sydney-based Parramatta Eels Rugby League club, walks out of the NSW Origin team camp in response to racist comments by the team’s assistant coach Andrew Johns, sparking a media debate about racism against Aboriginal players and people.
24 June: Julia Gillard, previously Deputy Prime Minister, becomes the first female Prime Minister of Australia after Kevin Rudd lost the confidence of his party. Rudd served the shortest period of any Prime Minister so far.
Noongar man Ken Wyatt becomes the first Indigenous Australian in the House of Representatives in the federal parliament when he wins the Perth seat of Hasluck for the Liberal Party.
27 June: French-born tourist Alizee Sery, 25, outrages Aboriginal and non-Indigenous people by walking to the top of Uluru (formerly Ayers Rock) and performing a strip show which she sees as a ‘tribute’ to Aboriginal people. ⇒ Threats to Aboriginal land
29 July: The West Australian government approves $3.2 million, one of the largest ex-gratia (voluntary) payments ever made in Australia to the family of an Aboriginal Elder who died of heatstroke in the back of a prison van in 2008. ⇒ Aboriginal deaths in custody
28 August: The UN Committee on the Eliminiation of Racial Discrimination (CERD) delivers a damning report on Australia’s failure to meet international commitments on eliminating discrimination.
8 September: NSW becames the third Australian state, after Victoria and Queensland, to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in their Constitutional preambles. The Aboriginal flag is also permanently hung in the NSW Parliament.
We are enshrining today fundamental truths, the truth that Aboriginal people are the first peoples of NSW, the truth of the spiritual, economic and cultural ties that bind Aboriginal people to the land.—Kristina Keneally, Premier of NSW 
30 September: The National Gallery of Australia opens 11 new Indigenous galleries and art spaces that will house the majority of the gallery’s huge collection of Indigenous art, reportedly the largest collection of its kind in the world. ⇒ Aboriginal arts
9 October: The opera Pecan Summer premieres telling the story of the Cummeragunja Aboriginal walk-off of 1939. It is the first opera to be partly sung in Yorta Yorta language.
15 October: The Indigenous Land Corporation (ILC) announces it had purchased the Ayers Rock Resort at Yulara, near Uluru (Ayers Rock). The deal covers all resort hotels, accommodation and infrastructure. The ILC is an independent statutory authority of the Australian government, established to assist Aboriginal people to acquire and manage land to achieve economic, environmental, social and cultural benefits.
14 November: Poet and author Dr Roberta ‘Bobbi’ Sykes dies aged 67. In the 1980s she became the first Aboriginal Australian to attend Harvard University, gaining a PhD in education, and in 1994 was awarded the Australian Human Rights Medal. Sykes also was the executive secretary of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy.
25 November: Aboriginal author and lawyer Larissa Behrendt is named NSW Australian of the Year in “recognition of her passionate and articulate advocacy for the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders”.
7 December: The Salvation Army apologises to survivors of Salvation Army Girls and Boys Homes of Australia, the “forgotten children”. They lived in orphanages and homes until the early 1990s, and many were abused. 40% of them were Aboriginal .
16 December: The USA is the last country to sign up to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). Canada joined on November 12, 2010.
January: Australia experiences its worst flooding on record affecting Queensland, Victoria, Western Australia and Tasmania. The floods claim the life of at least one Aboriginal person, delay land claim hearings and put further pressure on people on housing waiting lists. Many don’t accept help or play down their loss. Aboriginal musician Troy Cassar-Daley loses his farm near Brisbane.
Golden Guitars are pretty sturdy, like the artists that get them.—Troy Cassar-Daley, commenting about the Golden Guitars he won which were muddied by the floods 
6 January: Australia’s First Nations Political Party (AFNPP) is registered with the Australian Electoral Commission, entitling it to elect an executive and pre-select candidates for parliamentary elections. The party was founded by Maurie Japarta Ryan, grandson of Vincent Lingiari.
2 February: Cyclone Yasi crosses over north Queensland causing billions of dollars of damage. Palm Island loses its over 100-year-old Old Fig Tree, a story place of the community. People as far as 700 km away feel the force of the storm which triggers the biggest domestic deployment of the defence forces.
February: Australia Post becomes the first government business enterprise to create a Reconciliaton Action Plan (RAP). It celebrates it with the release of an invitation-only commemorative stamp featuring Ellen Pangerian (1847-1877), also known as Helen Mary Cuper, who was the first Aboriginal post mistress in Australia.
16 March: Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corporation releases the video FMG’s Great Native Title Swindle showing Fortescue Metals Group head Andrew Forrest addressing a remote Pilbara community meeting. The video shows how powerless and unsupported Aboriginal people are when negotiating with a multibillion-dollar corporation. The video causes big waves in the media.
24 March: The Lowitja Institute opens in Melbourne, the first national body solely committed to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health research. Its naming patron is Aboriginal woman Dr Lowitja O’Donoghue from the Luritja clan of Central Australia.
17 April: Yindjibarndi woman Jodi Broun and Butchulla man Les Malezer become the first elected national Indigenous leaders since the abolition of ATSIC as they assume the positions of co-chairs of the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples.
April: Benson Saulo from the Wemba Wemba people and raised in Tamworth, is the first Aboriginal person to become Australia’s Youth Representative to the United Nations.
8 May: Aboriginal boxer Lionel Rose dies aged 62. He was the first Aboriginal boxer to win a world title. ⇒ Famous Aboriginal sports people
8 June: The National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples gets the first elected board, giving Aboriginal people the first elected national representative body since the abolition of ATSIC.
June: The Australian Capital Territory gets its first Aboriginal politician when Gamilaroi man Chris Bourke is elected to the ACT Legislative Assembly. Mr Bourke is the son of Prof Colin Bourke, the first Aboriginal person to qualify as a dentist.
2 October: Dr Aunty Ruby Langford Ginibi dies. She was one of Australia’s foremost Aboriginal authors and wrote numerous books, short stories and poetry. Her trademark term was ‘edu-ma-cating’ non-Aboriginal people about Aboriginal peoples’ circumstances and struggle. ⇒ Aboriginal books
28 September: The Federal Court of Australia decides that journalist Andrew Bolt has contravened the Racial Discrimination Act “because of the manner” in which he reported about Aboriginal people of mixed descent (‘fair-skinned’). ⇒ Racism
October: Aboriginal directory service inguides.com.au launches Australia’s first Indigenous mobile application.40th anniversary of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy.
November: Gamilaroi man Chris Bourke becomes the ACT’s first Aboriginal government minister, taking on the portfolios of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs, education and training.
The government introduces new legislation to extend key Northern Territory Emergency Response measures for a further 10 years. ⇒ The NT Intervention
26 January: The Aboriginal Tent Embassy in Canberra celebrates its 40th anniversary. An incident where the Prime Minister was disturbed by around 50 protesters outside a restaurant makes security guards drag her hurriedly into a car. She loses a shoe, gaining her the nickname ‘Gingerella’ (alluding to Cinderella and PM Julia Gillard’s red hair). Media reports grossly exaggerate the events.
14 February: Three former Aboriginal children’s homes are added to the NSW State Heritage Register: Cootamundra, Bomaderry Aboriginal Children’s Home and Kinchela Aboriginal Boys Training Home.
March-April Aboriginal people set up tent embassies in Brisbane, Moree and Perth to draw attention to issues such as sovereignty and native title.
April: The first Aboriginal-owned biobank opens in the Hunter Valley.
Western Australia renames the Foundation Day public holiday (first Monday in June) as Western Australia Day, for the first time in legislation recognising Aboriginal people as the original inhabitants and traditional custodians of Western Australia.
2 April: Veteran Aboriginal country musician Jimmy Little, dies after a long illness, aged 75, at his home in Dubbo in western NSW.
2 May: The NSW Governor launches the Justice Reinvestment Campaign which aims to spend more money on prevention and early intervention than imprisonment.
18 June: Campaign Stand For Freedom presents 43,000 signatures to the Australian government supporting Aboriginal demands that the Stronger Futures legislation be withdrawn.
30 June: Government and opposition introduce laws that continue the Northern Territory Intervention for another 10 years (“Stronger Futures” legislation).
9 August: After widespread outrage and a petition signed by 20,337 people Facebook removes a page of Aboriginal memes which portrays Aborigines as drunks who sniff petrol and bludge on welfare.
15 September: Over 200 people, including newly arrived asylum seekers, receive an Aboriginal passport. The Aboriginal passport was first introduced in 1988 by Palawa (Tasmanian) activist, Michael Mansell, and was issued to an Aboriginal delegation that visited Libya.
12 December: In an historic day for Australia, SBS begins broadcasting nationally a dedicated Aboriginal TV service available free-to-air for the first time. The new channel incorporates NITV (National Indigenous Television) on SBS4 (digital channel 34) and starts at 12pm on 12/12/2012.
15 December: More than 30 years after the Mabo decision the Queensland government returns the title over the Murray Islands back to the Meriam people.
13 February: The Australian Parliament passes with bi-partisan support the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples Recognition Bill 2012 which recognises the unique and special place of Aboriginal people and sets out a review process to progress the route to a referendum.
14 March: The Northern Territory Country Liberal Party elects Gamilaroi man Adam Giles as Chief Minister. He is the first Aboriginal person to head an Australian government.
30 March: Murrawarri people from the Culgoa River region of northern New South Wales declare their sovereignty of their lands under the name of the Murrawarri Republic. Along with the boundaries of their republic they also present their own flag. The Peoples Council of the Murrawarri Republic held its first meeting at Weilmoringle on 13 July 2013.
April: The federal government grants environmental approval to Toro Energy’s Wiluna project, the first uranium mine in Western Australia.
12 April The Western Australian government replaces the word ‘Indigenous’ with the word ‘Aboriginal’ in their official documents, and also changes the “Department of Indigenous Affairs” to the “Department of Aboriginal Affairs”.
24 May A 13-year-old girl calls Sydney Swans Aboriginal rugby player Adam Goodes an “ape”, shattering the star. The racist incident comes 20 years after Aboriginal player Nicky Winmar pointed proudly to his black chest in a similar incident. Another comment by television presenter Eddie McGuire a few days later sparks a national debate about racism.
2 June Yothu Yindi lead singer Yunupingu dies of kidney disease at his home in Yirrkala in Eastern Arnhem Land, Northern Territory, aged 56.
6 June The Musée du Quai Branly (MQB) in Paris unveils the largest Australian Aboriginal public artwork in the world on its roof, a detail of Lena Nyadbi’s painting Dayiwul Lirlmim (Scales of the Barramundi). The permanent artwork is only viewable from atop the Eiffel Tower.
27 June: Kevin Rudd becomes Prime Minister (again).
23 July: The Victorian Government appoints Aboriginal man Andrew Jackomos as Victoria’s – and Australia’s – first Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Youth. The appointment of an Aboriginal children’s commissioner was one of the recommendations arising out of the Protecting Victoria’s Vulnerable Children Inquiry.
August: Tiwi Islander Rob Collins wins the role of the kind-hearted leader Mufasa in the Disney musical The Lion King.
12 August: The Euahlayi Nation, whose traditional lands straddle the border in upper western NSW and lower southwest Queensland, declares independence from the Commonwealth.
7 September: Tony Abbott becomes Prime Minister of Australia. His Aboriginal policy declares that “Australia will, in effect, have a prime minister for indigenous affairs and a dedicated indigenous affairs minister.”
Nova Peris becomes Senator for the Northern Territory and the first Aboriginal woman to enter federal parliament.
October: Australian South Sea Islanders elect their first national governing body which creates a national secretariat, board of directors and an ethics council.
12 November: Western Australia Premier Colin Barnett compulsorily acquires 3,414 hectares at James Price Point in the Kimberley to develop a supply base and gas processing hub.
He calls it self-determination; we call it standing on our own feet with a gun to our head.—Wayne Barker, spokesman for the Jabirr-Jabirr 
Singer Jessica Mauboy wins the prestigious ARIA Award for best female artist.
25 January: AFL player Adam Goodes becomes Australian of the Year “for his leadership and advocacy in the fight against racism both on the sporting field and within society”.
26 January: Townsville Council for the first time officially celebrates both Survival Day (on 24 January) and Australia Day (on 26 January).
The late Dr Yunupingu from Aboriginal band Yothu Yindi posthumously receives the Companion of the Order of Australia, one of Australia’s highest honours. The award recognises the highest degree of service to humanity.
March: The government introduces legislation to repeal some parts of Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act which were used to sue Andrew Bolt for racially vilifying fair-skinned Aboriginal people. After massive protests from all sections of the community it drops its proposal in August.
11 April: The inaugural Australian Indigenous Fashion Week (AIFW) is held in Sydney, showcasing Aboriginal fashion, textiles and accessories from across Australia.
April: Sydney artist Daniel Boyd becomes the first Aboriginal man to win the Bulgari Art Award, one of Australia’s most esteemed contemporary art prizes, for his work Untitled 2014.
In the court case Ngurampaa v Balonne Shire Council, the Queensland Minister for Natural Resources and Mines (with responsibility for Lands) presents in writing an admission that there are no cession documents, nor surrender documents as a result of war, relating to the Euahlayi peoples, neither are there any documents to show that the Euahlayi Peoples’ allodial title to land was transferred to the Crown’s land tenure system.
9 May: Aboriginal singer Jessica Mauboy performs as a guest singer at the 59th Eurovision Song Contest in Copenhagen, becoming the first guest singer from a non-European Union country.
13 May: The Australian government axes more than $534 million dollars from Aboriginal programmes in the federal budget. It cuts more than $160 million from Aboriginal health programmes.
24 June: Inaugural National Indigenous Human Rights Awards at the NSW state parliament. Among the categories are the Dr M Yunupingu Human Rights Achievement Award (awarded to Arrernte elder Rosalie Kunoth-Monks), the Edward ‘Koiki’ Mabo Social Justice Award (awarded posthumously to Arthur and Leila Murray) and the Anthony Mundine Courage Award (awarded to Gamilaroy woman Barbara McGrady).
There is no greater rights struggle on this continent than that of the Aboriginal struggle.—Shaoquett Moselmane, NSW parliamentarian who conceived of the awards 
September: The federal government — without consultation — announces that it would stop providing funding to remote homeland communities from 1 July 2015, prompting Western Australia and South Australia threaten to close “unviable” communities.
15 September: Prime Minister Tony Abbott spends a week at Gulkula in north-east Arnhem Land, meeting Aboriginal leaders and community members and running the country from his campsite. He is accompanied by other ministers and a team of bureaucrats.
17 October: The University of Sydney suspends Professor Barry Spurr after some of his racist emails were published. Among other racial slurs, he called Aboriginal people “Abos” and PM Tony Abbott an “Abo lover”.
21 October Gough Whitlam dies aged 98. Gurindji Elder, Michael George, commented, “As a mark of respect, Gurindji people will now refer to this man as ‘kulum Whitlam’… This great man helped us get better wages, health, education and housing, and most importantly, gave us our land back.” In 1975, Whitlam returned their land to the Gurindji.
5 November: Defence returns the nuclear weapons testing range in the Woomera Prohibited Area to traditional Aboriginal owners, the last parcel that hadn’t been returned.
Actress Rosalie Kunoth-Monks is named the NT Australian of the Year for 2015. She played the lead role in the film Jedda in 1953 at age 17.
27–28 November: Traditional Owners, leaders, elders and community members from across Australia gather in Mparntwe (Alice Springs) for the Freedom Summit declaring the independence, sovereign power and authority of their nations and peoples. The summit endorses a delegation of 20 to stand up united and reclaim the “Aboriginal Rights Struggle”. The summit’s spirits lives on in the Freedom Movement.
19 January: The National Indigenous Times newspaper is up for sale due to mounting legal bills in two law suits against the paper.
1 February: Nunukul-Nughi woman Leeanne Enoch is set to become the first Aboriginal woman elected to Queensland Parliament.
9 February: Aboriginal people commence a sit-in in Canberra at Parliament House to confront politicians about the state of Aboriginal affairs around the country. They demand that the Commonwealth of Australia begins negotiations towards decolonisation with the goal of healing from the “devastation wreaked upon Aboriginal Nations and Peoples” by violations of human rights.
13 February: Aboriginal activist Faith Bandler dies, aged 96. She was a tireless social activist, best known for her 10-year campaign leading the landmark 1967 referendum that ensured Aboriginal Australians were counted as full citizens.
23 February: Yaegl woman Pauline Clague wins the 2015 Stanley Hawes Award for her extensive work in championing and producing the works of Australia’s emerging and Aboriginal filmmakers. Pauline was the Aboriginal training officer at the Australian Film, Television and Radio School from 2009 to 2013, developing more than 35 courses around Australia and training 650 Aboriginal people.
19 March: Thousands of people rally in cities and towns around Australia protesting against the planned closure of around 150 remote Aboriginal communities in Western Australia.
1 May: The campaign against the forced closure of Aboriginal communities continues with a second international day of action, with more than 85 rallies across Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Germany, Hawaii, Hong Kong, China, UK and the USA.
30 May: Noongar elder Robert Isaacs is named Western Australian of the Year for helping set up Australia’s first Aboriginal school, Clontarf Aboriginal College, improving the justice system and helping to assist Aboriginal people achieve home ownership and housing security.
21 June: Denise Champion, an Adnyamathanha woman from the Flinders Ranges, becomes the first Aboriginal woman to be ordained as a Christian minister in South Australia.
3 June: On the 23rd anniversary of the landmark Mabo decision, Sydney Observatory honours Eddie Koiki Mabo’s legacy by naming a star after him (SSSC star Koiki, constellation: Crux).
July: After more than 12 months of ongoing racism by booing fans of opposing teams Adam Goodes withdraws from playing AFL. In support of Adam some media start an “I Stand With Adam” campaign. 150 organisations join together to call for renewed efforts to stamp out racism in sport and everyday life.
Aboriginal culture – History – Aboriginal history timeline (2000 – today), retrieved 6 August 2015