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Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have faced disadvantages in various areas, particularly housing

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HOUSING- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have faced disadvantages in various areas, particularly housing. The disadvantages these people face now are the result of policies introduced by the European settlers, then the government. The policies introduced were protection, assimilation, integration and self-determination. It is hard to understand the housing disadvantages faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people if their history is not known. In 1788 when the European settlers "colonised" Australia, the Australian land was known as "terra nullius" which means "land belonging to no-one". This decision set the stage for the problems and disadvantages faced by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people for 216 years. The protection policy was meant to disperse tribes and force Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people off their traditional land so the "white Australian's" could have more control. The protection policy enforced by the British colonies drove the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander onto reserves. These reserves were run by religious missionaries and supervised by the Aboriginal Protection Board from 1883. The protection policy was reinforced by the Aborigines Protection Act (NSW) 1909. This Act was in force until 1969. The Act allowed police to withhold rations to pressure the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to move and expelled whole clans from specific districts. Conditions were extremely poor on the reserves. ...read more.


The government approved a mining lease and the Yirrkala wanted to prove that their tribe held native title over the reserve land. The court came to a decision "that Australia's status as "terra nullius" was a matter of law" therefore the "ownership of land in Australia was passed to the Crown when Australia was colonized and the courts could not change this law. This decision showed that there was still some approval of terra nullius. In the case of Mabo & Ors v. Queensland (No.2) (1992) 175 CLR 1 the Meriam people were found to be the traditional owners of Murray Islands in the Torres Strait. The courts found that the Meriam people were the traditional owners of the land for a number of reasons:- 1. They were the only inhabitants of the land. 2. Australia was not "terra nullius" - because of this the Crown did not completely own all land in Australia after colonization. 3. The Crown only owned parts of the land that the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander were not living on. 4. The Meriam proved that they had a continuos link to the land and still traditionally. The Mabo decision exonerated the doctrine of Terra Nullius and admitted that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders held Native Title over the land. The Native Title Act (Cth) 1993 put the decisions and findings of the Mabo case into law. ...read more.


Legislation introduced in the past 40 years has and is helping in the fight for equal opportunities for Aboriginal to gain housing. This legislation includes: Racial Discrimination Act (Cth) 1975 and Anti-Discrimination Act (NSW) 1977:- protects people from direct and indirect discrimination due to their race. If an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander feels they have been discriminated against due to their race they can report the matter to the Anti-Discrimination Board. Aboriginal Housing Act (NSW) 1998:- established the Aboriginal Housing Office to administer and co-ordinate supply of housing for Aboriginal people in NSW. The Government's also provide Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with programs and help to rent and buy accommodation. The NSW Department of Housing provides public housing for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people under the "Housing for Aborigines Program". The actions of the State and Federal Government(s) have being questionable over the centuries since the 'colonization' of Australia, but as Australia becomes more of a multicultural and multi-racial society Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people acceptance is rising. The disadvantages Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people face is decreasing slowly by the government as introduce legislation and form commissions. There will always be problems for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in relation to housing, but the Australia is heading in the right direction to correct this problem and provide a much better future for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and the whole of Australia. ...read more.

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