EXTRAORDINARY though it seems, it was not until 1967 that Australian Aborigines were recognised as citizens of their own country.
Before that they were classified as native wildlife, along with kangaroos and koalas.
The anniversary is a reminder of the massive inequalities that still exist in housing, health, education, employment and life expectancy.
Until the referendum, Aborigines were not, officially, human beings. They were « flora and fauna ». They were confined to white-controlled reserves and forbidden to travel without special permission. They were not allowed in pubs, and were paid wages in meat and salt.
While some traditional lands have been handed back to indigenous people, they remain, on thewhole, marginalised – socially, politically andeconomically.