This NAIDOC Week we are commemorating the Yirrkala Bark Petitions 1963 and honouring the Yolgnu people, who helped pave the way for further grass roots action for the civil and working rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.
The Yirrkala Bark Peitions were a "first" in many ways.
They were the first petitions to be written in traditional language, on bark, and presented to the Australian Federal Government.
They were the first petitions of their kind to be formally recognised by the Australian Federal Government.
They were the first recognised protest - by Aboriginal people - against the granting of mining leases on Aboriginal land without prior consultation, consent & reparation for the use of land.
It's been 50 years since the Yolgnu authored the documents. 50 years since the struggle for recognition and land rights was formally acknowledged by an Australia Government. 50 years since the Yolgnu become the forerunners for Indigenous land rights.
The Yirrkala Bark Petitions set in motion the struggle for Aboriginal people to be recognised as the traditional owners and First Nations people of Australia.
The Yirrkala Bark Petitions and the Yolgnu people helped provide the foundations for significant shifts in Australia such as: the 1964 Wave Hill Walk Off (and proceeding award wages for Aboriginal stockmen); the 1967 Referendum and later the 1992 Mabo decision which overturned the notion that Australia was unoccupied before colonial settlement.
For more information on NAIDOC Week go to: www.naidoc.org.au
Celebrating NAIDOC week is one of many ways that unions are involved in our community and the things that matter outside of work.