Commonwealth Government increases funds to address concerns over people smuggling and the number of unauthorised arrivals. Funds are allocated to refurbish existing detention centres and establish new ones.
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.
Commonwealth Government supports the Council's vision of a "united Australia which respects this land of ours; values the Aboriginal and Torres Strait heritage; and provides justice and equity for all."
Australia celebrates its centenary of Federation. At the Federation ceremony, Prime Minister Howard pays tribute to the nation's history of democracy and freedom and the Governor-General Sir William Deane raises the issue of Aboriginal Reconciliation.
Asylum seekers en route to Australia from Indonesia are rescued off Christmas Island by the Norwegian ship MV Tampa. The Federal Government refuses to allow the asylum seekers to disembark in Australia sparking national and international debate.
As a result, new border control legislation is introduced in the form of a series of laws designed to protect Australia's borders and deter people smugglers. The new laws include the excision of Christmas, Cocos, Cartier and Ashmore islands from Australia's migration zone and the introduction of a new visa regime for unauthorised arrivals to these territories. The laws also include mandatory sentencing for people smugglers and preferential visa conditions for people who apply for refugee status while offshore.
The Pacific island of Nauru, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea agree to take asylum seekers who were denied permission to land on Christmas Island. Nauru later agrees to increase its intake of asylum seekers in exchange for development aid from Australia .
The United Nations World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance is held in Durban, South Africa. The conference marks both the International Year and the Third Decade for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. Australia sends a delegation. The Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission prepares by holding extensive consultations with government and community groups across Australia and releases a number of discussion papers. Conference outcomes include the development of a Declaration and Programme of Action.
Al-Qaida terrorists attack the World Trade Centre in New York and the Pentagon in Washington. The United States of America declares a "war on terrorism" and Australia offers support. After September 11, attacks against Muslims and mosques are reported in Australia as well as overseas.
HMAS Adelaide encounters a sinking boat carrying asylum seekers off the north coast of Australia. The Federal Government reports that passengers have thrown children overboard and issues photos to support the claim.
Over the course of the year, there are periodic protests in a number of refugee detention centres as well as escapes from some centres. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees criticises Australia's mandatory detention policy. Human rights and church groups within Australia also campaign against the Federal Government's policy on asylum seekers.
After leading the One Nation party for six years, Pauline Hanson resigns to concentrate on her trial for fraud. Best known for her outspoken ideas on Aboriginal welfare, immigration and political correctness, she co-founded One Nation with David Ettridge after winning the seat of Oxley in Queensland in 1996. She is later convicted and sentenced to 3 years imprisonment. She wins an appeal and is released.
All Australian immigration detention centres are visited by inspection teams as part of a National Inquiry into Children in Immigration Detention. Public hearings are conducted in VIC, NSW, WA, SA and QLD with testimonies given by experts. Confidential focus groups are held with former detainee children and young people. The Australian Government insists there will be no change of policy and defends its handling of asylum seekers despite widespread criticism including negative reports from the UN, the Catholic Church and South Australian government child protection officers.
On 12 October bombs kill 202 people and injure 209 more in two nightclubs in the tourist town of Kuta on the Indonesian island of Bali. It is considered the deadliest act of terrorism in Indonesian history. 88 of the dead are Australians. Abu Bakar Bashir, a leader of the Jemaah Islamiah organisation is charged over his role in the bombings.
The Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission holds a Cyber Internet Racism Symposium. Legislators, government regulators, senior representatives from the IT sector, academics and racial equality groups focus on the Commission's research into race hate and the internet. The research shows that the World Wide Web provides racist groups with a global audience, including children. Racist groups use the internet to vilify others, recruit and raise funds. The symposium looks at how racism is promoted via email, chat rooms, news groups and web order catalogues.
A senate select committee holds an inquiry into a 2001 Australian Government claim that children were thrown overboard from a sinking boat carrying asylum seekers off the north coast of Australia. The inquiry finds that the claim was untrue and that the government knew this before the Australian elections held a month later.
The Immigration, Aboriginal and Multicultural Affairs Minister meets with the Northern Land Council, fishing representatives in Darwin and the Northern Territory Minerals Council to discuss the 1976 Aboriginal Land Rights Act. The Government promises to streamline the legislation which impedes economic development on Indigenous land by removing control from the existing Land Councils to more localised regional bodies.
The High Court rejects an appeal by Lorna Cubillo and Peter Gunner against the Federal Court's decision to deny the right of those removed from their families and communities to make compensation claims. Members of the Stolen Generations vow to continue their fight for compensation.
The Gumbaynggir dictionary is published by the people of the Muurbay Aboriginal Language Centre in the hope of ensuring the language's long -term survival. The language is used by groups across NSW but it is believed that only 10 people are fluent.
The Native Title Studies Centre is set up at James Cook Centre University in Cairns providing advice about the way the native title regime works and the legal issues that have arisen since the Commonwealth Native Title Act (1993).
Following September 11, 2001, the Australian Arabic Council and others advocate the elimination of ethnic descriptors. The Council claims that media reports using descriptors of 'Lebanese' or 'Middle Eastern' have become commonplace singling out Arab Australians. With the trial of the gang rapists in Sydney, the Council also condemns attempts to highlight a link between crime and ethnicity. The Council states that "linking criminal activity and ethnicity is based on ignorance and effectively sanctions discrimination against people from an Arabic background."
The Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission launches a website forum posing the question of whether Muslims could constitute an ethnic group. The forum looks at how Muslims in Australia identify themselves; how they are seen by others and whether it is religion, ethnicity or both that cause discrimination against Muslims from the Middle East. The forum also looks at whether the federal racial discrimination laws cover religious discrimination.
Ninety percent of the world's 6000 languages face extinction within the century including many Australian Aboriginal languages. UNESCO gathers experts from around the world at a Safeguarding of Endangered Languages conference in Paris.
Australia and Indonesia co-host a second regional conference on people smuggling in Bali. Both countries aim to exchange information on lost travel documents and the sharing of intelligence on illegal people movements.
As part of the Australian Government's Pacific Solution, 450 asylum seekers, including more than 100 children are held on the island of Nauru. Varying stories relate the health and well being of these detainees. Nauru is a tiny Pacific island 40 kilometres south of the equator. It houses the holding camps for the asylum seekers caught trying to reach Australia by boat.
The Australian Government resists pressure to accept the return of two Australian prisoners detained by the US Government at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. Hicks and Habib are held without charge and remain without legal representation.
The United Nations formally places the US and its allies (including Australia) in control of Iraq. The Security Council lifts sanctions imposed after Gulf War One, providing the coalition with broad powers to run Iraq and sell its oil to help fund the country's reconstruction.
Deputy Chairman, 'Sugar' Ray Robinson resigns from ATSIC. Robinson has been Deputy Chairman of ATSIC, the peak Indigenous body for seven and a half years. ATSIC continues to come under increasing pressure from the Government in regard to personal finances and the management of its budget.
The Honourable W.C. Wentworth AO, who championed Aboriginal people's rights throughout his long and distinguished career dies. Born in Sydney, he represented the Sydney electorate of Mackellar for the Liberal Party from 1949 to 1977. Wentworth established the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies in 1964.
Australian Partnership of Ethnic and Religious Organisations (APERO) forms, to counter the rising level of racial intolerance. APERO brings together eight peak ethnic groups and eight religious organisations to promote harmony not only in the wider society but also amongst themselves.
Australia's new security laws give the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) the right to detain and question a person for up to seven days with the possibility of extending that time. This also applies for non - suspects.
Granted temporary protection visas, 14 men are flown to Brisbane. They represent a fraction of asylum seekers still detained in Australia. The Australian Government's view is that mandatory detention reflects Australia's sovereign right to determine who enters the country.
The 'Circle Court', based on a Canadian program where tribal elders play a key role in determining the punishment for repeat offenders is trialled in NSW. A review of that trial is released in Nowra on the NSW South Coast.
Following an extensive inquiry into national progress towards Reconciliation, Dr Jonas AM calls on the Australian Government to recommit to the Reconciliation process. The Senate Legal and Constitutional References Committee's report 'Reconciliation-Off track' highlights crucial failings in the current approach of the Australian Government to Indigenous affairs and the Reconciliation process.
As part of the decision to excise thousands of islands from the migration zone retrospectively, the Australian Government considers sending 14 asylum seekers from Melville Island, 80 km north of Darwin, to Christmas Island, 2300 km northwest of Perth. This action stops people who arrive without visas from being considered refugees. It also removes their rights to legal representation and appeal. Criticism from human rights groups increases and the Opposition, claiming this is in breach of Australia's international treaty obligations, vows to fight the decision in the Senate.
Refugee and asylum seeker advocate, Marion Le is awarded the 2003 Human Rights Medal in Sydney for her work in promoting human rights over the last thirty years. Le has raised awareness of human rights in the media and the community, with a particular focus on women at risk, gender issues and the rights of children. Her work has resulted in the successful settlement of hundreds of refugees and migrants into the Australian community.
Molly Kelly Craig, the woman who inspired the film 'Rabbit Proof Fence' dies at the age of 87 in a remote desert community in Western Australia. She is known as one of the most powerful symbols of the Stolen Generations debate after being taken from her mother in the 1930s.
At least 40 police officers are reported injured following a night of violence directed at the police in Redfern, Sydney. The riot follows the death of a 17 year old Aboriginal boy. A claim by the local Aboriginal community that the boy was being pursued by a police car is denied by the police. Police cars are torched, and Central Station is vandalised.
The Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission asserts that the Migration Act (1958) fails to provide a system whereby children's particular interests and vulnerabilities are recognised. The Commission makes reference to the Convention on the Rights of the Child. This convention imposes legal obligations in relation to the detention of children.
The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission is abolished by the Government. In its place the Government will appoint a group of distinguished Indigenous people to advise the Government in relation to Aboriginal affairs. A new alternative body will not be created.
The Academy of Sport Health and Education (ASHE), a joint initiative of the University of Melbourne and the Rumbalara Football Netball Club is established. ASHE uses participation in sport to undertake education and training within a trusted, culturally appropriate environment, particularly, but not exclusively, for Indigenous students.
The former Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission leader, Mr Djerrkura dies in the Northern Territory. Mr Djerrkura was a senior elder of the Wangurri clan in East Arnhem Land and ATSIC chairman from 1996 -1999. He was also a pioneer of the Reconciliation movement.
The Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission releases Isma - Listen: National Consultations on eliminating prejudice against Arab and Muslim Australians. The summary report reflects the views and experiences of 1,400 Arab and Muslim Australians who took part in the Isma consultations. Many had felt hostility from some sections of the Australian community over the past few years.
An Australia wide demonstration of support for refugees is organised with 'Fields of Hearts' in 20 locations across Australia. More than 20,000 crafted hearts, decorated by community groups, schools, church groups and individuals, express open-hearted support for the plight of refugees in a world of war, poverty, tyranny and hunger.
Philosopher, author, scientist and inventor, David Unaipon, a Ngarrindjeri man from South Australia, is the inspiration behind the celebrated Bangarra Dance Theatre's biographical work, Unaipon. David Unaipon, has been described as a genius, and Australia's Leonardo Da Vinci. He is also commemorated on Australia's $50 note.
The Immigration Minister announces that only one child of an asylum seeker who arrived in Australia by boat remains in detention on the Australian mainland. The Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission recommends the release of all children who are in immigration detention in its report A last resort? National Inquiry into Children in Immigration Detention. The Commission says that there are still children in the Port Augusta Housing Project, Villawood, Maribyrnong, Christmas Island and Nauru facilities who face increasing risks of mental health consequences the longer they remain in detention.
The Immigration Minister announces changes to the conditions of temporary protection visas enabling 9,500 holders to apply for mainstream visas. Not all those who apply will qualify and refugee groups claim that in reality TPV holders are no better off.
Prompted by the prolonged detention of Kashmiri, Peter Qasim, Rural Australians for Refugees call on the Government for a Bill of Rights to protect asylum seekers. After almost 7 years in detention Qasim is finally given a bridging visa to allow him to live in the community.
The Federal Court recognises that the Ngaanyatjarra claimants hold exclusive possession rights over most of the Ngaanyatjarra Lands. The claim stretches from the Gibson Desert Nature Reserve to the South Australian border. The decision was reached through negotiation, not litigation.
Mamdouh Habib is released after three years in detention. Habib claims he was tortured by US, Egyptian and Pakistani interrogators. He also claims that an Australian official was present at one session at an airport in Pakistan. This is denied by Australian authorities.
A significant increase in the number of skilled workers from overseas is proposed for the new financial year. 20,000 additional skilled workers are to be allowed into the country. This takes the total skilled migrant intake to nearly 100,000. The main shortages of labour are in the construction and mining industries. The NSW Premier criticises the proposal citing an inadequate infrastructure to support so rapid an increase in population.
Immigration officials forcibly remove from schools children whose parents allegedly overstay their visas. Teachers, the Opposition and parent groups are outraged. In July, two of the children are freed with their mother. The Department of Immigration apologises for the error.
Long term detainees who have no lawful reason to stay in Australia are given new temporary visas. They must, however, negate any future legal claims to be considered refugees and agree to be deported as soon as they have a safe destination.
The sister of Vivian Solon accuses the Government of racism. Australian citizen Vivian Alvarez Solon, mother of two was deported by authorities to the Philippines without adequate investigation in 2001. She is yet to be located.
Victorian MP, Petro Georgiou, secures changes in immigration procedures allowing detainees with children to be released from detention centres into the community, and thousands of people on temporary protection visas permanent status. Initial applications by asylum seekers for temporary protection visas will now be completed within 3 months.
13 of Australia's moderate Muslim leaders meet with the Prime Minister. The summit agrees to focus on schools and mosques to act against those who promote hatred and violence. An 11 point statement on the need for harmony is agreed on, denouncing terrorism, extremism and the teaching of hatred.
The proposed new laws allow authorities to monitor and track terror suspects. They include greater powers to stop, search and question people at airports and other public transport hubs and to conduct random bag searches. They prevent people leaving baggage unattended. The laws also extend residence from 12 months to 3 years for those seeking Australian citizenship.
Early research into Muslim attitudes by the Global Terrorism Research Unit at Monash University suggests that Australia's hardline counter-terrorist policies may cause Muslim youth to be fearful of being caught in the security net. Community leaders say young people would be reluctant to approach police if they suspected a terrorist plot, fearing they may be thrown in jail.
Three suicide bombers, using small explosives kill 4 Australians and injure 17 more. Dr Azahari bin Husin, who was educated in Australia, is accused of masterminding the bombings. He is also thought to have designed the bombs in each of the attacks against Western targets- Bali 2002, the Marriott Hotel in 2003, and the Australian Embassy in 2004.
Former AFL footballer Michael Long campaigns for recognition of the plight of Indigenous Australians. Long walked from Melbourne to Canberra in 2004 and encourages all Australians to walk with him in Melbourne in 2005.
Research released from the Centre for Independent Studies calls for fundamental changes to Indigenous education. The report claims that remote communities do not offer enough choice for secondary students and that cooperation with other schools should be encouraged to enable teachers and students to share support and resources.
A series of events at Cronulla beach escalates to mob violence. Text messages are sent encouraging locals to rally against people of Middle Eastern background following alleged attacks on lifesavers at the beach. Thousands gather waving Australian flags. Retaliatory violence from the Cronulla riots spreads to other Sydney suburbs including Maroubra and Brighton Le Sands. The Premier of NSW calls for calm amidst claims of intolerance between different racial groups.
The Australian and British Governments reach agreement to return Indigenous remains to Australia from British museums. Many of these remains include body parts and skeletons. They will be re-buried in Australian soil. It is hoped that other countries will follow Britain's lead and return remains to their place of origin.
The Federal Government proposes changes to the Migration Act in order to expand the Pacific Solution. These changes allow for offshore processing of all asylum seekers arriving in Australia by boat. The Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission is concerned that the proposed changes breach Australia's obligations under the Convention of the Rights of the Child. The Commission is also concerned that asylum seekers processed offshore would not have access to the independent merits and judicial reviews that are available to asylum seekers processed in Australia.
Northern Territory Chief Minister Clare Martin proposes a national 20-year plan to improve Indigenous living standards. This plan is also approved at the COAG (Council of Australian Governments) meeting. Martin denies the accusation by the Prime Minister that the Labor Party has failed the Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory through lack of funding and support structures.
Indigenous health services are boosted by 53 'Healthy for Life' sites around Australia. The sites include a variety of primary health care services to help address the high rates of heart and circulatory diseases, eye problems, asthma and diabetes prevalent in many remote Indigenous communities.
The Board of Inquiry into the Protection of Aboriginal Children from Sexual Abuse in the Northern Territory is established. Co - chaired by Ms Patricia Anderson and Rex Wild QC the inquiry will research and report on allegations of sexual abuse of Aboriginal children and seek better ways to protect them.
The controversial Migration Amendment (Designated Unauthorised Arrivals) Bill 2006 is withdrawn. This bill aimed to send all asylum seekers arriving in Australia by boat, not just those arriving on remote islands off Australia's northern coast, to Nauru for refugee processing.
Eight Burmese asylum seekers arrive on Ashmore Reef. As part of the Federal Government's 'Pacific Solution' they are sent to Nauru to have their claims processed. This contradicts the recent withdrawal of the Asylum seeker offshore processing bill.
The Stolen Generations of Aboriginal Children Act 2006 is passed unanimously by the Tasmanian Government, the first Australian jurisdiction to introduce legislation to address the stolen generations issue. The Act establishes a fund to provide payments to members of the stolen generations of Aborigines who were removed from their families as children by the State Government and were deprived of their connection with Aboriginal community, culture and identity.
The Gunditjmara people secure recognition of their native title rights and interests, giving them non-exclusive native title rights and interests to over 140,000 hectares of vacant Crown land, National Parks, reserves, rivers, creeks and sea north -west of Warrnambool, extending south - west from the Grampians National Park in Victoria..
Past Olympians, Catherine Freeman and Ian Thorpe support the launch of the Close The Gap campaign which calls on federal, state and territory governments to commit to closing the life expectancy gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians within a generation.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority finds the Sydney radio station 2GB and its breakfast host Alan Jones in breach of the commercial radio code for broadcasting material that was likely to encourage violence, in the lead-up to the Cronulla riots.
Australians celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the 1967 Referendum which gave Aboriginal people the right to vote, participate in the Australian democratic process, be included in the national census and have the same rights as other Australians. It also gave the Commonwealth the same rights as the States to make laws on Aboriginal issues, known as 'concurrent rights'.
Northern Territory Chief Minister, Claire Martin, releases the Little Children Are Sacred report of the Northern Territory Board of Inquiry into the Protection of Aboriginal Children from Sexual Abuse. The report points to alcohol and a lack of education as the biggest contributors to child sexual abuse. It makes 97 recommendations including drastic reforms in education, increases in service delivery and investments in new housing to reduce overcrowding in communities.
The Northern Territory Emergency Response, designed to combat the high rates of child neglect and abuse in the Northern Territory, is put into action in response to the publication of Little Children are Sacred. The use of the Army to provide law and order in some Aboriginal communities and the perceived lack of consultation with the communities cause criticism of both the federal and Northern Territory governments.
An historic meeting of Indigenous health peak bodies and health experts is held in Sydney to explore ways of working more effectively in partnership with all Australian Governments to achieve better health outcomes for Indigenous people.
Mohamed Haneef, a 27 year old Indian physician is arrested at Brisbane Airport for suspected terror-related activities. He is the second cousin of Kafeel Ahmed and Sabeel Ahmed who unsuccessfully tried to blow up Glasgow International Airport. Public outcry increases as Haneef is denied the presumption of innocence and detained for 12 days without being charged.
Mohamed Haneef is released when the Director of Public Prosecutions withdraws its charges. Haneef's passport is returned and his Australian visa subsequently reinstated by the Federal Court of Australia.
Jointly initiated by the Australian Police Services, the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, the Australian Multicultural Foundation and the community, the Community Policing Partnership Program promotes social cohesion and counteracts discriminatory views and intolerance towards Muslim Australians.
The Northern Territory Government announces a comprehensive package to tackle Indigenous disadvantage in the Territory. The government commits $286 million and creates 223 additional positions over the next 5 years to implement the first stage of its 20 year Indigenous Generational Plan Closing the Gap of Indigenous Disadvantage. The plan addresses all 97 recommendations of the Little Children are Sacred report.
Prime Minister John Howard calls for a 'new reconciliation', acknowledging that he has 'struggled' with reconciliation during his term in office. He recommits to treating reconciliation as a national priority.
International Conference of Counter Terrorism is held in Melbourne promoting a harmonious community with a unified approach to combating terrorism. It is organised and hosted by the Australian Multicultural Foundation, Victoria Police, Monash University and the Victorian Government.
The Australian Citizenship test is introduced to prospective Australian citizens. It is intended to promote an understanding of Australia's values, traditions, history and national symbols so that new citizens may successfully integrate into the community, participate fully in Australian society and maximise the opportunities available. It aims to promote social cohesion.
The Australian Values Statement is introduced requiring signature by applicants, aged 18 and over, for selected Australian visas. The information that applicants are expected to have read, or to have had read to them, is contained in Life in Australia, a publication to assist people coming to Australia. It includes information about Australian values, history, culture and society.
Minister for Immigration, Kevin Andrews, reduces Australia's refugee intake from African nations. Andrews cites difficulties for Sudanese refugee communities in adjusting to the Australian way of life. Andrews is accused of using the 'race card' in the lead up to the Federal election.
Seven Burmese asylum seekers who were detained on Nauru in October 2006 are granted resettlement in Australia, along with 72 Sri Lankan asylum seekers. The new Immigration Minister, Chris Evans, declares that Nauru will no longer be used as a detention centre.
The Commonwealth Government formally apologises to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and particularly to the stolen generations for the laws and policies of successive parliaments and governments that have inflicted profound grief, suffering and loss on them.
National Indigenous Health Equality Summit Community, government and Indigenous representatives meet at Parliament House to sign a declaration on the achievement of health equality between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians within a generation.
Patrick Dodson, Yawuru man from Broome, Western Australia and national Aboriginal leader is awarded the Sydney 2008 Peace Prize, Australia's only international peace prize. He is only the second Australian to win the prestigious award.
The Devils Marbles (Karlu Karlu) site is handed back to traditional owners after a 28-year native title battle. Its traditional owners, the Warumungu, Kaytetye, Alyawarra and Warlpiri people consider Karlu Karlu to be one of the most significant sacred sites.
Aboriginal law professor Mick Dodson receives the 2009 Australian of the Year award for his life-long commitment to improving the lives of Aboriginal people and in helping to close the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.
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 is designated Aboriginal land for the Larrakia people.
Australia now supports the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). The declaration was formally adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2007 with the support of 143 member states and the opposition of four (Australia, Canada, USA, NZ). The Australian government had rejected the declaration fearing a separate customary law.