Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are warned that this website may contain

the names and images of people who have passed away

Historical Events Timeline


Below is a timeline of some of the events significant to Aboriginal people of Western Australia.


1788 26 Jan Settlement of Australia by the British. This is classed as an invasion by some Aboriginal people.

1829 1 Jun Western Australian (WA) Foundation Day.

1885 Federal Council of Australasia Act was passed. The Australian Commonwealth Constitution of 1900 replaced this Act.

1889 WA Constitution Act enacted.

1890 WA established its own government and constitution.

1890 Britain ordered the WA Government to direct 1% of gross revenue towards native welfare due to gross mistreatment of Aboriginal people. This was called the Aborigines Act (Imperial).

1897 WA Premier Forrest managed to repeal the (Imperial) Aborigines Act 1890 so that 1% of gross WA revenue wouldn’t have to be directed towards native welfare.

1900 9 Jul The Australian Government enacted the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act.

1905 WA Aborigines Act passed by WA Parliament. This gave unprecedented power over Aboriginal people to the Chief Protector.

1937 Aborigines Progressive Society formed in the Eastern States.

1938 26 Jan First Aboriginal day of Mourning and Protest held in Sydney.

1946 1 May Pilbara Aboriginal pastoral workers strike started. Pastoral workers walked out on strike against very poor conditions and salary.

1957 National Aboriginal and Islander Day Observance Committee first formed (now NAIDOC).

1957 2 Apr ‘Vote Yes’ campaign launched in Hall of Foundation, Sydney. This commenced the campaign for Constitutional change and ended with the 1967 Referendum.

1958 FCAATSI formed first as the Federal Council for Aboriginal Advancement and then the name was changed to FCAATSI to include Torres Strait Islanders in 1964.

1966 Aug Gurindji (Wave Hill), Northern Territory (NT) Strike commenced where Aboriginal stockmen and pastoral workers walked off NT stations.

1967 27 May Referendum held to change Australian Constitution with regards to recognition of Aboriginal citizenship.

1967 10 Aug Legislation enacted from the 1967 Referendum.

1987 Wangka Maya Pilbara Aboriginal Language Centre established.

1988 26 Jan 40 000 Aboriginal people march in Sydney to mark the 200th anniversary of the European invasion.

1989 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (ATSI) Act passed by Commonwealth Government. This legislation led to the establishment of the ATSI Commission (ATSIC).

1989 Bangarra Aboriginal Sydney Dance Theatre Australia formed.

1990 Establishment of Reconciliation Australia Council.

1990 5 Mar Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) was established.

1992 Mabo Native Title rights were recognised for the first time.

2000 May Reconciliation walk across Sydney Harbour Bridge held. Hundreds of people also walked across the Redbank bridge in Port Hedland.

2001 Australian Bureau of Statistics figures state there were 410 003 people of Aboriginal heritage.This was 2.2% of the Australian population.

2005 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) closed.

2008 13 Feb Prime Minister Kevin Rudd apologises to the stolen generations, their families and communities for the lasting harm caused by past government policies and practices.