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Almost 40 years after the referendum which gave the Commonwealth, rather than the various states, power to make laws covering the Aboriginal people of Australia, there is little evidence that any real progress towards bettering their position has been made. The key issue during this time has been the battle for Aboriginal land rights, which on two occasions has ended up in the High Court. Despite the Court's decision in each case favouring the Aborigines' cause, any real benefit to them has been largely negated by prolonged litigation over granting title, and argument as to whether the land in question should be used for economic benefit or simply retained for cultural preservation. Much attention and considerable financial resources have also been directed to Aboriginal health, where traditional areas of health concern have been replaced with problems such as alcoholism and petrol sniffing. Successive federal governments have devised numerous policies and programmes intended to give Australia's Aboriginal peoples the right to self determination, and have provided large sums to make this possible. On some occasions, these policies have been replaced within twelve months which indicates their lack of success. The demise of ATSIC was the death knell of the 'old' policy of self determination. This book is a detailed and objective account of the history of Aboriginal Affairs from the time of the referendum of 1967 to 2005. This is a sequel to the author's 'Aboriginal Affairs: A Brief History 1788 1994' published in 1995, and argues the case for a total overhaul of government policies and programmes.
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