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In this context, self-determination is the right to have control over the affairs of one’s own group. It is the right to stop having some outside group setting the rules and determining the destiny of one’s group. With regard to indigenous history in Australia, self-determination is the current policy towards aboriginal Australians. The idea is that they should be given the right to govern themselves.
In past times, the Australian government did not allow aborigines to govern themselves. Aborigines were treated as children to be cared for. Later, the government tried to force them to assimilate and become more like white Australians. In the late 20th century, however, the policy changed. The government started moving towards allowing aborigines to rule themselves. For example, the Mabo decision in 1992 held that indigenous Australians had a claim on the land because their ancestors had lived there so long. In the 21st century, more changes have taken place. One example of this was the creation of ATSIC (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission), which was an elected group that was meant to oversee the affairs of indigenous people.
Today, the move towards self-determination continues, though there is fear among some Australians that this will lead to the granting of excessive rights and privileges to indigenous peoples.
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