By 1972, had there been significant progress in rights and freedoms for Indigenous Australians?

By 1972, there had been significant progress in rights and freedoms for Indigenous Australians. In 1965, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples gained the right to vote in state elections, three years after gaining the right to vote in federal elections. Two years later, in a nationwide referendum, Indigenous Australians won the right to be included in the census and to be subject to Commonwealth laws as well as state laws.

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In 1901, the Australian Constitution came into effect. Controversially, it excluded all mention of the nation's Indigenous population, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. This was a reflection of the racist attitude, widespread at that time, among the majority white population, who tended not to look upon Indigenous people as belonging to the political and civic community.

This attitude would persist for decades. However, some progress was made prior to 1972 in gaining rights and freedoms for Indigenous Australians. In 1962, for example, Indigenous people gained the right to vote in federal elections. Three years later, this was extended to state elections.

These developments represented a big step forward for the civil rights and freedoms of Indigenous Australians. When the Australian Constitution came into effect in 1901, those Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islander peoples who had the right to vote either had it taken away from them or restricted in some way.

But by 1972, all Indigenous people were able to vote at both the state and federal levels, giving them a say in how the country was run for the first time.

In 1967, the Australian people, in a nationwide referendum, overwhelmingly endorsed proposals to include Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the national census. The passing of the referendum also ensured that, from now on, Indigenous Australians would be subject to Commonwealth laws and not just state laws.

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