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04 February - Indigenous Australians strike and walk off farms

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04 February - Indigenous Australians strike and walk off farms

Unread postby Max ADU » Wed Feb 05, 2014 2:47 pm

Today in Australian History
Saturday, February 4, 1939.

The first ever mass strike of indigenous Australians occurs as the Yorta Yorta people protest against their deplorable living conditions.

Displacement of indigenous people
The indigenous people of Australia were the original inhabitants of the Australian continent. Ever since Europeans first settled the continent, Australian history has been dotted with instances of injustices against the native people.

As European settlement spread,
more and more Aborigines were displaced from their traditional home. They were dispossessed of their land and, due to the hostilities between whites and Aborigines were moved onto reserves and missions, where they were supposed to be protected.

You need out protection
In 1881, The Cummeragunja Mission in southern New South was established, primarily for the Yorta Yorta people who inhabited the land just north of the Murray River near Barmah, Victoria.

Many of the Yorta Yorta were relocated from the strictly religious Maloga Mission, and were permitted to live more self-sufficiently on Cummeragunja, establishing a farm and producing wheat, wool and dairy products.

We will control you

In 1915, the New South Wales Aboriginal Protection Board took over control of Cummeragunja, disbanding the farm's committee of management.

By the disbanding the farm committee took away the residents control over their funds they raised from their work on the farm.

Conditions for the residents became far more restrictive, and a system of distributing rations was implemented.

These rations were unhealthy and insufficient, other supplies were minimal, and shelter was inferior. By the 1930s, illness was rife throughout the mission.

We take it no more
On 4 February 1939,
between150 and 200 indigenous residents staged a mass walk-off and in protest against the deplorable living conditions.

The Yorta Yorta people crossed the border into Victoria, which was against the rules of the New South Wales Protection Board.

Many of them subsequently settled in towns such as Barmah, Echuca and Shepparton.

No further action was taken on behalf of the aboriginal people's claims for compensation, and little has been taken in recent years.

At most, the Yorta Yorta people have received about one tenth of 1 percent of the traditional lands they lost to European settlement.
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