Rights and freedoms Defining Moments, 1945–present
Investigation 1: Exploring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander rights through key Defining Moments
1.4 1949 Nationality and Citizenship Act
It is 1949.
The Australian Parliament is sitting. It has before it a Bill that will change the legal status of every living Australian. It is a law to change the status of all Australians from being ‘British subjects’, to being ‘Australian citizens’.
How will this affect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians?
1. What did the Nationality and Citizenship Act do?
2. What is ‘national citizenship’?
3. Why was it passed? Who was designed to benefit from it? How?
4. What difference did it make to existing British subjects in Australia?
5. What was the significance of the Nationality and Citizenship Act for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s rights?
6. How would this event have influenced the development of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s rights over time?