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William Cooper helped establish the Australian Aborigines League. He campaigned for the repeal of discriminatory legislation and for programs to “uplift the aboriginal race”. He would be later known as the father of NAIDOC.
Around 70% of the Torres Strait Islander workforce went on strike to protest against government interference in wages, trade and commerce. Around 30 men were jailed by the government authorities at Badu because of their refusal to work.
During World War 2, 870 men volunteered from the Torres Strait Islands to fight for this country. More than 150 lives were lost in the Torres Strait as a result of Japanese bombing raids on Australia’s northernmost border.
The Torres Strait Light Infantry Battalion went on strike for equal pay because they were getting a third of what their non-Indigenous counterparts were receiving.
A referendum was held in which Australians voted overwhelmingly to amend the Constitution to allow the Commonwealth to make laws for Aboriginal people and include them in the census.
The Government of the time, nearly split the Torres Straits in half. But it was our leaders and our people of the time that fought against this decision and stood up.
Eddie Mabo and the 5 plaintiffs won their Native Title claim to prove that the Meriam people of the Torres Strait Islanders, were the Traditional Owners and the sovereign people of their island.
The Wik people of Aurukun were recognised and handed down their Native Title. The decision covers approximately 6,000 square kilometres of Aboriginal held land on the western Cape York Peninsula.
Torres Strait Islanders were handed down their Native Title Sea Claim recognising that they are the sovereign people of 48,000 square kilometres of the island region.