The 1967 Referendum

What were the consequences of the referendum?

  • Given such a high 'Yes' vote in the 1967 referendum, it could be assumed that Australia was on the brink of a new era of racial tolerance and equality. Was there a significant change in attitudes and actions in relation to Aborigines during the 1970s? (Examine some of the Additional resources to support your answer.)
  • Did the 1967 referendum result have an impact on the practice of removing part-Aboriginal children from their families and bringing them up in white institutions or white families?
  • Hirst suggests (p 186) that the success of the 1967 referendum came from a belief by the Australian people that 'after years of cruelty and discrimination they [Aboriginal people] were now fully accepted in the nation and were truly to be equal citizens'. Can you suggest other possible explanations for the overwhelming success of this referendum?
  • Hirst goes on to say, 'Later, when Aborigines asked to be treated differently because they were Aborigines, the Australian people were not so ready to agree.' What does Hirst mean by this? Can you give any current examples that illustrate what Hirst is saying here?

Examine visual sources

Examine this photograph of Aboriginal workers on page 182 (click top right image).

  • What evidence do you see in the clothing, demeanour and background setting that supports the caption?
  • Is there anything in the photograph that challenges the caption?
  • Consider the photograph on page 185 (click lower right image).
    • What message is contained in this poster? How effective would it have been?
    • Describe or sketch another poster that would appeal to similar ideas and values.

Identify and analyse information

Read the two extracts supporting a 'Yes' case in the 1967 referendum (p 184). Examine and compare the two representations. Pay attention to arguments used, tone and language, and expected consequences.

  • Examine the reasons that Chicka Dixon suggests could have led to a 'No' result. How far do you agree with these reasons and the order in which he places them?

 Advertisement for the Yes case 1967 (click image, bottom right).

Introduction | What rights did Aboriginal people have between 1901–1967? | Why did Australian attitudes towards Aborigines change? | What were the consequences of the referendum? | Assessment tasks and Additional resources