Australia in the 1920s

Indigenous Australians

In the 1920s, settlers had the mistaken view that Indigenous peoples were 'a dying race'. A government initiative aimed at 'assimilation' was to remove children of mixed Indigenous and non-Indigenous descent from their Indigenous families. Indigenous peoples were removed from their traditional lands and forced onto large reserves. Legislation governing all aspects of Indigenous people's lives vested powers in Aboriginal protectors and boards.

In 1925, the Australian Aboriginal Progressive Association (AAPA), an all-Aboriginal body, held its first public meeting in Kempsey, New South Wales, to improve conditions for Indigenous people. In 1927, a federal law for child endowment excluded Indigenous people and instead payments went to the Aboriginal Protection Boards of each state and territory.

The 1920s saw a continuation of conflict and violence between Indigenous peoples and colonists in several parts of the country. Relations between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people since the 1800s had been marked by several cases of planned massacres and incidences of resistance and retaliation resulting in many deaths. Some examples of these are the Myall Creek massacre of 1838, the Coniston massacre of 1926, and several others across the country.

Aboriginal dwellings at Hermannsburg in the Northern Territory, 1923

A snapshot of 1928

  • February
    • Bert Hinkler landed in Darwin after taking about 15 days for the first solo flight from Britain to Australia.

  • May
    • Charles Kingsford Smith flew across the Pacific Ocean from Oakland, California to Brisbane in 10 days.
    • Reverend John Flynn started flying doctors and nurses to the outback as a precursor to the first Royal Flying Doctor Service, which would be established in 1942.

  • June
    • The Commonwealth Savings Bank of Australia was established as a separate entity.

  • August
    • Australian Iron and Steel began production with a blast furnace in Port Kembla.

  • December
    • Speedo produced its first swimsuit and Aeroplane Jelly was launched.


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