Suvarna Garge (Editor)

Department of Aboriginal Affairs

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Formed  19 December 1972
Headquarters  Canberra
Dissolved  5 March 1990
Preceding Department  Department of the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts
Superseding agency  Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission
Jurisdiction  Commonwealth of Australia

The Department of Aboriginal Affairs was an Australian government department that existed between December 1972 and March 1990.



The Department was one of several new departments established by the Whitlam Government, a wide restructuring that revealed some of the new government's program. After the Whitlam Government was dismissed in 1975, the department had its budget cut by 43 percent in the Fraser Government's first budget, in 1976.

In 1980, the Fraser Government established the Aboriginal Development Commission. Media speculated at the time that the Government was considering abolishing the department, but it was not abolished until 1990, when it was amalgamated with the Aboriginal Development Commission to create the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission. A "wake" was held on 2 March 1990 by staff, to mark the department's demise.


Information about the department's functions and/or government funding allocation could be found in the Administrative Arrangements Orders, the annual Portfolio Budget Statements and in the Department's annual reports.

According to the Administrative Arrangements Order issued 19 December 1972, at its creation, the Department was responsible for:

  • Matters related to the Aboriginal people of Australia.
  • The development and administration of national policies for the advancement and welfare of the Aboriginal people, including the administration of welfare activities in the Territories.
  • Special laws for the Aboriginal people.
  • Structure

    The Department was an Australian Public Service department, staffed by officials who were responsible to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs.


    Department of Aboriginal Affairs Wikipedia