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Wave Hill walk-off facts for kids

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Gough Whitlam and Vincent Lingiari, 16 August 1975

The Wave Hill walk-off, also known as the Gurindji strike, was a walk-off and strike by 200 Gurindji stockmen, house servants and their families, starting on 23 August 1966 and lasting for about nine years. It took place at Wave Hill, a cattle station in Kalkarindji (formerly known as Wave Hill), Northern Territory, Australia, and was led by Gurindji man Vincent Lingiari.

Initially interpreted as purely a strike against working and living conditions, it became apparent that these were not the only or main reasons. The primary demand was for return of some of the traditional lands of the Gurindji people, which had covered approximately 3,250 square kilometres (1,250 sq mi) of the Northern Territory before European settlement. The walk-off persisted until the time of the Whitlam government (1972–1975). On 16 August 1975, after brokering an agreement with the owners, the Vestey Group, Prime Minister Gough Whitlam was able to give the rights to a small piece of land back to the Gurindji people in a highly symbolic handover ceremony. It was a key moment in the movement for Aboriginal land rights in Australia, which was one of the main events leading to the passing of the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976. This legislation was the basis on which Indigenous Australians could apply for freehold title to traditional lands (known as native title in Australia) in the Northern Territory.

The event was later celebrated in the song "From Little Things Big Things Grow", written by Paul Kelly and Kev Carmody in 1991, and Freedom Day is celebrated in August of each year at Kalkarindji to commemorate the strike.

On 8 September 2020 the traditional owners were granted native title over 5,000 square kilometres (1,900 sq mi) of the Wave Hill Station land.

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