15. RH36-1-F2 Hawke with Pam O'Neil.JPG

Prime Minister, Bob Hawke with Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Pam O’Neil (NAA: A6180, 20/7/84/15)

Hawke’s government made several advances in the area of equality for marginalised Australians.

The Sex Discrimination Act 1984 and Affirmative Action (Equal Opportunity for Women) Act 1986, enabled women to fight discrimination on the grounds of gender, marital status, pregnancy, family responsibilities and sexual harassment.

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission Act 1989, led to the development of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC), set up as the peak national policy and administrative agency for Indigenous Australians. 

ATSIC members were elected by Indigenous people and, working with state and federal governments, were charged with administering government funds.

A strong advocate for cultural diversity, Hawke stood firmly and passionately against anti-immigration and anti-reconciliation ideals such as the proposed One Australia policy in 1988.

In 1989, the National Agenda for a Multicultural Australia was launched.  It confirmed the government’s support for cultural diversity.


Prime Minister, Bob Hawke with Hazel Hawke, Charlie Perkins and other guests at a reception for National Aborigines Week held at the Lodge in Canberra, 8 July 1983 (NAA: A1680, 8/7/83/2)

Images courtesy of the National Archives of Australia, digitised from the unprocessed photographs in the Bob Hawke Collection.