An 1868 view from North Terrace, Adelaide, of two early South Australian institutions: The destitute asylum (left), built in 1859, and mounted police barracks, built in 1855.
Image by B Goode & Co. courtesy State Library of South Australia

SOUTH AUSTRALIAN COLONY STARTS WITH SOME RIGHTS ENTRENCHED and boosts them in 1960s with wave of anti-discrimination laws 


THE COLONY OF SOUTH AUSTRALIA WAS BORN with some key rights entrenching social and political freedoms that were among the most advanced of their time.

Crown land in the colony was to be sold – not given away. This blocked the chance of favours being granted to the few who were close to the British governing establishment. The money raised from the sale of land was to be used to fund the immigrants voyage to South Australia.

There was to be no dominant religion in the colony and no government control of religion. They allayed the fears of the Protestant Dissenter Nonconformists about the ascendancy of the Church of England at home. The Dissenters were wary of any slippage from this position.

Another inbuilt right to South Australian settlement was the promise of representative government when the colony reached a set minimum population.

Some of South Australia’s advances in rights – most notably votes for women – came with the support of social conservatives, especially the women’s temperance movement, who wanted to suppress other forms of freedom with regards to drinking, gambling or sexuality.

Those suppressions melted into the 1960s and 1970s when South Australia led the nation in banning racial discrimination (1966), decriminalising homosexual relations between consenting male adults in private (1975) and made discrimination of sex or marital status in employment, education, accommodation and providing goods and services unlawful.

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