Act of Self Determination Day is celebrated on 6 April in the Cocos Keeling Islands to commemorate the day in 1984 when a referendum was held on the islands that resulted in their becoming a democratically run, self-governing territory of Australia.
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Cocos Islands was discovered by William Keeling in the year 1609, but the islands weren’t settled until the 1800’s. British settlers came to live on the islands, and they became a part of the British Empire. But the powerful Clunies-Ross family took control of the colony’s local government.
The islands came under the jurisdiction of Australia in 1955, but the Clunies-Ross “dynasty” continued until 1983, when it was ended by the referendum. A total of 229 of the 261 voters of the islands voted in favour of becoming a territory of Australia.
For around 117 years, a single family had basically run the lives of the Cocos Islands people. They worked on the Clunies-Ross coconut plantation, while there was little opportunity for education or even travel from Home Island to West Island within the archipelago.
The excessive control of the lives of the people of Cocos Islands by the Clunies-Ross family was finally ended by an Australian-led popular uprising at the ballot box.