Aborigines

This project looked at the history behind the aboriginal people. At their art, culture and the many injustices done to them ever since the arrival of white settlers to their country.

|: History :|: Art :|: 'Dreamtime' :|: Stolen generation :|: Contrast between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians :|: Facts :|: Reconciliation :|: Reflection :|

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History

Aborigines first arrived in Australia in 50,00 BC. They came in small groups from Southeast Asia. They are dark-skinned people of medium height with slender limbs. In 1780 the aboriginal population was thought to be 300,000 , with about 500 different tribes. This changed very rapidly in 1788, when the first settles began to arrive. Conflict began almost  immediately. The white settlers brought diseases such as smallpox and the common cold. Within 2 years smallpox had killed almost half the population around Sydney. As the settlers moved inland, the aboriginals began to lose their hunting grounds, their watering holes, in fact their source of life.
                     In 1967 the Australian people voted overwhelmingly to remove the clause from the constitution which prevented the federal government from aiding most aborigines directly. This year for the first time also they were included in the census. At the 1991 census 238,590 Australian residents were counted as Aborigines. This is about 1.3% of the total population.
           Reconciliation with indigenous people is an essential step to overcoming disadvantage and achieving greater social equity for indigenous people. The commonwealth parliament unanimously supported the establishment of the council for aboriginal reconciliation. The council has promoted public awareness and understanding of reconciliation process and encouraged Australians from all walks of life to help make reconciliation a reality. In 1999 there were 250 reconciliation groups.

Art
Bark painting is the best known Aboriginal art form and were used by pre-literate people to keep a record of their daily life and religious beliefs.


'Dreamtime'

Aboriginal culture centres on a super natural world known as 'dreamtime'. They believe that traditional aboriginal life came about during this time. 'Uluru' is the aboriginal name for Ayers Reek, which is believed to be the centre of Australia.


Stolen generation

From 1911 to the mid 1960Ęs, the Australian government carried out a policy of child removal. They removed aboriginal babies and their children from their mothers and the native communities. After World War One, the policy and practice of aboriginal child removal changed. Before the war, it was merely to assimilate the aborigines with the superior civilisation of the white. The government stole over 100,000 Aboriginal children gave them to white families. Children with 2 Aboriginal parents were generally thrown into care, foster homes or juvenile homes. This was clearly a policy of racial genocide.
                       The Federal government refuses to punish those responsible for this criminal policy, return the persons to their rightful families or make  any sort of restitution. They deny that they were responsible and think that these atrocities committed over 30 years ago should no longer concern anyone. The government refuses to recognise that yesterdays children still live the consequences to this day.


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Contrast between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians

* they make up only 2% of the population
* life expectancy is 15-20 years less
* Aboriginal families are 20 times more likely to be blind.


Facts

* Aborigines make up 21% of deaths in custody
* 93% of Aboriginal children suffer with hookworm
* 34 % of rural Aboriginal communities have water unsafe for consumption
* the majority of their 260 languages are near extinct.


Reconciliation

May 1997 saw an extraordinary serge forward for reconciliation in Australia. The Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation consisted of 25 members from diverse cultural backgrounds. The Council hopes to brig about a reconciliation between indigenous and all other Australians by the year 2001. Their vision:
A united Australia which respects this land of ours, values the Aboriginal heritage and provides justice and equity for all the Council promoted reconciliation as a Peoples Movement, liked with the centenary of nationhood in 2001. The centenary may be an appropriate time to consider some formal national agreement with indigenous leaders.

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Reflection

Disturbing information came to light in our study of Aborigines. Police brutality has destroyed many Aboriginal lives. Young children were taken away from their families and placed in white communities in an effort to destroy their culture and to breed out their race, an obvious form of ethnic cleansing. The constitution needs to be changed to provide recognition of the Australian indigenous people. It is not right that Aborigines have to fight to be a part of Australia.