Australian Government Policy Essay

3678 words - 15 pages

Australian Government Policy

The first English settlement in Australia was established in 1788. Before this the Aborigines lived in the land in harmony. However, after the English arrived, the two different cultures were in close contact and had to determine how to coexist. White Europeans did not respect the Aborigines’ right to the land and it’s resources. With brutal force, they took control of the land and claimed it as their own. Australians then developed their own policies on how to deal with the Aborigines, which, as you can expect, bettered their own way of life. There are three historical phases of Australian governmental policies: dispossession, segregation, and assimilation. There are also some recent policies that have acknowledged Aboriginal rights and have increased their autonomy and welfare. This paper will discuss these phases, their effects on the Aborigines and Australia, and the future of Australian race relations.

Introduction

Investigation into the treatment of and government policies enacted against the Aborigines is an important issue because not many know about the history of these people. Just recently, social scientists have started looking into this area. Furthermore, many people believe that the concept of racial inequality has all but disappeared in the world. By examining the case of the Aborigines, it can show what work still needs to be done in order for there to be true equality for indigenous peoples.

Australia was declared a British colony in 1770 (Hollinsworth, 1996). The first colony was established in 1788. From the very beginning, the Aborigines were treated as less human through racist attitudes and government policies. This paper will discuss the different policy periods and their effects, the future for Aborigines, and what still needs to be done in Australia to better relations and equity between the Aborigines and the White Australians.

Aborigines

There were no Aborigines when the Europeans first landed in Australia. There were approximately 600 different groups of indigenous people that had the same technology and social system, yet differed by their geographical location, linguistic system, kin, and a variety of other factors. These peoples are classified into one generalized group as a result of their shared historical experience of treatment by Europeans (Reece, 1999).

The Aborigines have a long-standing presence in Australia. Research has determined that they occupied the land approximately 70,000 to 175,000 years before the British colonization. It is estimated that in the 1770’s, there were from 500,000 to one million Aboriginal people living in Australia. Presently, there are 300,000 Aborigines living in there (Fletcher, 1999). Most of the original populations were nearly destroyed within one to two generations of British colonialism. This reduction in numbers is due to the history of new disease, poor access to health care, malnutrition, violence, and social dislocation...

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