Ever since they arrived in Australia in 1788, the European travellers looked down on the Aboriginal race. The first cultural interaction between the two different cultures involved the dispossession of their land and was only resolved a few years ago. The effects of what the Australian government had caused, and the responses of today’s Australian society, is what will be explained in the following paragraphs.
In 1910, the Australian government made the decision to ‘breed out’ the Aboriginal race. They actually made a plan to get rid of the Aborigines. This plan consisted of the following six steps:
- Leave the full-blooded Aborigines out in their reserves to die.
- Take away the mixed raced children and make them into brown-skinned British citizens.
- Let them marry the lower-class whites.
- In a few generations, the darker colour would be bred out.
- The old reserves could be sold off to farmers and mining companies.
- The Aboriginal race would cease to exist.
Only steps 1 - 4 were almost executed, but were stopped when the Australian government finally realised that what they were doing was wrong. The victims of this plan are now called the ‘Stolen Generations’ referring to the young children who were forcibly removed from their families, and culture, never to be spoken of, let alone heard from again.
These children were put into ‘camps’ where they were taught the ways of a British citizen. Most times, the Aboriginal girls would be sexually abused by missionaries, and were seen as a source of slavery or cheap labour. Once the children had reached the age of eighteen, they would be released into the white society, most of them emotionally scarred for life. Statistics show that an Indigenous Australian is 11 times more likely to be in prison then a non-Indigenous Australian. They are depressed, because of the loss of family. These issue was resolved by special programmes run in centers for the indigenous people to talk about their actions, and reflect and discuss how these things could improve. To help try and connect families back together, the Healing Foundation was formed, helping heal families’ losses.
As I mentioned in my introduction, three hundred square meters were taken from the Aborigines for mining companies in 1963. This affected the Indigenous Australians quite hugely, because they believe that they belong to the land. They were known for never settling in one place, so when their land was removed, it took a huge part of their tradition with it. This matter was only resolved in 1971 where the government gave the Aborigines 40% of the Northern Territory of Australia.
In Australia today, we don’t see as many Aborigines as we do Europeans. What we do see today is a lot more half-castes. Well even more than that, probably quarter-casts, or even eighth-casts! This could mean loss of culture. It probably does mean loss of culture, loss of language, of tradition. It isn’t easy growing in society where you don’t know who you are. These feelings and emotions the Stolen Generations had to deal with, are now being minimized due to the creation of cultural Aboriginal programmes. In these programmes, people of all ages are taught the ways of the Aborigines. They are taught song, dance, language, and the traditional face and body painting. This has been a very positive affect, as many kids feel more confident in themselves, knowing their culture and traditions.
A National Sorry day was requested in May 1997, but was rejected because the Australian government at the time said that “the blame would be pointed at the current government.” An official National Sorry Day, was held on the 26th of May 1998 and has been celebrated by all of Australia since. Kevin Rudd (Australian Prime minister from 2007-2013) decided to announce an official ‘apology’ to all the Stolen Generations. The twenty five minute speech was watched by the entire nation. Even in the Aboriginal reserves, where special screens and monitors were set up, so all could see and listen. All was forgiven, but it will take time to forget.
Years of resentment have been caused due to the racial tension between the European and Aborigines. This is a problem that might not be so easy to respond to. Australia is a multi-cultural country now. So accepting people will have to be more common now, wouldn’t it? Yes, Aboriginal people were treated very poorly, but that was in the past, and now Australia is doing everything they can to mend the broken families, and their broken hearts. The point is, Australia is trying, this shows that they do care. Why wouldn’t they? I mean, Kevin Rudd could be a sixteenth Aboriginal for all I know!
(This was my essay for my Social Studies assesment.)