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Indigenous Australian Cultures, Histories and Contemporary Realities 

The essay puts forth an understanding and analysis of Australian policy and historical events about the Indigenous Australian peoples. Two events from Australian history, one from pre- 1967 period and one from the post-1967 period have been analyzed in the essay. The pre-1967 period event which has been chosen is The Aborigines Protection Act 1909, which was passed in New South Wales. This act placed emphasis on the neglected aboriginal children to be removed from their families gave permission and allowance for removal of aboriginal people from Australian towns, also, it prevented the non-aborigines to access the reserves and association with the Aboriginal people (National Library of Australia, 2020). The event from the post-1967 referendum is The National Congress of Australia’s first peoples. To provide solutions and resolve the issues of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, the Australian government hired the National Indigenous Council in 2007. This council was later abolished. It was in 2009, when Tom Calma, Chairman of Australian Human Rights Commission, recommended the establishment of this new independent body. This committee provided advice to government on handling Aboriginal and Torres Islander people and their issues (National Museum Australia, 2020).

The Aborigines Protection Act of 1909 was aimed at providing protection and nurture the Aborigines of Australia. The purpose was to abrogate the supply of liquor and other alcohol products to the Aborigines Protection Act, make corrections and amendments in the Policies offences act of 1908 and the Vagrancy act. This was the first-ever legislative act drafted to protect the New South Wales region, to the aborigines (Find and Connect, 2020). The National Congress of Australia’s first peoples aimed at implementation of the UN Declaration on the rights of Aborigines people and the achievement of self-determination through advocation. This committee worked upon promotion of respect for all inherent cultures and made recognizing them, as one of the core values of Australian heritage. This committee came forward as the voice of new people/Aborigines and Torres Islander people and gave solutions to issues affecting peoples, employment, economy, health and education, leadership, housing and governance (Australian Government, 2019).

Indigenous people have always been positioned as belonging to inferior origins and have been discriminated on many grounds in Australia. The first century and a half of Aborigines relations in Australia was characterized by ill-treatment, dispossession, social disruption, economic exploitation, cultural devastation, discrimination and population decline. The aborigines were discriminated on many grounds and the citizenship which ascribed to the people at the start of the British settlement with Australia was demolished by its end. The State-sanctioned aboriginal children to be removed from their parents. The aboriginals were treated harshly and denied the right to make any decisions, they were disposed from their own culture, life and families (AIATSIS, 2020). The aboriginal community was highly disadvantaged in terms of social, cultural and economic status. There was also a prevalence of high degree of violence primarily due to illicit use of alcohol and drugs, mental issues and childhood experience of violence in the aborigines of the Torres Islands. Before colonization, these people were represented across 250 nations, languages and social systems and could own land attachments, which they were later disposed of (Australian government, 2016).

The relationship between Aborigines Indigenous people of Australia and the wider population of Non-Indigenous Australians have always been unstable and relied upon discrimination which lays the foundation for superior majority of non-indigenous wider Australian society and minority of the inferior caste of Aboriginal Indigenous people. The native institution at Parramatta was the first-ever school opened for the Aboriginal children in New South Wales, Australia. This was attempted to create a distance between the Aboriginal children and communities from the wider Australian population which included their parents to inculcate in them, subservience, which was deemed desirable for servants and working class. This was highly boycotted by the Indigenous people. Non-Indigenous occupation was established throughout New South Wales for the wider community, disposing of the Indigenous people of their jobs and homes. Children were removed from mixed descent of their Indigenous families and merged in the Non-Indigenous community (Australian Human Rights Commission, 2020). Lots of boundaries existed between the Indigenous people of Torres Islander and the rest of the Australian society. The Aboriginals were denied health services, kicked off their lands, because of which they used to die 10 years younger than the wider Australian society and were more likely to have diseases like mental and physical disabilities, with 6 times higher rates of suicides than non-indigenous wider Australians (National Congress of Australia’s first peoples, 2018).

There has always been a gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people/students and Non-Indigenous Australian population, right from the start of westernized education. The Aboriginals were the Indigenous people who were discriminated based on caste, colour and creed. These people were separated from their children to form them as a part of the wider population of Non-Indigenous Australians. Aboriginals were disposed of their lands and forced to live on the cringes. Both the events, the Aborigines Protection Act 1909 and the National Congress of Australia’s first people sought protection of discriminated indigenous people and resolving the problems faced by them, but adopted different ways to do this. The 1909 Act, abrogated the supply of liquor, and amended legislation, while the 2007 committee enforced their rights through the promotion of all cultures and communities as a part of Australian culture and solving issues of employment, education, and economy. Aborigines people were ill-treated as per both the policies through social disruption, discrimination and cultural devastation but differently in the form of separation of children from their parents and high degree violence and dispossession from the land of the indigenous communities. No relationship was ever maintained between the two communities due to large gaps and boundaries created between them from start based on class, creed, caste, race, blood and origin. The wider majority of Australian community comprising non-indigenous people was always placed above the inferior aborigines (Australians together, 2020).

To develop an understanding of Australian history on the lives of Indigenous and Aboriginal people, getting an insight into the historical and cultural and background is necessary. The two events in the history of Australia which focus on the lives of the Indigenous Aboriginal people and the discriminations they had to undergo, reinstating their rights through protection of the Indigenous community and providing solutions to their problems and issues. The Aborigines Protection act of 1909, drafted during the pre-referendum period and the National Congress of Australia’s first people committee developed in 2007, during the post-referendum period, set the context for discussion and analysis of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and issues regarding their social, mental, physical state of well-being. The history of their suppression and colonization has been brought to light by the two events which enable the reader to understand the history of Australian culture and communities. The cultural devastation, oppression and discrimination of Indigenous Australian communities, their undying spirit and resilience to claim their rights in the Australian society, through cultural recognition and equality and the way these acts protected their rights can be analyzed from the events. The two groups in Australia, Aborigines and Indigenous people both of their struggles and hardships they had to undergo have been given through the acts. Government policies, resistance, and adaption in the times of pre and post-referendum in Australia identify and give meaning to the Indigenous communities, and the contemporary issues which confronted them, highlighting attention to racism (Dudgeon, et al, 2010).

These events have influenced my cultural understanding and made me understand and analyze the hardships which must have been faced by the two communities of Australia, Aborigines and Indigenous people who suffered from oppression, discrimination, cultural devastation, economic exploitation, in the form of dispossession of people from their lands and separation of children from their parents, for the society to make them a part of superior wider community of non-indigenous Australians. These acts passed by the Australian government have worked hard on establishing and protecting the rights of these communities and resolving their issues. The struggle and resilience of these communities to get their rights back has had a great impact in the form of social and cultural influence on my understanding and have demonstrated, no matter the world is against you, if you are right, you must stand against discrimination and fight your right back.

The essay has presented a critical analysis of the two historical events of Australia, The Aborigines Protection Act of 1909 in the pre-referendum era and the National Congress of Australia’s first people established in 2007, post-referendum. The goals and purpose of both these events were to protect the rights of oppressed aborigines and indigenous communities. Their sufferings in the form of dispossession from land, violence and separation from children present their positioning in the society. Their relationship has always been one of inferiority to the wider Australian Non-Indigenous people. Both the acts work in the same direction to protect these communities but in different manners. These people and their struggle is an example to the society, that one should fight back against discrimination and get their rights reinstated for the good of cultural heritage and humanity.

References for Australian Policy and Historical Events Analysis

National Library of Australia. (2020). Timeline- Events that led to the 1967 Referendum. Retrieved from https://www.nla.gov.au/digital-classroom/year-10/the-1967-referendum/timeline

National Museum Australia. (2020). Key events in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history 1967-2005. Retrieved from https://www.nma.gov.au/exhibitions/off-the-walls/historical-milestones

Find and Connect. (2020). Aborigines Protection Act 1909. Retrieved from https://www.findandconnect.gov.au/guide/nsw/NE00010#:~:text=The%20Aborigines%20Protection%20Act%201909,consequent%20thereon%20or%20incidental%20thereto.

Australian Government. (2019). National Congress of Australia’s first people. Retrieved from https://www.acnc.gov.au/charity/fa998367662051d9a9a242efada8961c

AIATSIS. (2020). ‘Aboriginal natives shall not be counted’. Retrieved from https://aiatsis.gov.au/exhibitions/aboriginal-natives-shall-not-be-counted

Australian Government. (2016). Overcoming Indigenous disadvantage. Retrieved from www.pc.gov.au › oid-2016-chapter1-about-this-report

Australian Human Rights Commission. (2020). Bringing them Home. Retrieved from https://humanrights.gov.au/our-work/bringing-them-home-chapter-3

Parliament of Australia. (2018). National Congress of Australia’s first peoples. Retrieved from
www.aph.gov.au

Australians Together. (2020). A white Australia. Retrieved from https://australianstogether.org.au/discover/australian-history/a-white-australia/

Dudgeon, P, et al. (2010). The social, cultural and historical context of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, in Working together. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Canberra, A. C. T., 25-42. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/306228426_The_social_cultural_and_historical_context_of_Aboriginal_and_Torres_Strait_Islander_Australians.

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