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Aboriginal's and Racism in Australia

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Essay title: Aboriginal's and Racism in Australia

Australian society is made up of a wide variety of groups. These groups of people have different cultural traditions and economic and social background. The success of the communication and interacting of these groups depends largely on the attitudes, values, and behaviour of people towards different groups.

Racism is probably the first form of discrimination we think of. It is the belief that some races of people are inferior to other ‘races'. Racism usually involves negative acts against the group of people considered inferior. Genocide is the deliberate extermination of a whole race or ethnic or religious grouping of people. The impact of racism on the Aboriginal people is not just horrific but genocidal. Racism is a problem for Aboriginal Australians. This includes occupation of Aboriginal land under the ‘Terra Nullius' principle, assimilation, the stolen generation, and Aboriginal Australian's health.

Before the arrival of European settlers, Australia was probably inhabited by as many as 500 different tribal groups of Aboriginal peoples. Many of these groups, their cultures, and their languages have been wiped out by white settlement.

Aboriginal Australians traditionally owned land on a group or tribal basis according to birthright. Being a member of a tribe entitled an individual to dwell on a certain designated area of land and to utilise the natural materials from that land.

The land was inalienable, that is ownership could not be transferred, because no one really ‘owned; the land in the European sense of the word therefore disputes about land did not arise between Aborigines. Upon European settlement in Australia, all useful available land was carved up by the settlers according to the notion of possession of land based on English law. This division of land failed to recognise any land rights held by the original dwellers. Dispossession had a devastating effect on Aboriginal society

To the Aborigines the land was part of their very being. It had a special religious significance and they believed there was a direct relationship between the spirit and the site from which the spirit came. That place was the person's life force and that person was inseparable connected with it and these sites were considered sacred.

Within a generation of the first white settlement, many tribal groups were decimated or wiped out. By the 1850s many were on the point of extinction, others were extinct. In the Port Phillip area, for example, government records show that a pre-contact population of about 10000 was reduced to less than 2000 in only eighteen years. White violence was mainly responsible for this appalling death rate.

From peace to slaughter. A quiet rural settlement in Queensland; the first contact with British settlers' and then, Truganini who was the last female left in Tasmania after the black population had been wiped out by whites (she died in1876). Therefore it is evident that the impact of racism by the Europeans who claimed the land to be ‘Terra Nullius' is not just horrific but genocidal.

In the second half of the nineteenth century many of the remaining Aborigines in the eastern colonies were ‘rounded-up' and kept of reserves, which were often administered by Christian missionaries. Both Church and state were anxious to ‘Europeanize' native peoples. The establishment of reserves made it possible to enforce this policy of ‘assimilation'.

The lives of Aborigines were heavily regulated and controlled by white ‘protectors' on reserves throughout the colonies. Aborigines required a permit to enter. Children became wards of the state and could be removed from parents by white authorities (stolen generation). The rights to consume alcohol control one's own financial affairs, or to vote were denied those detained on reserves. These reservations governed the lives of a large number of Aboriginal people for generations.

Today, in all but a few isolated parts of Australia, only remnants of traditional Aboriginal cultures, social practices and languages remain, and these are still under constant threat from European pressures. Yet some Aborigines have survived and some tribal groups have retained their cohesion, despite the horrors of the nineteenth century and

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