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The Effect of Colonization on Aboriginal Culture

Aboriginals of the Torres strait are the oldest and most heavily colonized culture that have resided on the lands of Australia. The records of colonization have had a major effect on their culture. Due to the underdevelopment and lack of improvement, lack of proper infrastructure, and increasingly westernized ideals, values, and beliefs the children and the young of the community face immense difficulties while coping with the issues. Due to past histories, there is a basic lack of health programs, housing programs, and education programs that could aid in the development of the children in their early years and the islanders in this region of Australia. The colonized communities experience a rift in following westernized forms and their own set of beliefs and traditions.

Social constructivism offers a different perspective to learning about children and early childhood. The social makeup of childhood is based on different concepts of different cultures, societies, and historical times. It emphasizes the diversity of circumstances and environments in which childhood is spent. It is not universal or natural and is closely related to situations that are social in nature and cultural processes. Children look at the world differently than adults (Hammersley, 2017), in all their diversity even though childhood and children are understood differently in different times that is the one thing they share in common. Childhood as a concept has also changed significantly over time, even within the same society, it is important to understand that childhood cannot be viewed as separate from other social variables, but is intertwined with other factors of existence that are races and genders. (Norozi & Moen, 2016) 

Aboriginal children of Australia are exposed to a variety of challenges associated with European colonial influences. Childhood adversities increase the risk of negative health and social consequences that can contribute to the long-standing mental and physical health gaps between indigenous peoples and non-indigenous people (Young et al., 2017). Despite these challenges, many aboriginal children are resilient and show remarkable adaptability to difficult situations. As resilience is a contextual process, differences in how to conceptualize resilience may differ across cultural groups. Members of the indigenous communities believe that childhood resilience is the ability to withstand adversity and to choose positive behaviours in the face of many difficult situations with minimal disruption to normal development and social functioning. It is thought to be facilitated by different sociocultural factors that can instils strong self-esteem, connections to their own indigenous cultures, knowledge of positive actions and outcomes, and the aspirations and confidence needed to achieve those outcomes (Rigney., 2017). 

Early childhood in many of the western nations has placed itself within the educational discourse, Education is an important aspect of progress and human development and one of the most crucial mechanisms involved in improving opportunities related to economic stability, health, and well-being (Fanshawe et al., 2019). There are many holistic development programmes that have been introduced for early childhood development but not necessarily for early childhood education. These developmental programs focus on the nutrition and the health of the kids, their security and safety. There are strategies that provide responsive care giving by the children parents and providing early learning. these programs are mean for enabling an environment for the communities and families to move towards better avenues regarding healthy outcomes, these developmental programs include playgroups, parent groups, perinatal support groups, home visiting support groups etc. However, nearly a quarter of indigenous and Torres Strait islander people live in the remote areas, local secondary education is either non-existent or very limited. because of which many of these communities have to let their children go to high secondary school to distant boarding schools. The indigenous students, moving from their community-based elementary schools have to undergo many changes that include, their residences, lifestyle changes, the culture they have been brought up in, the way they have to speak, family influences, educational standards, responsibilities and roles and getting freedom from parental influences. these changes also are in lieu with physiological changes that increase peer pressure leading to engaging in unhealthy behaviour patterns like drug and alchol abuse and sexual activities (Redman-MacLaren et al., 2017). They also face racial discriminations, all these factors leading to depression and self-harming acts. The transition support service (TSS), department of education and service of the Queensland's government was implemented in response to the parents' concerns raised in 2004 to provide smooth transitions from the communities to the boarding schools which then extended to 12 communities of Cape York and palm island. The service used a case management approach based on a previously trained assisted mentoring model (Mander, Cohen & Pooley, 2015, that was shifted to a resilience focused approach. The services also additionally work with families, other services and boarding schools to help students adapt, explore and continue in boarding schools (O’Bryan, 2016) 

Social Constructivism and Early Childhood

Given the disparity among the aboriginals concerning health the health care network can help specifically in instances of adversity inside the households, while a lot of indigenouns youngsters are raised in environments that are supportive, the impact of western colonization has created problems in which a few households might not be capable of offering sufficient care. The main critique expressed is the attempting to incur the knowledge of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders other related contents to the history and culture of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in a way that fits into the existing framework. and the concept of Existing, cultural, ideological, and educational specific constructs as a result of fitting into the pre-existing framework their own cultural histories become almost negligible (Maxwell et al., 2018) Policymakers and health care centres have to prioritise the wide health gap that hinders any progress. Mental health disparities exacerbate social disadvantages and other problems such as chronic illnesses, family breakdowns, drug and alcohol abuse, unemployment and high incarceration rate, those areas, and victimization in crimes. It is necessary to recognize the experiences of trauma and loss experienced after the invasion of European influences are a direct result of a violation of cultural well-being. This level of trauma and loss continues to affect generations of indigenous people (Dudgeon et al., 2017). It is also necessary to recognize the impact of cultural differences and the sociocultural determinants on the mental health pf the aboriginal and Torres’s strait islanders in order to overcome the mental health of aboriginal and Torres Strait islander peoples.

In 2015 the national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health gave six guidelines to closing the wide mental gap,1) it is a priority to close the mental health gap in Indigenous affairs 2) development of a dedicated plan to close the gap 3) providing primary health-related services over time and hospital-based treatment are also made available 4)culturally appropriate services should be expanded 5) support for transition should be provided across the mental health system and 6) working closely with the aboriginal leaders, experts, and stakeholders for executing the above. (Calma, Dudgeon & Bray, 2017) to offer the families sustainable plans for the maximum benefit of the youngsters from their disruptive behaviors that are borne from systematic racism objections and terrible stereotyping. There needs to be a stimulation to the decision-making process in youngsters which could help form an understanding of who they are and what they could gain from their available resources (Andersen, 2019). Policymakers should consider developing programs that have long-term effects on the children who are at risk of alienation and develop community-based programs that are inclusive and provide the caregivers of these children with skills that help generate resilience (McCalman et al., 2020). They can help in building networks and programs where children can come in contact with role models that might have a positive influence on them and can construct a better self-image and instill pride for belonging to a culture with rich heritage values. Similarly, there should be developmental programs that can aid and guide the low-socioeconomic households to allow the caregivers to deal with challenges that they might face in demanding situations while emphasizing effective parenting techniques in the parents to support and nurture their young ones (McNicholas, 2015).

The mental health Practitioners and experts of the aboriginal and Torres’s islanders and their communities have since long recognized complex, life-long solutions for reducing mental health disparities and have proposed to rebuild the constructs and social fabrics of the indigenous community life. The key lies are self-determination and acceptance of cultural differences that must be included in the services that are related to mental health. Many aboriginal and Torres strait islander communities and organizations have been calling for self-determination of mental health care since 1970’s. developing culture-based programs for social and economic well-being and incorporating new ways of using the core systems is the way forward.

References

Andersen, C. (2019). Exploring Aboriginal identity in Australia and building resilience. Indigenous, Aboriginal, Fugitive and Ethnic Groups Around the Globe, 111.

Calma, T., Dudgeon, P., & Bray, A. (2017). Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander social and emotional wellbeing and mental health. Australian Psychologist, 52(4), 255-260.

Dudgeon, P., Bray, A., D'costa, B., & Walker, R. (2017). Decolonising psychology: Validating social and emotional wellbeing. Australian Psychologist, 52(4), 316-325.

Fanshawe, M., Abawi, L., & Guy, J. (2019). The importance of Indigenous cultural perspectives in education (The danger of the single-story).

Hammersley, M. (2017). Childhood Studies: A sustainable paradigm?. Childhood, 24(1), 113-127.

Mander, D. J., Cohen, L., & Pooley, J. A. (2015). A critical exploration of staff perceptions of Aboriginal boarding students’ experiences. Australian Journal of Education, 59(3), 312-328.

Maxwell, J., Lowe, K., & Salter, P. (2018). The re-creation and resolution of the ‘problem of Indigenous education in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cross-curriculum priority. The Australian Educational Researcher, 45(2), 161-177

McCalman, J., Bainbridge, R., James, Y. C., Bailie, R., Tsey, K., Matthews, V., ... & Doran, C. (2020). Systems integration to promote the mental health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children: protocol for a community-driven continuous quality improvement approach. BMC public health, 20(1), 1-12.

McNicholas, L., 2015. Early childhood education and Indigenous Australia: what is our responsibility? - The Spoke – Early Childhood Australia's Blog. [online] The Spoke – Early Childhood Australia's Blog. Available at: <https://thespoke.earlychildhoodaustralia.org.au/early-childhood-education-indigenous-australia-responsibility/> [Accessed 29 January 2022].

Norozi, S. A., & Moen, T. (2016). Childhood as a social construction. Journal of Educational and Social Research, 6(2), 75.

O'Bryan, M. M. (2016). Shaping futures, shaping lives: an investigation into the lived experience of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in Australian boarding schools (Doctoral dissertation).

Redman-MacLaren, M. L., Klieve, H., Mccalman, J., Russo, S., Rutherford, K., Wenitong, M., & Bainbridge, R. G. (2017, March). Measuring resilience and risk factors for the psychosocial well-being of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander boarding school students: Pilot baseline study results. In Frontiers in Education (Vol. 2, p. 5). Frontiers. 

Rigney, L. I. (2017). Indigenist research and aboriginal Australia (pp. 32-48). Routledge.

Young, C., Tong, A., Nixon, J., Fernando, P., Kalucy, D., Sherriff, S., ... & Williamson, A. (2017). Perspectives on childhood resilience among the Aboriginal community: an interview study. Australian and New Zealand journal of public health, 41(4), 405-410.

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