You are required to select two events from the Australian History Timeline. One event must be pre-1967 and the other post-1967. This will enable you to investigate the evolution of approaches to Australian policy for Indigenous Australian peoples, the way in which Indigenous Australians are positioned to rationalise approaches, and the presumed relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians as a consequence.
You are required to describe and analyse each policy/event in relation to:
1.Goals of each policy or event.
2.How Indigenous Australians are positioned (e.g., do they have a role in decision-making, are their views represented, are they constructed as a 'problem to be resolved').
3.The relationship between Indigenous Australians and wider Australian society (e.g., is there a social or cultural norm evident? Are Indigenous Australians constructed as 'different' to or divergent from the norm?); including a reflection of the influence of these policies and events on your own cultural competence.
4.What are the similarities and differences evident in the goals, positioning of Indigenous Australians, and the implied relationship between Indigenous Australians and wider Australian society?
The indigenous or the aboriginal people in Australia are the original inhabitants of the land who have faced oppression, discrimination and humiliation for decades by the colonists. Before the year 1788, approximately 700 languages were spoken throughout Australia which hosted only the indigenous people with a population of 7,50,000. The country used to be a land of diverse cultures. The aboriginal Australians constitute to 3% of the total population today (Altman, 2018). The situation of the land along with the condition of the indigenous Australians changed entirely with the arrival of the European people.
This paper looks into the events in the history of Australia that portrays the discrimination and injustice against the indigenous Australians. The paper intends to compare and analyze two events from the history of the nation; one from pre Commonwealth Referendum in 1967 and the other one from post Referendum period. The aim of this paper is to analyze the condition of the native Australian people at present, the relationship between the indigenous and wider Australian people while considering the events in the past.
The first event taken into consideration belongs to the pre referendum period. The event dates back to 1965 when a policy called the Integration policy was introduced. The policy, as preached by the government was intended to grant more control to the aboriginal population over their lives and society (Thomas, Bainbridge & Tsey, 2014). The government for the aboriginal people introduced a relocation policy and new laws. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders' Affairs Act was ammended in Queensland, which gave the Director of Aboriginal Affairs symbolic power over the 'assisted aborigines.' According to this Act, an aboriginal person could be apprehended for up to a year for offensive, threatening, insolent, disorderly, obscene, insulting or indecent behavior. The person could also be arrested on grounds of escaping or attempt to escape from the reserve. The Supreme Court of Northern Territory rejected the plea of an aboriginal couple to return their three children who were taken from the leprosarium at Oenpelli mission and fostered out.
The Commonwealth Referendum of 1967 (Dudgeon & Walker, 2015) is marked as a landmark event in the history of Australia for the indigenous population. It was in this year and after implementation of this policy that the indigenous people were considered to be counted in the census of Australia. The second event took place in the year 1969, or the post referendum period. The Aborigines Welfare Board in New South Wales was eradicated (Altman, 2018). All the states by 1969 revocated the legislation to allow for the removal of the Aboriginal children under the policy of protection. The following years witnessed the creation of Aboriginal and Islander Child Care Agencies that contested the removal applications of children and provide substitutes for the removal of them from their families. However, the government supposedly took measures to help the aboriginal community. An Aborigines Advisory Council was established. The federal government to provide financial support to sports activities established the National Aboriginal Sports Foundation. The fight of the aboriginal population to claim their lost pride was going on. An Aboriginal delegation went to New York to the office of the secretary general of the United Nations to present a statement on Australian Aborigines. The New South Wales Aboriginal Welfare board was abolished during this year. Both of the events indicate that the European colonists tried to oppress the native Australian people using several governmental structures and sometimes by making them believe the benefits of their policies.
History of Indigenous Australians
The aboriginal Australian population preferred to maintain their own languages and culture. The assimilation policy of 1935 did not allow them to do so and forced them into following the customs and beliefs of the white colonists. On the other hand, Integration policy of 1965 supposedly allowed the indigenous Australians to practice their own culture and heritage. The policy was actually aimed towards the unification of culture and the government believed that there should be a single Australian community that would follow only one culture (Altman, 2014). The colonial government rejected the idea of diversification of cultures. According to the Native Welfare Conference of 1965, assimilation policy was redefined as integration policy which stated that "all persons from the Aboriginal descent would choose to attain a similar manner and standard of living to that of other Australians and live as members of a single Australian community." The idea of attaining equality of the aborigines by the loss of aboriginal identity was abandoned. Instead, a policy to recognize the value of Aboriginal culture and the right of retention of their languages and customs while maintaining their own distinctive communities was introduced (Wilson & Wilks, 2015). Therefore, the chief aim of the integration policy was to assimilate the indigenous population with the wider Australian community by recognizing the diversity of culture and allowing them to practice their own traditions and customs.
The post referendum period was observed as the time to implement measures for the welfare of the indigenous people of Australia. The aim of the Commonwealth Referendum of 1967 was to promote the right of the aboriginal people to retain their racial identity and traditional lifestyle. If they desired to differ, they could adopt a partial or entire European lifestyle. All the policies that followed the referendum promoted the same (Clyne & Jupp, 2013). The objective was to uplift the situation of the aborigines in Australia. The policies of self-management and self-determination allowed the aborigines to obtain participation and control in local or community government and in other areas as well.
The situation of the indigenous population has gone through a very little amount of change. Many governments still make policies with the objective to integrate indigenous people in to the typical Australian economy and society. The Aboriginal population in places apart from the northern and central parts of Australia live in utterly poor conditions. They are neither in control of their society not their land. This situation prevails even after some of the lands have been returned to them with the help of acts such as Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1967 (Healy & Rosenberg, 2013). Their low rate of population, which accounts to only 3% of the total Australian population results to the negligence of the government to involve them in decision-making process. Furthermore, racism is a prime issue that the indigenous population of Australia still faces at large. Unemployment based on racism and poor education is one of the major problems that the aboriginal population face today. Even if they manage to find employment, it is mostly at a lower level due to racism. The pay scale is unequal which accounts to two-thirds of that of the non-indigenous population (Tesfaghiorghis, & Altman, 2018). Unemployment often sows the seeds of discrimination. The low income and high levels of unemployment persuades many Aborigines to depend on unemployment benefits and welfare schemes by the government. This spreads an impression amongst the common Australian population that the indigenous people are benefitted by the government and do not attempt to find a job. However, the education system for the indigenous people has improved in the recent times with them entering the system earlier and sustaining for a longer amount of time.
Effects of Integration Policy and Assimilation Policy on Indigenous Australians
The indigenous population is considered different from that of the wider Australian community because to the varying sociocultural norms and traditions. The aborigines constitute to the lesser share of the total Australian population and this is why the norms of the wider society is given prime focus. The assimilation policies led to the segregation of the aborigines and forceful unification with the wider Australian society. This created differences between the two societies, which is evident even today in the form of racism and discrimination (Simpson & Yinger, 2013). The attempt to demolish the aboriginal traditions and culture in the past led to the creation of sociocultural differences between them. However, there were attempts to protect the traditions of the indigenous people through integration policies. This led to the building of stereotypes among the wider Australian society that the government was privileging the aborigines. The discrimination made the indigenous population conservative and this increased the differences between the two societies.
The government has worked on decreasing the gap between the two societies by giving the indigenous population equal rights to the facilities that they can avail. Perhaps the similarity of equal human rights is the only similarity evident in the two cultures. The differences tend to overpower the similarities. The rate of unemployment in case of the indigenous population is more than that of the wider Australian society. The stereotypes regarding the aborigines often lead to discrimination in terms of education, healthcare and employment in the wider society for them (Oliver et al., 2013). The policies of the government to uplift the situations of the aboriginal population has led to discrimination and discontent against them. The wider Australian population believes that the indigenous people simply take the advantage of the privileges and do not try for employment and education on their own (Guenther, 2013). The differences that were created deliberately have caused harm to the relationship between the two societies in terms of the aboriginal population becoming distant and conservative from the wider Australian society.
`Australia has always promoted itself as a nation that supports a diversity of cultures. However, the events and incidents discussed in the project speak otherwise of the idea. The aboriginal population has always been the original residents of the land and have been invaded and oppressed by the European colonists for decades. Even in the twenty first century, they continue to face racism and discrimination, which even though is much less as compared to the earlier centuries; should have been abolished completely. The discrimination has affected the relationship (Kelaher, 2014) between the cultures and have made the indigenous people conservative and distant from the wider Australian society.
Altman, J. (2014). Indigenous policy: Canberra consensus on a neoliberal project of improvement. Australian public policy: Progressive ideas in the neoliberal ascendancy, 115-132.
Altman, J. (2018). Brokering Aboriginal art: A critical perspective on marketing, institutions, and the state. Geelong, Vic.: Bowater School of Management and Marketing, Centre for Leisure Management Research, Deakin University.
Altman, J. C. (2018). A national survey of Indigenous Australians: Options and implications. Canberra, ACT: Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research, Research School of Social Sciences, College of Arts & Social Sciences, The Australian National University.
Clyne, M., & Jupp, J. (2013). Multiculturalism and integration: A harmonious relationship (p. 228). ANU Press.
Dudgeon, P., & Walker, R. (2015). Decolonising Australian psychology: Discourses, strategies, and practice. Journal of Social and Political Psychology, 3(1), 276-297.
Guenther, J. (2013). Are we making education count in remote Australian communities or just counting education?. The Australian Journal of Indigenous Education, 42(2), 157-170.
Healy, R. G., & Rosenberg, J. S. (2013). Land use and the states. RFF Press.
Kelaher, M. A. (2014). Experiencing racism in health care: the mental health impacts for Victorian Aboriginal communities. Education, 55(56), 8-3.
Oliver, R., Rochecouste, J., Bennell, D., Anderson, R., Cooper, I., Forrest, S., & Exell, M. (2013). Understanding Australian Aboriginal Tertiary Student Needs. International Journal of Higher Education, 2(4), 52-64.
Simpson, G. E., & Yinger, J. M. (2013). Racial and cultural minorities: An analysis of prejudice and discrimination. Springer Science & Business Media.
Tesfaghiorghis, H., & Altman, J. (2018). Aboriginal socio-economic status: are there any evident changes?.
Thomas, D. P., Bainbridge, R., & Tsey, K. (2014). Changing discourses in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health research, 1914–2014. Med J Aust, 201(1), S1-4.
Wilson, K., & Wilks, J. (2015). Australian Indigenous higher education: politics, policy and representation. Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management, 37(6), 659-672.
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