Colonialism is responsible for substantially altering the natural course of history and destroying the indigenous culture in its reign. The partisan view held by Europeans is laid with eulogies of European superiority over the primitive aboriginal groups. This was made a foundation of justifying the hijacking the identity of aboriginals. It leads to disintegration of their prevailing traditional social, political and economic structure.
This cultural and physical genocide culminated with the first European arrival in the Sydney region. The Voyage of Captain James Cook in the year 1770 and the arrival of the first fleet after eight years introduced Australian land and primitive tribes with many scientists, anthropologists, botanists, and doctors. So, Sydney’s Aboriginal people were the first who became the subject of scrutiny of white and patronising Europeans to whom these locals were mere objects of scientific musings.
Effect of the Colonisation: Attack on their identity
The worst thing that you can do to someone is to destroy their identity. Similarly, Europeans scientists started biased and derogatory propaganda against the local populace of Australia. A Dutch explorer by the name of William Dampier was the first to claim that the indigenous people were the most miserable in the whole wide world. His descriptions often depicted them to be savage and rude.
Diminishing the Aboriginals
Francois Peron visited Australia in 1802. We can find a description of a local woman in his accounts that is utterly disrespectful and belittling. As per his point of view, the appearance of the Aboriginal woman was similar to the natives of Holland in terms of the colour of hair, the proportion of the body structure, etc. she is described to be affected by severe malnutrition and scraggy. A very inappropriate term was used for her bosom.
European accounts claim that local men were less masculine as per the European ideals of masculine beauty. Their strength was questionable. But, this was in direct contradiction of an account of a traveller’s journal that local men possessed a well-endowed body with an athletic build. Their skills were lauded for being exceptional climbers, swimmers, agility, strength and stamina. The level of fitness was awe-inspiring and noteworthy.
The stolen generation: A truth belying humanity
The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were subjected to a very harsh and biased law. Their children were taken away by force by government officials away from their families and community. White people and institutions sponsored by white families were responsible for upbringing these children.
Kevin Rudd, the then Prime Minister of Australia tendered an unconditional apology to the families and children of the stolen generation on 13th February 2008. This apology was tendered on the advice of The National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal Children from their Families. The report prepared by this body reflected the holocaust suffered by these families and children in the name of commonwealth, state and Aboriginal welfare and development program.
Contemporary Status of the Aboriginals – An insight into the disparities and socio-economic gaps
Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians are divided into many lines. There are clear lines of inequalities among them. This could be surmised by the fact that people of European descent belong to the advanced and developed strata of the society while the locals are still suffering for basic amenities like health, education, employment, equality, housing, and over-representation of Aboriginals in the criminal justice system.
Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody
A report was conducted by the committee in 1991 to highlight the divide between Europeans and indigenous people. Commissioner Elliot Johnston QC stated that the Europeans have irreversibly damaged the rational and cultural identity of the Aboriginal people. The policies that were followed in the wake of the settlement were meant to destroy the ethnicity of the land that resulted in years of oppression.
Statistics showing the divide on a different basis Health
Life expectancy rate between Australians and Aboriginals in the year 2001
• Aboriginal males – 57 years
• Total Australian males – 80 years
• Aboriginal females – 65 years
• total Australian females – 85 years
Death rate as reported in the year 2002
The death rate among the Aboriginals is twice as that of the total Australian population.
Development in learning and education
The ratio of natives over fifteen years of age who had completed high school was twenty-five per cent in big cities. It was exported to be a mere eight per cent in the countryside. It is very low as compared to the non-indigenous population as their ratio stands at 46% in cities and 35% in the countryside.
How many opted to continue studies
Forty per cent of the native students continued their studies till class 12th. It is far less than the national average of seventy-six per cent for the non-indigenous population.
How many pursued higher education
Five per cent of Indigenous populace aged within the range of 18 years to 24 years were attending universities and colleges for higher education as compared with twenty-three per cent of the non-Indigenous people.
Statistics outlining the labour force participation
Fifty-two per cent % of Aboriginal people aged 15 years and above contributed to the labour force. It is eleven per cent less as compared to the contribution of the total population in the same age group.
Rate of Unemployment and income
The rate of unemployment for adults belonging to the native tribe was twenty per cent. The rate was mere 7.2 per cent for the non-indigenous populace. The weekly household income of the former class was $364 in the year 2001 as compared with the income of the latter class which was $585.
Property rights with special reference to housing
Only thirty-two per cent of the indigenous tribe was able to purchase a property of his own. It was far less than the percentage for the non-indigenous population. 71% of the non-natives live in their own houses.
Administration of justice
The figures show that the probability of a native getting arrested and going to jail is fifteen times higher than that of a non-native. Western Australia recorded the highest number of cases against native adults. New South Wales too followed suit with imprisonment rate as high as 2100 arrest per 1000,000 native people.
Indigenous youth was 20 times more prone to getting detained at juvenile detention and rehabilitation facilities.