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Australian Aborigines and Institutional Racism. Australian Aborigines and Institutional Racism. Aborigines arrive in Australia 40-60,000 years ago 1788. Britain establishes prison colony in Sydney British possession justified on the basis of “terra nullius” (no man’s land)

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Australian Aborigines and

Institutional Racism


Australian aborigines and institutional racism
Australian Aborigines and Institutional Racism

  • Aborigines arrive in Australia 40-60,000 years ago

  • 1788. Britain establishes prison colony in Sydney

  • British possession justified on the basis of “terra nullius” (no man’s land)

  • Contact with European civilization brings disease, death through war, massacres, cultural disintegration


Australian aborigines and institutional racism1
Australian Aborigines and Institutional Racism

  • 19th Century. Aborigines seen by European racial theory as subhuman – destined to die out

  • 20th Century. Assimilation policy: Aboriginal culture deemed inferior to white culture

  • Aborigines must “assimilate”. Adopt white cultural and social practices


Australian aborigines and institutional racism2
Australian Aborigines and Institutional Racism

  • Aborigines placed in reservations controlled by white administrators

  • All aspects of life – work, marriage, movement, social and cultural practices - controlled by white administrators

  • Aboriginal children (particularly half-castes) taken from their parents and tribes

  • The “stolen” children educated to become farm labourers and domestic servants


Aboriginal resistance
Aboriginal resistance

  • Wars and resistance against the invaders

  • Maintenance of culture despite suppression

  • Formation of Aboriginal organizations to fight for rights


Aboriginal resistance1
Aboriginal Resistance

  • Fight for citizenship (achieved in 1967)

  • Strikes by Aboriginal workers in big cattle farms

  • Agitation for land rights High Court of Australia overturns “terra nullius’ in the Mabo and Wik cases in the 1990’s


Aboriginal resistance2
Aboriginal Resistance

  • Agitation for recognition of “the stolen children”. Acknowledged in the “Bringing them back home” report

  • Official apology by the Rudd government



But… shows the Aboriginal Flag

  • Aborigines still have

    • The highest death rate of all Australians

    • The highest infant mortality rate

    • The lowest income

    • The worst health

    • The highest imprisonment rate


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