Report On A Chronological Timeline (1770-2015);
Indigenous Australians: Australia's First People
Indigenous Australians: Australia's First People
The Struggle for Change.
A Chronological Timeline.
Early White History (1770-1899)
Philanthropists guard the Indigenous Australians as a dying race. Scholars investigate them like animals in a zoo. “They comprise 2.5 percent of the Australian population and have life expectancy is 10 years lower compared to other Australians. It notes that aborigines' leading cause of their death is intentional self-harm due to the lack of a maintained health and emotional well-being. It also mentions that they continue to suffer from the consequences of the European settlement. (Littlefield & Dudgeon 2010, p. 39).
In 1768, the British government organized an expedition for the geographical and astronomical researches in the Pacific Ocean. This expedition, at the head of Captain James Cook, reached the east coast of Australia in 1770. The developing of Australia by the British began mainly after the termination of expulsion of convicts in the British colonies in North America. The first fleet under the command of Captain Arthur Phillip sailed from England in May 1787 and arrived in Botany Bay in January 1788. By the time the Europeans arrived, the number of Aboriginal people was about from 300,000 to 1 million (Biddle 2014).
Since 1799, Aboriginal people had begun a series of “Black Wars” against the British invaders. In 1837-1838, the British Select Committee investigates the conditions in which the Aborigines lived. The members of the Committee decide to introduce a new policy of protection of the local population. Nevertheless, when the Myall Creak Massacre took place in 1838, the armistice was destroyed. The situation continued until 1886, when The Victorian Aborigines Protection Act was signed. In words, the limited territory was created for the benefits of their inhabitants, but in reality, the indigenous population was deprived of all rights.
Early 20th Century History of Australia (1900-1969)
In 1900, colonizers’ desire to isolate themselves from the natives (who were isolated as a separate race) could not be realized due to various circumstances. When the WWI began in 1914, Aboriginal people were forced to serve in the war. Due to this, in 1920 the genocide arrived at the climax: there were only 60,000 of Aborigines left alive. After the Massacre in 1928, the pro-Australian activist Anthony Fernando started his rebel campaign. He tried to piquet Australia House in London, UK. Fernando wore a placard with words: “This is all Australia has left of my people”. Unfortunately, the authorities did not hear a request for salvation. In 1939, Australia under the British power declares war on Nazi Germany. A year before, assimilation policies took place. That meant a total destruction of Aborigines’ origin. Half-blooded children had to be assimilated against their will to white families. After a number of atomic tests held in 1953-1957, in which the presence of Aborigines was proved documentary, Federal Council for the Advancement of Aborigines (1958) was established in order to protect the natives. The Australian authorities organized a study on the basis of which it was found that during the Assimilation program, parents had lost about a hundred thousand of their Aboriginal children. They were called Stolen Generations (Lawson 2014).
A turning point came with the holding of the 1967 Referendum amends to the Constitution. Attitude towards the indigenous population had changed by that time: a majority of nearly 91 percent of voters supported the withdrawal from the basic law a list of provisions that discriminated the Indigenous Australians.
Late 20th Century History (1970-1999)
In 1986, Australia achieve a full and final independence from the UK. The supremacy of the British Parliament in some Australian states was abolished, also the rule of the British court was abolished too.
However, in 1998 the government set up a memorable date - the day of regret, the National Sorry Day, which is celebrated on 26 May. The question of granting Australia a formal independence from the British Crown was raised repeatedly. In 1999, the Referendum was held, at which the majority of the population (55%) supported the preservation of Monarchical institutions.
Recent History (2000-today)
In 2000, a new era of the history of Australia began. Australia host its first Olympic Games in Sydney. The policitical history saw its changes only in 2007, when “Prime Minister John Howard and Indigenous Affairs Minister Mal Brough announce the Northern Territory intervention. Staged as a response to the ‘Little Children are Sacred’ report, the intervention is widely criticised because it also legislates to remove the permit system for access to Aboriginal land, abolish the Community Development Employment Projects (CDEP), quarantine 50% of welfare payments, compulsorily acquire Aboriginal land and subject Aboriginal children to mandatory health checks” (Korff 2015). Beginning from 2014-2015, The National Indigenous Times newspaper is on sale now.
The Struggle for Change.
In 1972, the Indigenous Australians created the Tent Embassy in order to save and protect their land and people from unjudicial and unhuman court decisions. Australian court wanted to dispossess the Aborigines from their lands for their new mining campaigns (Muldoon & Schaap 2012).
Gary Foley, an Australian Aboriginal activist and historian, was among the Indigenous Australians (Chicka Dixon, Pearl Gibbs and Paul Coe) who supported the movement towards the land rights for aboriginal people. The fact that he was removed from school because of his origin, made the fifteen-year old Foley to start his rebel in 1967.
Foley was one of the initiators of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy. This Embassy still serves as a symbol of rebel and struggle. Foley co-founded the Aboriginal Legal Service, The Aboriginal Medical Service. He was the author of the first aboriginal stage play “Basically Black” in 1972. Gary Foley is considered as an ambassador of the Indigenous Australians. Nowadays he publishes books in support of his people, and gives lectures on these subjects all over the world.
This kind of reaction of Aboriginal people created a rush of indignation from the direction of racists. The “white backlash” movement began its actions. The new government tried to focus attention on other problems. That led to an inner “civil war” of two races. Unfortunately, there are many racist movements on the territory of Australia even nowadays.
In October 1973, seventy Aboriginal people participated in the protest and restored the tent again.
In May 1974, a fire destroyed the embassy, but it was restored in October of the same year. Some time between 1975 and 1979, the embassy to change the place of its location, but in the end remained in the same place.
In August 1995, the Australian Heritage Commission announced that the Tent Embassy was a place of particular importance to the Aboriginal Australians and made a list of the historical heritage of Australia.
On February 12, 2008, Kevin Rudd, Australia's 26th Prime Minister, on behalf of the Australian Government has apologized to all Aborigines of Australia.
Every year in July, the Week of NAIDOC is celebrated all across the Australian continent. NAIDOC is dedicated to the history, culture and achievements of the Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. NAIDOC is celebrated not only in indigenous communities, but also by Australians of all social classes.
The Subject of NAIDOC Week in 2012 was “The Spirit of the tent Embassy: 40 years of existence”.
In 2012, about four decades ago, the Tent Embassy was a powerful symbol of unity. Its founders instilled a feel of pride in the country, promoted the equality of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples (NAIDOC 2015).
Abbreviation NAIDOC originally meant "National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee". In 2005, the Interim Committee delegated to the Indigenous leader and former Senator Aden Ridgeway, as a "guardian" of NAIDOC, a churinga (or tjurunga) (wooden plaque with the sacred writings). In 2008, the leaders of the organization have become the current co-chairs Anne Martin and Ben Mitchell.
The representative of the Indigenous Australians Maurie Ryan announced his intention to create a political party to defend the rights of Aboriginal people. The party will be called "First Nations” (CAAMA 2012).
As stated above, by the example of Yolngu Community, another Australian Indigenous Communities started their struggles against the regime. The corresponding principle was distributed on the whole territory of the continent (and surrounding islands) only in 1993 with the adoption of the new law. The year before, the island tribe Merriam from the Murray Island won in the High Court claim to the government of Queensland. Judges canceled the decision of their previous colleague, who in 1971 decided that before the arrival of Europeans on the continent, these lands were neutral. From now on, the Natives were considered the owners of reservations.
Aboriginal rights advocates on January 26, 2012 blocked in a restaurant in Canberra Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Federal opposition leader Tony Abbott (‘Riot police rescue Gillard, Abbott from protesters’ 2012).
According to the ABC agency (2012), about 200 people that came to the protest to coincide with the Day of Australia, blocked the way to Gillard and Abbott out of the restaurant The Lobby. Participants of the rally were knocking on the walls of the restaurant shouting "shame" and "racists".
A cause of aggression on their part, according to ABC (2012), was the statement made by Abbott about the meaninglessness of the "Tent Embassy." According to the leader of the opposition, an attitude towards the Aboriginal Australians has changed significantly since 1972. Activists called Abbott’s statements as “racist” ones.
In such circumstances, people continue their struggle. There are only 470,000 of the Indigenous Australians among the 22 million population (Tongs & Poroch 2014).
Since 1967, when representatives of the Australian Aborigines obtained the same rights as the white population of the country, the situation of the indigenous population began to improve. Many tribes with public support assimilated and moved to live in the city. A special program that improves fertility and preserves the cultural heritage of Aboriginal people started working. In 2007, as special TV channel for the indigenous population started its work.
However, this story has deep roots of violence and genocide of the Indigenous Australians. School education of Aboriginal people is very improper.
This urgent question deserves to be investigated. Aboriginals with their unique cultural heritage should be treated as full-bodied members of society. A question “Who are Australia’s first people” has its answer. In addition, I think that our modern society should protect its basis, while it is alive and has not yet become a history.
CAAMA 2012, “Maurie Japarta Ryan shares First Nations Political Party’s policies”, CAAMA. Available from: http://caama.com.au/maurine-japarta-ryan-speaks-out-about-first-nations-political-party [25 June 2012].
Biddle, N 2014, 'Measuring and Analysing the Wellbeing of Australia's Indigenous Population', Social Indicators Research, 116, 3, pp. 713-729, Academic Search Premier, EBSCOhost, viewed 21 February 2015.
Herriman, N 2013, 'Western Australia's Aboriginal heritage regime: Critiques of culture, ethnography, procedure and political economy', Australian Aboriginal Studies, 2013, 1, pp. 85-100, Academic Search Premier, EBSCOhost, viewed 21 February 2015.
Korff, J 2015, ‘Aboriginal History Timeline’, Creative Spirits 15 February. Available from: http://www.creativespirits.info/aboriginalculture/history/aboriginal-history-timeline-2000-today [15 February 2015].
NAIDOC 2015, “Celebrating NAIDOC week”, 2015. Australian Government. Available from: http://www.naidoc.org.au/national-naidoc-logo .
Lawson, T 2014, 'A British Genocide in Tasmania', History Today, 64, 7, pp. 18-20, Academic Search Premier, EBSCOhost, viewed 21 February 2015.
Littlefield, L, & Dudgeon, P 2010, 'AUSTRALIA'S FIRST PEOPLE', UN Chronicle, 47, 2, pp. 39-41, Academic Search Premier, EBSCOhost, viewed 21 February 2015.
Muldoon, P, & Schaap, A 2012, 'Aboriginal sovereignty and the politics of reconciliation: the constituent power of the Aboriginal Embassy in Australia', Environment & Planning D: Society & Space, 30, 3, pp. 534-550, Academic Search Premier, EBSCOhost, viewed 21 February 2015.
‘Riot police rescue Gillard, Abbott from protesters’ 2012. ABC NEWS. Available from http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-01-26/riot-police-escort-gillard-abbott-from-protest/3795036 [26 January 2012].
Smith, M 2014, 'How the Desert got a Past: A History of Quaternary Research in Australia's Deserts', Historical Records of Australian Science, 25, 2, pp. 172-185, Academic Search Premier, EBSCOhost, viewed 21 February 2015.
Tongs, J, & Poroch, N 2014, 'Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health Service 1988-2014: breaking barriers in Aboriginal research and services', Australian Aboriginal Studies, 2014, 2, pp. 94-100, Academic Search Premier, EBSCOhost, viewed 21 February 2015.
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