What effect did colonization have on Australia's indigenous population?

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brettd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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The effect of colonization on Australia's aborigines was not unlike the experience of many native peoples when European empires showed up to conquer and settle.  Aborigines were marginalized, their traditional lands shrunk to that which the settlers did not want.

Racism was typical, as even Australian history tends to neglect the presence of aborigines, or acknowledge their impact and contribution to Australian culture and society.  Diseases such as smallpox wiped out much of the population within a few years of settlement, and later policies of then Australian government included the abduction of Aborigine children to live with Australian families as servants.

Recently, a Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission was established to address such past crimes.

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

The effect of British settlement on Australia's indigenous people was much the same as the effect of white settlement on the Native Americans.  The native population was decimated by disease and by the pressures placed on it when the colonists took the most productive lands and pushed the natives into places where it was much harder to make a living.

It is estimated that something like 90% of the native population was killed by the effects of British colonization.

In addition, the native culture has been hurt.  For example, the number of native languages is said to have declined from 300 at contact to 20 today.

mkcapen1's profile pic

mkcapen1 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

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The colonization of Australia took a terrible toll on the indigenous people of the land.  The Aborigines lived in small collective family tribes and often fought with one another.  For many years they were like the American Indians and had no common language.  Since there was no one head of the group, it made forming treaties difficult.  The resources that Australia had to offer were soon confiscated by the European settlers leaving behind bush and low land for the Aborigines.

The British established a program to resettle the Aborigine Population by removing their children and placing them in orphanages.  Mixed children were of particular risk.  While some were adopted by white families, most remained in orphanages.  (This mirroered the practices done to American Indian children). 

The European people thought of the Aborigines as inferior and stupid.  They had no rights in their own country and were not allowed to vote.  Their lives were similiar to that of the blacks in the south shortly after the Civil War.   They were ousted off their land by more and more whites moving into the areas, treated like the underclass, and even hung with little judicial justice.

In 1967 they were allowed to become citizens of the country of Australia. Many of the cultural experiences were lost and a generation of children was left with out a world that was familiar to them.  While advocacy grew for the rights of the  Aborigines so did the rates of drug use and alcoholism. 

 Australian Aborigines continue to have difficulty adapting.  They have become proud of the things that are their art and dance styles, but they have lost so much more.   As a population they have the lowest income, housing, and lifestyle in economic and technological terms than European decedents living in Australia.

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