Saturday, August 17, 2019

Changing Rights and Freedoms of Aboriginal People

Since the European invasion in 1788, Aboriginals have been treated poorly by the Australian government and have struggled to retain their rights and freedoms. Conflict emerged as the British colony expanded and Aboriginal land was taken from them. Due to conflict between the Aborigines and the British settlers, they were treated poorly and were refused rights and freedom. They were at risk under unfair industrial relations processes where they were not awarded equal pay, poor access to housing and reasonable living conditions, and on-going discrimination in Australian society. Overtime, aborigines contested leading to the change unequal government policies allowing them to obtain land rights, the reconciliation after issue with the stolen generation and the 1967 referendum which resulted with the inclusion of aborigines in the Australian constitution. There were many changes in the government policies overtime from initially being paternalistic to reconciliation. â€Å"Protection† was the first policy introduced relating to Indigenous people. It started due to the reduction in the Aboriginal population, and a growing consciousness of the general mistreatment of Aboriginal people. While this policy of protection commenced from 1869 to 1937, many civil rights of the aborigines were negated by the government. The Government were in control of the movement of Aboriginal people, leisure and sporting activities, work, earnings and possessions of Aboriginal people and marriages and family life. Continuing difficulties and criticisms of the treatment of Aboriginal people lead to the policy of â€Å"Assimilation† being introduced. In 1937 the commonwealth Government held a national conference on Aboriginal affairs. According to this new policy of ‘assimilation’, Aboriginal people would lose their identity but have their ‘status’ raised. The Assimilation Policy meant that the Aboriginal people were forced to stop the practices of their culture and adopt the culture and lifestyle of the white Australians, or the ‘majority'. Discrimination continued against the aboriginals and racism continued to spread, resulting in the eventual end of this policy in 1965. After the failure of the assimilation policy, the Commonwealth Government announced its policy of â€Å"Integration† in 1965 and then did little towards it. The policy meant that Indigenous Australians would be able to voice and openly celebrate their cultural differences. Aboriginal people are supposed to have more control over their life and society. The introduction of the policy self-determination was followed not long after. This was a policy of facilitating Indigenous people’s involvement in decision making for and management of their community. With this policy many aboriginal organisations developed to assist Aboriginal people to acquire land, to engage in business enterprises and to obtain finance for housing and other personal needs. On 2 September 1991, the federal Parliament unanimously passed the Council for â€Å"Reconciliation† Act. The Act established the 25-member Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation. The Council lobbied for recognition of customary law, self-government for Indigenous Australians, compensation for past injustices, a settlement of native title issues and recognition within the Constitution of Indigenous people’s rights. Reconciliation awaits the achievement of justice with regard to Indigenous land rights and to equity with other Australians in health, living conditions, education and employment. It was the final step towards improving equality within Australian society. The Indigenous Australian children known as the â€Å"Stolen Generations† were the result from a policy introduced in 1901. It was a dark time in Australian history where aboriginals were denied their rights and freedoms. This policy allowed children of Indigenous Australian and European descent to be removed from their families by the Australian Federal and State government agencies and church missions, under acts of their respective parliaments. This act was seen as an act of protection of Indigenous Australian children. These children were known as the stolen generations. The forced removal of Indigenous Australian children from their families was an official government policy designed to ‘assimilate’ or ‘breed out’ Indigenous people. It was estimated that 100,000 Indigenous Australian children were taken from their families and raised in homes or adopted by white families, up until the 1960s. Many of these children suffered abuse in their adoptive or foster homes and was not allowed to complain. Not only that the abduction was traumatic for the children, but also for the families, they were too, physically, psychologically and emotionally harmed. And by the late 1980’s, many of these children from the stolen generation lost their links with family and land, lost their understanding of kinship and missed out on being educated in the language, culture and traditions of their people. Many cultural and spiritual ties were crippled not only for the individuals, but families and even the whole communities. Change of rights and freedoms of Indigenous Australians was said to be the influence of the 1967 referendum. It was a vote that approved two amendments to the Australian constitution relating to Indigenous Australians. The 1967 Referendum proposed to include Aboriginal people in the census and to allow the Commonwealth government to make laws to improve rights and freedoms for Aboriginal people. On 27 May 1967, 90. 77% of Australian voters recorded the largest ever ‘Yes’ vote in a referendum to alter the Australian constitution. This referendum finally enabled Aboriginal people to be counted in the national census and to be subject to Commonwealth laws, rather than just state laws. On 10 August 1967 the act changing the Constitution became law in Australia. The Aboriginals worked hard and protested to achieve this, but many were disappointed prior to the 1967 referendum, not much changed for them and did not reduce the inequality. The referendum did not carry out their commitments in improving health, housing, employment and education for the Indigenous people. Though it was not as effective as it was thought to be, it was a large contribution in their fight for equal rights and freedom and the beginning of reconciliation. The change of equal rights and freedom for Aboriginals was a long and hard process. Indigenous Australians were treated poorly since 1788 settlement with unfair industrial relations processes where they were not awarded equal pay, poor access to housing and reasonable living conditions, and on-going discrimination in Australian society. It has taken many decades for any real change around land rights, discriminatory practices, financial assistance and preservation of cultural heritage to occur. Though many changes in rights and freedoms of aboriginals have been made, there are still many issues unsolved and will be a long time before they do. But so far, compared to a few decades before, Aboriginals have accomplished and gained many rights and freedoms since the British Settlement in 1788.

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