The Aborigines of Australia: Problems of Social IntegrationBearbeiten

Aboriginal Culture

  • Animism → belief that non-human entities are spiritual beings
    • no separation between spiritual world and physical world
  • Land = the core of belief = spirituality
  • Ancestor spirits created all living forms (animals, plants, rocks) and their relationships
    • Sacred sites (e.g. Uluru a.k.a. Ayers Rock)
    • learning of these sites: process of initiation → “Songlines” / Dreaming track


  • Aborigines have inhabited Australia for at least 25,000 years
  • 1770: Captain Cook arrives in Australia, population estimated between 300,000 and 700,000 Aborigines
  • many died due to European diseases (90% smallpox)
  • 1806: racism peaked
    • sacred Aboriginal places violated
    • Aboriginals hunted like animals
  • 1850s: Policy of Protection
    • Paternalism: white people are inherently superior to Aborigines
    • Europeans believed that, because the Aboriginal culture didn’t live up to their standards, they were therefore primitive, and in need of Europeans’ help
    • ‘Protectorates’ were established, Aboriginals were to be civilized, educated to European standards, converted to Christianity
    • Church missions set up to Christianize and civilize the ‘natives’
    • 1901: even after independence, Aborigines had no rights
  • 1950s: Policy of Assimilation
    • encouraging Aboriginal people to move away from their traditional cultures and adopt the Australian way of life (--> Aboriginal culture to dissolve into a European culture)
    • Assimilation Act → Stolen Generation
    • by 1965: population sunk to 40,000 → 'Dying race'
  • 1869-1969: The Stolen Generation
    • Aboriginal children kidnapped from their families
    • cultural 'reprogramming' → integrate into white society
    • however, failed: reconnection with indigenous culture → still suffered from poor health, alcohol abuse, unemployment, etc.
  • 1960s: Policy of Integration
    • Policy of Assimilation failed → people still clung to own cultures
    • Integration: maintain traditional cultures whilst becoming part of the larger Australian community
  • 1970s: Policy of Self-determination
    • States repealed anti-Aboriginal laws, government stopped trying to destroy Aboriginal culture
    • End of Stolen Generation
    • Self-determination:
1. Aboriginals should receive the same rights and freedoms as non-Aboriginals
2. Aboriginals determine themselves how they want to live
3. Aboriginals should have a voice in policies that affect them


  • little under half a million Aboriginal people in Australia today → 2.3% of Australian population (incl. Torres Strait Islander)

Political initiatives

  • Formal apology to Australia's Indigenous people (2008)
    • --> Stolen Generation
    • "for the nation to turn a new page in Australia's history by righting the wrongs of the past and so moving forward with confidence in the future" (PM Kevin Rudd)
  • constitutional recognition of Indigenous Australians (2010)
    • “to acknowledge the special place of our first peoples”
    • building a nation based on strong relations and mutual respect
    • a nation that is united in recognizing and acknowledging the unique and special place of “our first peoples”
  • Closing the Gap Initiative (main)
    • to improve the lives of Indigenous Australians, and in particular provide a better future for Indigenous children
    • education, housing and health
    • a clear focus on overcoming Indigenous disadvantage

  • however, still too many imbalances in living standards, life expectancy, education, health and employment

Australian Bureau of Statistics:

Indigenous Australians Non-Indigenous Australians
Unemployment rate 27% 13%
Completion of year 12 38% 73%
obesity 61% 48%
Average weekly earning $364 $585
smoker 50% 22%
Average death 60 years 84 years

  • life expectancy for indigenous Australians lower by 11.5 years (males) and 9.7 years (females)
  • most common occupation group for employed Indigenous people: Labourers (24%) in contrast: most common occupation group for non-Indigenous people: Professionals (20%)
  • 33% of the Indigenous Australians will go to prison at some stage of their life
  • suicide rate is three times higher for Indigenous Australians than non-Indigenous Australians
  • substance abuse : alcoholism, petrol sniffing
    • 'Dry Zones' or Kava (plant whose roots are sedating w/o disrupting mental clarity)


  • Aborigines today face many problems as a result of the colonial project
    • their numbers decimated
    • discrimination
    • socially, economically and politically underprivileged