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Section 127 Of The Australian Constitution

1698 words - 7 pages

IntroductionThe word aborigine comes from the Latin phrase ab origine, meaning from the beginning. When spelled with a small "a," the word aborigines refers to any people whose ancestors were the first people to live in a country.Australian aborigines are the native people of Australia. Most scientists believe that they originated in southeastern Asia, more than 40,000 years ago. In 2001 the population of aborigines and Torres Straits Islanders was 265,000. 2% of the Australian population as a whole and slightly less the estimated aboriginal population of 750,000 at the time of European colonisation in the late 18th century. At that time, there were 500-600 distinct groups of aborigines ...view middle of the document...

As the settlements expanded, Aboriginal numbers declined, and their ways of life in many areas were destroyed, with survivors beginning to live within or on the fringes of the new European communities. (Blainey, pp. 105-106)What the Europeans thought of the AboriginesThe Europeans saw the Aborigines as uncivilised, primitive, and sometimes savage. With little communication between the groups, suspicions and intolerance grew, influencing government policies, which led to the takeover of Aboriginal lands. Initially, official colonial governments viewed Aborigines as British subjects who should be well treated, educated, and converted to Christianity. But such intentions were not carried out, as settlers wanted land without interference from Aborigines.In addition, diseases such as smallpox, measles, and influenza, some of which were not life threatening to Europeans, devastated Aboriginal people, who lacked immunity.Native Title Act 1994In 1992, the High Court of Australia ruled in the historic Mabo case that native land could not be removed from its traditional owners without compensation being paid. To give this ruling legislative power, the Australian parliament passed the Native Title Act in 1994. This act guarantees recognition of prior rights of Aborigines to land. (Bellwood, pp. 70-71)The PresentMany Aborigines are more or less divorced from their traditional setting, while others still have an almost traditional lifestyle. The great majority fit somewhere between these extremes. But for all, the question of Aboriginal identity and heritage is very important.Aboriginal reserves still exist in most Australian states. The largest are in central Australia and Arnhem Land, the last strongholds of traditional Aboriginal life. The reserves have served as a basis for making and granting land-right claims. Occupiers have tried to demonstrate that not only do they own the land but also they use it in a traditional manner. The Aborigines are increasingly managing the reserves for themselves, and in doing so are achieving a measure of independence.In some northern reserves, and to a lesser degree in the central reserves, government aid has been provided to encourage Aborigines to develop such industries as fishing, timber milling, and farming in order to provide greater independence. In some areas, Aborigines have obtained pastoral leases to run and manage their own land. (Class notes)Social issuesIn some states there is a steady drift of Aborigines to the cities in search of better jobs and housing. But they can sometimes find it difficult to find employment, as their skills for a modern job market are limited. More opportunities now exist for younger Aborigines, in spite of economic difficulties in the wider Australian society. But unemployment among Aborigines remains high.Many Aborigines are caught in a vicious circle. Their low social and economic status traps them in poorer areas of cities or on the fringes of country towns. Restricted...

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