Beginning in 1788, contact with British settlers initially led to economic marginalization, a loss of independence, and death by disease for the aboriginal population. They were pushed off their land forcefully and were subject to cruel beatings and massacres. This eventually led to a massive depopulation and extinction for many aboriginal groups. Due to this, many white European Australians believed that the aboriginals were a dying race and accordingly, it was felt that the best course was to make their passing as peaceful as possible - to 'sooth the dying pillow'. This led to a policy of 'protection' where all aborigines were placed on reserves, as far away from white culture as possible. This official policy gradually moved to Assimilation, where, in contrast, aboriginals were encouraged to blend into white society. The 1920's and 1930's saw an era of the stolen generation, where aboriginal children were cruelly removed from their original parents and placed in missions.
By the 1940s, almost all aborigines were assimilated into rural and urban Australian society as low-paid labourers with limited rights. Discrimination remained rife against aboriginals. The basic wage never applied to them and those who did find work were mainly limited to hard labour. In terms of social justice, aborigines made little progress throughout the 1900's. They were not even counted in the first census, had no voting or citizenship rights and were not allowed into politics. However, today, Australia has been influenced by the harsh social and cultural experiences of the Aborigine people over the century and this knowledge has slowly but progressively encouraged the people of Australia to treat the aboriginal population with equality and respect.
"Australia had been inhabited by Aboriginals for around 60,000 years before it was invaded by English settlers in 1770." Unlike earlier visitors, the...