Government Policies Towards the Aboriginal People

Ever since British fleets first landed on Australia, the Aborigines were faced with a problem. The new settlers did not recognise them as owners of the land as they did not develop it, but had instead roamed amongst it. The Aborigines had faced discrimination, oppression and violence. After federation, however, their rights and freedoms began to change dramatically throughout the 20th Century. Through that period of time, the Australian government has created and implemented policies concerning the Indigenous population, decisions which had all been made for their own good.
These policies have included Protection, Assimilation, Integration, Self-determination and finally, Reconciliation. It is now clear that none of these policies have actually made the condition of Australia’s Indigenous people any better than it was prior to the invasion. Assimilation (1940s -1960s): In order for Aboriginal peoples to be ‘worthy’ of full citizenship, they had to completely give up their traditional lifestyle and live and think as white people.
During the assimilation period some Aboriginal people, who were considered of worthy character, had an appropriate work ethic who were no longer associated with Aboriginal people,were granted exemption from laws that banned them from hotels and cafes, and from being in town after dark. Such people were granted an Exemption Certificate, or ‘Dog Tag’, through few Aboriginal people applied for them. The assimilation policy was intended to raise the standard of housing, health and education for Aboriginal people by allowing them to move into towns and cities, however it did not succeed.

Aboriginal people experienced difficulty in finding work and housing due to discrimination, and some set up fringe camps on the outskirts of town. Protection (1890s-1940s) The policies of protection were brought in under the pretext of ‘protecting’ the Aboriginal population from violence and harassment. Numbers of Aboriginals had dwindled from an estimated 750,000 at the time of settlement to just 70,0000 within one hundred years. This reduction was mainly a result of disease, murder and poor living conditions.
From 1890 to 1911 all Australian states and territories (except Tasmania) passed their own Protection Acts that made Aboriginal people live in missions, away from towns. Under these acts, Aboriginal people were not allowed in places such as cafes and hotels and were not allowed to be in town after dark. The Acts also made it possible for the state to remove Aboriginal children who had a non- Indigenous parent from their homes. Integration (1967-1972)
Integration partially acknowledged the mistakes of the past. During this period the Aboriginal population were given some equal rights, and the relationship between the Aboriginal people, and the government began to improve. The Federal Government provided increased funds to the areas of housing, health and education. However, this policy was still seen by the Aboriginals as an extension of assimilation, as their affairs were still mostly controlled by non- Aboriginal people. Self-determination (1972-1975)
The policy of self-determination recognised that Aboriginal people should control their own affairs and began the movement toward the creation of Aboriginal organisations with the government, run by aboriginal people, for aboriginal people. From now on, black resistance became a nation wide struggle, as Aboriginal people gained a new sense of pride, and began working together towards self-determination. The protection policy gave the government’s ‘Board for the Protection of Aborigines’ extensive powers over the lives of Aboriginal people including regulation of residence, employment and marriage.
The Board’s policy was based on a belief that “protection” of Aborigines would lead to their “advancement” to the point where they would eventually fit into the white community. A source An Australian film Rabbit Proof Fence directed by Philip Noyce is reliable to an historian studying the Protection policies of the Australian Government during the 1930’s in that it tells a true story about three Aboriginal children who were taken away from their families because they were half-castes.
However, it is not reliable in that it only tells us about the effect of Protection policy in Western Australia, not the whole country. This film outlines the experiences three young half-caste Aboriginal girls, who were forcibly taken away by the white Australians, had and recounts their journey back home. Its motive is to increase the awareness of general public, especially white Australians, about life of many Aboriginal people and hardships and sufferings they had to go through in the twentieth century. The film tells a story of great courage and helps the reconciliation process.
The film helps general public of Australia to gain a better knowledge about Australia’s true history. It is also helpful to history students studying Australian history. It tells about removal policies of Western Australian Government and why they were taken. It shows them that girls’ experience in the Moore River Settlement was harsh and that the removal policy was cruel and tragic for the families. It also shows how white people regarded Aboriginal people and half-castes and how they wanted to breed them into whites.
However, it is not useful in that we do not know whether Australian Government had the same policy as Western Australian Government. Also, the film focuses only on half-caste children and it is made from only one person’s story. Therefore, we do not what happened to other Aboriginal people who were not half-castes and we know that not all Aborigines people had the same experience as the particular person in the film. Websites http://www. skwirk. com. au/p-u_s-14_u-120/changing-rights-and-freedoms-aboriginal-people/nsw/history http://wps. earsoned. com. au/olms/0,9800,1672391-,00. html http://www. skwirk. com. au/p-c_s-14_u-120_t-329_c-1133/the-1967-referendum/nsw/the-1967-referendum/changing-rights-and-freedoms-aboriginal-people/self-determination www. palgravemacmillan. com. au/site/… nsf/0/… /Ch06wsheets. pdf www. curriculumsupport. education. nsw. gov. au/… /rightsfreedoms. pdf www. macmillan. com. au/site/maconixexch. nsf/0/… /Ch6Assess. pdf http://dl. screenaustralia. gov. au/module/175/ http://www. allfreeessays. com/essays/Write-A-Report-Outlining-Government-Polici

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