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IKC103 Assessment Item 2

Essay- Analyse the impact of colonisation and missionary endeavour on the


lives and cultures of Indigenous Australian people at the time. Demonstrate
your understanding of how the major provisions of the Protection Acts and
Assimilation policy allowed the forcible removal of Indigenous Australian
children from their families.

Value- 40%
Length- 1750

By Maddison Baker
Student Number: 11630783

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Maddison Baker
Student Number: 11630783
This essay will discuss and analyse the impact of colonisation and missionary endeavours on the lives
and cultures of Indigenous Australian people at the time. Colonisation impacted the lives of the
Indigenous Australians in many ways ranging from disease to displacement, loss of identity and a
great loss of population. A demonstrated understanding of how the major provisions of the
Protection Acts and Assimilation Policy allowed the forcible removal of Children from their
indigenous Australian families will also be detailed.

On the 26th of January 1788 the first British ships sailed into Port Jackson. This was the beginning of
the displacement of the Indigenous Australians who had lived on the land for over 40 000 years
(Broome. R. 2010. pp. 17). The Indigenous Australians had never before encountered white men and
their means of communication were strained due to language barriers. The British government was
known to offer treaties to Indigenous people, treaties were offered to the Indian tribes of North
America during the 1750s, they offered a treaty to the people of New Zealand in 1840. However,
during the colonisation of Australia no treaty was offered to the Indigenous Aboriginal people. The
British that embarked on Australia viewed the Aboriginal people as savages and wild due to their
nomadic, hunting and gathering lifestyles. Therefore, the British Government viewed the Aboriginals
as non-farming, hence their rights to ownership of the land was forgone. Colonisation of Australia
lead to a number of further complications in the lives of the Indigenous Aboriginal Australians these
included disease. A number of diseases such as malaria and smallpox were introduced to the
Aboriginals when contact with the Europeans occurred. They were not immune to these new
diseases, with smallpox killing up to half of the of the Indigenous population and some communities
being entirely wiped out. Certain effects of these diseases varied throughout the country as some
areas such as Northern Australia had a greater immunity due to already being introduced to the
disease by the Macassan visitors therefore, the death toll was significantly less.

While disease may have been the main killer of indigenous Australians after the event of
colonisation, it was not the only one. Colonisation had also lead to displacement of the Indigenous
people; the Europeans had taken over their land for agricultural use, bringing a sense of loss of
spiritual connections and destroying a lot of their main food sources. This lead to disagreements
between the Indigenous community and the British, bringing excessive violence. This violence
ranged from killings of few Indigenous to genocide and massacre killings of a large percentage of
Aboriginal men, women and children. These massacres where known as bushwalks to the colonial
settlers, some of the men within these communities took it upon themselves to deal with the
Aboriginal people and it was not done in an orderly manner or humane fashion. The first bush wack
is known to have taken place of in November 1837 which resulted in a massacre of Aboriginal people
at Gravesend Mountain. An even bigger bushwhack massacre later occurred in May 1838, this
massacre consisted of a party of settlers searching the country looking for innocent Aboriginals to
murder. This continued to happen for many years and lead to the well-known event of the Myall
Creek massacre in June 1838 where a group of men brutally killed and burned the bodies of 28
Aboriginal men, women and children. What makes this massacre so significant is that this time the
men who committed the murders were held accountable for their crimes and executed (Morris.B.
1992. p.79). This only caused further up roar within the Australian community and the massacres
were not known to end after this event.

Due to the large percentage of deaths suffered by the Indigenous population of Australia, it became
a prominent focus the of the British Christian communities to help save the dying Indigenous
Australian race. The Aboriginal Australian lives were still at risk many years after colonisation, their
population had been halved and was still on a continual decline. From the late 1700s European
settlements had begun to spread across country, often these settlements pushed Indigenous
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Maddison Baker
Student Number: 11630783
Aboriginals off their land. They began to struggle for survival, so places known as Missions began to
be built by churches or Christian communities. These missions were places housing and training for
the Aboriginal people on the ways of Christianity. Many of the Aboriginal people disliked living on
the missions, much rathering to live on their own land. Therefore, the Government then decided
upon setting up Aboriginal reserves and stations. Reserves consisted of unmanaged land for
Aboriginal people to live on, these reserves were provided with their own machinery, livestock and
crops. The Aboriginal people then received rations from the Government but were responsible for
their own housing. Stations however were significantly different, Stations otherwise known as
managed reserves were controlled by the Government with Aboriginal people being forced to live
within them. They were based around education within the aspect of preparing for the workforce,
the Aboriginal people were provided with housing and rations (AIATSIS. n.d.). In an article written by
the ABC views on life within the stations of Western Australia are detailed, for many of the
Aboriginal people interviewed their emotions of their past life in the stations were mixed. Some
recall living in a family environment that held cultural strength, but many remember times of
oppression and unpaid labour. “There was a lot of hardship. People weren't paid, they worked for
rations” (Wynne.E. 2014.). “It's not a nice history, a lot of it; people find it difficult to tell these
stories” (Wynne.E. 2014.). These quotes from Aboriginals people go to prove that there is a lot of
untold truth about what occurred on these stations about the neglect and oppressed cultural
identities of those that lived within their walls. The creation of reserves and stations reflected the
Protection Acts and Assimilation Polices put in place by the Government. The belief within these
polices was that to best protect the Aboriginal people they needed to be segregated from the White
Australia population, which was proved ineffective.

Since colonisation in 1788 the Indigenous Australian population had lost hundreds of thousands of
lives, to gradually decrease the decline and help save the dying race what is known as the Protection
Board was created. This occurred in June 1883 when the Government chose a group of five men and
established the Aborigines Protection Board in NSW. However, it took over two decades for the
Protection Act to be passed, this act was the main legislation that allowed the government to control
the lives of the Aboriginal people within NSW for the next 60 years. The Protection Acts allowed the
creation of reserves and stations which they later controlled. The board had the control to move
whomever in and out of the reserves and stations. They controlled every aspect of aboriginal life
even to the extent where amendments to the act were made in 1915 and 1918 allowing the removal
of children from their families, to provide them with training as domestic servants. (W.T. R.C. 2017).
This meant the beginning of the Assimilation Policy, from the 1920s assimilation became a practiced
policy. Assimilation was the policy of presenting Aboriginal people into the white Australia society.
Within the policy assimilation was described to be “The policy of assimilation means that all
Aborigines and part-Aborigines are expected eventually to attain the same manner of living as other
Australians and to live as members of a single Australian community enjoying the same rights and
privileges, accepting the same responsibilities, observing the same customs and influenced by the
same beliefs, as other Australians” (Johnston.E. 1991). This was sought to be done through the
removal of children from their families resulting in the destruction of Aboriginal society and loss of
cultural aspects of life.

The amendments made to the Aborigines Protection Act in 1915 and 1918 that allowed the
Government of Australian to remove Aboriginal children from their families was the beginning of
what we know as The Stolen Generation. This occurred primarily because the Australian white
communities refused equal acceptance of the Indigenous ways of life. The many children known as
the Stolen Generation were removed from their families, some were forced to live on institutions or

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Maddison Baker
Student Number: 11630783
missions solely for children and others were adopted by white Australian families. The children were
forced to accept the white ways of life, culture and religion. They were forbidden to speak their
traditional languages and taught the English language. Assimilation and child removal polices were
put into place to improve the quality of life of the indigenous people, but it proved to do the
opposite. The morality of the Indigenous communities declined due to the removal of the children
from their parents and the result that many of the aboriginal children forced to assimilate were not
accepted by the white society. Many of the institutions and adoptive families are commonly known
to have been places of child abuse and neglect. The ‘Bringing them Home’ inquiry details testimonies
of 535 Indigenous Australian children, within these testimonies the children describes their
experiences of life within the intuitions and adoptive families. Many of these testimonies are
confronting, as they describe both physical and mental abuse that was enforced upon young
children. One testimony given by an Aboriginal woman named Millicent who as a child lived in a
government mission reads “They told me that my family didn’t care or want me and I had to forget
them. They said it was degrading to belong to an aboriginal family and I should be ashamed of
myself, I was inferior to whitefellas. They tried to make us act like white kids but, at the same time,
we had to give up our seat for a whitefella because an Aboriginal never sits down when a white
person is present” (Clark.M. 2000. pp.138). This quote from the bringing them home report
describes the mental abuse and degrading of the aboriginal children. They were made to feel inferior
to the white population and told that they were worthless. The mental abuse went in hand with
physical abuse as Millicent also further describes physical torture within the homes. “We used to get
whipped with a wet ironing cord and sometimes had to hold other children (naked) while they were
whipped and, if we didn't hold them, we got another whipping. To wake us up in the morning we
were sprayed up the backside with an old-fashioned pump fly-spray. Hurt was a part of our everyday
life and we had to learn to live with it (Clark.M. 2000. pp.138). This example is just one of the many
testimonies that detailed physical abuse within the missions. The lives of the thousands of
Aboriginals children forced to assimilate and live in these horrid places where never the same again
with many of the know adults showing signs of post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety. Many
also were never able to reunite with their families and never felt a sense of belonging in life.

The impacts of colonisation upon the Indigenous Aboriginal Australian community was devastating
in many ways. Over time they lost more than half of their population due to disease bought into the
country by the Europeans. Even more of the population was lost during battles and massacres by the
British settlers. The new Australian Government then tried to save the now dying Indigenous race
through the Protection acts and missionary endeavour. This endeavour only lead to displacement of
the Aboriginal communities and the eventual removal of the Aboriginal children from their families.
These children became known as the stolen generation and there stories are ones that continue to
cause distress within Indigenous Australian communities. The Australian government created polices
and acts that were mean to protect the Aboriginal Australians, but in perspective they only further
injured their race causing dispossession of land and loss of cultural identity.

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Maddison Baker
Student Number: 11630783
Reference List
AIATSIS. (N.D). Remembering the Mission Days. Retrieved from:
https://aiatsis.gov.au/exhibitions/remembering-mission-days

AustLII. (n.d). National Report Volume 2- 10.4 Frontier Period: Disease and Violence. Retrieved from:
http://classic.austlii.edu.au/au/other/IndigLRes/rciadic/national/vol2/8.html

Clark.M. (2000). Index on Censorship. Stolen Generation, 4,138-140. Retrieved from:


http://journals.sagepub.com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/doi/abs/10.1080/03064220008536776

Johnston.E. (1991). Royal commission into Aboriginal deaths in custody, National Report, Volume 3.
Retrieved from: https://childdetentionnt.royalcommission.gov.au/NT-public-
hearings/Documents/evidence-2016/evidence13october/Exh-024-004.pdf

Morris.B. (1992). Frontier colonialism as a culture of terror. Journal of Australian Studies, 16:35, 72-
87, Doi: 10.1080/14443059209387119

NSW. Government. (2013). Missions. Retrieved from:


https://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/nswcultureheritage/Missions.htm

Prentis.M.D. (2009). The protection era, 1855-1937. In A study in black and white : the Aborigines in
Australian history, 3, 128-141. Retrieved from: https://doms.csu.edu.au/csu/file/2b74037a-b1fb-
495b-ac14-f358e57559af/1/prentis-m.pdf

Walking Together Reconciliation Committee. (2017). Protection and segregation 1890s to the 1950s.
Retrieved from:
http://www.workingwithindigenousaustralians.info/content/History_4_Protection.html

Wynne.E. (2014). Aboriginal stories of pastoral station life in Western Australian Pilbara celebrated
in Perth art exhibition. Retrieved from: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-11-07/aboriginal-stories-
of-pastoral-station-life-in-pilbara/5875108

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Maddison Baker
Student Number: 11630783