The Aborigines were the first inhabitants of Australia referat

The Aborigines were the first inhabitants of Australia. No one knows were they have come from or if they have always been there. Scientists found out that the oldest aboriginal remains are more than 60.000 years old. The Aborigines themselves say that they have lived in Australia ever since it existed.

Visitors may find it surprising how few people live in such a big place as Australia is. Most of the Australian inhabitants live in one of the seven main cities on the coast. These cities are Canberra, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth, Sydney, Darwin and Melbourne. Most of the country in between is desert and hardly populated. In the big cities you can find hardly any Aborigines. They tend to live in the suburbs or in outback-communities. This is because many Non-Aborigines did not like their presence. And the Aborigines prefer living in the nature anyway.

In 1788 the first European settlers arrived at Botany Bay at the coast of Australia. As the Aborigines believe, the land belongs to everyone, so they would not have minded if the Europeans had settled there. But the settlers did not even ask them - they simply shot them down.

In the 19th and 20th century many aboriginal groups were destroyed. Before 1788 there may have been more than three million Aborigines. Today there are only about 250.000 left. 200 years ago there were approximately 250 aboriginal languages, while today there are only traces of fewer than half that number.

2. Aboriginal communities - Redfern

In the big cities Aborigines live in communities. Redfern, which is located in the middle of Sydney, is the biggest and most important community. In the 1930s it was the cheapest and most run down area of the city. It was the home of poor aboriginal workers and their families. Later more and more middle class and intellectual Aborigines came there because it was one of the few communities in Australia. In the 1970s many poets, artists and politicians joined the community. Soon Redfern became the centre of aboriginal cultural life. A lot of changes started at that time. The old houses were knocked down and rebuilt in aboriginal style and painted in typical colours and patterns. Nowadays the Redfern-Aborigines run their own authorities and schools there. You can also find many art-studios, galleries and even theatres there. The former slums have changed into an exciting and interesting place.

3. Discrimination against Aborigines

In Australia many different people from all over the world live together peacefully but discriminating against Aborigines. It is very strange that the original inhabitants became victims of racism in their own country. Especially the police has often treated the Aborigines unfairly. In Redfern, for example, a man was shot in his bed by the police when they broke in looking for someone else. The children had to watch their father being shot innocently. No one was ever charged for that murder, and the police did not even apologize. Another shocking case is the death of 20-year.old Eddie Murray. He was arrested because of drunkenness and later found hanged in his cell. He had been the only prisoner in the cell, and only the police had had access to the key. It was found out that he had been killed „at the hands of a person or people unknown“. To this day no one has been arrested for the murder of Eddie Murray. In Port Hedland a 16-year old boy died in prison after being arrested. Several people saw five policemen kicking the boy who was already lying on the ground. A few hours later he died because of a brain haemorrhage. As in the other cases no one was charged for the murder.

It is a fact that Aborigines are arrested more often than non-Aborigines. Aborigines represent 1,5 per cent of the Australian population, but they make up 15 per cent of the prison population. They hold a share of 25 per cent of deaths in police custody. The courts may not have been as biased against Aborigines as the police, but they have generally believed the police’s version of events. The problem is made even worse by the low economic and social position the Aborigines occupy in Australia. Many of them live in poverty. Some even have to steal to survive. And for some crime is a means of relieving boredom. A lot of young Aborigines start taking drugs and joy-riding in stolen cars as reaction to poverty.

Many Aborigines were forced to live in reserves. They had to live in very small and crowded huts with no proper washing facilities or toilets. The reserve-system has now been abandoned because it was so inhumane.

4. Education

The Aborigines are badly disadvantaged in Education, too. Many of them are still illiterate. Because of this they have hardly any opportunities to get well-paid jobs. The teachers often cannot cope with the special needs of aboriginal children. One of the key problems is that for most aboriginal children English is a second language. They often seem uninterested at school, and teachers do not realize that they just do not understand the language. Teachers often think that the children are stupid because they find it hard to understand English. In the outback, where traditional languages are spoken, this problem is worse. The aboriginal children are often treated unfair because teachers

already expect them to have difficulties at school. But it seems that the situation is going to improve. Some schools provide special language training for teachers and students. At these schools English is taught as a second language. Students learn about their identity as Aborigines, their own customs and culture, as well as mathematics, social studies, and English. These schools are providing a great success, and students leave with a better chance to get a job.

5. Religion

The Aboigines are deeply religious people. In the aboriginal religion the time of creation is very important. It is called Dreamtime. They believe that in Dreamtime the ancestors came out from under the earth and walked over it singing. What they sang was created as they walked. Heaven, earth and the people were created as three different parts of the same thing that shall never be divided. Everything is connected with everything else, and everything has its meaning and its reason. There are no priests in Aboriginal society. Instead there are elders who translate the messages of the spirit world to the other tribal members. In Aboriginal comunities these men and women have special responsibilities and powers. They are especially responsible for the young people.

The Aborigines have many ritual ceremonies. One of the most important is the Corroborree. It is a festival of spirits which is usually held at night. It consists of dancing and music and special rituals. Men and women are painted in sacred patterns with different coloured paints. They wear feathers and animal skins. The men play didgeridoos, which are the traditional Aboriginal instruments. They are made of branches of the eucalyptus trees, which are hollowed out by termites. The sound of the didgeridoo is haunting and quite unlike any other instrument.

Aborigines do not believe in the concept of personal property. As nomadic people they believe that the earth belongs to all who travel on it. In present-day society they believe in equality and sharing.

6. Present situation

Non-Aboriginal Australia has never formally acknowledged that the Aborigines are the original people of the land. Aborigines have been forced to give up much that was once central to their society and culture. They have lost their lands, many of their languages and whole systems of belief. But they have not lost their identity as the first inhabitants of Australia. They want their claims to the land to be recognized by the non-Aboriginal law makers. But the Aborigines are not asking for property rights in the way that non-Aboriginal society understands property. For them the land can belong to no individual. They just want to bring the culture and the land back into harmony and thereby reassert their Aboriginal identity.

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