Human Rights Act Australian Aboriginal
Australian aboriginals: the concept of civilisation
Since the arrival of the first colonisers, the Australian native peoples were forced to change their lifestyle. In particular, they were compelled to abandon the areas in which the colonisers started to settle. Since their arrival British colonisers have had conflicts with the Indigenous Australians and they considered them as uncivilised. They treated them as an inferior culture to be educated and applied to them racial ideologies and restrictive policies especially to regulate their living and work. As Kottak (2013) reported, British Imperialism was characterised by a racist and paternalistic foreign policy doctrine, due to the belief that peoples in their colonies were uncivilised and unable to self-govern themselves, and they justified it by backing Rudyard Kipling’s White Man’s Burden idea. The colonisers did not consider them civilised and so they did not recognise them as the owners of the land also because of their nomadic life.
To enforce their beliefs about Australian Aboriginal peoples, they employed the concept of Terra Nullius. “The British treated Australia as terra nullius—as unowned land. Under British colonial law, aboriginal Australians had no property rights in the land, and colonization accordingly vested ownership of the entire continent in the British government. The doctrine of terra nullius remained the law in Australia throughout the colonial period, and indeed right up to 1992” (Banner, 2005). The restrictions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander rights were not only limited to the dispossession of the land or non-recognition of land rights, but the First Australians were also limited in every aspect of their life. Macintyre (2012) said that Queensland in 1897 followed by all the other Australian states apart from Tasmania, where Aboriginal people were believed to be no longer existent, made laws to isolate native peoples in government reserves in which they were not allowed to marry, drink alcohol, work, administer their belongings and leave without the permission of their white supervisors. Many Torres Strait Islanders, as well as Aboriginal people, are no longer living in local communities, however their integration is still an ongoing process. Fredericks (2013) highlighted that even if a large part of Torres Strait Islander people live nowadays in the cities, they are victims of racism and they struggle to be culturally recognised. Aboriginal Australians and Torres Strait Islanders strive to be included in the urban society but are subject to racism from non-indigenous Australians. According to Maddison (2013) several non-Indigenous Australian consider Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander living in the cities as unauthentic because they are not living in their community.
HUMAN RIGHT’S VIOLATIONS
Aboriginal Australian peoples were divided in a biological and racial way, like they were breeding animals, between full blood, that were confined and segregated in government run reserves or in religious run missions, and half cast, which were removed from the families and put in institutions; those subdivisions were made by law in New South Wales and with the Aboriginal Preservation and Protection Act 1939 in Queensland and that was abrogated in 1965 (Fozdar et al., 2012). Australian natives had also major limitations in regard to employment and wage labour. McCorquodale (1985) reported that legislation acted in two specific ways to restrict Australian Aboriginal employment, which were the ban of their employment in specific sectors and the employment of white-only workers, those two methods were enforced by several of laws and codes notably the Pacific Island Labourers Act 1901, The Aborigines Protection Act 1909, and the Post and Telegraph Act 1901. Throughout time the Australian governments made various and particular policies/practices to change and destroy the Indigenous Australian people’s culture, way of life and also to limit their employment. Those laws aimed to confine and segregate them and also attempted to eliminate the Australian Aboriginal’s culture.
THE 1997 BRINGING THEM HOME REPORT AND ITS LEGACY
In the second half of the twentieth century, Australian politics and society started to question the way the non-Indigenous Australian treated Indigenous Australians. It can be said that one of the first to take this matter seriously was Gough Whitlam, which was Prime Minister of Australia from 1972 to 1975. As reported by Faulkner (2014), in 1972 Gough Whitlam (Australian Prime Minister at that time) made a speech in favour of the recognition of civil and land rights for Aboriginal people and in the 1975 in an official ceremony he symbolically poured sand in the hand of an elder of Gurindji people, Vincent Lingiari, to represent the restitution of the Australian land to their original inhabitants. It emerged that the Australian states, and some religious institution perpetrated the separation of Indigenous children from their parents, those generations of children has been later called Stolen Generations. According to 1997 Bringing Them Home report, the forced removal of Australian Natives’ children from their parents that happened throughout the twentieth century, by church and state, in Australia can be considered a genocide since it was an attempt to destroy the Aboriginal and Torres Strait culture (Fozdar et al., 2012).