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History Essay - A Brief History of Indigenous Australians

Arriving to Australia from Africa through Asia around 50,000 years ago, indigenous inhabitants have had a long-term presence in the area. Originally having over 500 languages and 600 regional dialects, indigenous languages in Australia have unfortunately been reduced to less than 200. Moreover, of an original population that was an estimated 750,000 in 1788 at the time of first British contact, their population had been reduced to 93,000 by 1900. A number of British policies and diseases led to this significant fall in population and is a leading reason why many indigenous people in Australia today continue to struggle.

Before the British arrived in the late eighteenth century, there were nearly 1 million indigenous people on the continent of Australia. Unfortunately, European illnesses like small pox, tuberculosis, and measles were introduced to the indigenous Australians who had no immunity. As a result, many died off in record numbers. Yet, disease was not the only impediment to the growth of the indigenous population in Australia. A forced child removal policy that has been named the Stolen Generations resulted in nearly 100 years of indigenous children being removed from their families. The children were raised by federal and state agencies as well as by different church missions to become more like their white Australian counterparts. The practice continued in some regions throughout the 1970s and is seen as a national embarrassment by many in Australia today.

Due to such practices and the near eradication of a once thriving population, many indigenous Australians today continue to struggle. Though most indigenous Australians live in urban areas, they typically have lower education levels that contribute to their frequent unemployment in comparison to non-indigenous Australians. Moreover, they typically live shorter lives, with some estimates stating that the average indigenous male lives to be only 47 years old. Consequently, the colonization and integration of indigenous Australians has severely inhibited their modern-day success.

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