Inclusion of Aboriginal Culture and People in Australia’s Education

We would like to acknowledge the Whadjuk Noongar people whose land we are standing on and recognise the strength, resilience and capacity of the Noongar people where Curtin University is located.

We pay our respect to their vibrant and endless culture and the leadership of the Elders past, present and future. This country (boodja) where Curtin University is situated has belonged to the Whadjuk Noongar people for thousands of years and is a place of learning for all people now and Curtin University is very proud to continue on this very long tradition.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander users are advised there may be images, viewings, stories, photos and written materials of people which could be disturbing and/or of persons who are deceased.

 

Throughout Australia we have children who are growing up in a culture that is not theirs, in a society that is not theirs and in traditions and customs that are not theirs. When they grow up, they go and find where they are from and where they belong. However, for Aboriginal people, this country is theirs. There are customs that are absolutely paramount to Aboriginal culture including family, spirituality, beliefs and land (Noongar Culture, 2018). When one of these concepts is removed, there is a breakdown of the wholeness of our beings. This is what happened with our children who were taken, stolen and removed, impacting their placement on their land and where they were told they ‘do not belong’ (Noongar, Culture, 2018). The Stolen Generation impacts all Aboriginal people and as a result of this historic event, there is now a high rate of incarceration for Aboriginal people (Harrison & Sellwood, 2016). This has led onto affecting Aboriginal people in many ways, snowballing through various areas in life including low socio-economic communities, health issues, low or no education, drug and alcohol abuse, and suicide (Harrison & Sellwood, 2016). By creating a whole school approach, cohesive, collective and collaborative action in a school community that is strategically constructed, will improve student learning, behaviour and wellbeing, and the conditions that support these (DOET, 2010).

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The term Stolen Generation refers to the removal of Aboriginal children from their families by Australian government agencies and church missions (Encycolopedia, 2018). Originally considered child welfare, the practice is perceived by some as having wreaked extensive family and cultural damage (Lloyd, et al, 2015). The nature of the removals, their extent, and its effects on those removed, is a topic of considerable dispute and political debate within Australia (Encyclopedia, 2018). According to the official government report, at least 30,000 to 100 000 children were removed from their parents. Percentage estimates were given that 10-30% of all Aboriginal children born during the seventy-year period were removed. Although children of full Aboriginal descent were removed, in general the children of “mixed descent”, having one or more European ancestors, were the most targeted (Encyclopedia, 2018). Children taken from their parents were taught to reject their Indigenous heritage, and forced to adopt white culture (Wilson-Miller, n.d.). Their names were often changed, and they were forbidden to speak their traditional languages. Some children were adopted by white families, and many were placed in institutions where abuse and neglect were common (Wilson-Miller, n.d.).

This caused placement and displacement for Aboriginal and Torrens Strait students years ago and still has many implications on students today. The affects removed traditions and cultures from being practiced and continued with a European style of living. Publications sought to express the voice of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, families, communities and teaching staff with respect to pedagogy (Lloyd, et al, 2015). The interviews with school staff, students and families at 675 schools throughout Australia revealed major instructional themes deemed important to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and families in fostering learning to teach all Australians and Indigenous Australians about their culture (Lloyd, et al, 2015). They included that traditional culture of Australia be taught with special attention to cultural identity, that there are quality teachers who are able to educate, collaborating with assessing the wellbeing of students, who are culturally aware and have high expectations, create personalised lesson plans and develop good relationships with students and families to create the sense of community. Efforts which encourage the participation of Elders and families in school life, health and well-being, predominantly the mitigation of racism; and curriculum and the inclusion of Indigenous perspectives for best practice (Lloyd, et al, 2015).

The Department of Education and Training (DOET, 2010) state that there has always been a gap between students who come from high socio-economic (HSE) backgrounds and those who live in low socio-economic (LSE) communities and in poverty. This gap has reduced over the years, however to increase opportunity for Aboriginal and Torrens Strait students to have equal opportunities, as stated by ACARA (n.d.), educators are required to adapt to better fit the needs of an increasingly diverse student body (DOET, 2010). According to Devlin (2012), each student is individual and comes from a different background, culturally and with varying socio-economic factors. Most students want to be understood and they want the things they recognise in themselves to be recognised by others (Devlin, et, al, 2012). They want the teacher to understand their personal lives and they think a good teacher is someone who understands them and what is important in their lives. An understanding of a student’s personal life will help a teacher to motivate and engage the student (ACARA, n.d.). DOET (2012) states that the institutions themselves create inflexibility and inequality and that it is unfair to expect the burden of change to fall solely on students. Devlin (2012) also states that sociocultural gaps can be bridged by providing an empathic schooling community that values and respects all students, encompasses a wide approach that is comprehensive, integrated and coordinated through the curriculum, incorporates inclusive learning environments and strategies, empowers students by making the implicit, explicit, and focuses on LSE student learning outcomes and success. DOET (2010) states that this can be achieved through taking time to learn about each student, their background and respecting this. Communicating, embracing and integrating the diversity of students will enable contributions of their knowledge to everyone’s learning. Being flexible and offering a variety of choice or teaching and learning strategies, while upholding academic standards, the educator will provide and equal opportunity for LSE students to thrive. The Australian Government2 (2018) states that by embedding the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Perspectives framework (EATSIPS) in to both the school and classroom communities, a strong school and community culture can be created. This can be achieved by creating pedagogy and practices that impact on student participation and outcomes (Australian Government2, 2018). Along with this, creating a ‘third cultural space’ allows a school community to work towards helping Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students to be stronger and smarter in their journey through lifelong learning (Australian Government2, 2018).  

Many health services are not as accessible and user-friendly for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as they are for non-Indigenous people, adding to higher levels of disadvantage (Thomson, Burns, & McLoughlin, 2012). Sometimes this is because more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people than non-Indigenous live in remote locations and not all health services are offered outside of cities. Sometimes health services are not culturally appropriate, which means they do not consider Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and the specific needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (Dudgeon, Milroy & Walker, 2014). Also, some Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people may not be able to use some services because they are too expensive. Thomson, Burns, & McLoughlin (2012) state that breaking the cycleof Aboriginal poor health and disadvantage requires a strategic national focus on the importance of early child health and development. This is now recognised internationally as the single most effective strategy currently available to governments and communities for reducing the worst effects of poverty and breaking the cycle of inter-generational disadvantage (Kids Matter, 2015). Aboriginal child health is fundamentally linked to social, economic and political factors underpinning human development. This is why progress in Aboriginal health needs the engagement of Aboriginal communities along with concerted, coordinated actions across governments and sectors to develop and implement policies that reflect this fundamental reality (Thomson, Burns, & McLoughlin, 2012).

According to Health and Welfare of Australia’s Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Peoples (Health Info Net, 2015): ‘The burden of disease suffered by Indigenous Australians is estimated to be two-and-a-half times greater than the burden of disease in the total Australian population. It is important to acknowledge that most health issues among Indigenous people do not, in most cases, stem from Indigeneity (Health Info Net, 2015). Sometimes it is easy to identify the person with the health issue, but there is a correlation not a causal relationship. Physical health and wellbeing, social competence, emotional maturity, language and cognitive skills, communication skills and general knowledge are many of the benefits that come from a high record of school attendance (Kids Matter, n.d.).

When it comes to schooling specifically, Improving the Educational Experience (2006) explains that unexplained absences are one of the major health factors which affect the education of Aboriginal students. It has been found that students who have more then ten days of unexplained absences are twice more likely to have low academic performance then students who have no unexplained absences (Improving the Educational Experience, 2006). Sarra from Message Stick (2002) strategically congratulates a class which has zero unexplained absences after recording for a school term and explains to the other students that having unexplained absences is not strong and smart, and that his expectations are higher. Alternatively, Message Stick (2002) tells of educators going into the homes of some children and getting them ready, to come to school. The impact that unexplained absences have on education include students having negative attitudes towards learning, the school community and poor emotional health as they do not ‘belong’ (Improving the Educational Experience, 2006). By using the strong and smart motto to build resilience in the students, Sarra teaches the children that if they are strong in their hearts and smart in their heads, no one can belittle them (Message Stick, 2002). By focusing on emotional health and reducing unexplained absences, Cherbourg demonstrates good practice in incorporating health with education (Message Stick, 2002). By having a high attendance record, The Australian Government1 (n.d.) mentions that all students will benefit proactively through establishing relationships of trust with the school community based on shared values, shared decision-making and shared expectations, provide opportunities for carers to obtain positive educational experiences, demonstrate the value and positive culture of schools, actively promote the benefits education can provide to children and respect for Aboriginal people and culture.

Yunkaporta’s eight-way framework (Lowe and Yunkaporta, n.d.) demonstrates ways in which aboriginal processes can be incorporated into the pedagogical setting. This is linked with the methods utilised in Bush School (Duffy and Carro, 2007). Using every opportunity to introduce a learning outcome and taking the time to get to know the students is a key aspect that educators can follow for best practice (Harrison & Sellwood, 2016). This was demonstrated in both the East Kalgoorlie Primary School (Department of Education, WA1, 2013) and the Dijdi Dijdi Aboriginal School (Department of Education, WA2, 2013) as educators took both time and effort to create learning plans and individual solutions for individual students to work together to increase their knowledge, diet, physical and medical health and teach the students and parents the importance of school attendance.

If there is a common thread to optimising teaching success for the maximum benefit of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, it is the ability to ‘look at the big picture’, understand what is significant to individuals and develop genuine relationships with students and families based on taking the time to develop an understanding of the whole person through sustained, authentic and empathetic dialogue to find opportunities for growth and development. If attention is drawn to the imperative of schools and teachers engaging with community in all educational matters. Likewise, a genuine collaboration with community with respect to the Aboriginal studies curriculum provided will result in improved affective and achievement parameters. Boundaries and expectations need to be set, however, for best practice, it has been found that educators should always work towards the bigger picture goals and be flexible in their approach to teaching about the Stolen Generation, Aboriginal culture, traditions and customs, when teaching Indigenous students, and working with families and communities.

 

Reference List

Encyclopedia. (2018). Stolen Generation. Retrieved from: http://encyclopedia.kids.net.au/page/st/Stolen_Generation

Lloyd, N.J., Lewthwaite, B. E., Osbourne, B. and Boon, H. J. (2015) Effective Teaching Practices for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Students: A Review of the Literature Australian journal of teacher education. Retrieved from: https://ro.ecu.edu.au/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?referer=https://www.google.com/&httpsredir=1&article=2813&context=ajte

Lowe, K. & Yunkaporta, T. (n.d.) The inclusion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander content in the Australian National Curriculum: A cultural, cognitive and socio-political evaluation. [ONLINE] Retrieved from: http://www.acsa.edu.au/pages/images/KLowe_article%20(2).pdf

Wilson-Miller, J. (2011) A history of special treatment: The impact of government policies. [ONLINE] Retrieved from:                https://link.library.curtin.edu.au/ereserve/DC60271861/0?display=1

Department of Education and Training (DOET). (2010). Embedding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Perspectives in schools. [ONLINE] Retrieved from: http://indigenous.education.qld.gov.au/SiteCollectionDocuments/eatsips-docs/eatsips_2011.pdf

Noongar Culture. (2018). Stolen generations. [ONLINE] Retrieved from:   https://www.noongarculture.org.au/stolen-generations/

Australian Government2. (2018) Closing the Gap. [ONLINE] Retrieved from:  https://closingthegap.pmc.gov.au/sites/default/files/ctg-report-2018.pdf?a=1

Devlin, M., Kift, S., Nelson, K., Smith, L., McKay, J. (2012) Effective teaching and support of students from low socioeconomic status backgrounds: Practical advice for teaching staff. [ONLINE] Retrieved from: http://www.lowses.edu.au/assets/Practical%20Advice%20for%20Teaching%20Staff.pdf

Harrison, N.& Sellwood, J. (2016). Learning and Teaching in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education. Victoria: Oxford University Press. 3rd Ed

Duffy, B. & Caro, R. (2007). Storyline Australia: Bush School [VIDEO]. Retrieved from: https://lms.curtin.edu.au/webapps/blackboard/content/contentWrapper.jsp?content_id=_6125011_1&displayName=Unit+viewings&course_id=_94941_1&navItem=content&href=%2Fwebapps%2Fblackboard%2Fexecute%2Fblti%2FlaunchPlacement%3Fblti_placement_id%3D_39_1%26content_id%3D_6125011_1%26course_id%3D_94941_1

Message Stick. (2002). Strong and Smart [VIDEO]. Retrieved from: https://lms.curtin.edu.au/webapps/blackboard/content/contentWrapper.jsp?content_id=_6125011_1&displayName=Unit+viewings&course_id=_94941_1&navItem=content&href=%2Fwebapps%2Fblackboard%2Fexecute%2Fblti%2FlaunchPlacement%3Fblti_placement_id%3D_39_1%26content_id%3D_6125011_1%26course_id%3D_94941_1

Health Info Net. (2015) Development of a new national asthma strategy. [ONLINE] Retrieved from: https://healthinfonet.ecu.edu.au/about/news/3417/

Dudgeon, P., Milroy, H. & Walker, R. (2014) Working Together: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mental Health and Wellbeing Principles and Practice. [ONLINE] Retrieved from: https://www.telethonkids.org.au/globalassets/media/documents/aboriginal-health/working-together-second-edition/working-together-aboriginal-and-wellbeing-2014.pdf

Kids matter. (n.d.) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander resource portal. [ONLINE] Retrieved from: https://www.kidsmatter.edu.au/atsi-resources

Australian government1 (n.d) What Works. The Work Program: CORE ISSUES 8. [ONLINE] Retrieved from: http://www.whatworks.edu.au/upload/1281511388241_file_8Health.pdf

Thomson, N., Burns, J. & McLoughlin, N. (2012) The impact of health on the education of indigenous children. [ONLINE] Retrieved from: https://search.informit.com.au/documentSummary;dn=311124537704031;res=IELIND

ACARA (n.d.) National data collection and reporting. [ONLINE] Retrieved from: http://www.acara.edu.au/reporting

Department of Education, WA2. (2013) Youtube. East Kalgoorlie Primary School –  Aboriginal Innovation School. [ONLINE] Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LoPHywEHY7U East Kalgoorlie Primary School

Department of Education, WA1.(2013). Youtube. Derby District High School – Aboriginal Innovation School. [ONLINE] Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RLKRifELAYU Djidi Djidi Aboriginal School

 

A Look At Aboriginal Spirituality Religion Essay

There remains a continuing effect of dispossession on Aboriginal spirituality in relation to the stolen generations. Aboriginal spirituality is based on the encompassment of the Dreaming, the inextricable link with the land, totems and sacred sites and involves ceremonies, story-telling, kinship roles and responsibilities and a strong sense of cultural identity. The stolen generations involved children being forcibly removed from their families and communities and put into institutionalised missions and camps run by both the state government and the Christian Church. It was the cause of dispossession that involved colonisation, missionisation, segregation, assimilation and self-determination policies which significantly impacted Aboriginal spirituality; past, present and future. These were deliberate, calculated policies of the state and are evident in the first YouTube video, Rabbit Proof Fence ‘ Stolen Generations (March 24, 2009), where the white official points to the authorisation paper, ‘this is the law’, and physically removes the three native Aboriginal girls from their mother showing signs of inhumane brutality. Through these policies, Aboriginal land, spirituality, culture and Dreaming were lost. This, along with the crying scenes in video two, Rabbit Proof Fence Documentary ‘ forced removal scene (March 1, 2007), shows the emotional impact that it had on the actors as well as on all the victims of the Stolen Generation. This video depicts the traumatic psychological effects the stolen generation era had on the actors themselves, who emotionally broke down into tears having to act in these roles. This illustrates how the loss of family and spiritual ties caused such devastation. This disconnection from the families, communities and thus, from the elders resulted in the inability to pass down necessary knowledge to the next generation that is needed to keep Aboriginal spirituality holistic, living and dynamic as there is a strong need for oral teaching and learning.
In summation, such dispossession, violent and physical removal of native Aboriginal children from their parents demolished Aboriginal spirituality since the Dreaming, kinship roles and responsibilities, cultural identity, heritage, language and traditions were lost with disconnection from their elder generations. This drove modern Aboriginals to overwhelming social and emotional problems.
The relationship between Aboriginal spirituality and religious traditions require the process of reconciliation. There is a strong need for reconciliation between Aboriginal spirituality and Christians due to the initial contact between the two; full of racism, classism, oppression, inequality, injustice, hate, fear and division. Aboriginal people were forced and threatened violently to forget their Aboriginal culture, traditions and language. Instead they forcibly were made to integrate into nominal Christianity attending Church services, Sunday school and singing hymns. Western Christianity had a negative impact where falsehoods and heresies were taught to Aboriginal people, for example, The Hamitic Curse, condemning all ‘dark-skinned humans’ to eternal inferiority. These falsehoods had such an immense impact that most Aboriginals voluntarily denied their Aboriginal heritage, identity, culture, traditions and language because they were forced to believe in the falsehoods and were concerned with their personal sins rather than the institutionalised sin conducted against them. The awareness that these negative experiences were immoral was the catalyst for the process of reconciliation. A step towards hope for Aboriginal victims to restore their spirituality can be seen in the source, taken from the Lutheran Church of Australia. Aboriginal artwork in the form of a circle is positioned in the centre of the cross to illustrate the continuous existence of Aboriginal spirituality in the heart of those who converted to Lutheranism. If reconciliation is achieved, the future encompasses more hope for these victims.

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The source is an expression of Aboriginal theology which is the reconciled relationship between Aboriginal spirituality and modern Christianity. The sun rays in the image symbolises the cross’ significance and how it permeates throughout Aboriginal spirituality and emphasises the need of reconciliation. The symbol of symmetry epitomises the reconciled coexistence of the two religions and the hope for continuous reconciliation. There are some Aboriginal theologians that are part of the liberal tradition. Rev. Dijimiyini Gordarra and Pastor Cecil Grant from Churches of Christ individually helped reconcile Aboriginal spirituality with the Uniting Church in 1970 by ‘contextualising’ the gospel for Aboriginal people. In 1985, Rev. Arthur Malcolm, the first Aboriginal Anglican Assistant Bishop in Australia was deeply committed to reconciliation and thus, counselled and nurtured Aboriginal people throughout their painful experiences, hopes and visions. The Catholic Church attempted acts of reconciliation when Pope John Paul II visited Alice Springs in 1986 and stated ‘There is the need for just and proper settlement that lies unachieved in Australia’.
Aboriginal story-telling theology is another pathway to allow Aboriginal victims to remember their Aboriginal spirituality as well as embrace their Christianity. In this way, Aboriginal people reconcile their heritage with their Christianity as they are taught Biblical scriptures through Dreaming Stories which makes the gospels more meaningful and relevant to the Aboriginal way of life. The reconciliation and unity between Christianity and Aboriginal spirituality can be seen in the source where the cross is made using traditional Aboriginal witchetty grubs.
There have been many other movements towards reconciliation. The Uniting Church and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Christian Congress organised an exchange program called About Face, where 150 non-Indigenous people aged from 18 to 30 lived in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. As a sign of reconciliation, a friendship was built when Aboriginal Pastor Ricky Manton and his wife Kayleen were invited to St. Augustine’s Anglican Church to perform a service. Leaders from many religious traditions gathered in order to fight against Howard Government’s attack on the Wik legislation. Other religious traditions, like Judaism and Islam, have assisted in the reconciliation process. A Jewish couple, Tom and Eva Rona, funded the Rona-Tranby project that recorded oral history with the help of Aboriginal Elder Eliza Kennedy. ‘The Muslim community in Australia is most supportive of Aboriginal reconciliation on spiritual, moral, humanitarian and prudential pragmatic ground’ is a claim of Islamic assistance in the process of reconciliation. Many faiths like Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism have also assisted in the process of reconciliation. This is evident in The Week of Prayer For Reconciliation that began in 1993 where they shared the same goal of reconciliation exhibited through dedication to prayer, thought and reflection on acts of unity.
In conclusion, there have been many efforts to encourage the process of reconciliation between Aboriginal spirituality and religious traditions and there needs to be continuous support in this subject. The symmetrical elements in the artwork, sourced from the Lutheran Church of Australia, are powerful examples of how artwork has symbolised the co-existence of both traditions. Steps towards reconciliation in the form of proactive movements also provide hope for the victims who had suffered the horrendous effects of spiritual deprivation.
Ecumenical developments and interfaith dialogue are of immense significance in Australia. Ecumenical developments are movements that promote cooperation, discussion and unity between different Christian denominations, focusing on what brings sects together, rather than what pulls them apart. Such movements are important to Australia as different Christian denominations unite to solve Australian youth, spiritual, environmental, social and justice issues, spreading peace and harmony. Interfaith dialogue is the cooperative communication between different religious traditions and their adherents. These promoted understanding, peace and a strong sense of belonging between many religious traditions.
Non-denominational approach is a method of ecumenical development where it focuses on ignoring differences between different Christian denominations. Such movements can be of great importance to Australia. For example, the Australian college of Theology (ACT) strengthens Australia’s education system. ACT began in 1898 when Anglicans within Australia gathered resources to produce tertiary courses and exams at every Anglican college. It was linked to universities across Australia and was credited by the NSW Higher Education Board. It became non-denominational when there was more non-Anglican than Anglican students. It was a strong organisation due to the ecumenical movement which increased its efficiency and offered a common program amongst people. Other examples of a non-denominational approach towards ecumenical developments include youth associations such as Girls Brigade and Young Men’s Christian Association. Such organisations builds trust between the different denominations involved. This trust would result in a community that is based on trust, kindness and friendship, creating a stronger witness to the community.
Ecumenical developments, in the form of interdenominational approaches, are increasingly evident and significant in Australian culture. Such approaches are those that are collaborative and the goal is to provide opportunities for negotiation between different Christian denominations. This is important to Australia as it creates a sense of unity, belonging, commonality and acceptance on many levels. It begins when Christians from different denominations interact with each other and, hence, leading to communal discussion. An example of this is the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity and Reconciliation. This is conducted with a united goal to reach a state of complete reconciliation, relieving many denominations from tension, violence and unnecessary conflict. Many denominations hope for denominational dialogue to act as a facilitator to develop new relationships by exchanging ministers to perform services. Such exchanges are known as ‘pulpit exchanges’. Christmas Bowl Appeal, Force TEN and the House of Welcome are other instances of ecumenical movements where many denominations unite to build fundraising programs. These assist Australia by providing it with a positive reputation in charitable work, ‘These projects show how the kindness of Australians can make a practical difference in the lives of people very far from our shores’ Some of these projects, like House of Welcome, are vital in Australia as they support refugees that have been newly released in Australia by providing them with accommodation and employment. Through these charitable organisations, different denominations bond together and form strong relationships.
Ecumenism is important in Australia at a family level. It promotes family through interchurch marriages. This is seen when both the Catholic and Uniting Church composed an agreement on interchurch marriages as a gift to the church. Ecumenism is also helpful in reducing duplication of material, which in turn increases efficiency. This is seen in The Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC), where the Catholic and Anglicans prepared doctrine works on common beliefs of the faith. In 2001, the Catholic and Protestant churches united in Australia for the National Church Life Survey where 500,000 adherents from 20 different denominations actively participated in. Such union encourages tolerance and reduces aggression and violence. It in the larger scheme of things reduces racial and spiritual discrimination and attack. Australia is a multicultural and multifaith country and, hence, would benefit from embracing unity of different denominations within Christianity.
Deeper ecumenical developments are those that embrace differences. With these movements, comes appreciation and recognition of uniqueness in order to enrich the relationship and focus on commonalities, like the common belief in one supreme God. The deepest level of ecumenism involves overcoming differences and primarily aiming for unity between different denominations. These achievements ultimately bring social justice, peace, harmony and understanding in Australia.
The common need and view of religion around the world has resulted to an increase in the search for cooperation and unity since 1945 in Australia. Interfaith dialogue is even more important than ecumenism since the people uniting are separated by greater differences. Since WWII, interfaith dialogue has allowed Australia as a whole to change its attitude towards other religious traditions other than Christianity. It has allowed Christianity and its adherents to recognise their faults and mistreatment against other religious traditions ‘errors at best and works of devils at worst’. Interfaith dialogue assists in opening interaction between different people and maintains a multicultural Australian society. It also builds harmony in Australian context as it aims to achieve common goals between religious groups. Interfaith dialogue also addresses division, concern and any ongoing religious conflict such as the Cronulla Riots. It supports and embraces differences. Interfaith dialogue depicts the desire of Australia’s religious traditions to engage with each other and with the world as it is extremely important to do so in the 21st century. There is strong evidence of interfaith dialogue in Australia and this has been depicted in acts of cooperation between religious traditions in Australia. In 2001, Anzac Day, Christian ministers and Buddhist monks both took part in the services at St. Mary’s Cathedral. This encouraged unity among Australians as they honoured soldiers in the heart of Sydney’s CBD.
The Victorian Jewish-Christian Dialogue Committee, The Muslim-Christian Council which together prayed for peace in Ambon, Indonesia and the Multifaith Religious Services Centre which ran at the Sydney Olympics are other examples of interfaith dialogue. Leaders of Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim and other communities together assisted with the $2 million Griffith University Multi-faith Centre showing how unity expresses great strengths and benefits to the Australian community. It brought peace in Sydney 2001, after the terrorist attack, where Muslim, Hindu, Buddhists and many denominations of Christians united at a multifaith prayer vigil. Through these instances, a strong union is formed that reduces cultural and political divisions between different religious traditions that in turn, prevents the possibility of extreme violence or war.
Neve Shalom, Wahat as-Salam, is another prime example of interfaith dialogue. It was established by Muslims and Jews and its main goal was to prove to Australia that peaceful relationships between different religious traditions are possible. Through this development, grew ideas about a united education saturated with peace, equality and understanding. The School for Peace (SFP) was created in 1979 as a Jewish-Arab encounter program, where Jewish and Muslim students can share education peacefully. A unique example of interfaith dialogue between a certain denomination and an entire religious tradition us the dialogue between Catholic and Jewish adherents in 1992. This eventually led to the formation of the Guidelines for Catholic-Jewish Relations to later improve the relationship.
National Council of Churches in Australia (NCCA) is an immense organisation that helps and supports ecumenical developments in every state in Australia through several councils such as the NSW Ecumenical Council. It does this through direct communication with the government that provides NCCA with the necessary authority to support many movements such as The Christmas Bowl and ‘The Justice for all Australians’ report that researched in support of the native Aboriginals claiming indigenous sites such as cattle stations. NCCA strongly supported interfaith dialogue within Australia. One example of interfaith dialogue established by NCCA was the Australian National Dialogue of Christians, Muslims and Jews founded in 2003. This aimed to provide opportunities for various religious traditions to understand one another in harmony and peace.
In conclusion, ecumenical development and interfaith dialogue are very important in Australia since they are two of Australia’s most powerful driving forces towards national unity, peace and harmony. It encourages tolerance and acceptance through acknowledging the uniqueness of every religious tradition and Christian denomination. Ecumenism and interfaith dialogue works towards understanding and eventually would reduce aggression, tension and violence. Through organisations like the NCCA, Australia benefitted from embracing unity of religions since it is a multifaith and multicultural country.
 

Changing Rights & Freedoms of Aboriginal People in Australia

OUTCOMES ASSESSED

HT5-2: sequences and explains the significant patterns of continuity and change in the development of the modern world and Australia
HT5-3: explains and analyses the motives and actions of past individuals and groups in the historical contexts that shaped the modern world and Australia
HT5-6: uses relevant evidence from sources to support historical narratives, explanations and analyses of the modern world and Australia
HT5-7: explains different contexts, perspectives and interpretations of the modern world and Australia
HT5-8: selects and analyses a range of historical sources to locate information relevant to an historical inquiry
HT5-9: applies a range of relevant historical terms and concepts when communicating an understanding of the past
HT5-10: selects and uses appropriate oral, written, visual and digital forms to communicate effectively about the past for different audiences

In this task you will be assessed on how well you:

Show an understanding of the Changing Rights & Freedoms of Aboriginal People in Australia’s history.

Present evidence reliant upon the topic you have studied in class during Term One, as well as your own research. This will include the impact of European occupation of Australia; Human Rights; legislation pertaining to Aboriginal Australians from Settlement to the current day.

The ability to examine history through a multi-modal presentation.

DESCRIPTION OF ACTIVITY
This assessment will be in THREE PARTS as outlined below.

The year 2017 has seen controversy emerge surrounding the celebration of Australia Day on January 26th. This date coincides with arrival of the First Fleet and the beginning of the loss of rights and freedoms of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.
In order to explain to the Australian public why members of the Australian public have protested and campaigned to change the date of Australia Day, Triple J’s ‘Hack’ program has invited you on to the program to provide an explanation of this issue.
You have been provided with the questions prior to your interview in order to prepare your responses.

Complete the scaffolded transcript attached which will form the majority of your response to the interview. You must include a Harvard style bibliography.
TO BE SUBMITTED: THURSDAY, 2 MARCH 2017

Record your response using a recording device and upload to OneNote/Stile (per teacher’s instruction). Your verbal response is an audio recording of your transcript and must be no longer than 5 minutes in length.
TO BE SUBMITTED: THURSDAY, 2 MARCH 2017

You will complete a source analysis (ADAM PRU) of one source during class time in week 6, answering an unseen question. The source will be directly related to what you have studied for Parts A and B.
TO BE COMPLETED IN CLASS: MONDAY, 6 MARCH 2017

Transcript of Triple J’s ‘Hack’ program featuring JITHIN ABRAHAM
Presenter: “Recent protests and demonstrations have occurred on Australia Day 2017 (26th January) in opposition to the celebration of Australia Day on this date. Why do you think this is?”
[Jithin]:
Well as we all know Australia day is well known for Captain Cook’s arrival of the First Fleet but, in truth what many of us don’t know is on that same day is what aboriginals call invasion day. This day symbolizes the denial of rights and freedoms of aboriginal people. Just as Paul Keating said, “we failed to make the most basic human response and enter into their hearts and minds” (Redfern speech). During this timeframe, indigenous Australians have experienced discrimination, inequality and lack of opportunity. Shane Howard in Solid Rock sang “Wasn’t long before they felt the sting White man, white law, white gun”. To many Aboriginal’s this day is very little about celebrating and rather about remembering of a deep loss. A Loss of their land, family, and the right to practice their culture.
Presenter: “So what was the nature of the contact between the first settlers and Aboriginal Australians?”
[Jithin]:
Um, it seems to me the early European settlers were just as curious as aboriginals. For instance, Captain Cook wrote: “I cannot tell if these natives are the most miserable, or the happiest people on earth”. The aborigines were a peaceful and nomadic group of natives. We know the English were told be at good terms between aboriginals. But gradually we realize the strong connection indigenous Australians had with the land was being disrespected as White settlement expanded. Without doubt, we understand white settlers felt vastly superior to the indigenous population leading to violence, prejudice and racism.
Presenter: “Can you explain to the audience the impact this would have had on Aboriginal Australians at this time? Maybe this is why it has been referred to as Invasion Day?”
[Jithin]:
So, we understand white settlement had a dark and devastating impact on aboriginal Australians. Many aboriginals were forced off their ancestral land and became displaced. This led them to new diseases introduced by settlers, which they had had no immunity too. Just like Djinyini Gondarra said “The land is my mother. Like a human mother, the land gives us protection, enjoyment and provides our needs”. Due to this, they were unable to access food and water, which made them more fragile and powerless. Also during this period violent conflict between settlers arose causing many heartless deaths. The impact of white settlers resulted in a drastic decline in the indigenous population.
Presenter: “You mentioned the government policy of protectionism, what was this exactly?”
[Jithin]:
Yeah, the policy of protectionism ran for around 68 years and the main idea behind it was to control and separate aboriginal people from the white population and from each other. The policy of protectionism placed restrictions that denied their independence, freedom and basic human rights. Rights such as the where aboriginal people should live were denied and instead, the government directed how aboriginal people should live. The freedom to express their traditional customs were banned. The protector was the legal owner of all personal property rightfully owned by the aboriginal workers. Spending money even to buy basic items was restricted. The freedom to marry whoever had to be granted by white superiors and traditional names were refused. We can clearly understand this policy was very RACIST towards aboriginals.
Presenter: “Can you just outline for the audience the purpose of reservations and missions during this time period? Who were they administered by”
[Jithin]:
Reserves and missions were enforced by their so-called white ‘protectors’. This meant approval was needed to enter or leave fenced areas. By doing this they excluded aborigines from cities and towns, which achieved their purpose of separating aboriginals from the white population. White superiors were strict and conditions inside these reserves were extremely harsh. Just as R. Broome said, “It was evident at one point the reserves superintendents were at once policeman, judge and jury”.
Presenter: “The toll on the Aboriginal population of Australia must have been horrendous. What were some of the consequences of this policy?”
[Jithin]:
It was clear that the policies of protection had led to the dispossession, despair and a rapid decline in the size of the Aboriginal population. An Increase in infant mortality, suicide and life expectancy had a great impact. Harsh living conditions directed them to drink and most children lost links with their family and land. Many aborigines missed out on being educated in the language, culture and traditions of their people. Also,numerous mental health problems arose during the lifetime of aboriginal children.
Presenter: “You mentioned assimilation earlier in the program, what was this? Was it another policy put in place by the government?”
[Jithin]:
Once the government understood the protection policy wasn’t going as planned, with expenses and maintenance in running reserves and missions. The way forward was to absorb aborigines into towns and cities and the wider white community. By doing this Aboriginals would lose their cultural background but instead have their status raised. As part of Assimilation, the certificate of exemption was introduced and it required a denial of all cultural identity. It was only accepted to aborigines who were considered as detribalised and which have worked for the white man.
Presenter: “What would become of full blood Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people during this period?”
[Jithin]:
Well, full blood aboriginals were excluded from white society and placed in reserves and missions. Where they were ignored and left to die out alongside their culture. All opportunities were put back and they relied on each other to sustain.
Presenter: “And what about those who were deemed half-caste?”
[Jithin]:
As part of assimilation half-castes were absorbed into the wider white community. In promise of a simpler lifestyle away from the harsh conditions found in reserves. But instead they were seen by the assumption of black inferiority and white superiority.
Presenter: “Just for the benefit of those listeners who have just tuned in, would you mind just defining the term the Stolen Generation?”
[Jithin]:
The stolen generation were identified as those who were of aboriginal origin and were taken away from their families to be put into church missions, foster families and institutions. Under the act of government.
Presenter: “It sounds as though the impact of this policy was devastating to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Can you explain this impact for our listeners out there?”
[Jithin]:
When aboriginal people arrived in towns and cities and the wider white community, they came up against racism and discrimination. Aborigines were rather excluded from hotels and bars, they could only use swimming pools at certain times and sit in certain places at the cinemas. The most terrible part of the assimilated policy was that it led to children being taken away from their parents and families to be put into foster homes. These were known as the stolen generation.
Presenter: “Do you have an example from the material you have come across from a victim of the Stolen Generation? What was their experience?”
[Your Name]:
 
Presenter: “By today’s standards, wouldn’t these policies have been a breach of the Declaration of Human Rights? Do you mind just explaining, say three rights that these policies would have contravened?”
[Jithin]:
Yes, they definitely would have breached the declaration of human rights. These policies have violated rights such as… Um, all adults have the right to marriage and to raise a family. Everyone has the right to an adequate standard of living for themselves and their family. And we are all equal before the law and entitled to equal protection of the law.

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Presenter: Wow, some powerful stuff. No wonder that some people are upset with our current celebration of Australia Day on the 26th January. But this isn’t the first time people have protested against the abuse of rights and freedoms of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders is it? For the benefit of the audience could you please outline one of these protests?” (Who, what, when, where, why)
[Your Name]:
 
Presenter: Thank you so much for your time today on “Hack”. Here’s hoping the information you have provided has enlightened some of the more ignorant corners of Australian society.
HARVARD STYLE BIBLIOGRAPHY

Jens Korff. 2017. Australia Day – Invasion Day. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.creativespirits.info/aboriginalculture/history/australia-day-invasion-day. [Accessed 18 February 2017
Paul Keating. 1992. Transcript. [ONLINE] Available at: https://antar.org.au/sites/default/files/paul_keating_speech_transcript.pdf. [Accessed 22 February 2017].
Shane Howard. 1982. Lyrics. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.top40db.net/lyrics/?SongID=83327. [Accessed 22 February 2017].
Skwirk. 2016. First contact with Europeans. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.skwirk.com/p-c_s-17_u-455_t-1228_c-4698/first-contact-with-europeans/wa/first-contact-with-europeans/aboriginal-people-and-torres-strait-islanders/contact-with-europeans-the-effects. [Accessed 22 February 2017].
Skwirk. 2017. Impact of European settlement on Indigenous people. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.skwirk.com/p-c_s-56_u-426_t-1075_c-4149/WA/10/Impact-of-European-settlement-on-Indigenous-people/_tb-v. [Accessed 23 February 2017].
Nature and Mind. 2014. Quotes. [ONLINE] Available at: https://mindofnature.wordpress.com/2014/07/30/ten-australian-aboriginal-quotes-and-sayings-on-spirituality-nature-and-humanity/. [Accessed 24 February 2017].
R. Broome, Aboriginal Australians – Black responses to white Dominance, 1788-1980, Allen & Unwin, Sydney, 1982, pp. 178-9
Skwirk. 2016. Life on the reserves. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.skwirk.com/p-c_s-14_u-120_t-327_c-1125/life-on-the-reserves/nsw/history/changing-rights-and-freedoms-aboriginal-people/the-aboriginal-experience. [Accessed 26 February 2017].

Euro-Canadians’s Impact on Aboriginal Lives

Destroying Aboriginal Lives

In the twentieth century, Aboriginals and Euro-Canadians were similar to comparing rocks and diamonds. Aboriginals got kicked around by the Euro-Canadians, as they experienced very little appreciation, care and their values were irrelevant to the country. However, the Euro-Canadians considered themselves diamonds as they believed they were perfect, valuable and more significant than these rocks. Unfortunately, although both groups were special in their own way, Canadian Aboriginals were treated very poorly as they did not experience the same equality and rights that European Canadians did, due to the fact that they did not follow their culture, beliefs and language. Although the treatment of Aboriginals has improved as the time progressed, it negatively impacted Canadian society because Aboriginals experienced discrimination, their status was threatened and were assimilated.

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To begin with, the Aboriginals experienced discrimination that negatively impacted how each individual thought about each other and themselves. Even though the Indian Act (a federal law that governs the life of Aboriginals) has improved over the years, up until the 1980s, Aboriginal women were not treated like men as they were limited on rights and opportunities. In this act, First Nations were given an Indian Status for those who were full blood First Nations that provided them with many rights and living conditions. During this time, men were seen as more significant compared to women. A major difference from the two genders included that if an Aboriginal man married a non-Indian, they were still allowed to have this status. However, if women married out of their culture, they were forced to give up their status. This included giving up their lifestyle, such as living in the reserve with their family. Women were upset that their rights differed from the men who didn’t lose their recognition, therefore, in the 1970s, Indian Rights for Indian Women and the National Native Women’s Association created a campaign to get their voice across. In 1973, they faced defeat as the Supreme Court as they argued that this was not discrimination as all First Nations women were treated the same. With the help of other women organizations in 1979, Sandra Lovelace from New Brunswick went to the United Nations Human Rights Committee and in 1981, the Indian Act did not follow the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights causing the government to change this and give the women and children equal rights with the men in 1985. This should not have taken more than fifteen years to fix as their gender should not have changed their status. Also, when Aboriginal husbands passed away, the wives could not own the property. Women were treated as men owned everything in their environment including these individuals. Euro-Canadians impacted these Aboriginals lives by causing conflicts between the genders that were insignificant before the Indian Act was created. This created jealousy, stress, low self thought, and lower the happiness in their community. As well, these women were forced to decide between their culture and loved ones. These two most important things in someone’s lives can truly impact an individual’s life, leading to depression, sadness and loneliness. Euro-Canadians limited these women and destroy their futures while men were treated like kings out of their culture. Even though women were majorly targeted out of this Canadian group, all Aboriginals faced inequality in their life.

Next, the Euro-Canadians attempted to take away the Aboriginal status for more equality and to be more involved in Canadian society. Due to this, the White Paper was established by Trudeau government in 1969 to negotiate how the Aboriginals were treated. This agreement would give the Aboriginals access to healthcare and education that were the same as other Canadians, however it included destroying the Indian Act, reserve lands and ending treaties, moving responsibilities for Aboriginal services to the provinces and removing the Department of Indian Affairs. Although this was creating equality, it also included getting rid of their culture and what was comfortable to them, therefore Harold Cardinal, leader of the Indian Association of Alberta, created the Red Paper which entitled keeping special status to guarantee survival, having access to same services as Canadians, and be “citizen plus” as they wanted their own rights to continue their culture. Trudeau government got rid of the White Paper, but unsurprisingly, the Red paper failed as well. This negatively impacted Aboriginals as the white paper was not the best interest for these individuals by trying to get rid of their culture by removing rights that were needed for survival. If this had went through, it would have been a challenge for all, as they would have no choice but to adapt to a whole new lifestyle. This was not the only time where Aboriginals experienced the feeling of being overpowered and not getting their voice heard as they were forced into many things that tried to destroy their culture.

Finally, the Euro-Canadians goal was to assimilate Aboriginals as they wanted to dominate their culture due to the belief of being superior compared to these individuals. Aboriginals were not accepted for who they were during the 1900s. As a result, the 60s Scoops and residential schools were established. The 60s Scoop took place during the 1960s up until the 1980s where about 16,000 Aboriginal children were removed from their homes, families and what was comfortable to them by child-welfare service workers. As they were placed into non-Aboriginals homes all around the globe, in 1977, 44% of children were living in Alberta, 51% in Saskatchewan, 60% in Manitoba and others were moved to the United States and the UK. This forced the children to develop a completely different lifestyle that involved gaining knowledge about the Canadian culture as it prevented these individuals from growing up learning about their family, culture, religion, beliefs and language, as well as their name. This caused traumatic stress, anxiety and sadness for all individuals involved as Euro-Canadians left Aboriginal families with a sense of loss by taking away a piece of them that was truly loved without any consent. This impacted the success of many Aboriginal families and parenting skills while experiencing little support and compassion. “I learned the fear, how to be so fearful at six years old. It was instilled in me. I was scared and fearful all the time, and that stayed with me throughout my life” (Waskewitch Shirley). The first residential school opened 1831 in Brantford, Ontario but became popular in the 1880s. Operated by a religious organization in cooperation with the federal government, caused approximately 150,000 Inuit, Indian and Metis to be ripped out of their homes and sent to residential schools in hopes of educating the students to be able to have their own lives living the Canadian culture. Life was not easy and pleasant in these schools as they were affected emotionally, mentally and physically. The living conditions included low quality and quantity of clothing and food that led to illnesses and diseases, replaced their name with a number, cut their hair and teachers were harsh and impatient. Due to this, if students were misbehaving in any way or not doing what was asked, they experienced physical, verbal and sexual abuse as no one cared how they were being treated. Because of this treatment, 6000 children did not survive to return home as about 3000 died from the abuse, suicide and many fought incredibly hard to escape. No respect, no care, and no nurtur was provided for these young individuals who were forced to live fear in these living hells that were constructed all around Canada especially in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba. How they handled the idea of trying to get rid of Aboriginal culture was poorly done and left many in situations where they were unstable, disconnected with family and friends, and gained addictions to alcohol, drugs, sex, gambling and food in the future. Canadians made these individuals go through pain, misery, isolation, and risking their lives that caused us to not experience and grow as a country with their culture and lessons. With all that they faced in their live, they managed to push through the pain and with their strength they improved the futures for these individuals.

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Even though Euro-Canadians have recognized our mistakes, made apologies, changed many of the rights, and have giving support to these Aboriginals as the years have gone by, the treatment these individuals faced was wrong as they experienced discrimination, their status was attempted to be removed and they were assimilated. With the Indian Act, many did not get to live a happy life as they lived with anger, stress, low self-esteem and picking between the two things that can improve an individual’s life. The White Paper did not benefit the Aboriginals and was just used to hopefully change them in the future by taking away the rights that help them survive. With residential schools and the 60s scoop, many families were departed and their future involved living in fear that they can not take back. Euro-Canadians destroyed the lives of many Aboriginals just because they lived a different lifestyle. Canada can do nothing to make up for the treatment Aboriginals faced.

Work Cited

“Aboriginals.” The Canada Guide, www.thecanadaguide.com/basics/aboriginals/.

Gray, Smith M. Speaking Our Truths: A Journey of Reconciliation. , 2017. Print.

Miller, J.r.. “Residential Schools in Canada”. The Canadian Encyclopedia, 21 September 2018, Historica Canada. https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/residential-schools. Accessed 14

Minsky, Amy. “In Their Words: What Residential School Survivors Told the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.” Global News, Global News, 2 June 2015, globalnews.ca/news/2031617/in-their-words-what-residential-school-survivors-told-the-truth-and-reconciliation-commission/.

January 2019.Miller, J.r.. “Residential Schools in Canada”. The Canadian Encyclopedia, 21 September 2018, Historica Canada.

Policies of Forced Aboriginal Assimilation in Canada, caid.ca/Dassimilation_policy.html.

Quinlan, Don, Rick Mahoney, Rick Chang, and Gregory Morris. The Canadian Challenge. Don Mills, ON: Oxford University Press, 2008. Print.

“The Indian Act.” YouTube, 4 Dec. 2013, www.youtube.com/watch?v=pHefD-cdTxU

“Treaties and Agreements.” Relations Couronne-Autochtones Et Affaires Du Nord Canada / Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada – Canada.ca, 11 Sept. 2018, www.rcaanc-cirnac.gc.ca/eng/1100100028574/1529354437231

“What Was the ?60s Scoop?? Aboriginal Children Taken from Homes a Dark Chapter in Canada’s History.” Global News, 23 Aug. 2016, globalnews.ca/news/2898190/what-was-the-60s-scoop-aboriginal-children-taken-from-homes-a-dark-chapter-in-canadas-history/

“Why Aboriginal Peoples Can’t Just ‘Get Over It.’” What’s the Difference between Anxiety and Stress?,www.heretohelp.bc.ca/visions/indigenous-people-vol11/why-aboriginal-peoples-cant-just-get-over-it.

Dreams In Aboriginal Beliefs

Like other religions, Aboriginal belief includes when things were created. They believe that their Ancestral Beings created land forms and animals & plants. The Aboriginal word for this Creation Period varies according to each linguistic region throughout Australia. Aboriginal people often interpret dreams as being the memory of things that happened in this Creation Period. Dreams are important to Aboriginal people as it is a time when they are transformed back to their ancestral time. This connection of dreams to to the Creation Period has led to the commonly used term “The Dreamtime” to describe the time of creation in Aboriginal religion. The Dreamtime does not mean that a person is dreaming but it is a reference to the Creation Period.
Definition of Dreaming
The Dreamtime, or the Dreaming as it is sometimes referred to as, has no beginning or end but links the past with the present to determine the future. Dreaming stories explain the truth from the past together with a Code of Law for the present. The Dreaming or ‘Tjukurrpa’ also means ‘to see and understand the law’ as translated from the Arrernte language. Dreaming stories pass on important knowledge, cultural values and belief systems to later generations. Aborigines have maintained a link with the Dreaming from ancient times by expressing dreaming stories through song, dance, painting and story telling.
Every part of Aboriginal culture is full of legends and beings associated with the Dreamtime. Each tribe has many stories, often containing a moral or a lesson to be learned, about duties, animals, plants and other beings. These stories are told to children, talked about campfires, and are sung and acted out during ceremonies.
“The Dreaming means our identity as people. The cultural teaching and everything that’s part of our lives here you know? ….. it’s the understanding of what we have around us.” (Merv Penrith Elder, Wallaga Lake, 1996)
Today we know where the Ancestral Beings have been and where they came to rest. The Dreaming explains how people came to Australia and the links between the groups throughout Australia.
Connection between Dreaming, Land and Identity
In essence, the Dreaming comes from the land. In Aboriginal society people do not own land but rather the land is part of them and it is their duty to respect and look after the land. The Dreaming did not cease when the Europeans arrived in Australia but just entered a different phase.
Dreaming stories connect theories of occupation to the Aborigines close relationship with the land. This is often described by Aboriginal people when they talk about the land as “my Mother”. Aboriginal people believe that the same spirits who created the land, sea, waterways and life are involved with the conception and birth of a child. There is a direct link between Ancestral Beings and life.

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Land is fundamental to the well-being of Aboriginal people. For Aborigines the land is not just rocks or soil or minerals but it is the whole environment that sustains the people and is sustained by the people and culture. For Aboriginal people the land is the centre of all spirituality. This relationship between the land and the people continues to be central to the issues that are important to Aboriginal people today.
Australian Aborigines were originally hunters and gathers with each clan or tribe having its own territory from which they gathered all they needed to live. These territories or ‘traditional lands’ were contained by geographic boundaries such as rivers, lakes and mountains. Aboriginal people understood and cared for the different environments and adapted to them.
Example of a Dreaming Creation story and significance to Aboriginal people
Once the Ancestor Beings had created the world they changed the stars, rocks, watering holes and other objects into sacred places. These sacred places have special properties. The Ancestral Beings did not disappear at the end of the Dreaming but, according to Aboriginal belief, they remained in these sacred places. This concept of the presence of the Ancestral Beings with the land reinforces the idea that the Dreaming is never ending and links the past and the present, the people and the land.
“Our story is in the land …. it is written in those sacred places …. My children will look after those places. That’s the law.” (Bill Neidjie, Kakadu Elder)
The Creation or Dreaming stories, which relate the travels of the spiritual ancestors, are integral to Aboriginal spirituality. Men’s and women’s stories are often separated in Aboriginal culture. Knowledge of the law and Dreaming stories is passed on at different periods of life for Aboriginal people. The serpent as a Creation Being is perhaps the oldest continuing religious belief in the world. It dates back several thousand years. The Rainbow Serpent is part of Dreamtime stories of many Aboriginal nations and is always linked with watercourses such as billabongs, rivers, creeks and lagoons. The Rainbow Serpent is the protector of the land, its people and the source of all life. However, the Rainbow Serpent can also be a force that destroys if it is not respected.
The most common version of the Rainbow Serpent story relates that during the Dreaming the world was flat, bare and cold. The Rainbow Serpent slept under the ground with all the animals tribes in her belly waiting to be born. When the time came she pushed up and called all the animals to come from their sleep. She pushed the land out, making rivers and lakes. She made the sun, the fire and all the colours.
The Gagudju people believe the Rainbow Serpent was called Almudji and was a major creature being. It made passages through rocks and created waterholes. Today they believe, Almudji is still a creator as it brings the wet season each year. This causes all forms of life to multiply and it appears in the sky as a rainbow. However, they also believe that Almudji is also to be feared as he can punish anyone who breaks the law by drowning them in floods. The Gagudju people still believe that Almudji lives in a pool under a waterfall.
The Jowoyn people of the Katherine Gorge area of the Northern Territory relate how the Rainbow Serpent slept under the ground until she awoke in the Dreaming. She pushed her way to the surface and travelled the land, sleeping when she was tired. She left behind her winding tracks and the imprint of her sleeping body on the ground. When she had finished travelling the earth she returned and called all the frogs to come out but they were slow because their bellies were full of water. The Rainbow Serpent tickled their bellies and when they laughed, water flowed out their mouths and filled the tracks and hollows left by the Rainbow Serpent, so creating rivers and lakes. This woke all the animals and plants who then followed the Rainbow Serpent across the land.
Traditional Aboriginal rituals and significance of these to Aboriginal people
Ceremonial ceremonies are seen as the core of cultural life for Aboriginal people. Small ceremonies, or rituals, are still practised in some remote areas of Australia. These rituals take the form of chanting, singing, dancing or ritual action to ask the Ancestral Beings to ensure a good supply of food or rain.
The most important ceremonies are connected to initiation of boys and girls into adulthood. These ceremonies can last for weeks with nightly singing and dancing, story telling and use of body decorations and ceremonial objects. During the ceremonies, songs and dances about Ancestral Beings are told. Some of these are for women and children to see and hear while others are restricted just to initiates to learn.
Another important ritual is on the death of a person. Aboriginal people cover their bodies with white paint, cut themselves to show sorrow for the loss of their loved one and take part in a number of rituals, songs and dances to help the person’s spirit leave and return to its birth place where it can be reborn. Burial rites differ throughout Australia. People are buried in parts of southern and central Australia but have a different burial in northern Australia. In northern Australia a burial has two stages with each accompanied by ritual and ceremony. The primary burial takes place when the body is placed on a raised wooden platform, covered with leaves and branches and left for several months so the flesh rots from the bones. The secondary burial occurs when the bones are collected, painted with red ochre and then scattered in different ways. Sometimes a relative will carry some of the bones with them for a year or more. Sometimes they are wrapped in paperbark and placed in a cave. In parts of Arnhem Land the bones are placed in a large hollow log and left in the bush.
Conclusion
All parts of Aboriginal culture contain many legends and beings associated with the Creation Period or Dreamtime. Each tribe has its own stories, often with a lesson to be learned from the story, about the Creation Period spirits, animals, plants and other beings. These stories are told to children and at different ceremonies throughout the life of an Aborigine to ensure that the Dreamtime is passed on to each generation.
 

Australian Aboriginal Rock Art: History and Significance

 

ROCK ART

 Australian Aboriginal rock art is amongst the world’s most impressive and important prehistoric art. According to Kimberley foundation (n.d) about 60,000 years ago, the first ancestors of Aboriginal Australians have appeared in Australia territory, and the Aboriginal art in Australia can be traced back at least 30,000 years. In fact, there are many examples of the art of the ancient Aboriginal on the rock are found throughout the continent, especially at Uluru and Kakadu National Park in the Northern Territory and the Bradshaw rock paintings in the Kimberley region of Western Australia (Oz outback, n.d). Moreover, the rock art also can find in Sydney in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, the old of these rocks are about 500 to 2000 years old (Delaney, 2015). Australia is the source of the prolific collections and oldest of rock art in the world. Dorey (2019) states that Australian Aboriginal rock art in Australia is in no way inferior to the art of world-renowned cave such as Lascaux and Altamira in Europe in term of the age and the plentiful. To its creators, the Australian Aboriginal peoples, the rock engravings and paintings are a vital part of their history and living culture (Edwards and Ucko 1973). For aboriginal people, art is an expression of cultural identity and connection to country. In fact, according to Artlandish (n.d), there is no written language for Australian Aboriginal People so they use symbols/icons through their artwork in order to convey their knowledge of the land, events, and beliefs of the Aboriginal people, important cultural stories through the generations. Additionally, the use of symbols also is an alternate way to writing down stories of cultural significance, teaching survival and use of the land. The interpretations of the iconography differ depending on the audience.

Figure 1: Aboriginal Symbols

 For example, according to The nomadic explorers, 2014, the image below is Algaihgo (Al-guy-go), the fire woman. She is one of the first people or Nayuhyunggi (Nab-yuh-young-ghee), who created the world. She planted the yellow banksias in woodlands and used their smoldering flowers to carry fire. Dingo traveled the countryside with her and helped her hunt possum (her favorite food). People are afraid of her because she kills and burns people. Her Djang (sacred site) on Arnhem plateau, where her spirit lives, is avoided. Algaihgo has four arms, and attached to her head are banksias.

Figure 2: Algaihgo (Al-guy-go), the fire woman.

 

 Tourists over the world are interested in rock art and there are a number of sites open to the public across Australia (Paul, 2014). In fact, there are many rock art tour in Australia is opened for the tourists who want to gain more experience and information about rock art, it is easy to find a rock art tour in Australia, you just need to search the keyword “Australia rock art tour” on the Google website. Hence, the number of tourism in the world come to get information about rock art also can help Australia tourist economic increase.

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Unlike other historical and culturally significant items, rock art cannot be housed and protected in climate-controlled museums or art galleries that celebrate human ambition and evolution (Rosenfeld, 1985). According to Korff (2009), cause from the pollution, development, bureaucrats, vandals, and animals, Aboriginal rock art in Australia can be disappeared in 2060. Korff also cites that in the early 1880s, Australia explorers measured Indigenous rock engravings to be around one inch (25.4 mm) deep, but until1950s this figure dropped to 16mm and it still to 5mm in 2008.

Figure 3: Recent damage by miners below rock paintings and engravings at a rock art site in Chillagoe, Queensland.

Figure 4: Depth of Aboriginal rock engravings.

 

Australian rock art is extremely significant for Indigenous peoples of Australia, with its preservation important for Indigenous well-being. It also a part of Australian national identity and World Heritage pride. there are various Australia citizen realize the importance of rock art, so they established the website to motivate other people to participate and donate to protect Australia’s rock art from disappearing threats. For instance, “Fara- friend of Australia rock art” is a famous organization which has many direct actions and campaigns to works to protect preserve and promote Australian rock art, such as FARA released a press release responding to the state government’s Burrup Rock Art Strategy on 18 February 2019 (Fara, n.d). In addition, professor Paul Taçon is typical people who devote to protect for the rock art by giving many useful facts about rock art through his website and his video. Professor Tacon (n.d) cites that rock art is an artifact from the past, it’s not only really important for the people of today but also will be really important for people living in the future. In addition, Tacon also describes that rock art plays a critical role in our understanding of human evolution. Because the image on the rock tells about individual and group experience through periods of climate change, a period of global warming, about their animal and human a few thousand years ago so Tacon compares these rock art as a history book of Australia.

Nevertheless, the government in Australia is quite a lethargy when it comes to documenting and protecting rock art in their country. In fact, according to Tacon (2014), there are more than 1,700 engraved boulders were removed to make way for the North West Shelf gas plant on Western Australia’s Burrup Peninsula in the early 1980s were relocated to a ridge. Moreover, another example of the ignore of the government in Australia that about rock art is in 2011, according to Australia’s Tracker magazine, the alleged stalled efforts of the Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) to hold the energy company Ausgrid accountable for the destruction of aboriginal rock art found in Sydney. In constructing some of its power lines, Ausgrid had cut an important rock carving maintained by authorities of the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council (LALC).

To sum up, with a long tradition, the rock art is the real fact for that the arts play an important part in the way Australia’s citizen lives, the way they think about themselves and the way they creating and maintaining the culture in Australia society not only in the past but also in the present and even in the future (Hull, 2013). Furthermore, each individual in Australia tends to fight and protect for what their loves, they willing to work non-profit for their ideal. In this situation, there are various Australian spend their time and money to donate and motive other people to take part in the rock art protect’s campaign. Due to the time is flies and it does not stop to wait for anything, so the Australia government should to consider carefully about protecting rock art and has some strict action to preserve this heritage.

REFERENCES LIST:

Artlandish, n.d. The Story of Aboriginal Art, Artlandish aboriginal art Australia, viewed on 30 May 2019, https://www.aboriginal-art-australia.com/aboriginal-art-library/the-story-of-aboriginal-art/

Australia Government, n.d. Rock art, Australia Government, viewed on 29 May 2019, https://www.environment.gov.au/topics/national-parks/kakadu-national-park/culture-and-history/rock-art

Delaney, B., 2015. Hidden in plain sight: Indigenous Australian rock art on Sydney’s doorstep. The Guardian. viewed on 21 May 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2015/jul/23/hidden-in-plain-sight-indigenous-australian-rock-art-on-sydneys-doorstep

Dorey, F,. 2019. The spread of people to Australia, Australian Museum, viewed on 21 May 2019, https://australianmuseum.net.au/learn/science/human-evolution/the-spread-of-people-to-australia/

Edwards, R., & Ucko, P. (1973). Rock Art in Australia. Nature, vol. 246, no. 5431, pp. 274–277.

Fara, n.d. Fara Campaigns. Fara Friends of Australian rock art viewed on 1 June 2019, https://www.fara.com.au/category/campaigns/

https://web.archive.org/web/20100416144209/http://www.cultureandrecreation.gov.au/articles/indigenous/art/index.htm

Hull, A., 2013. The Role of the Arts in Australia, the Australian collaboration, viewed on 28 May 2019, https://www.australiancollaboration.com.au/pdf/FactSheets/Role-Arts-FactSheet.pdf

Kimberley foundation, n.d. Research History, Kimberley foundation Australia, viewed on 31 May 2019, https://www.kimberleyfoundation.org.au/kimberley-rock-art/research-history/

Korff, J., 2009. Why Australia’s Aboriginal rock art will disappear. Creative Spirits, viewed on 29 May 2019, https://www.creativespirits.info/aboriginalculture/arts/why-australias-aboriginal-rock-art-will-disappear

Layton, R., 1992. Australian rock art: a new synthesis. Cambridge University Press. https://books.google.com.au/books?hl=en&lr=&id=Nw_6dU4G0NkC&oi=fnd&pg=PR9&dq=australian+art&ots=PWPHpeE-Sq&sig=e8qsttS7cNnKl7-_LKqNEe6Ajd8#v=onepage&q=australian%20art&f=false

Oz outback, n.d. Aboriginal Rock Art from Kakadu National Park. Oz outback. viewed on 21 May 2019, https://ozoutback.com.au/Australia/rockartkakadu/slides/1991062802.html

Rosenfeld, A., 1985. Rock art conservation in Australia.

Sayers, A., 2001. Australian art. Oxford University Press, USA. https://books.google.com.au/books?hl=en&lr=&id=gsiib-Hi5sQC&oi=fnd&pg=PA5&dq=australian+art&ots=x6lo2nnKVI&sig=5Bo5MM1eq7_WUzGMmyQ_7zxwPBQ#v=onepage&q=australian%20art&f=false

Tacon, P., 2014. Australian rock art is threatened by a lack of conservation. The conservation, viewed on 29 May 2019, https://research-repository.griffith.edu.au/bitstream/handle/10072/69326/101393_1.pdf?sequence=1

Taçon, P., 2014. Australian rock art is threatened by a lack of conservation, The conservation, viewed on 29 May 2019, https://theconversation.com/australian-rock-art-is-threatened-by-a-lack-of-conservation-32900

Taçon, P., n.d. Rock art, Griffith University. viewed on 29 May 2019, https://www.griffith.edu.au/research/impact/rock-art

The nomadic explorers, 2014. Kakadu National Park. Aboriginal Rock Paintings at Nanguluwur and Nourlangle/Anbangbang Gallery. The nomadic explorers viewed on 31 May 2019, http://thenomadicexplorers.com/content/kakadu-national-park-aboriginal-rock-paintings-nanguluwur-and-nourlangleanbangbang-gallery

 

Effect of Dispossession on Aboriginal Spirituality

There remains a continuing effect of dispossession on Aboriginal spirituality in relation to the stolen generations. Aboriginal spirituality is based on the encompassment of the Dreaming, the inextricable link with the land, totems and sacred sites and involves ceremonies, story-telling, kinship roles and responsibilities and a strong sense of cultural identity. The stolen generations involved children being forcibly removed from their families and communities and put into institutionalised missions and camps run by both the state government and the Christian Church. It was the cause of dispossession that involved colonisation, missionisation, segregation, assimilation and self-determination policies which significantly impacted Aboriginal spirituality; past, present and future. These were deliberate, calculated policies of the state and are evident in the first YouTube video, Rabbit Proof Fence – Stolen Generations (March 24, 2009), where the white official points to the authorisation paper, “this is the law”, and physically removes the three native Aboriginal girls from their mother showing signs of inhumane brutality. Through these policies, Aboriginal land, spirituality, culture and Dreaming were lost “never mention Aboriginality”. This, along with the crying scenes in video two, Rabbit Proof Fence Documentary – forced removal scene, shows the emotional impact that it had on the actors as well as on all the victims of the Stolen Generation. This video depicts the traumatic psychological effects the stolen generation era had on the actors themselves, who emotionally broke down into tears having to act in these roles. This illustrates how the loss of family and spiritual ties caused such devastation. This disconnection from the families, communities and thus, from the elders resulted in the inability to pass down necessary knowledge to the next generation that is needed to keep Aboriginal spirituality holistic, living and dynamic as there is a strong need for oral teaching and learning.

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The prohibition of practicing Aboriginal spirituality led to the loss of religious traditions, culture, language, ceremonies and identity, was also evident in video three, History in the making: Pain of Stolen Generation lives on, “at the age of three, Helen Moran was given a new identity and a new family”. Since these children were physically separated from their elders who held their spiritual knowledge along with being physically separated from the land and their sacred sites, there was a loss of identity, from their Aboriginal gender and kinship roles and responsibilities, totemic connection to sacred sites and the inability to perform ceremonies. Helen Moran states, “we lost everybody, we lost each other, we lost our grandparents, we lost our whole family, they changed our names, they changed our whole heritage, our identity”. This had a continuing effect on Aboriginal spirituality as it broke up families, communities and led to many social and emotional problems. As a result of the continuing effect of dispossession, Aboriginal spirituality has been destroyed overtime, driving them to negative, on-going, long-term problems such as alcoholism, drug abuse, lack of educational achievement, economic opportunity, lowered living standards,; lowered life expectancy, and higher infant mortality rate. Helen Moran’s personal experience epitomises her emotional trauma “the worst thing for me is the idea that this man (Helen Moran’s biological father) died with his children hating him and blaming him, you lose your children, you struggle through life, mental illness, addiction and you die a lonely sad death with nobody around you”. Helen concluded, “I wish I had the chance to learn the truth” which exhibits how the loss of truth and Aboriginal spirituality had a continuous, effect as Aboriginal family members, victims of the Stolen Generation, still search for their true cultural identity and heritage in the quest to find their spirituality.
In summation, such dispossession, violent and physical removal of native Aboriginal children from their parents demolished Aboriginal spirituality since the Dreaming, kinship roles and responsibilities, cultural identity, heritage, language and traditions were lost with disconnection from their elder generations. This drove modern Aboriginals to overwhelming social and emotional problems.
The relationship between Aboriginal spirituality and religious traditions require the process of reconciliation. There is a strong need for reconciliation between Aboriginal spirituality and Christians due to the initial contact between the two; full of racism, classism, oppression, inequality, injustice, hate, fear and division. Aboriginal people initially beared the brunt of violence, where they were forced and threatened violently to forget their aboriginal culture, traditions and language. Instead they forcibly were made to integrate into nominal Christianity attending Church services, Sunday school and singing hymns. Western Christianity had a negative impact where falsehoods and heresies were taught to Aboriginal people, for example, The Hamitic Curse, condemning all “dark-skinned humans” to eternal inferiority. These falsehoods had such an immense impact that most Aboriginals voluntarily denied their Aboriginal heritage, identity, culture, traditions and language because they were forced to believe in the falsehoods and were concerned with their personal sins rather than the institutionalised sin conducted against them. The awareness that these negative experiences were immoral was the catalyst for the process of reconciliation. A step towards hope for Aboriginal victims to restore their spirituality can be seen in the source, taken from the Lutheran Church of Australia. Aboriginal artwork in the form of a circle is positioned in the centre of the cross to illustrate the continuous existence of Aboriginal spirituality in the heart of those who converted to Lutheranism. If reconciliation is achieved, the future encompasses more hope for these victims.
The source is an expression of Aboriginal theology which is the reconciled relationship between Aboriginal spirituality and modern Christianity. The sun rays in the image symbolises the cross’ significance and how it permeates throughout Aboriginal spirituality and emphasises the need of reconciliation. The symbol of symmetry epitomises the reconciled coexistence of the two religions and the hope for continuous reconciliation. There are some Aboriginal theologians that are part of the liberal tradition. Rev. Dijimiyini Gordarra and Pastor Cecil Grant from Churches of Christ individually helped reconcile Aboriginal spirituality with the Uniting Church in 1970 by ‘contextualising’ the gospel for Aboriginal people. In 1985, Rev. Arthur Malcolm, the first Aboriginal Anglican Assistant Bishop in Australia was deeply committed to reconciliation and thus, counselled and nurtured Aboriginal people throughout their painful experiences, hopes and visions. The Catholic Church attempted acts of reconciliation when Pope John Paul II visited Alice Springs in 1986 and stated “There is the need for just and proper settlement that lies unachieved in Australia”.
Aboriginal story-telling theology is another pathway to allow Aboriginal victims to remember their Aboriginal spirituality as well as embrace their Christianity. In this way, Aboriginal people reconcile their heritage with their Christianity as they are taught Biblical scriptures through Dreaming Stories which makes the gospels more meaningful and relevant to the Aboriginal way of life. The reconciliation and unity between Christianity and Aboriginal spirituality can be seen in the source where the cross is made using traditional Aboriginal witchetty grubs.
There have been many other movements towards reconciliation. The Uniting Church and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Christian Congress organised an exchange program called About Face, where 150 non-Indigenous people aged from 18 to 30 lived in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. As a sign of reconciliation, a friendship was built when Aboriginal Pastor Ricky Manton and his wife Kayleen were invited to St. Augustine’s Anglican Church to perform a service. Leaders from many religious traditions gathered in order to fight against Howard Government’s attack on the Wik legislation. Other religious traditions, like Judaism and Islam, have assisted in the reconciliation process. A Jewish couple, Tom and Eva Rona, funded the Rona-Tranby project that recorded oral history with the help of Aboriginal Elder Eliza Kennedy. “The Muslim community in Australia is most supportive of Aboriginal reconciliation on spiritual, moral, humanitarian and prudential pragmatic ground”  is a claim of Islamic assistance in the process of reconciliation. Many faiths like Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism have also assisted in the process of reconciliation. This is evident in The Week Of Prayer For Reconciliation that began in 1993 where they shared the same goal of reconciliation exhibited through dedication to prayer, thought and reflection on acts of unity.
In conclusion, there have been many efforts to encourage the process of reconciliation between Aboriginal spirituality and religious traditions and there needs to be continuous support in this subject. The symmetrical elements in the source, taken from the Lutheran Church of Australia, are powerful examples of how artwork has symbolised the co-existence of both traditions. Steps towards reconciliation in the form of proactive movements also provide hope for the victims who had suffered the horrendous effects of spiritual deprivation.
Ecumenical developments and interfaith dialogue are of immense significance in Australia. Ecumenical developments are movements that promote cooperation, discussion and unity between different Christian denominations, focusing on what brings sects together, rather than what pulls them apart. Such movements are important to Australia as different Christian denominations unite to solve Australian youth, spiritual, environmental, social and justice issues, spreading peace and harmony. Interfaith dialogue is the cooperative communication between different religious traditions and their adherents. These promoted understanding, peace and a strong sense of belonging between many religious traditions.
Non-denominational approach is a method of ecumenical development where it focuses on ignoring differences between different Christian denominations. Such movements can be of great importance to Australia. For example, the Australian college of Theology (ACT) strengthens Australia’s education system. ACT began in 1898 when Anglicans within Australia gathered resources to produce tertiary courses and exams at every Anglican college. It was linked to universities across Australia and was credited by the NSW Higher Education Board. It became non-denominational when there was more non-Anglican than Anglican students. It was a strong organisation due to the ecumenical movement which increased its efficiency and offered a common program amongst people. Other examples of a non-denominational approach towards ecumenical developments include youth associations such as Girls Brigade and Young Men’s Christian Association. Such organisations builds trust between the different denominations involved. This trust would result in a community that is based on trust, kindness and friendship, creating a stronger witness to the community.
Ecumenical developments, in the form of interdenominational approaches, are increasingly evident and significant in Australian culture. Such approaches are those that are collaborative and the goal is to provide opportunities for negotiation between different Christian denominations. This is important to Australia as it creates a sense of unity, belonging, commonality and acceptance on many levels. It begins when Christians from different denominations interact with each other and, hence, leading to communal discussion. An example of this is the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity and Reconciliation. This is conducted with a united goal to reach a state of complete reconciliation, relieving many denominations from tension, violence and unnecessary conflict. Many denominations hope for denominational dialogue to act as a facilitator to develop new relationships by exchanging ministers to perform services. Such exchanges are known as “pulpit exchanges”. Christmas Bowl Appeal, Force TEN and the House Of Welcome are other instances of ecumenical movements where many denominations unite to build fundraising programs. These assist Australia by providing it with a positive reputation in charitable work, “These projects show how the kindness of Australians can make a practical difference in the lives of people very far from our shores”  Some of these projects, like House of Welcome, are vital in Australia as they support refugees that have been newly released in Australia by providing them with accommodation and employment. Through these charitable organisations, different denominations bond together and form strong relationships.
Ecumenism is important in Australia at a family level. It promotes family through interchurch marriages. This is seen when both the Catholic and Uniting Church composed an agreement on interchurch marriages as a gift to the church. Ecumenism is also helpful in reducing duplication of material, which in turn increases efficiency. This is seen in The Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC), where the Catholic and Anglicans prepared doctrine works on common beliefs of the faith. In 2001, the Catholic and Protestant churches united in Australia for the National Church Life Survey where 500,000 adherents from 20 different denominations actively participated in. Such union encourages tolerance and reduces aggression and violence. It in the larger scheme of things reduces racial and spiritual discrimination and attack. Australia is a multicultural and multifaith country and, hence, would benefit from embracing unity of different denominations within Christianity.
Deeper ecumenical developments are those that embrace differences. With these movements, comes appreciation and recognition of uniqueness in order to enrich the relationship and focus on commonalities, like the common belief in one supreme God. The deepest level of ecumenism involves overcoming differences and primarily aiming for unity between different denominations. These achievements ultimately bring social justice, peace, harmony and understanding in Australia.
The common need and view of religion around the world has resulted to an increase in the search for cooperation and unity since 1945 in Australia. Interfaith dialogue is even more important than ecumenism since the people uniting are separated by greater differences. Since WWII, interfaith dialogue has allowed Australia as a whole to change its attitude towards other religious traditions other than Christianity. It has allowed Christianity and its adherents to recognise their faults and mistreatment against other religious traditions “errors at best and works of devils at worst”. Interfaith dialogue assists in opening interaction between different people and maintains a multicultural Australian society. It also builds harmony in Australian context as it aims to achieve common goals between religious groups. Interfaith dialogue also addresses division, concern and any ongoing religious conflict such as the Cronulla Riots. It supports and embraces differences. Interfaith dialogue depicts the desire of Australia’s religious traditions to engage with each other and with the world as it is extremely important to do so in the 21st century. There is strong evidence of interfaith dialogue in Australia and this has been depicted in acts of cooperation between religious traditions in Australia. In 2001, Anzac Day, Christian ministers and Buddhist monks both took part in the services at St. Mary’s Cathedral. This encouraged unity among Australians as they honoured soldiers in the heart of Sydney’s CBD.
The Victorian Jewish-Christian Dialogue Committee, The Muslim-Christian Council which together prayed for peace in Ambon, Indonesia and the Multifaith Religious Services Centre which ran at the Sydney Olympics are other examples of interfaith dialogue. Leaders of Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim and other communities together assisted with the $2 million Grifith University Multi-faith Centre showing how unity expresses great strengths and benefits to the Australian community. It brought peace in Sydney 2001, after the terrorist attack, where Muslim, Hindu, Buddhists and many denominations of Christians united at a multifaith prayer vigil.
 

Sexual Behaviors and Beliefs: Aboriginal Australians

Understanding a culture requires not only the exploration of its history, culture, and beliefs. For a more comprehensive look at how a homogenous group of people develops through centuries, learning about its sexual behaviors is beliefs is paramount. Aboriginal Australians represent one of the two groups of Indigenous peoples of the country. The history of the population dates back around 35,000 years ago, which means that it went through the hundreds of years of development but still managed to preserve its cultural heritage (Tonkinson & Berndt, n.d.). In this paper, a closer look on the sexual behaviors and beliefs of Aboriginal Australians to identify practices that can be considered positive and harmful to the society as well as to understand the culture’s approach to intimate relations between people. Sexual health issues will be explored in great detail since they show the level of the population’s awareness about beneficial sexual behaviors.

Beliefs and Behaviors

Marriage has been considered the key institution to guide sexual behaviors and beliefs of the Aboriginal population because of its central role in the traditions. The most important difference between the marriage of Aboriginals and those of white Australia is that in the former, marriage is not a contract between specific people but rather between kin and other parties involved. This is explained by the need to preserve the national heritage and ensure that the traditions are kept up. However, the freedom of marriage was restricted by the prohibition to the marriage of close relatives. In addition, marriage was the main vehicle for being attached to land. There are four key elements that define marriage, which include the following:

A couple should be eligible for marriage based on the local rules “defining ideal preferences and accepted authorities” (Australian Law Reform Commission, n.d., para. 4);

The two kin groups concerned should make appropriate betrothal arrangement;

Marital responsibilities that include sexual relations distinguish actual marriage from betrothal;

The birth of the first child strengthens the marriage union.

Over the past hundred years, the marriage practices of Aboriginals have been significantly altered due to the impact of colonization. The white authorities lacked the understanding and respect for Aboriginal marriage practices and their sexual behaviors, which had caused some issues in cross-cultural communication. For instance, in the 1940’s if an Aboriginal person engaged in sexual activities white a white person, and it was widely known, the relationship would be punishable by the respected authorities (Bell, 2013). This lack of respect led to the Aboriginal community assimilating to the practices of colonizers.

Premarital sex norms imposed on females on the Australian Aboriginal population is a complex topic within the exploration of the community’s sexual behaviors. Early marriage has been a tool for regulating the sexuality of women in the community, which explains why arranged procedures were very common (Burbank, 1988). Today, premarital sex has become more prevalent, which led to premarital pregnancies and issues associated with the lack of support for young families.

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For males, other mechanisms of regulating sexual behaviors are imposed. The initiation ceremony is performed during the first signs of boys reaching puberty. The ceremony consists of circumcision along with the incision of scars on the body (predominantly chest, shoulders, and arms) (Lommel & Campbell, 1998). The fresh wounds are filled with sand to make the larger and thus make more extensive scars. However, it should be mentioned that when girls get their first menstrual cycle, during the initiation ceremony implied the incision of scars on their buttocks. After the ceremony, girls are considered eligible for marriage.

Sexual Matters Issues

In the second half of the twentieth century, sexual assault as a practice was practically unknown in the community, as suggested by the report by Australian Institute of Family Studies (2002). Aboriginals Australians had a clear understanding of unacceptable sexual behaviors, which were strictly disciplined by tribal elders. Penalties ranging from physical beatings to even death could be administered if a member of the community behaved against the rules. Rape and incest were categorically prohibited, and were one of the most prominent taboos that the Aboriginals followed. However, today, most of the models have fallen away, with sexual violence becoming one of the most problematic topics to explore in the context of the Aboriginal community of Australia.

In the twenty-first century, reports of sexual abuse within the Aboriginal population of Australia have been occurring at a high rate. According to The Australian report “Culture of denial” (2007), male violence and sexual abuse were obliterating the Indigenous community of the country. The author mentions the lack of embarrassment that the men in the community have about having sex with minors or physically abusing women. This aligns with a range of transgressions to the Aboriginal law that range from incest to adultery, and these issues continue deteriorating the community today. In The Australian report, several examples of sexual abuse being defended by cultural traditions were presented (“Culture of denial,” 2007). For instance, a 14-year old girl was raped by a middle-aged man because she had been promised to them. Such cases point to the fact that the sexual behaviors and beliefs of Aboriginal Australians have significantly deteriorated from no-rape policies to accepting deviant behaviors as a part of the culture. Deteriorating race relations in Australia overall have contributed to the problems of sexual behaviors and beliefs within the population. Following the race riots of 2005-2006, the concerns of sexual abuse and violence in the Aboriginal community became more visible. 

For adolescent Aboriginals, sexual beliefs and behaviors are of great importance. According to Savage (2009), there are several challenges that need addressing when it comes to adolescents’ sexual behaviors. The first issue is associated with the lack of information on how adolescent Aboriginal Australians behave in terms of their sexuality and gender. Most sources on this topic are descriptive and do not provide evidence about the socio-cultural role of sex within the adolescent group of Aboriginal Australians. The second issue is associated with the absence of coherent support systems and programs to educate adolescent aboriginals on appropriate sexual behaviors. In the context of the increased sexual abuse prevalence, the community needs the support of developmental, community-based, and school-based programs.

Sexual Health

Sexual health issues within the Aboriginal population of Australia have not been studied to a needed extent. The research on this issue among the country’s population only included a small subset of Aboriginal peoples, thus ineffective in generalizing the results to the minority population. However, several issues of sexual health should be noted. First, Aboriginal women give birth at a much younger age compared to non-Indigenous women (Savage, 2009). More than one in five of these women were teenagers, and most births among Aboriginal women took place at ages 20-24 years old in contrast to white Australians who gave birth predominantly at ages 30-34 years old (Savage, 2009). Teenage pregnancies among Aboriginal women lead to poor health and socioeconomic issues. Such risks as pre-term labor, infant mortality, and low birth weight are direct consequences of early pregnancies. In addition, such problems as increased likelihood of domestic violence, poor educational arraignment, and low incomes that result from teenage pregnancies negatively affect the quality of life of young Aboriginal women and their children.

Sexually transmittable infections (STIs) are also of concern for the Aboriginal population, which exhibited high rates of disease prevalence, especially among adolescents (Savage, 2009). For instance, chlamydia was among the most widespread infections among the males and females of the Aboriginal community, which points to the lack of sustainable sexual health practices. While data on the status of Indigenous Australians is incomplete in terms of sexual health, the rates of infection among young people reach 78% (15-29 years) (Savage, 2009). This points to the need for comprehensive interventions for the community for addressing a range of challenges associated with the sexual health of Aboriginal Australians.

Conclusion

The exploration of the sexual behaviors and beliefs of the Aboriginal Australian population showed that there is a lack of information on the topic, with most research exploring the problem of sexual abuse. This points to the fact that additional studies on this topic are needed in order to understand the traditions and beliefs in greater detail. In was revealed that women and girls are the targets of sexual abuse within the community, and their social position was governed by the norms that the community held.

References

Australian Institute of Family Studies. (2002). Child abuse and family violence in Aboriginal communities. Retrieved from https://aifs.gov.au/cfca/publications/child-abuse-and-family-violence-aboriginal-communities/aboriginal-beliefs-about-gender

Australian Law Reform Commission. (n.d.). Aboriginal marriages and family structures. Retrieved from https://www.alrc.gov.au/publications/12.%20Aboriginal%20Marriages%20and%20Family%20Structures/marriage-traditional-aboriginal-societie

Bell, J. (2013). The persistence of Aboriginal kinship and marriage rules in Australia: Adapting traditional ways into modern practices. The Journal of the European Association for Studies of Australia, 4(1), 65-75.

Burbank, V. (1988). Aboriginal adolescence: Maidenhood in an Australian community. Newark, NJ: Rutgers.

Culture of denial. (2007). The Australian. Retrieved from https://www.theaustralian.com.au/arts/culture-of-denial/news-story/3dd28525dc85e34c1fb549813bd4d9f4

Lommel, A., & Campbell, I. (1998). The unambal. Queensland, Australia: Takarakka Nowan Kas Publications.

Savage, J. (2009). Aboriginal adolescent sexual and reproductive health programs: A review of their effectiveness and cultural acceptability. Retrieved from https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/research/Documents/11-aboriginal-adolescent-sexual-and-reproductive-health-prog.pdf

Tonkinson, R., & Berndt, R. (n.d.). Australian Aboriginal peoples. Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved from https://www.britannica.com/topic/Australian-Aboriginal

 

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People’s Autonomy and Control

As Altman and Markham write in ‘Burgeoning Indigenous Land Ownership’ (Native Title from Mabo to Akiba, 2015), Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have some form of title to 2.5 million kilometres, or 33 per cent, of Australia’s land mass—including some 82 per cent of northern Australia—through land rights, native-title laws or other forms of acquisition. Do you think this gives Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities greater autonomy and control over the uses of their country and its resources? Discuss in relation to some current environmental conflicts.

 

Introduction

After the European invasion, the percentage of Indigenous land ownership dropped to almost none, but with the implementation of laws and land rights, a large percentage of Australia’s land has been given back to the Indigenous people (Altman, & Markham, 2015). This essay will explore how time has changed how much control the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have over the resources and land they own and how environmental justice in politics has played a part in ensuring that they retain their Indigenous land history. Whilst not being a native Australian myself, I can only give my best interpretation and analysation of how much control they have over their land. Autonomy and control in this context can be defined as how a society can be more independent and have greater influence over the commodities within their land. To an extent, a large land ownership allows some control as Indigenous people can decide what to do with their resources and country without much influence from the government. However, this essay will argue that they do not have total control as the government, while trying to promote aboriginal history is also dampening their access to resources, like water, within their land. It can also be said that they do not have total control due to the government’s way of controlling resources in a more environmentally sustainable manner. In this essay, I will discuss current environmental conflicts in relation to native title rights and how the European invasion has changed land ownership over the years.

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The impact of the European invasion and Implementation of land rights and Native title Acts

Following the 1788 European invasion of Australia, native communities lost their land to the Europeans, especially in regions where resources were abundant. Barta (1987) summarised that land and food supplies were forcefully taken, and many people were killed. This did not come without resistance. Smith (2000) states that the Sturt Creek Basin in the Kimberley of Western Australia, which was not abundant in resources until a season of rain, had evidences of aboriginal resistance where tribes attacked early settlers, taken from historical drawings by invaders during the mapping of the basin. It is understandable that the Aboriginal people resisted colonisation as by taking over their land, the Europeans were taking away their livelihood and food security, making it harder for communities to thrive in the country.

Smith (2000) also states that the Europeans believed that their race was superior and showed a lack of environmental justice during colonisation and suppressed Indigenous groups. Laws and rights like the Native Title Act started in 1993 and the Aboriginal Land Rights act 1976 were implemented to ensure that Indigenous land ownership remains an integral part of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Rowse (1993) summarised that these title rights allowed aboriginal people to claim some of their land back under traditional customs, giving them greater access to resources as well as giving them a sense of social and environmental justice. This is in relation to the changing environment and how the government wants to ensure that finite resources are being used in the most efficient manner.

The irrelevance of native-title laws, land rights and acquisition of land

Although rights have increased land ownership of Australia’s land mass, it does not mean that it increases autonomy and control over resources in the land. Chan (2019) reported that with the decrease in rainfall, there have been protests, especially in Albury-Wodonga, by indigenous farmers on the increased water prices and unequal allocation of water from their farmlands to bigger businesses, preventing water access to farmers. Water is a finite resource and must be used in a sustainable manner. The challenge for indigenous water rights have been ongoing ever since water and land rights have been decoupled years ago and there have been many conflicts in the distribution of water within Australia (Jackson, 2018).

With increasing environmental issues, the government must ensure that resources are being used in an efficient manner, even though it means that Indigenous farmers have less access to water while owning large areas of land. Jackson (2018) found that water laws have overlooked Indigenous cultural rights and this stems from the suppression of the Indigenous people during colonisation which led to unfair environmental justice. For farmers in Albury-Wodonga, their income comes from farming, and the decrease in water allocation would result in lower crop yields. Without a say in how much water access they have for farming, they may find it hard to secure the water they need for plantation and this strips them of their cultural identity and history. Jackson and Barber (2013) state that denying Indigenous people rights to water shows the negative side of water laws set by the government and even with water resource policies, the government needs to acknowledge and respect the cultural values of Indigenous people. 

As the government and Indigenous people have different views, there is a need to establish what is the appropriate amount of water allocation. With the less control of water within their land, an increase in land rights concludes that they do not have better control or autonomy over resources due to the government’s regulation of resource allocation. 

The benefits of Indigenous Land ownership

Title rights have given some benefits to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in terms of control and autonomy over land and resource use. Ross, Farrow-Smith and Herbert (2019) reported that the Bundjalung people at Byron Bay have been given their sea and land title claim, allowing them to have greater access to the ocean and are now legally allowed to fish. Most Indigenous people rely on their surrounding environment to sustain their livelihood. Giving the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people greater land ownership allows them to have greater access to the resources available. When these communities are given greater land ownership, they have greater decision making power over the uses of their country and resources and as seen by the Bundjalung people, and are able to live and do things the way they are culturally and historically used to, without having to face the suppression by the government or that left behind by colonisation.

Campbell and Hunt (2013) state that mining booms in Indigenous land has increased income earned by the Indigenous communities who own the land due to the native title act and land rights agreements which have allowed the communities to have greater control over resources and have a bigger say in how the resources are utilised. In my opinion, for Indigenous communities to have more power in decision making, it allows them to have greater control over their country, land and resources. For the Bundjalung people to have total access to their land and sea that they own, it allows them to retain their cultural identity. However, it is less common now as the government is trying to control most of the countries land to ensure sustainable developments of the environment.

The effects of environmental conflicts on Indigenous land ownership 

Rather than total control, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people only have some control over their country and resources. Relating back to the environmental conflict of Indigenous land ownership water allocation, the government has increased water prices to lower water usage from the drying up Murray-Darling Basin managed by the Paakantji people, to a more sustainable way (Bloodworth, 2019). Because the government is controlling the price of water and redistributing water to bigger corporations who can utilise the water more efficiently, we can see that this causes the Indigenous people to lose control of the water. Water is essential to their everyday life as it has been part of their livelihood since before the European Invasion. By imposing high prices on water during this drought, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people lose most of their control on their resources.

Ross, Grant, Robinson, Izurieta, Smyth and Rist (2009) discuss that with the changing environment and increase in global average temperatures, the government has implemented co-management methods to help sustain Indigenous land area and keep them well protected as part of conservation attempts. This enable the Indigenous groups to work with the government to decide how the resources and land are used. In the Kimberley, Aboriginal people are hired as rangers to help manage and kill the excessive growth of weeds as they have the cultural knowledge on how to manage the land which would aid in keeping the land environmentally sustainable as well as maintain their cultural identity and although the rangers have different views on managing invasive species, they understand that the government has better methods in ensuring the environment is kept healthy (Bach, Kull, & Rangan, 2019).

Whilst the Indigenous people do not have total control over the land and resources, they may not have the proper knowledge on how to deal with the changing environment. Co-management of the land and resources ensures that the land is kept sustainable and healthy. In terms of water allocation, I think there should also be co-management so at least the Indigenous people has a say in who their water gets allocated to.

Conclusion

Even though Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples own 33% of Australia’s land mass, I do not think this gives them greater autonomy and control over their country and resources. With increasing environmental conflicts, I think the government’s regulation of resources are appropriate as they have better technology and knowledge on how to keep the usage of resources sustainable. Native title laws may have little to do with resource utilisation by the Indigenous communities as even with large land ownership, the government still controls the uses of resources, like water, so that they can ensure that water is not over supplied. However, land rights can also be beneficial to Indigenous communities as it allows them to legally utilise their resources and maintain their cultural livelihood by relying on their surrounding environment as their ancestors once did. In conclusion, Indigenous land ownership only gives better control of resources to a small extent and in order for land ownership to be coupled with greater control of resources, the country needs to improve on their technological advantage so as to find more sustainable methods of energy production and fuel, and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities should also try to adapt to the changing environment and understand that they might not be able to live the way they once did.

References

Altman, J., & Markham, F. (2015). Burgeoning indigenous land ownership: Diverse values and strategic potentialities. Native title from Mabo to Akiba: A vehicle for change and empowerment, 126-142.

Bach, T. M., Kull, C. A., & Rangan, H. (2019). From killing lists to healthy country: Aboriginal approaches to weed control in the Kimberley, Western Australia. Journal of Environmental Management,229, 182-192. doi:10.1016/j.jenvman.2018.06.050

Bloodworth, S. (2019, April 29). Water the price of gold. Retrieved May 5, 2019, from https://redflag.org.au/node/6766

Campbell, D., & Hunt, J. E. (2013). Achieving broader benefits from Indigenous land use agreements : Community development in Central Australia. Community Development Journal,48(2), 197-214. Retrieved from https://www-jstor-org.ezp.lib.unimelb.edu.au/stable/26166086

Chan, G. (2019, April 9). Farmers’ protest is a sign water politics is about to go into hyperdrive. The Guardian. Retrieved May 5, 2019, from https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/apr/09/farmers-protest-is-a-sign-water-politics-is-about-to-go-into-hyperdrive

Barta, T. (1987). Relations of genocide: Land and lives in the colonization of Australia. Genocide and the Modern Age: Etiology and Case Studies of Mass Death,237-253.

Jackson, S., & Barber, M. (2013). Recognition of indigenous water values in Australia’s northern territory: Current progress and ongoing challenges for social justice in water planning. Planning Theory and Practice,14(4), 435-454. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14649357.2013.845684

Jackson, S. (2018). Water and Indigenous rights: Mechanisms and pathways of recognition, representation, and redistribution. Wires Water,5(6), 1-15. doi:10.1002/wat2.1314

Ross, H., Farrow-Smith, E., & Herbert, B. (2019, April 30). Byron Bay’s Bundjalung people celebrate long-awaited land and sea native title determination. ABC News. Retrieved May 5, 2019, from https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-04-30/byron-bay-native-title-land-rights/11057896

Ross, H., Grant, C., Robinson, C. J., Izurieta, A., Smyth, D., & Rist, P. (2009). Co-management and Indigenous Protected Areas in Australia: Achievements and Ways Forward. Australasian Journal of Environmental Management,16(4), 242-252. doi:https://doi-org.ezp.lib.unimelb.edu.au/10.1080/14486563.2009.9725240

Rowse, T. (1993). How we got a native title act. The Australian Quarterly,65(4), 110-132.

Smith, P. A. (2000). Into the Kimberley: The invasion of Sturt Creek basin [Kimberley region, Western Australia] and evidence of Aboriginal resistance. Aboriginal History,24, 62-74.

 

Effects of Residential Schools on Aboriginal People

ABORIGINAL PEOPLEAND THE EFFECTS OF RESIDENTIAL SCHOOLS

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LIFE BEFORE CONTACT

One of the many Aboriginal tribes in Canada are the Haida. The Haida are located on the archipelago of Haida Gwaii (formerly the Queen Charlotte Islands) in northern British Columbia, Canada. Due to their location by the ocean, the Haida people were seafaring and often ate seafood, such as fish. 

Haida Society

The Haida people were organized into communities and settlements, and was separated into two social groups called the Ravens and the Eagles. These two groups were then divided into twenty-two and twenty-three family lines respectively. Historically, Haida villages held various lineages and oftentimes housed both social groups. Marriages that took place during the past had to be with people of the opposite social group and children produced from these marriages would take the same social group as their mothers.

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A person’s lineage within Haida society gave them certain rights, privileges, and entitlements. One such entitlement was economic resources such as fishing spots, hunting grounds, or housing sites. “Names were a highly coveted lineage property and were bestowed to mark different stages of people’s lives. Names were also given to important material belongings such as fish traps, houses, canoes, feast dishes and even feast spoons. Face painting and tattoo designs were also lineage property, as were all crests, of which Swanton lists over seventy.” (Canadian Museum of History, “Social Organization”)

Clothes

  The Haida often made their clothing out of red or yellow cedar bark. Weather in their area was often warm and thus they needed little clothing. They most often used their clothing to protect them from the weather, mostly rain. This lead to the production of cedar hats, skirts, long capes made from elk skin. Clothing was made by the women for the members of their families while the men were out hunting.

Food

  Due to their seafaring nature and close proximity to the ocean, the Haida often hunted and ate fish. They used canoes built from tree trunks to bring men out into the water in order to hunt fish and sea mammals. They also hunted on land as well. The men would go on hunting trips for animals in the area such as deer, and other small game. Women would be the ones to gather food such as berries that could be eaten or turned into paints/dyes for totem poles or clothing.

Motivation Of Residential Schooling

  Residential Schools were created by the Canadian government for the purpose of amillilating Aboriginal children. They masked this deeper purpose with the guise of wanting to give aboriginal children a better education, but did not do very well. “I feel certain that this school will be a great success, and that it will be a chief means of civilizing the Indian; but to obtain this result, accommodation must be made to take in more pupils, as now we can only take in but one out of each reserve. A school for Indian girls would be of great importance, and I may say, would be absolutely necessary to effect the civilization of the next generation of Indians[;] if the women were educated it would almost be a guarantee that their children would be educated also and brought up Christians, with no danger of their following the awful existence that many of them ignorantly live now. It will be nearly futile to educate the boys and leave the girls uneducated.” (Dominion of Canada. Annual Report of the Department of Indian Affairs for the Year Ended 31st December, 1885. p. 138. J. Hugonnard, Principal Qu’Appelle Industrial School.)

The first of these schools was opened near Quebec city, by a group called The Récollets in 1620. But it was not apart of Canada at this time and was instead still under the rule of France. This history of assimilation through schooling had been going on a long time, but the first school to be considered part of the Residential School System as defined by the IRSSA, was the Mohawk Indian Residential School which opened in 1831 in Brantford, Ontario. The school was known by students “as the “Mushhole” on account of the poor food or ‘mush’ served there.” (wherearethechildren.ca, “Research”) By the end of the Residential school era, a total of 180 residential schools had opened, with a maximum of 80 being operational at one time (1931).

The church played a large role in the operation and daily life within the residential school system. Although the program was initiated by the government, it was the churches that ran and taught in the schools. This partnership ended in 1969 and the government took full control over the school system.

Life In Residential Schools

  Life in residential schools was difficult for many Aboriginal children. Approximately 150,000 First Nations, Metis, and Inuit children between the ages of four and fifteen were forced to attend these school, many of which were ripped from their families and communities by the Canadian government. Governments would put pressure on the parents of Aboriginal children in order to forced them into putting their children into these schools.

  Residential Schools were not the same as regular, non-aboriginal schools. For one they were run by the Catholic church, who placed a mandatory and important value on teaching Christianity to the students. Secondly, Aboriginal students who attended residential schools got an average of two to four hours in the classroom compared to the five or more hours that non-aboriginal students received. Time outside of the classroom was used for chores and upkeep of the building in order to keep the system in order.

  Classes in residential schools focus on reading, writing, and math. Due to the curriculum and poor teaching standards, students in residential schools rarely surpassed a third grade education level. Teaching staff were not often qualified teachers, but rather missionaries or nuns. This was the reason such an importance was placed on religion.

“Teachings focused primarily on practical skills. Girls were primed for domestic service and taught to do laundry, sew, cook, and clean. Boys were taught carpentry, tinsmithing, and farming. Many students attended class part-time and worked for the school the rest of the time: girls did the housekeeping; boys, general maintenance and agriculture. This work, which was involuntary and unpaid, was presented as practical training for the students, but many of the residential schools could not run without it… Many were discouraged from pursuing further education [after being forced to leave at 18].” (indigenousfoundations.arts.ubc.ca)

  Female students also received very little in regards to sexual education. “I didn’t know what was going on because they never told us. All they did was mark the calendar and give you a piece of rag that was already stained, dirty looking, ugh. We had to use that but I didn’t even know what was happening with me.” (Muriel Morrisseau, pressprogress.ca) This caused a sense of shame and embarrassment in regards to female sexual health and a lack of knowledge in things such as contraception or the menstrual cycle.

Abuse Within The School System

Residential schools were not held to that same standards of care that we would have nowadays, or even for non-Aboriginal schools at the same time. Children that attended residential school often suffered for years with physical, physiological, and sexual abuse. These often cruel acts left children scarred and many now suffer from PTSD due to their time in the school system.

Physical Abuse

Physical abuse ranges in severity but all were harsh. Children would often receive beatings or other forms of physical abuse as punishment for even the smallest of offences. Not only were they used for punishment, but as a way to promote assimilation and the abandonment of their native culture. “Students who did not adhere to school schedules and regulations received strappings (whippings) and were often humiliated in front of peers” (https://www.facinghistory.org)

Story #1

“They used to give us shock treatments for bedwetting. A lot of us never wet our beds but we still had to do it anyway. They said it worked for the girls but it didn’t work for the boys. They couldn’t really ever find out why, but I think it was because of the sexual abuse that went on there. . . . They used to bring in a battery—a motor of some sort or some kind of gadget, and he’d put the girl’s hand on it and it would jerk us and it would go all the way through us from end to end—it would travel. And we would do that about three times.”

(Lorna, who was at the Mohawk Institute from 1940 to 1945)

Psychological Abuse

Students were not only ripped away from there families and physically abused, they also experienced many types of psychological abuse. They were taught through Christianity that they vary race deemed them to hell and that they were ‘dirty’. This not only causes emotional turmoil in any person of any age, but it can also cause a deep loss of connection and acceptance. Children find themselves stuck between wanting to achieve heaven, something they were taught is the ultimate goal and gift, but are told time and time again that they are simply not white enough to be given entry. This was only the beginning of the emotional and psychological abuse and trauma that went on under the supervision of the residential school system. 

Children were forced to witness violence, and abuse daily. There are hundreds of stories about the traumatic events that students were forced to witness while attending these schools that have left their mark and still effect these individuals to this day. Some were more temporary in nature (shaving of a girls head) but others were much more impactful and scarring.

Story #2

“I remember the one young fellow that hung himself in the gym, and they brought us in there and showed… showed us, as kids, and they just left him hanging there, and, like, what was that supposed to teach us? I’m 55 years old and I still remember that.”

(Antonette White)

Story #3

“Punishment for running away varied. One boy was hauled up in front of all the assembled students by the principal. He had a reputation for being mean. He forced the boy to pull his pants down and gave the boy 10–15 straps with a great big leather strap. Girls often had their head shaved bald if they tried to run away so that everyone would know. It was awful. I felt very ashamed…”

(Geraldine Sanderson)

Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse was also common in the residential school system. As the schools were often times under regulated, abuse of any nature, even sexual, often went undiscovered and undealt with. Sexual abuse was not only an issue for female students, but the male students as well. “All told, the figures suggest that at least one of every five students suffered sexual abuse at the schools.”  (https://www.theglobeandmail.com) This left many students suffering from PTSD and promoted the cycle of abuse that would last for generation to come.

Story #4

“They were there to discipline you, teach you, beat you, rape you, molest you, but I never got an education. I knew how to run. I knew how to manipulate. Once I knew that I could get money for touching, and this may sound bad, but once I knew that I could touch a man’s penis for candy, that set the pace for when I was a teenager and I could pull tricks as a prostitute. That’s what the residential school taught me. It taught me how to lie, how to manipulate, how to exchange sexual favours for cash, meals, whatever the case may be.”

(Elaine Durocher, on how she learned the tools for a life in the sex trade at residential school)

Death

Death in residential schools was not uncommon as well. “In 1907, government medical inspector P.H. Bryce reported that 24 percent of previously healthy Aboriginal children across Canada were dying in residential schools.5  This figure does not include children who died at home, where they were frequently sent when critically ill. Bryce reported that anywhere from 47 percent (on the Peigan Reserve in Alberta) to 75 percent (from File Hills Boarding School in Saskatchewan) of students discharged from residential schools died shortly after returning home.6” (indigenousfoundations.arts.ubc.ca)

The abuse and death within and caused by residential schools did not go completely unnoticed by those inspecting the schools or those running them. The government was not in the dark over this topic either. Many knew of the trauma being inflicted on aboriginal children within school walls and yet did little to protect them. “The extent to which Department of Indian Affairs and church officials knew of these abuses has been debated. However, the Royal Commission of Aboriginal Peoples and Dr John Milloy, among others, concluded that church and state officials were fully aware of the abuses and tragedies at the schools…. The Department of Indian Affairs would promise to improve the schools, but the deplorable conditions persisted.9” (indigenousfoundations.arts.ubc.ca)

Lasting Effects

Residential schools left there marks on the thousands of students that attended them, and these effects can still be felt in their communities today. Aboriginal communities suffer greatly under the burden of substance abuse, addiction, victimization, and unemployment. All of the following, also contribute to an extremely high rate of suicide and suicide attempts in both Aboriginal youth and adults. These issues grow with every generation and will only continue to do so until they begin to be treated at the root cause rather than on an individual bases.

Suicide

Suicide and suicidal thought rates amongst aboriginal youth are much higher than that of their non-aboriginal peers. One in four aboriginal people report having a suicidal thought in their lifetime; one in ten in the last year. This has been going on for decades.

“…In the 1994-to-1998 period, the suicide rate among children and youth in… Inuit Nunangat… was 18 to 25 higher than in the rest of Canada.” (Aboriginal Peoples Survey, 2012; Past-year suicidal thoughts among off-reserve First Nations, Métis and Inuit adults aged 18 to 25: Prevalence and associated characteristics, Mohan B. Kumar and Amy Nahwegahbow)

Suicide and suicidal thoughts are not caused by only one event or reason, but are instead caused by a collection of various factors such as genetics, social factors, family characteristics, childhood experiences, and so much more. Smoking and alcohol abuse often go hand in hand with depression and suicide, all three of which are current effects of intergenerational trauma.

Some studies have narrowed down some of the risk factors for certain communities. These factors are believed to raise the likelihood of someone, mainly youth, attempting or committing suicide. For example the following are risk factors for Inuit youth:

–          Being male

–          Having a friend or family member who attempted or committed suicide

–          History of abuse (physical or sexual)

–          Parental alcohol or drug issues.

Many other factors such as time spent at a residential school, drug or alcohol dependence, high levels of stress, and various mood disorders also increase suicide risks.

Smoking, Alcohol, and Drugs

Smoking

Although not the worst thing you can smoke, cigarettes are in no way good for your health. Rates of smoking (regular and occasional)  are higher by thirty-four point six percent for First Nations living on reserves across Canada. Of those who do smoke, the majority do so daily. The majority of on reserve, Aboriginal smokes are in the age range of eighteen to twenty-nine (53.9%).

Alcohol

Long-term alcohol abuse can cause a multitude of problems within the human body such as: high blood pressure, cardiomyopathy, damage to the heart, alcoholic hepatitis, fibrosis, an increases risk of various cancers, pancreatitis, a weakened immune system and overall liver damage. Alcohol is also known for working alongside depression.

“According to a study published in Addiction, individuals dealing with alcohol use disorder or depression are at double the risk of developing the other condition. This was not simply a correlation, as the study concluded that alcohol use disorders and depression have a causal relationship.” (‘Can Alcohol Induce Depression?’, American Addictions Center)

Alcohol is sometimes used as a way for certain people to deal with their depression, wanting to escape or dull their feelings of overwhelming sadness or loss of hope. This effect is only temporary and alcohol has only been shown to worsen depression over time. As the individual becomes more dependant on alcohol, they will see many negative effects on the other parts of their lives such as work, social connections, and finances. It is for these reasons that alcoholism is such an important problem to tackle, especially in communities that have high rates of alcohol abuse.

Aboriginal people have higher rates of alcoholism and alcohol abuse than other ethnicities. This issue can be traced back to many of the same causes of suicide. Poor living conditions, social racism, histories of abuse, and unemployment can all be causes that may drive someone to alcohol abuse. These are all also highly present in Aboriginal people, both on and off of the reserve.

Drugs

Just the same as alcohol abuse, drug abuse effects all aspects of the users life. Many individuals suffering with drug abuse end up losing many social connections and even their jobs. Aboriginal communities have high rates of drug abuse due to many of the same factors in suicide and alcoholism. Drug abuse in Aboriginal communities is more prevalent in more northern and remote locations, which may be caused by a lack of access to rehabilitation and drug abuse programs. A survey from 2008 to 2010 had Aboriginal communities across Canada rating alcohol and drug abuse as one of their top three problems, along with housing and unemployment.

Victimization

Aboriginal peoples are at a higher risk to becoming the victims of crime both on and off the reserve; Aboriginal women even more so when other factors such as gang affiliation are taken into account. Twenty-eight percent of Aboriginal people have reported that they or their household have been the victim of crime in the last year, and the overall rate of violence against Aboriginal people is almost double that of violence to non-aboriginal people. This is a cause for concern.

“Regardless of the type of offence, rates of victimization… were almost always higher for Aboriginal people than non-Aboriginal people… The sexual assault rate for Aboriginal people was almost three times that of non-Aboriginal people , while Aboriginal peoples’ rate of physical assault was close to double that of non-Aboriginal people.” (Victimization of Aboriginal people in Canada, 2014,  Jillian Boyce)

This rate is affected by many factors such as drug and alcohol abuse, history of abuse, childhood maltreatment, history of homelessness, and poor mental health. When taking these factors into account, statistics showed that Aboriginal descent did not have a direct correlation to higher victimization, except in females.

Aboriginal women were twice as likely to be the victims of crime than their male counterparts. This rate raised even more for females between the ages of fifteen and twenty-four, almost triple that of their non-aboriginal peers.

Conclusion

  Residential School are a large part of Canada’s dark history. The Canadian government, along with the Catholic churches, traumatized and killed thousands of aboriginal children across the country over many years, and the effects of those actions can still be felt today through mental health, addiction, substance abuse, and victimization. Much is needed to heal the damage done to the Aboriginal communities of Canada and one of the first steps in that process is understanding and teaching the newer generation, both aboriginal and non-aboriginal, what happened and why it should never happen again. Through knowledge and understanding we will promote acceptance, which will only serve to aid the Aboriginal communities of Canada in finding access to support in their efforts to heal.

 

Bibliography