Indigenous Australians inability to conform to societal norms has been the catalyst for them experiencing significantly higher rates of chronic poverty, discrimination and oppression. Colonialism consistently seeks to define the ‘others’ to establish a distinction between ‘us and them’ or the British and the Aborigines, to reinforce the colonisers’ social hierarchy and power. The colonisers purposely categorise the ‘others’ to dehumanise and misrepresent the Indigenous (Sherwood, 2013, p.29) as they visibly challenge the foundations of their colonial society. This production of a racial stereotype emphasises the social complexities and racial conflict the Indigenous face within colonial and post-colonial societies.
This label also demonstrates Britain’s colonial attitudes that have established unequal systems and institutions that continue to impact the Aboriginals today (Australian Together, 2021). The British asserted social and cultural dominance within these institutions due to the failure of integrating indigeneity into society and needing to protect their societal class. According to Australians Together (2021), denying Indigenous participation in Australia’s mainstream social system, meant they didn’t receive the rights and privileges that were covered within the system. This level of social exclusion has resulted in the Aboriginals constantly dealing with unequal power contribution that continues to reinforce a legacy of “indigenous dispossession and is symbolic of ongoing marginalisation” (Hay et al., 2004, p.201). Thus, the ‘others’ label re-establishes the colonial perception of the Indigenous being subordinate to the British by possessing a lower socioeconomic and health status, whilst being marginalised in modern society (Griffiths et al., 2016, p.15).
Aforementioned, colonisation dispossessed Aboriginals relationship with their land as the British claimed ownership of Australia, ultimately resulting in the cultural disconnection and weakening of Indigenous identity. The Indigenous communities sense of belonging is significantly derived from an ontological relationship to the country because of the Dreaming (Moreton-Robinson, 2020). According to Artlandish (2020), the Dreaming represents the period in which Aboriginal ancestral spirits created life. Indigenous spirituality and law are also intertwined with the land, people and creation, forming their culture and sovereignty. Colonising Australia overall led to the loss of knowledge, language and cultural identity.
Artlandish. (2020). Aboriginal Dreaming. Aboriginal Art Gallery. https://www.aboriginal-art-australia.com/aboriginal-art-library/understanding-aboriginal-dreaming-and-the-dreamtime/
Australians Together. (2021). What About History? https://australianstogether.org.au/discover/australian-history/get-over-it/
Griffiths, K., Coleman, C., Lee, V & Madden, R. (2016). How Colonisation Determines Social Justice and Indigenous Health – A Review of the Literature. Journal of Population Research, 33(1), 9-30
Hay, I., Hughes, A., & Tutton, M. (2004). Monuments, Memory and Marginalisation in Adelaide’s Prince Henry Gardens’, Geografiska Annaler, 86(3), 201-216
Moreton-Robinson, A. (2020, November 9). “Our Story Is In The Land”: Why the Indigenous Sense of Belonging Unsettles White Australia. ABC. https://www.abc.net.au/religion/our-story-is-in-the-land-indigenous-sense-of-belonging/11159992
Sherwood, J. (2013). Colonisation – It’s Bad for Your Health: The Context of Aboriginal Health. Contemporary Nurse: A Journal for the Australian Nursing Profession, 46(1), 28-40