Assimilation of Aboriginal People in Australia
Assimilation was a policy in the ascendancy in Indigenous affairs from the 1930s to the 1960s. All Aborigines and part-Aborigines were supposed to attain a way of living which the rest of the Australians lived. This was supposed to see all individuals in Australia live as one community with the same rights, and responsibilities. Also, all were to observe the same customs as well as be influenced by the same hopes, beliefs, and loyalty. Ideally, assimilation involves enhancing a particular group in the society to suit the norms and culture practiced by the rest of the society. This essay will clearly outline the approaches that the Western Australia authorities used to implement assimilation in the twentieth century. It will examine how this approaches had devastating impacts on the Aborigines people. In so doing, this paper will articulate the factor that led to the assimilation process.The first half of the twentieth century was not an encouraging moment for the Aborigines. The western Authorities believed that they would inevitably die out. Unfortunately, the massive growth of the indigenous population’s half-casts pronounced to the authorities that the Aborigines were not to extinct any day sooner. The then Australian government sought a second plan. It decided to stop its protection rule of separating the Indigenous people from the White people. Assimilation rule was the substitute which proposed a natural death of the full blood Aborigines through elimination assimilating half-casts to the white community. Several approaches were used to make the assimilation a success as discussed below:
To begin with, White superiority, it was an approach that was founded on black inferiority and white superiority assumption. It is an assimilation approach that was initially outlined during the first commonwealth and state Aboriginals authorities’ conference in the year 1937. During this conference, it was believed that those Aboriginals especially the half-casts was supposed to be absorbed be assimilated by the commonwealth people. This policy was to be applied to the end until all half casts were converted into White citizens. The assimilation policies hypothesized that the indigenous people could enjoy the same living standards that the white Australians were experiencing after fully assimilating European customs and beliefs. The Australian government expected all Aborigines and part-Aborigines to attain the same manner of living like the rest of the Australians. This could lead to the achievement of the policies goal of achieving one community Australia with similar rights, privileges, same responsibilities, and same customs observation under the influence of the same beliefs, hopes, and loyalties.
Unfortunately, the white superiority approach was not favorable to the Aborigines. In the process of the assimilation, the identity and culture of the Indigenous people were undermined. Similarly, dispossession of the Aborigines was justified. Many of the indigenous children were removed from their parents. The assimilation policy acted on a well established as well as widely-accepted ideology that the Aborigines were inferior in comparison to the Australians. This meant that the Aboriginals ways of life, languages, and culture were substandard. The assimilations main objective to extinct the Indigenous culture as well as the Indigenous people.Secondly, the Aborigines were forced to live on the fringes as a way of assimilation. During this era of conformity, most of the Aborigines were forced out of the reserves. The government reclaimed such areas for mining and housing. Despite the fact that life at the reserves was not comfortable for the indigenous people, it was not easy for the Indigenous people to get jobs at the cities and towns due to racism in broader society. Access to services and venues such as swimming pools and hospitals was not granted to the Aborigines. This policy never yielded any profits as instead of being assimilated; they were forced to languish in poverty at the fringes of the towns.
Thirdly, the Western Australian government made use of the “stolen children” policy. Children were considered to be more prone to assimilation in comparison to the adult Aborigines. This is why absorption majorly focused on the children. Aborigine’s children were forcefully evicted from their families. This was one of the main features of assimilation. In the year 1910 to 1970, most of the Aboriginal children were forcibly removed from their parents under this approach. Hence the generation acquired the name Stolen Generation. The government believed that half-caste children could easily become assimilated into the white Australian community. This made such children vulnerable to removal from their families. This assimilation policy left traumatic experiences to the Indigenous communities. This trauma and loss have consistently affected individuals, families and Aboriginal communities.
Denial of citizenship was another approach of assimilation that the Western Australian authorities used to assimilate the Aborigine population into the white community. Constitutionally, the indigenous were not recognized as citizens. This was until the 1940s. The indigenous people could not become citizens. After the Second World War, they were required to apply for a certificate of citizenship. This made them be recommended as citizens. One was supposed to give up all the links he or she had with the Indigenous people as well as families. In most circumstances, the certificate was referred to an exemption certificate. This is because, on possessing it, one was being exempted from the Aboriginal descent. It was through possession of the document that one was able to move around without any restrictions, vote, buy alcohol as well as other life activities. This meant that, for one to be able to make any decision concerning their life. The government saw this as significant opportunity to force many people into assimilation. Many people were motivated by the government to obtain the certificate as it encouraged everyone to have it. Many aborigines looked down upon this certificates as they compared them to dog licenses.In 1965, Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders Affairs Act repealed the 1939 legislation. This consequently led to the formation of the Queensland Department of Aboriginal and Island Affairs. Unfortunately, this act had little if no advantages to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. It was through this act that the concept of an assistant Aborigine or islander came into existence. The idea argued that any Aborigine or Torres Strait Island who lived at the reserve were considered to be assisting people and were subject to the act. It is the director of the departments who had powers to move the assisted person from one reserve to another. : what approaches did Western Australian authorities take to implementing assimilation in the twentieth century (the 1900s) and what were the impacts on Aboriginal people. He or she also had powers two declare an individual who lived in reserve as either an Aborigine or a Torres Strait Islander. District officers remained with the authorities to be in charge of the Aboriginal and Islander property. The district officers were to decide who was in their best interest.
Another assimilation that was used by the Western Australian government was the Palm Island: Punishment Island assimilation policy. The palm island which is sixty-five kilometers from the Townsville was a settlement island which is historically known for harsh conditions and forced removals. This led to the name Punishment Island. Aboriginals were removed from Queensland from 1918-1972 and isolated at the Palm Island. Some of the things that made indigenous people, be removed from their homes and be kept in the Island included: being disruptive, getting pregnant to a white man, or being a half-caste. People were flogged, humiliated and imprisoned for long by the Superintendent of the settlement. He forced persons to the nearby Eclipse Island. While being there, children separated from their parents. They were forced not to speak their mother tongue. Some dormitories provided care as well as well as operating as detention centers. This led to the massive death of the indigenous people more than they were born. This thoroughly ensured that the Aborigines population continued to decrease drastically. Elderly and pregnant women were not even spared. They could work for up to more than thirty hours in each week.In conclusion, assimilation failed its mission of making the life of Indigenous Australians much better. Probably, this happened due to the different logic behind the assimilation policy. The policy expected Aboriginals to behave like the white people despite the fact that it never offered an opportunity and rights to do so. Inferiority and culture undermine undermined the effectiveness of the Assimilation policy.