Work effectively with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people Essay Example

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Work effectively with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

Introduction Australians as a people and the Australian Government have faced a several challenges with regard to the impacts of racism between the indigenous and the non-indigenous people who live in it. Historically, there have been many problems and suffering among the Torres Strait Islanders, who are the indigenous inhabitants of Australia. They are known as the Torres Island people. Torres Island is part of a significant portion of the Queens land Australia. These people are genetically and culturally associated with the Melanesian peoples. Other people link them with the people of Papua New Guinea. The Torres Islanders people are viewed to be different from other Aboriginal peoples found in Australia. These people have a distinct culture with variances in different aspects depending on the Islands they live in. They are known to be sea faring people, and often are involved in trade with the people of Papua New Guinea. It is important to note that their culture is complex, though it carries traits likewise to Australian elements, and some Papuan elements. The people have suffered for a long time due to discrimination in many aspects such as health, education, and land ownership (
Behrendt 2003, p.43).

Types of Racism

Different scholarly articles and authors have outlined several types of racism with regard to people’s culture, their existence, the impacts they have to the society. I would outline four broad types of racism that is existent in the society today. First, we have ‘historical racism’ which is linked to discrimination of a particular race with regard to its common decent or the kind of lineage it has. Its existence is based on discriminating people with a common origin and not biological character. It may be evidenced by national symbols such as Arvan cross or Nazi eagle. Secondly, we have ‘scientific racism’ which relates to characterization of race with regard to physical traits such as shape of forehead, size of one’s brain, and relating such traits to intelligence, or civilization. We have institutional racism that is practiced to protect the advantages of a specific dominant group in the society. Finally, we have the ‘new racism’ that may indicate cultural inferiorities and new expressions. This may be seen for instance in the treatment of inhabitants e.g. the Jim Crow laws instituted in southern U.S. and the renowned apartheid in South Africa.

Government Policies that have contributed to the marginalization of Indigenous people in Australia

There are a number of Government Policies that have significantly played a role towards the marginalization of Indigenous people in Australia. Records as indicated in the creative spirits website indicate that there are very poor records with regard to how the Australian Government has treated the issue of marginalization of the indigenous people of Australia. The indigenous people of Australia have suffered for long from the early nineties even as efforts of the Government to curb marginalization of the indigenous people not being actualized. The early Government policies and practices further made the lives of the indigenous people not only to be marginalized but also to be under threat. The indigenous people were dispossessed of their land, their own culture was disposed, most of them were abused and to the extreme many were murdered due to extreme racism.

In history, we can say that the most notorious Government policies that caused more marginalization of the indigenous Australian people may include those that were formulated by through the state and federal governments in the 1970’s. The worst policy that was made was that of forcibly removing Aboriginal children from their own family to either church institutions of white families for the purposes of what was referred to as ‘cultural reprogramming’. This policy was much implemented and many of the children of the indigenous origin were forcibly transferred from their homes. The second policy of discrimination was the denied access to social facilities and privileges. This went to the extremes even with the implementation of the genocidal nature of the governments programs. These policies affected and still affect these people to date (Lessa 2006, pp. 284). This is reflected in the statistics where the indigenous people life’s span is 17years less than the rest, their social welfare is still below the bar, and health, education, and infant mortality are still lower than the rest of the people.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander activism

Continued acts of racism and extreme discrimination of the Torres Strait Islander people of Australia led to increased activism to curb the this problem. Activism came as a result of the failure by the government to address these concerns, and the agony that the Torres Islanders people went through. For instance, we have the case where Stockmen and women of Torres Islanders origin came out for a walk off Wave Hill cattle station. This was a protest walk where they protested against the dehumanizing and poor working conditions that they were subjected to work with. They also demanded for the return of their land that was snatched from them (Crossley & Michelle 2004, pp. 225). This was evidenced when they camped at Watti Creek, where they demanded they wanted back their traditional lands. The case of land ownership went to court. We may say that these efforts bore fruits in May 26th 2010, when they were given land covering an area of 2300 square miles. This land included the Perth city and other off shore islands. More than 1.7 million people were awarded tittles in the given land (Wilson & Beresford 2000, pp.554).

Government Policy or Program Developed to improve the lives of Aboriginal Australians

The Australian Government has come with several commissions which make and implement policies that address the issues that affect the Aboriginal Australians. For instance through the social justice commission program, the Government is ensuring that the people of Australia get access to education at equal basis. The government has initiated this program to ensure that the Aboriginal Australian children access schooling and educational services. This picked up in 2009 where a good percentage of these children can go to school to learn. This was a state program that targeted the young aboriginals who were faced with limited educational services due to racism. The aim of the program was to see to it that the Aboriginal Australian have equal access to education, and its related benefit (Van den-Berg 2002, p.45).

Information about the suffering of the Aboriginal Australians is detailed in Creative spirit data with additional details from other websites. This site has been of benefit, for it exposed more information particularly with regard to the history of the Aboriginal Australians, and the improvements realized today. I have learnt that historical challenges at times take time to resolve them. Therefore, they need persistence and will so as to realize success.



Behrendt, L 2003, Achieving social justice: indigenous rights and Australia’s future, Federation Press, London.

Crossley, Michelle 2004, Resistance’ and health promotion. British Journal of Social Psychology, Vol. 43, no. 2, pp. 225–244.

Lessa, I. 2006, Discursive struggles within social welfare. Journal of Racism and Culture. Vol. 3 no. 6, pp. 283–298.

Van den-Berg, R 2002, ‘Nyoongar people of Australia: perspectives on racism and multiculturalism,’ Journal of International Studies in Sociology and Social Anthropology. Vol. 4, no. 5, pp. 45-47.

Wilson A. & Beresford P. 2000, Anti-oppressive practice’: Emancipation or appropriation? British Journal of Social Work. Vol. 30, no. 7 pp. 553–573.