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By Selma Cook

The indigenous people of Australia migrated from Asia about 30,000 years ago and populated every part of the country. They are made up of about 500-600 groups, but they are united by their culture of story-telling and art as well as their strong spiritual beliefs that tie them to the land. Recent studies show that there are about 400,000 Aborigines left in Australia, which amounts to approximately 2 percent of the population.

The land of the Aborigines was gradually taken from them by white settlers who came to Australia under the British Empire in the 1800s; many Aborigines died from starvation, poisoning, outright murder, or the diseases the white settlers brought to the new land with them. Regardless of the specific reasons for the Aborigines' death, the population of the indigenous people has greatly decreased.

By the late 1800s, most Aborigines were forced to assimilate and they joined white rural and urban communities. Over the years, Aborigines have spoken out for land rights, particularly on land that was forcibly confiscated by British settlers. In recent years, the Australian government has greatly increased its services and has legislated laws granting Aboriginal people greater autonomy and rights.

Modern Aboriginal people face many problems today including unemployment, domestic violence, drug and alcohol abuse, and continuous racism from the mainstream population. Simone Bishop, a social researcher from Shelby Consulting, says, "Most of their problems come from loss of identity. The government is trying to back-pedal and make up for what the Aboriginals have lost, but too much has been lost."

In recent years, vilification laws in Australia have made it illegal to verbally or physically abuse people based on their ethnicity. However, that has not changed the attitudes of many people toward Aborigines. Racism continues and, for this reason and others, it is still difficult for them to get jobs and keep them.

The family and tribe are very important to the Aborigines, and one working person is very likely to have many friends and family members relying on him or her for financial assistance and other kinds of support. Their approach to life is vastly different from that of white Australia, and more education is needed for institutions, employers, and schools to help them understand the way of life of Aborigines and their needs.

As Muslims we should be on the lookout for any opportunity to serve humanity. This is a vital part of the message of Islam. The Aborigines of Australia have been badly treated for centuries and they were and still are subject to racism. So if you have the chance to help in any way, don't miss out on that opportunity to gain the pleasure of Allah Almighty.

Two Famous Aboriginal People:

Gladys ElphickGladys Elphick (1904 - 1988)

Bert GrovesHerbert Stanley (Bert) Groves (1907 - 1970)



People Giving Back to the World

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