The Australian indigenous population has been quietly suffering over the past few years, but their story is one of grief, sorrow and oppression systematically.
When the English first arrived in mainland Australia in 1778 there were roughly 750,000 of the natives in the country. By 1900 the population stood at only 100,000, most of the adult aboriginals where killed by the most settlers. The children where stripped from their families and put in British camps. They were forced to stop speaking their native languages, and told to conform to the British ways. Fast forward a few centuries later and the aboriginals are poised to regain their original population of 750, 000 as of 2021.
With this resurgence I wanted to know what the state of the nation is in regards to aboriginals. I spoke to Alfred Zaranyika a migrant who is currently residing in Perth
Introducing Alfred Zaranyika
ON: When did you first move to Australia?
AZ: I came to Australia in 2008, back then I was living with Katharine in the Northern Territory. They have the most aboriginals in all the states
ON: What was your first perception of the aboriginals when you got there?
AZ: At first I was quite shocked, coming from the capital city in Zimbabwe. Coming to a very remote place in Australia of all countries. I thought everything was developed. Most of them lived in shabby houses and you could see the poverty in the area
ON: Why do you think it was like that?
AZ: I just figured everyone was quite lazy because most of them did not go to work, in fact I would wake up to go to school and on my way there I’d at least encounter one aboriginal who’s drunk of their mind.
ON: So did the mentality ever change for you, “that they were a lazy, alcoholic bunch of people”. If so when did this happen
AZ: It did actually; this was when I moved to Darwin to start my university education. Right there I knew things where different. This was a bigger cleaner city, a lot of modern buildings and cars. The only thing that was different was the number of natives. There were fare fewer natives. I made friends with aboriginal people and native Australians. I actually started to have conversation on how things are and why they are like so. A lot of them told me how aboriginals are born into remote parts of Australia because they were put there years ago by “the white man”. In most of these remote locations they don’t have access to a good education and jobs leading to depression and drinking has already been in the culture so that’s what they turn to for comfort.
ON: Aside from your own views what do you think Australians as a whole think of the Natives
AZ: They think like I used to, the funny thing is the majority of them don’t even have aboriginal friends they just hear it being said and they echo the sentiment. Which I feel is quite bad because a lot of these people need help and they aren’t going to get any if people keep thinking they are what’s wrong with this country.
After speaking to Alfred I realised to get the full scope of the situation I had to speak to an Aboriginal to expand on their experiences in Australia. I got in Contact with one of Alfred’s friends to hear the story from their perspective. Tien Hoang, who had an opposing view on the aboriginals. Jade Norman seemed like the perfect candidate, she is currently a university student fighting against the aboriginal stereotypes
Tien’s reservations towards the aboriginals
ON: Which part of Australia are you from
TH: I am from N.T Katharine
ON: What are your views on aboriginal situation right now
TH: What situation
ON: The fact that they only amount to 3% of the population but account for the highest mortality rates
TH: Its probably because of all the drinking and drugs I’d say
ON: Why do you think it is they drink and do as much drug
TH: Well they don’t have to work for a living, I feel that’s the reason. They get money from the government and they get houses for free
ON: I have heard the houses they live in are quite Shabby, do you think its right for them to be put in living spaces like that ?
TH: I feel as if they wanted to move from the shabby house they would be more inspired to get a job and get out of there
ON: How would you expect them to get a job without an education
TH: I was born and raised in N.T I’ve grown up with a lot of them. We went to the same school. If i got an education and managed to start doing well for myself. The same could be said for them
Jade’s view on the treatment of Aboriginal
ON: Hello Jade Thank you very much for speaking to me I know this is a sensitive topic and I appreciate you sharing you taking the time to share experience and knowledge
JN: That’s alright, I don’t mind talking about it actually, I feel as if this is a conversation that needs to be had. Not only with you, but with everyone in Australia and the world.
ON: As it stands how do you the rest of Australia views you
JN: That’s simple enough, like garbage really. We still people calling us savages, they think we are druggies, Alcoholics and we are lazy which is not true. I am living proof that it is not true
ON: Are there a lot of alcoholic natives currently? If so why is that
JN: To be honest yes! However it is not from our own doing. We do have a part to play in the alcoholism but the issues stems from years of systematic oppression. How would you think it will end if someone came into your home took your children, put them all in these camps where they where forced to relinquish their culture and adopt to the “Australian way”. These children grew up with loss of identity and self worth and this has been passed down from generations
ON: How come it is that you don’t get a lot of aboriginals in the big cities
JN: You do get some in the cities but most leave in rural towns quite a distance from the city because that’s where they were put under colonization. Segregated from the world. At least then they had factory jobs. Most of the warehouses have shut now or the jobs have been moved to china. Now you get family communities secluded from the world with no jobs, education but at least they get grants from the government which does not help because the majority spend it on alcohol.
ON: Do you feel as if the government is doing much to help out
JN: No. I do not. Which is a shame because there are the ones that started the problem. They should be providing opportunities to better the future generations. Developing the settlements there-by giving jobs to the people in the area. Introducing better education systems so at least the young generation has a chance to step away from the path of alcoholism and unemployment that’s before them now.
ON: What about in society are things changes changing
JN: Slowly, there is change. Especially in the northern territory where more people get exposure to the natives and actually getting to know them as people as the stereotype. I have faith things are changing, especially in the age of the internet where people can Google and see the issue we as a people have been facing.
If Jade is hopeful for change to come with the resurgence of the aboriginal population I cannot help but echo her sentiment. There is still a lot to be done and changed. But at least after reading this you as will now know the issues being faced by the individuals who used to own the Australian Land