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In 1992 there was a problem with the courts and the land disputes that were occurring between the two cultures.
In the case of Mabo and Others vs. The State of Queensland and the Commonwealth of Australia, decided in 1992, the Australian High Court ruled that the land tenure rights of the indigenous inhabitants of the Murray Islands in the Torres Strait did not extend seaward beyond the high water mark (Sharp, 1997). This decision reflected a Eurocentric bias and ignored the islanders' traditional claims to exclusive use of the reefs and seas surrounding their land territories (Sharp, 1997). Factfinders for the court applied the European conception of sea rights to the case, under which the seas and reefs were considered state property (Sharp, 1997)."
The result of this and other court mandates has been an attitude of Eurocentricism. This attitude has harmed the integration of the two cultures that both sides have been working to overcome (Thomson, 2005).
Reconciliation" as a term is used internationally to signify reunification between previously warring parties (Thomson, 2005). However, it goes beyond the resolution of conflict to the stage of integrating community and encouraging people to share values and develop congenial relationships (Thomson, 2005). The Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, "a landmark in Australian history" made 339 recommendations (Thomson, 2005). These included addressing the high rate of incarceration reducing the number of deaths in custody, and addressing the fundamental underlying social issues (Thomson, 2005). The final recommendation stated that "reconciliation between Aboriginal and non-Aboringinal communities in Australia must be achieved if community division, discord and injustice to Aboriginal people are to be avoided (Thomson, 2005)."
These and other obstacles have proven to be difficult for both sides to overcome but as time moves forward progress seems to be made.
The wiping out of the traditions, beliefs and rights of the Indigenous people of Australia has often been referred to as white out (Thomson, 2005). "To be indigenous in the Australian context is to be descended from groups that have been resident for over 40,000 years (Thomson, 2005). Since British colonization in 1788, Australian history has been characterized by atrocities, disease, dispossession from land, and marginalization of the indigenous peoples (Thomson, 2005)."
There is little wonder that there are animosities between the two groups (Thomson, 2005). One of the attempts being made to integrate the two cultures is through the use of education (Thomson, 2005). Through education the playing field can be leveled on both sides (Thomson, 2005). The non-indigenous will learn about the indigenous groups and be able to better understand the cultures and traditions of that group while the indigenous will be better equipped to deal with the modern world and all that it entails (Thomson, 2005).
According to experts it is important that "curriculum for indigenous Australians should reflect "indigenous heritage and experiences as well as provide academic and technical skills to enable a significant contribution to the development of Australia in the next millennium (Thomson, 2005). With the advent of the modern reconciliation movement, the role of education as one of the most important areas in which reconciliation can be given some substance is becoming more apparent (Thomson, 2005)."
Another issue between the non-indigenous and indigenous populations is the rate of imprisonment. There are many more indigenous people incarcerated than there are non-indigenous people. This makes it more difficult for the egocentric attitude of the non-indigenous to be reduced. http://www.aic.gov.au/publications/facts/2005/06_corrections.html
Figure 91: Indigenous and non-Indigenous prisoners, rate per 100,000 adults, 1992-2004
On 30 June 2004 the Indigenous imprisonment rate was almost fourteen times higher than the rate for non-Indigenous persons, 1787 per 100,000 Indigenous adult population compared with 127 for non-Indigenous adult population http://www.aic.gov.au/publications/facts/2005/06_corrections.html.
Indigenous prisoners comprised 21% of the total prisoner population in 2004, an increase from 14% in 1992 http://www.aic.gov.au/publications/facts/2005/06_corrections.html.
77% of Indigenous prisoners were known to have previously been in prison http://www.aic.gov.au/publications/facts/2005/06_corrections.html."
For many years the non-indigenous and the indigenous populations of Australia have largely tried to co-exist by ignoring each other.
Today with the globalization process and the exploding populations it is no longer feasible to approach it in this manner. Currently the two cultures are working to integrate while at the same time holding on to their identities and individual traditions, customs and values.
Education has been shown to help ease the great divide between the two cultures as it will bring the indigenous up to speed with current life while at the same time provide the non-indigenous with an understanding and appreciation of the indigenous population.
The two cultures have been working to learn from and appreciate each other's strong points, while helping to reduce the weak points on either side. Whether it is reducing the indigenous inmate population or showing the non-indigenous the beauty of rock art, the current movement to integrate the two cultures in Australia point to a final acceptance of the need to globalize.
Citizenship, history and indigenous status in Australia: back to the future, or toward treaty? Journal of Australian Studies; 1/1/2004; Bradfield, Stuart
Australia: The Complete Guide to Aboriginal Australia; To experience 'real life' down under, try exploring an Indigenous community. CHARLOTTE HINDLE looks at one of the most remarkable cultures in the world.(Features)
The Independent (London, England); 9/21/2002; Hindle, Charlotte
Finding common ground: Indigenous and Asian Diasporic cultural production in Australia. Hecate; 10/1/2001; Stephenson, Peta
Why Indigenous sea rights are not recognised in Australia...: 'the facts' of Mabo and their cultural roots. (case of…[continue]
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