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Indigenous Australia

Source: High Commission Of India
Saturday, January 26, 2013

Australia's Aboriginal people arrived from Asia at least 50,000 years ago. They formed many different tribes and were largely nomadic hunters and gatherers.

Torres Strait Islander peoples first settled on islands north of the mainland, between the tip of Queensland and Papua New Guinea, about 10,000 years ago.

Today most Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples live in cities and towns, but many still live in rural and remote areas and follow traditional lifestyles.

Indigenous culture is diverse and strong, and makes a vital contribution to Australia's national identity. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples contribute significantly across many fields including the arts, media, academia, politics, sport and business.

When Europeans arrived in Australia, there were a large number of different Aboriginal languages and dialects spoken. While Indigenous languages remain strong in some communities, it is estimated that over 50 languages have been lost since European settlement. Approximately 145 languages are still spoken with around 110 of these severely or critically endangered. Efforts are underway to keep language strong in Indigenous communities, and revive vulnerable languages.

A federal referendum on 27 May 1967 removed references from the Australian Constitution which discriminated against Indigenous people. It saw the highest 'yes' vote ever recorded in a federal referendum, with 90.77 per cent voting for the change. The referendum was an important milestone in Australian history.

On 3 June 1992, the High Court of Australia, through the landmark Mabo decision, recognised native title and Indigenous peoples' entitlements to possession, occupation, use and enjoyment of lands for the first time in Australian history. Many regard the decision as a turning point for reconciliation in Australia.





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