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Australian Aborigines

Let's take Australia Day to a new level!

The history of Australia as a nation has been brutal to the humans who lived here first, to the animals and birds, and brutal to the landscape. Australia needs a day to stop and reflect on what has been done, where we are now and where we are going. We cannot fix the problem by continuing to do the same thing that caused it. Current discussion about Australia Day focuses on the way colonisation affected and continues to affect the aboriginal population. In addition to the injustices and atrocities, Australian Aborigines have been, and continue to be, overwhelmed by sheer numbers from elsewhere. The non-Aboriginal population born here is now being overwhelmed in the same way. The fast growing population as a whole has ongoing devastating environmental impacts on this land. It has social impacts too, as it enriches a very few members of the growth lobby, while the rest pay for population growth.

Interview with Indigenous Advocate Richie Allan on Population Sustainability in Australia

In November 2016 I co-wrote an article for New Matilda exploring why it is important for those on the left to discuss population sustainability. Although the feedback was overwhelmingly positive, it was suggested that the debate is invalid unless it is inclusive of migrants or indigenous Australians. Which got me thinking …

Australia Day ambivalence

Back in 1788 on 26th January, the First Fleet of British Ships arrived at Port Jackson, New South Wales, having landed a few days earlier at Botany Bay. The British flag was raised right there at Port Jackson by Governor Arthur Phillip and the previous inhabitants were summarily and officially dispossessed. The First Fleet comprised six convict ships lead by two Royal Navy escort ships. There are varying accounts of the number of convicts who arrived in the First Fleet but I conclude after looking at a number of relevant sites that over 700 convicts arrived of whom about a quarter were female.

The smallpox holocaust that swept Aboriginal Australia - Red hot echidna spikes are burning me

Editor's introduction Dr Jim Poulter's learned study has revolutionary consequences for much demographic theory on Australia's population pre-European settlement. This is a deeply satisfying analysis for specialist and enthusiast alike, given its knowledgeable attention to the role of the clan and skin system in ordering fertility opportunity; its integration of climate, space and tradition into the equation; and its careful use of European data on the effects and quarantine of smallpox in the years 1789 and 1828. Anyone studying the effects of smallpox anywhere, however, cannot escape being affected by its tragic and terrifying aspect - even across centuries - and the scale of its impact. - Sheila Newman (Population Sociologist)

Utilising both historical documentation and Aboriginal oral history, the author explores the impacts of the 1789 and 1828 smallpox plagues on Aboriginal Australia. Particular reference is made to the Wurundjeri people of the Melbourne area, where the plague entered their folklore as ‘the Mindye’. An analysis is made of the natural carrying capacity of the land for hunter-gatherer society in Australia in poor seasons and the pre 1788 population is estimated at three million people. The course of the 1789 smallpox plague along the coastal areas and inland river systems is briefly mapped. A death rate of 90% is established for populations having their first exposure to smallpox and the Australian death toll for the 1789 pandemic is estimated as at least two and a half million Australians. The original population of Woiwurung speaking people in essentially the Yarra Valley area of Melbourne is estimated at 20,000, with this being reduced to 1000 people after the second smallpox plague that began in 1828. It is concluded that the massive social dislocation and internecine conflict caused by the plague was then mistakenly seen and recorded by early settlers and historians as the ‘normal’ state of affairs. [About the Author - see end of this article]

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