Surviving What?: Surviving Colonialism

All study participants discussed racist policies, arising from colonialism, that excluded Aboriginal people from having any rights or dignity.

For many participants, the long-term physical and psychological effects are transgenerational. However, all participants in this study were able to rise above this history. Through their stories they demonstrated that they were able to survive colonialism. For many, it was surviving in another world or culture.

rsz_indig2Colonialism has had a detrimental effect on Aboriginal people throughout Australia. It has affected them in a holistic way.

‘A process that had a devastating impact on the physical, spiritual, social and cultural wellbeing of the many different societies (500 clan groups), which remained relatively isolated for between 40,000 to 70,000 years’ (Collard 2000, p 23).

Not one participant interviewed mentioned the word colonialism specifically. However, all participants discussed the racist policies used to exclude Aboriginal people from having any rights or dignity.

A number of participants spoke either of themselves, their parents or grandparents being prohibited to speak their language, practice traditional customs and rituals, and being denied access to their traditional lands.

Many participants explained that this was due to the introduction of segregation and assimilation policies, and the institutionalisation of Aboriginal people.

Through the stories of the participants interviewed, the pain and bitterness of such memories was displayed, resulting in emotions such as anger, hatred, alienation, depression, grief and frustration.

For many participants, the long-term physical and psychological effects are transgenerational. However, all participants in this study were able to rise above this history. Through their stories they demonstrated that they were able to survive colonialism. For many, it was surviving in another world or culture.

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