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History in Australia

Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, also known as the First Nations people, are the first inhabitants of Australia, with evidence of existence dating back to at least 65,000 years ago. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures are the oldest living cultures in the world, predating the settlement of Europe and the Americas. Despite colonisation and its impact on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, these cultures are enduring, resilient and continue to thrive.

The history of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal relations, while complex, has had the following phases:

  • the 60,000+ years before the arrival of Europeans
  • initial invasion and colonisation (1788 to 1890)
  • protection and segregation (1890s to the 1950s)
  • assimilation (1940s to the 1960s)
  • integration, self-determination and self-management (1967 to mid-1990s)
  • reconciliation (1991 to the present)

(Working with Indigenous Australians website, 2017)


‘We are part of the Dreaming. We have been in the Dreaming for a long time before we are born on this earth and we will return to this vast landscape at the end of our days. It provides for us during our time on earth, a place to heal, to restore purpose and hope, and to continue our destiny.’

Helen Milroy, as quoted on Working with Indigenous Australians, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their communities. (2017). Australia’s first peoples.


Watch this video from Reconciliation Australia – Beyond the Myths.

Beyond the myths   

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