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Aboriginal Rights, Then and Now: Analysis of Boer War

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Aboriginal rights have drastically changed over the past century from the 20th-21th century. Things have gone from The Stolen Generation, soldiers being denied the right to return home and Women getting abused in the workplace to today where women can work any job, men getting recognized for their achievements on the battlefield, and children only now finding their long-lost siblings (for one person, she waited 100 years just to die 6 months later). In this essay, I will explore the ways Indigenous Australians have fought for rights and freedoms within Australia, how they finally managed to get it and the fact that some things just don’t ever change. I will also be exploring these ideas from 3 different points of view, Men, Women, and Children, and how they have been impacted by Australia's biased history.

Aboriginal Children were poorly treated in the early and middle 20th century. After the 1967 referendum to give aboriginals Australian rights things started to improve for them. They were often taken from their homes/Traditional Homeland and taken to institutions where they were taught to act like White People ad were often beaten and not fed food/water for long periods of time if they did not follow it correctly. Sources 1 and 2 depict children in Institutions and how they were forced into large, very strict groups in which they were taught to ‘act civilized’. After a while, they were than transported like cattle to new homes where they would be then adopted into white colored families to try and live normal lives (Source 3 shows an extreme case where an aboriginal child was actually transported to America just so he could be adopted by the Savage family). This policy often backfired as when they grew up, they were still treated as social outcasts as they were still not considered as ‘True Australians’. They were often forced to take different degrees of jobs depending on how much Indigenous blood you had in you. Aboriginal rights were treated as a joke in the early 20th century some things have started to improve.

Nowadays many Indigenous Australian adults who were children in the early and late 20th century are only now just finding out who their biological family/tribes. As depicted in source 4 it shows where a 107-year-old woman was stolen from her mother at the age of 6 and by the time she traveled to her homeland, her mother and siblings were long gone, she past away 4 months later. Aboriginal children nowadays don’t have to suffer through as near as much trauma as their parents and grandparents had to. They now have access to much better education and better standard of living. They also get to visit their traditional lands as many Aboriginal tribes have started to acquire their lands back from the people who took it from them a hundred years ago. Some still have it rough however as recent studies (as shown in source 5) have shown that Aboriginal children that are in and out of home care is climbing and is set not to stop unless we do some urgently. Also, the amount of Aboriginal children locked up in young offenders is starting to climb as well (as shown in source 6). Although many aspects within a Indigenous Child’s life has improved there is still some things that need to change drastically.

Many Aboriginal women were treated poorly as the combined effect of being a woman and being Indigenous made it hard for them. Many of them were forced to work very labour-intensive jobs like maids and cleaners (shown in source 7) because of how much Indigenous blood they have in them. There were 3 different types of Indigenous Australians, Full blooded Aborigines, half-blood Aborigines, and anyone below that were considered not Indigenous enough to be Aborigines so they are treated like Australian citizens. They were also quite often abused either physically, mentally, sexually or emotionally as they were not considered Australian citizens in the 20th century as they were considered ‘objects’. Just like all women, they didn’t get voting rights but they didn’t receive voting rights until 1962 when the Commonwealth Electoral Act was changed to suit all Aboriginals above the age of 21 (as shown on the time plan in source 8). Just about all Aboriginal women were forced into bad jobs with the risk of abuse and not having the right to vote either.

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Aboriginal women have much better opportunities nowadays as many of the things that were restricting back in the early 20th century have now been lifted with new laws that have been put into effect after the 1967 referendum (Source 9 shows the result of the referendum and how it was overwhelmingly towards giving Aborigines Australian citizenship). They now have the ability to work in any job just like anyone else that they might know. There are now also better laws (Like the Aboriginal Sexual Assault Taskforce in source 10 which is in place to investigate sexual abuse cases) in place for people who are abused and it has helped both recent and old cases to close, usually with the offender ending up meeting the jail cell.

Aboriginal men, just like all other Aborigines in the early 20th century were not proper Australian citizens. Many fought it wars such as the 1st Boer War and World War 1. After the Boer War (War that was fought in the South African area against Dutch settlers, see source 11. They were often deployed as trackers, look at image of source 12) they tried to return home, and since they were not considered ‘Australian Citizens’ so they were refused the right to re-enter the country. They were forced to stay there for the rest of their lives within South Africa. Some Indigenous men tried to buy back their traditional lands for their tribes, although many were able to buy it back off the people who owned the Aboriginal reserves, they were always denied. One example is where a local Aboriginal man (John Koowarta) was trying to by a cattle farm in 1976 (see source 13) but the Queensland Premier at the time, Joh Bjelke-Petersen denied his request and they had to go to court over it. The high court ruled in favor of John but in an act of spite, the Queensland government turned it into a reserve. John Koowarta would die shortly after, never receiving his land. Aboriginal men were left behind in the Boer War and many although fought for the land, they would never receive it.

Nowadays Aboriginal men are being recognized for their actions in the service for Australia. They are also, along with so many Aboriginal communities, are finally receiving all of their rightful lands back to them so they can keep practicing their traditions and teach the children. Some of the men who fought in the 1st Boer War are finally being recognized for their service (as read in source 14), however, only 12 have been recognized for their bravery while reports say that there were over 100 Aboriginal trackers or more. Over 50% of the land has been returned to the native people in the Northern Territory alone (as read in source 15), over 80% of the land that is Australian, Aboriginals have a claim to, but it is unknown how long it may take for Aboriginals to get their land back. Although many Aboriginals' men have been recognized for their bravery in many wars and them receiving their land back there are still steps that need to be taken in order for them to the remaining men and land recognized.

Although many things have improved for Aboriginals as a whole there are still things that need to change including better homes for Aboriginal children, better education so they can learn what happens when you break the law, equal pay for all women anyway, for Aboriginal soldiers to buy given a proper recognition and for Aboriginal tribes to receive their remaining claims to the lands that they have lived on for 60,000+ years. We are moving in the right direction so as long as we keep pushing for they will become equal to us, once and for all.

Appendix A: Source analysis tables

  • Journalists report on 107 Aboriginal Women
  • “Belinda was six years old when she was taken from her mother...When they asked for their mother they were told she would come which she never did”

Source Number: 4

  • Reference: Jens Korff, A guide to Australia’s Stolen Generation, Creative Spirits, 6th, July 2019, Witness account viewed 15/9/19
  • Usefulness
  • Degree of usefulness
    • Provides information about a victim of the Stolen Generation
    • It was made after the time that was investigated
    • Very useful
  • Key information
    • Shows the age at which a child was taken from their family
    • Explains that was no outside contact with family
  • Reliability
  • Degree of reliability
    • Primary Source
    • Written recently so it is not out of date
    • Told from a journalist that interviewed either the victim herself or a close friend
    • Very reliable
    • 1967 referendum results

Source Number: 9

  • Reference: Author unknown, 1967 Australian referendum (Aboriginals), Wikipedia, Updates too often to show, Australian 1967 Referendum, viewed 16/9/19
  • Usefulness
  • Degree of usefulness
    • Shows the results of the 1967 referendum
    • Vote was taken in 1967 then information was spread into table recently
    • Extremely useful
  • Key information
    • Shows the results of the 1967 referendum
    • Shows the numbers very accurately
    • Votes show that people said yes overwhelmly
  • Reliability
  • Degree of reliability
    • Secondary source
    • Multiple different people have added to it giving it views from different perspectives
    • Made by Wikipedia (can be a bit biased)
    • Loads of information which shows people put time and effort into it
    • Moderately reliable
    • First Boer War: Group of Aboriginal trackers

Source Number: 12

  • Reference: Author unknown, 50 Aboriginal trackers left behind at the end of the Boer War, Sovereign Union - First Nations Asserting Sovereignty, date created unknown, 50 Aboriginal Trackers left behind after the 1st Boer War, viewed 19/9/19
  • Usefulness
  • Degree of usefulness
    • Provides information about Aboriginal Trackers in the 1st Boer War
    • It was made in the period of 1899-1902
    • Very useful
  • Key information
    • Show a general ‘carelessness’ attitude with the men
    • Shows that the trackers sometimes worked in groups
  • Reliability
  • Degree of reliability
    • Primary Source
    • The people who found the information use .org which shows a non-profit organization
    • Not much is known about the author or when it was created
    • Moderately reliable


  1. Author Unknown, The Stolen Generation, CommonGround, date created unknown, The Stolen Generation, viewed 11/9/19
  2. Ryan Johnson, How Aboriginals worked, How stuff works, date created unknown, How Aboriginals worked, viewed 11/9/19
  3. By Welcome to Country, Stolen Generations child still stranded in America, Welcome to Country, 9th March 2018, Child stranded in America, viewed 12/9/19
  4. Jens Korff, A quide to Australia’s Stolen Generation, Creative Spirits, 6th, July 2019, Witness account viewed 15/9/19,
  5. Jens Korff, A guide of Australia’s Stolen Generation, Creative Spirits, 6th July 2019, Creative Spirits, viewed 14/9/19
  6. Jens Korff, Aboriginal Prison Rates, Creative Spirits, 8th September 2019, Aboriginal Prison Rates, viewed 14/9/19
  7. Author Unknown, Bringing them home, Human Rights, date created unknown, Human Rights, viewed 16/9/19
  8. Author Unknown, Electoral Milestone for Indigenous Australians, 22nd August 2019, Electoral rights, viewed 16/9/19
  9. Author unknown, 1967 Australian referendum (Aboriginals), Wikipedia, Updates too often to show, Australian 1967 Referendum, viewed 16/9/19
  10. Jens Korff, Aboriginal Sexual Abuse, Creative Spirits, 10th Feburary 2019, Aboriginal Sexual Abuse, viewed 16/9/19
  11. Author Unknown, First Anglo-Boer War, Today in history, date created unknown, 1st Boer War, viewed 17/9/19
  12. Author unknown, 50 Aboriginal trackers left behind at the end of the Boer War, Sovereign Union - First Nations Asserting Sovereignty, date created unknown, 50 Aboriginal Trackers left behind after the 1st Boer War, viewed 17/9/19
  13. Author Unknown, Koowarta v Bjelke-Petersen, Wikipedia, 12th December 2018, Cattle Case, viewed 19/9/19
  14. Elise Pianegonda, Aboriginal soldiers who fought in the Boer War 'deserve greater recognition', ABC, 3oth May 2014, ABC, viewed 19/9/19
  15. Ian McIntosh, Australian Aboriginal land rights under threat, Cultural Survival, Date created unknown, Cultural Survival, viewed 19/9/19
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Aboriginal Rights, Then and Now: Analysis of Boer War. (2022, September 27). Edubirdie. Retrieved February 22, 2024, from
“Aboriginal Rights, Then and Now: Analysis of Boer War.” Edubirdie, 27 Sept. 2022,
Aboriginal Rights, Then and Now: Analysis of Boer War. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 22 Feb. 2024].
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