I want to submit (below) a redrafted version of the ATSI section, rather than just change bits here and there. I also think it should be closer to the front of the document, maybe where we first start talking about Australia, to put the dispossession, stolen wealth and unpaid labour of Aboriginal people right at the heart of Australian capitalism.
Prior to the coming of Europeans in 1788, this vast continent and surrounding islands was populated by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nations. More that 300 languages were spoken. Over tens of thousands of years, these nations established social, political and economic structures to varying degrees of complexity.
They engaged in trade, for example the clans in the continent’s north traded pearls and trepang with the Macassans, and sustainably managed the fragile ecosystems across their estates.
The process of colonisation, which started in 1788, required the destruction of these structures and the imposition of a class society brought from Britain by the colonisers.
The wealth of what is today the capitalist state of Australia was built upon the dispossession of the first nations; stolen Aboriginal land – and the valuable resources which lie therein, and unpaid or underpaid Aboriginal labour used to establish the pastoral industry.
For Aboriginal people, this process of colonisation and dispossession has included inter-generational trauma, enslavement, genocide, assimilation, and a loss of language, culture and identity. This legacy, along with continuing institutionalised racism, has resulted in a massive health burden, sky-rocketing imprisonment rates and shorter life expectancy.
The 2007 Northern Territory intervention, and the subsequent Stronger Futures legislation introduced by federal Labor, was a massive bipartisan attack on Aboriginal communities. The policies represent more attacks on Aboriginal language and culture, self-determination and land rights.
Paternalistic welfare measures introduced as part of the intervention are being extended to other parts of the country, particularly areas with large migrant and Aboriginal populations.
Meanwhile, mining companies offer Aboriginal communities investment and “development” in exchange for allowing access to mine on their land.