Settlement or Invasion? (of Australia)

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Depending on who you ask, the ‘settlement’ of Australia was actually nothing more than an invasion. The Europeans had good intent when they came to Australia, but they affected the Indigenous people, sometimes unintentionally. Violence and conflict was common between the Aboriginals and the Europeans. It is clear that it was an invasion. The first settlers of Australia wanted to reap the benefits and resources of the prosperous Australian land. The opportunities offered here were greater than those in England. One example of this is John Street, who moved to Australia, “…John Street – an instance before us of what a man even with little energy and small capital can do. He is now possessed of 2000 acres of fine land, 1600 sheep and cattle, a house and all the comforts he can expect and desire.” (quote from Bassett, The Hentys, pp. 34-36) There was lots of land on offer and the amount of land one owned dictated social status. John Batman, leader of the Port Phillip expedition, selected eight natives and claimed them to be ‘chiefs’ of the tribe. He had his assistants explain to them that he wanted to purchase 600, 000 acres of ‘their’ land, in return for blankets, tomahawks, knives, scissors, handkerchiefs, shirt and other clothing. Not only was this deal completely one sided, there were lots of other tribes occupying the land and it was not theirs to sell. The Aboriginals couldn’t actually understand what they were saying and they had a spiritual connection to the land that the British didn’t acknowledge. Due to the nomadic lifestyle of the Aboriginals, they believed one area of land was just as good as any other. Batman brought out the paperwork and almost forced them to sign it. “Each of the eight Aborigines was taught to hold a pen … his fingers were guided in making wavy strokes against his name.” (Year 9 Resource Booklet, p.48) The first settlers had no malicious intentions coming to Australia, but their method of ‘settlement’ was ignorant and could be seen as...
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