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Discrimination and oppression are the best words that can briefly describe the entire history of the interaction between the colonists of any distant land and its Aboriginal peoples. The reason is rather simple: usually, oppressors were technologically advanced, and it had assured them with the power to dictate their rules to the local population. It happened in America, in various colonies around the world, and, of course, in Australia.
This distant land eventually became the British colony and the place for the convicts to serve their time. It had caused the inevitable clash of the Europeans and the Aboriginal people. The local population was not protected by any laws. Death and suffering were the companions of the Australian Aboriginal people for a rather long time.
Today, the situation has changed drastically. Considering the events during the last century, the paper aims at exploring the background of the interaction of the Aboriginal Australian with people from other lands on the Australian soil, reflecting upon the historical impact on the ethical practice of engineering, and evaluating the potential personal experience regarding the impact on communication with the Aboriginal communities of contemporary Australia.
Indigenous people of Australia appeared to be in danger when the first colonist reached the Australian land. Starting from that moment and until the late 1990s, the Aboriginal Australians struggled for justice. Their native lands were occupied by the colonists from the British Empire, and these people were not the nicest, smartest, and the most ethical ones (Indigenous Australian timeline, 2010).
Before the first convicts followed by their guards stepped onto the Australian soil, Captain Cook visited Botany Bay and claimed the whole continent to be the possession of the British Empire. It was an empty land for him and his followers. In other words, the Aboriginal population was simply ignored. Later, with the arrival of the first ships from Europe, the life of the Indigenous Australians had changed forever.
They were killed, tortured, and oppressed until then they began to fight back, and it was noticed by the newcomers. There were no battles in the traditional meaning (Indigenous Australian timeline, 2010). Spears and bows used by the Aboriginal people could not have been compared with guns and powder, so the Aborigines preferred to use the tactics of hits and an immediate run to avoid face-to-face confrontation.
The beginning of the 20th century was rather dramatic for the indigenous Australians as well. The Aboriginals were removed from the census and their law-making power in the parliament was banned by the Commonwealth Constitution of 1901. In other words, people who lived in Australia thousands of years before the colonists’ arrival were left without the right to influence their life. More to say, they were not even considered citizens of the state (Indigenous Australian timeline, 2010).
In 1902, according to the Franchise Act, indigenous people of Australia were not able to vote in the Commonwealth elections. In 1908, Aborigines were removed from the national pension roll by the Invalid and Old Age Pension Act. In 1909, natives became unable to serve in the Armed Forces according to the Commonwealth Defence Act (Indigenous Australian timeline, 2010). The worst situation was with the rights of the indigenous Australians for their children.
The same year, the Aborigines Protection Act provided the Aborigines Protection Board with the right to control the children of the native population under 18 years of age. They could have been separated from the parents by the decision of the Board, and these rules existed until the middle of the century (Indigenous Australian timeline, 2010). The Aboriginals lived in reservations for a long time, and the process of the restoration of their rights was very slow.
Act by act, year by year, the situation improved for the indigenous people of Australia. However, it should be noted that oppressive practices continued in reality until 1975 when the Racial Discrimination Act was passed to eliminate any practices of racial discrimination (Indigenous Australian timeline, 2010). From that moment, Aboriginal Australians received the opportunity to create and develop local, regional, and state land councils, and control their wellbeing and life.
Historical Impact on the Ethical Practice of Engineering
Engineering is one of the cornerstone fields for any society to develop successfully. The technological path of development is essential for the vast majority of the developed countries in the world. Engineers create, build, repair, and produce nearly everything that surrounds people every day. Therefore, engineering is one of the most important spheres for any government to develop and improve.
Considering the historical background of the native Australians, it is highly unlikely that there are many successful engineers in this ethnic group today (Department of Indigenous Affairs, 2005). They had no right to do literally anything except for living in the reservations, so there was no opportunity to receive any kind of education in this area. Only several decades at the end of the 20th century can be called moderately favorable to Aboriginals in terms of granting them rights and freedoms (Department of Indigenous Affairs, 2005).
It means that Indigenous Australians hurt any ethical behavior towards them. The ethical practice of engineering is only part of the countrywide program of ethical behavior with Aboriginals that should be adopted. There are positive shifts in this area if to consider the case of Rio Tinto and its Reconciliation Action Plan (Rio Tinto, 2011). Local government and companies make efforts to improve the situation and include Indigenous Australians into the effective workforce of the Australian nation. However, many things have to be done to create the momentum and change the attitude of the native Australians to the Australian government.
Historically, the native population lived in the rural and less urbanized areas of Australia. These factors have conditioned the lack of interest in the engineering practices, as they are needed in technologically advanced areas mostly. Such a state of things presupposes the need for a more thorough approach to the ethical practice of engineering. Indigenous Australians may not have the necessary level of engineering education, so they should be treated with increased attention to details (Australian Government, 2015; Whitlam Institute, 2015).
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No disrespect should be demonstrated because of the inability to understand or master some technology or process. All people who do not belong to the native population of Australia are guests on this land. The historical events show that this postulate has been left ignored in the 1770s.
Finally, engineering practices should consider the cultural heritage of Indigenous Australians. It means that any lands, sacred for the native Australians, should be protected by the state laws to avoid ruining any kind of cultural sites and any territories that Aboriginals consider as the ones that should be protected (Australian Law Reform Commission, 2016; Australian Government, 2015). These people have suffered enough to being indirectly oppressed by a developed and civilized society. Today, the major goal is to support Indigenous Australians and help them to develop in their way.
Impact on Communication with Aboriginal Communities
Such a history of Indigenous Australians would impact my communication style and overall attitude towards the Aboriginal communities and representatives in the process of communication. The first change would be the thoroughness of the process of preparation of the communication with Aboriginal communities.
It would require from me the exploration of the regional history and its local peculiarities. I would evaluate the historical events and legislative initiatives in terms of their impact on the indigenous population of the region. It would help me to understand how bad the situation was and what the most significant problems were. Such information would help me to work on the development of the necessary arguments to be used in the negotiation process concerning historical events.
Another significant change would be the use of considerably simplified technological documentation. It is necessary to provide local communities with available and simple information needed in the communication process. The documents would be provided with the appropriate respect and careful explanations of why the information would be provided in this form. It would require an extremely delicate approach to avoid any thoughts about the potential discrimination of the native Australians.
However, it would be necessary to show that the Indigenous partners are perceived as equals. It is highly important because over a century of discrimination could have created a certain fixation on the problem of the unequal rights and the subsequent issues. The discussed changes would be required to assure Indigenous Australians that the years of unjust attitudes have already passed and the new Australians are ready to work hard on the improvement of the current situation.
Almost a century of oppression and discrimination is a long term for any nation. It is utterly important to support Indigenous Australians in their endeavor to restore the population, develop, and preserve their cultural heritage. They add uniqueness to the Australian culture as the people who had lived in Australia for tens of thousands of years before their oppressors showed up. It is the obligation of the new generations of civilized and developed society to fix the mistakes of the predecessors and avoid making the new ones. It is the chance to improve the situation that may not be provided by the history anymore.
Summing, the paper has considered the events during the last century, and based on that it has explored the background of the interaction of the Aboriginal Australian with people from other lands on Australian soil. Additionally, it has presented the reflection upon the historical impact on the ethical practice of engineering and has evaluated the potential personal experience regarding the impact on communication with the Aboriginal communities of contemporary Australia.
Decades of oppression did not break down Indigenous Australians. They managed to survive after the first confrontation with a much more developed civilization. These people had the patience to live through the decades of humiliation and discrimination. Today, Aboriginal people of Australia are the equal members of Australian society and they must be treated accordingly. Therefore, the communication process should be built based on mutual respect, trust, and delicate attitude towards the past of these people.
Australian Government (2015). Reconciliation. Web.
Australian Law Reform Commission (2016). Aboriginal societies: The experience of contact. Web.
Department of Indigenous Affairs (2005). Consulting citizens: Engaging with aboriginal Western Australians. Web.
Indigenous Australian timeline. (2010). Web.
Rio Tinto (2011). Reconciliation action plan. Web.
Whitlam Institute (2015). Indigenous Australians. Web.