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Research Essay: Poverty, Hunger & Child Exploitation in Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islanders



Write a research essay on Poverty, Hunger & Child Exploitation in Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islanders


In Australia, self-determination law allows people from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in assessing freedom from facing discrimination by other citizens. Indigenous people such as Aboriginal islanders are significantly pointed out as having lower economic and social status due to homelessness, family separation, unemployment and poor education system, isolation from other populations in Australia, and a higher rate of crime. According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, it can be understood that the children from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island often become the victim of abandonment from the death or separation from parents, abuse and neglect, child trafficking, poverty, any natural disaster or diseases such as AIDS. During the early 1900s to the 1970s, millions of children from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island were forced to leave their parents to make them habituated with the 'white society' of Australia. These children are known as the part of the stolen generation, who suffered extensive psychological, physical, and sexual abuse at their foster care. They were forced to adopt a new culture and identity.

Main Body

Historical Analysis on Poverty, Hunger and Child Exploitation in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders
In the historical context of people from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, the stolen generation has been widely criticized in the recent scenario. It was an inhuman act by the government of Australia, Australian Federal, and church mission to separate children from their parents at Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island during the 1910s to 1970s (Common Ground First Nations, 2020). They have done this by an act called the policy of assimilation. Assimilation is considered inferior to the black community and the superiority of the white community from Australia. The government made it legal to retrieved mixed-race children from that island to make them culturally accepted into the white society. The method was to choose children with lighter skin color to understand and adopt white culture, language, and refer to new identities (Common Ground First Nations, 2020). It happened during that time when they were neglected and abused at the government institutes.

The trauma and impact on the people from Aboriginal and Torres Strait island that happened with the stolen generation can be still felt in today’s scenario (Australians Together, 2020). It made their culture obscured from the future indigenous population from those islands. The psychological and physical abuse received by the children at the care institutes after their removal made them furious about their lives. The idea behind this inhuman act was to make Aboriginal and Torres Strait islanders a part of the white society of Australia by assimilating their new generation through the vulnerable acts from the government (Australians Together, 2020). Children taught to rejecting their indigenous culture, language, and practice discrimination against their ancestors. It later resulted in long-term discrimination from the white population and socio-economic challenges in facing poverty badly.


Figure: Children from Stolen Generation (Common Ground First Nations, 2020)

In the current scenario, almost 3.3% of the Australian population is known as Aboriginal islanders. Currently, more than 68% of people are living in New South Wales, Victoria, and Queensland. It is difficult to include Aboriginals in the official census of Australia due to their long history of displacement and the adoption of different cultures (Korff, 2020). It made the whole population identification process difficult. The poverty at the Aboriginal and Torres Strait island addresses the societal inequality, and the continuous racism in shaping Australian law and politics (Canuto et al., 2019). In various studies, it has been identifying that the people from Aboriginal and Torres Island represents the worst societal and health statistics among Australia. The decreasing life expectancy due to the unavoidable illness and high rate of poverty makes the health system damaged in these areas.

The long-term experience in facing homelessness, unemployment, higher crime rate, imprisonment, and the higher suicide rate among the Aboriginal and Torres Islanders makes the development and health service statistics poor (Canuto et al., 2019). It is a common factor among the remote indigenous communities in Australia in facing extreme poverty and discrimination from the white population. Poverty makes the people from Aboriginal and Torres island to face chronic diseases. Their income scale is lesser than the average store products, which makes them feel insecure about their health and future (Ferguson et al., 2018). The local government is currently pushing the affordability factor among these people, which can be a vital aspect of developing their social and healthy lifestyles significantly. It is easier for the non-indigenous people to discriminate against them even after so many years just because the government of Australia is still reluctant in providing development to these people.

Critical Analysis
In the National Study of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Wellbeing, it helps in exploring the cultural factors that are important to those people in ensuring their societal and health-related wellbeing (Salmon et al., 2018). The Australian government has realized the inclusion of indigenous people into the official census was back in 1967 (Griffiths et al., 2019). It was then when the historical and contemporary identification and issues from indigenous people came into consideration. Besides inclusion into the census of population count, it was also becoming official to make statistics on their health wellbeing, employment, homelessness, poverty, and other societal parameters. In the final human rights law of Australia, it made clear that people can take Aboriginal identity and practice their own culture (Griffiths et al., 2019). The identification and providing proper human rights to the Aboriginal and Torres Islanders has been controversial since the formation of the laws and regulations by the Australian government.

Despite having both national and international human rights for indigenous people for the past 40 years, it is still in question in assessing accurate data and statistics from them (Griffiths et al., 2019). In the criminal aspect, Australian law is still practicing their criminology with racial terminology that caused the separation of different groups (Scott & Morton, 2018). It can be seen that the Aboriginal and Torres Islanders practice crime and justice aligned with the mainland justice system that obscures the indigenous justice system with its diverse context (Scott & Morton, 2018). The Australian government formed the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation with a ten years timeframe to strengthen the reconciliation process among the indigenous and non-indigenous people. It started from the outrage on an existing commission called Royal Commissions into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody in 1991. The long-term discrimination against people from Aboriginal and Torres strengthen their decreased economic and social development, which influenced the high rate of poverty.

In the current educational context of the Australian education system, students are experiencing priorities in studying with the history and cultural curriculums from Aboriginal and Torres Islanders (Parkinson & Jones, 2019). Poverty, assimilation, and long-term trauma among the children from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders make them having broad cultural differences. In 2019, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) released a child protection act that addresses negligence and abuse among the children from the indigenous community and places them in an alternative care center for ensuring their well-being. The statistics from 2017-18, it was identified that the abuse rate among the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children comprised 42 cased per 1000 children. It represented that indigenous children are 6.5 times more likely to face abuse, harm, and risk from their society than non-indigenous children from Australia (Australian Institute of Family Studies, 2020).


Figure: Differences between Indigenous and Non-indigenous Children in Australia in Facing Abuse (Australian Institute of Family Studies, 2020)

Australian Human Rights Law for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders
Human rights are for everyone and very much important for every individual. Human rights should be entitled without any discrimination within race, color, or gender. The human rights for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders of Australia or as called those Indigenous people to have the reconciliation of Australia has given an advantage to the Indigenous people, as a human right is the basic rights of every people. The reconciliation law of Australia promotes equality and justice to the Indigenous people (Evatt, 2018). The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders should have an adequate amount of standard livings which includes a sufficient amount of food, clothing, and proper accommodation. The law should have given them the attainable standard of physical and mental health treatment, protect them from the violence. Human rights should give them a permit to participate in all aspects of public life and in government-decision making. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders should get recognition and protection of their traditional island and resources. The human law should treat them equally and give them the full privileged to enjoy their culture and should preservation for their language and should not force them to assimilate or destroy their culture.

But on daily basis, Australian Indigenous people face a problem because the Australian law could not protect them and the people face racial discrimination in any aspect of their life. The clear differences that have been shown between indigenous and non-indigenous people all indicate the quality of living in Australia. Indigenous people basically experience the lower standards of living and health, education, and housing in the continent. It has shown that the criminal justice system does not care about the indigenous people of the land. The life expansion of the Indigenous people is around 17years or lowers than the non- indigenous people. A survey shows that in 2006, the unemployment rate of the Indigenous people has down to 16% than the other people in the country. In 2004-05, 27% of Indigenous people lived in overcrowded conditions, and they likely to experience more homelessness, family-violence than the other Australians. It shows that 18.3% of Indigenous women face physical abuse in 2005, compared to non- indigenous women.

In Australia, Indigenous people have faced greater disease than non- indigenous people. It shows that Indigenous Australians have burden of diseases 2.5 times more than the non-indigenous people. They suffer diabetes 5times more than the other people in Australia. It has also shown that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders face 4.5 times more susceptible to cardiovascular diseases (Mazel, 2018). It shows that these people get sicker and die earlier than the other Australians. Overall, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders have lower rates of income and overcrowded households, and lower education system. The racial impact on the children's health of indigenous people is increased. A survey shows that 40% of primary care and 45% of families and 14% of indigenous children have faced racial discrimination. It shows that it affects the child's mental health, emotional, and behavioral abnormality (Shepherd et al., 2017).

The children also faced problems including asthma, obesity, and sleep difficulties too. Australian law should reduce racism and make it an integral part of Human rights. It will improve the health of indigenous children in Australia. The Australian government should adopt a law that should not discriminate against the indigenous people; the federal government should respect human rights when developing the human rights policy. The public servants like policemen, doctors should give respect to the indigenous people while making any decision. The human rights of Australia should give recognition to indigenous people in the preamble. They should give those rights to the government decision-making process and should respect their culture, language, and traditional knowledge.

Social Workers for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders
The social workers play an essential role in defining the problems and developing solutions for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders of Australia. Social workers ensure that human rights are for every individual and it should benefit every people of the country. Social workers should be trained to be a cultural component. They should know about the ethnicity of different language and religious culture of the people. Social workers should have known about the cultural knowledge of the Indigenous communities. Social workers will discuss the important areas where social development needs more, like the North Territory intervention, more broadly addressed to the family abuses and child safety in the indigenous community.

Social justice for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders has been compromised so many times. The indigenous people have fought for their human-rights and self-sovereignty. The social workers are trying to close the gap between them and the indigenous people. It has shown that the allyship of the social workers mostly misjudged by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. But some study shows that social workers mainly focusing on the child and family service sectors of the community (Gaumond, 2020). Implementing social services to the child and family service sector can ensure the proper care and protection of the indigenous children of the community. The sector also helped the indigenous teenager from the racial discrimination of the country.

The social workers are constructing the social curriculum activities to give recognition to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders of Australia. By building a good relationship with the indigenous people, social workers can model cultural responsiveness in action. Social workers of Australia have helped to develop the student's understanding of themselves and their relationship with the other students. Understanding the relationship helped the students to know about culture, race, and gender (Bennett et al., 2018). It helped them to envisioned approaches to social justice. Giving the students proper knowledge about other communities can help them to grow and should give them a clear idea about social justice. The goal of the social teams should not only help them to do develop, but to work with them equally.

Social service workers should conduct physical activities like sports to develop the social outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders of Australia. It will help to improve the educational, social, and emotional well-being of the community people. Physical activities aim to develop six social outcomes measures like education, culture, employment, social wellbeing, and life skills. It also shows that it will help to decrease the crime rate in the community. Using sports as a tool the education system can be developed. Before that students were not been interested to go to school but, implementing sports not only engage the students but also give shape to the Australian sports education (Macniven et al., 2019). It will give a positive impact on health and also help to understand the community. The sports helped to increase the self-confidence and self-esteem within the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. It also helped to improve the social and emotional factors of the indigenous communities.

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders of Australia have human rights but they also suffered a lot. There are numerous negative impacts on the indigenous community. They suffered racial discrimination a lot. But the Australian government should improve the Human Rights act which will help to improve the health, education, and security of the indigenous people. The Human Rights Act should give them opportunity to speak in the government decision, which will give them a good insight into the non-indigenous people. The social workers of Australia should give help them to develop their community as well as teach about them the social policies. Social improvement will give them a new sight of living.

Australian Institute of Family Studies. (2020). Child protection and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. Retrieved from

Australians Together. (2020). The Stolen Generations. Retrieved from

Bennett, B., Redfern, H., & Zubrzycki, J. (2018). Cultural responsiveness in action: Co-constructing social work curriculum resources with Aboriginal communities. British Journal of Social Work, 48(3), 808–825.

Canuto, K., Harfield, S., Wittert, G., & Brown, A. (2019). Listen, understand, collaborate: developing innovative strategies to improve health service utilisation by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men. ANZJPH, 43(4).

Common Ground First Nations. (2020). The Stolen Generations. Retrieved from

Evatt, E. (2018). 4th ANU Reconciliation Lecture 2007: Reconciliation, justice and equal rights.

Ferguson, M., O’dea, K., Altman, J., Moodie, M., & Brimblecombe, J. (2018). Health-promoting food pricing policies and decision-making in very remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community stores in Australia. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 15(12), 2908.

Gaumond, G. (2020). Bridging the Gaps Between Settler Social Worker Allyship and Indigenous Social Justice.

Griffiths, K., Coleman, C., Al-Yaman, F., Cunningham, J., Garvey, G., Whop, L., Pulver, L. J., Ring, I., & Madden, R. (2019). The identification of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in official statistics and other data: Critical issues of international significance. Statistical Journal of the IAOS, 35(1), 91–106.

Korff, J. (2020). Aboriginal population in Australia. Retrieved from

Macniven, R., Canuto, K., Wilson, R., Bauman, A., & Evans, J. (2019). The impact of physical activity and sport on social outcomes among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people: A systematic scoping review. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, 22(11), 1232–1242.

Mazel, O. (2018). Indigenous health and human rights: a reflection on law and culture. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 15(4), 789.

Parkinson, C., & Jones, T. (2019). Aboriginal people’s aspirations and the Australian Curriculum: A critical analysis. Educational Research for Policy and Practice, 18(1), 75–97.

Salmon, M., Doery, K., Dance, P., Chapman, J., Gilbert, R., Williams, R., & Lovett, R. (2018). Defining the indefinable: Descriptors of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ cultures and their links to health and wellbeing.

Scott, J., & Morton, J. (2018). Understanding crime and justice in Torres Strait Islander communities. In The Palgrave Handbook of Criminology and the Global South (pp. 587–609). Springer.

Shepherd, C. C. J., Li, J., Cooper, M. N., Hopkins, K. D., & Farrant, B. M. (2017). The impact of racial discrimination on the health of Australian Indigenous children aged 5–10 years: analysis of national longitudinal data. International Journal for Equity in Health, 16(1), 116.


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