By the end of the 19th century there were only about 60.000 aborigines left.
In the 20th century, the Australian goverment tried to integrate Aborigines into white society by removing them from their traditional tribal areas.
From 1900 – 1971, up to one fourth of all aboriginal children were taken from their families by force. The children were brought to special homes or camps. They were supposed to learn the European way of life and get health benefits. Instead they lost their families, language, culture and traditions. Often the children were told that their parents were dead of did not want them. But breaking up families has led to problems for many Aborigines such as suicides, crime and violence.
Today there are roughly 257.000 Aborigines in Australia.
Two thirds of all aborigines in Australia today live in towns or close to towns and cities, but the rest live in remote settlements. 2,4 5 of Australia’s population are Aborigines. The highest concentration of Aborigines is in the Northern Territory as the Aborigines make up 28 % of the population.
There are several Aboriginal tribes and tribal languages. The aborigines are proud of both their differences and likenesses.
In recent years, some Aborigines have begun to leave cities and towns and return to their traditional lands and tribal customs. They see this as a way of escaping from social problems.
There are also success stories. An Aboriginal athlete, Cathy Freeman, “the queen of track”, has become a positive role model and symbol of achievement for many aborigines. Freeman is proud of her Aboriginal background.
The whole question of the Aborigines is still explosive. Many Australians will not admit that the Aborigines were treated badly.