Slavery in Australia

CW: slavery, race, violence. This article contains disturbing images. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware that this article contains the names and images of people who have died.

The Australian PM Scott Morrison said on Thursday morning (on 2GB) that “It was a pretty brutal place, but there was no slavery in Australia.”

This is a big fat lie. It’s such a bald faced lie, it’s beyond laughable. It’s… shocking.

Slavery in Australia:

  • ‘Blackbirding’, where people from Pacific Islands were kidnapped, transported to Queensland, and forced to work on cane farms. With the introduction of the White Australia policy, any of the survivors (many died) were deported.
  • Indentured labour on properties.
    Black men were forced to work for rations on rural properties. The most famous example of this is the Gurindji people (Northern Territory) who were forced to work for white pastoralists on Wave Hill Station with no pay, unable to leave. In 1967 Vincent Lingiari led a walk off, where Black workers started protesting. This eventually led to the Aboriginal Land Rights Act in 1976.
  • Indentured domestic labour.
    Black women and girls were forced to work for rations in white people’s homes. They were unable to leave, and were frequently the target of sexual assault.
  • The Stolen Generations.
    Black children were taken from their parents and institutionalised (placed in ‘care’) or with white families. In both cases they were physically restricted from leaving.
  • Stolen Wages.
    Black adults and children were forced to work for whites, and told their pay had been taken into care by their ’employers’. To quote the attached article,

    …the Queensland “Protection Acts” in force between 1939 and 1972 required the wages of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workers be paid to the protector or superintendent of an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander district, reserve, settlement or mission.

    This money has never been received by black workers or their descendants.

  • Protectorates, Reserves, and Missions.
    Aboriginal people were forcibly restricted to white-run institutions, where they worked for nothing, were not able to marry who they choose, were separated from family, and brutalised by white staff. These institutions continued until the 1970s.

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