"The history of Aboriginal dispossession is central to understanding contemporary Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal relations.” Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody

The history of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal relations, while complex, has had the following phases:

  • The 60,000+ years before the arrival of Europeans
  • Initial invasion and colonisation (1788 to 1890)
  • Protection and segregation (1890s to the 1950s)
  • Assimilation (1940s to the 1960s)
  • Integration, self-determination and self-management (1967 to mid 1990s)
  • Reconciliation (1991 to the present)


For Aboriginal people living today, their experience of living in Australian society with this historical legacy has many significant impacts on their lives. Three of many impacts with implications for service delivery are:

  • The emotional impact on Aboriginal people of their experiences and their families experiences
  • The barriers to gaining living skills (for example being separated from their family)
  • The lack of trust of institutions