Why Indigenous people can't simply "get over it"

Have you heard someone ask, “Why can’t Indigenous people just get over it? After all, it happened ages ago.” On the surface this might seem like a fair question, prompted by a genuine desire to see all Australians prosper together. The reason why many Indigenous people can’t simply get over the past is because the negative effects of colonisation are still having an impact on Indigenous people every day, often in drastic ways. You don’t have to look far to find evidence of this.[1a] [1b] [1c] [1d] [1e]

National Indigenous Disadvantage  

These statistics are a result of the lingering injustices of colonisation - dispossession, displacement, exploitation and violence that started at first contact. This behaviour towards Indigenous people was justified by the British colonial system that didn’t understand, respect or value Indigenous Australians. In the worst cases, people of influence refused to acknowledge Indigenous Australians as human in order to justify extraordinary acts of cruelty towards Aboriginal people. These 18th Century colonial attitudes set in motion events and policies and established systems and institutions that continue to have an impact on Indigenous people today, despite Indigenous people’s determined efforts to resist and overcome this adversity.

What’s the connection between the past and the present?

The social and economic impact of invasion and control of Indigenous people has accumulated across generations. It was amplified by policies and practices that have systematically disadvantaged Indigenous people.[2] In many instances, this has resulted in the transmission of trauma, poverty and other forms of disadvantage from generation to generation. The disadvantage we see today is often the long term effect of lack of opportunities in previous generations, including poor nutrition and inadequate education and healthcare.