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Thursday 22 September 2022

A People Reasserting Themselves

Image: Unsplash

A suppressed nation is beginning to reassert itself, as Indigenous Australians increasingly assert their identity:

"Australia's Indigenous population has reached almost one million people, according to new census data.

Population figures released on Wednesday by the Australian Bureau of Statistics revealed the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population had increased by nearly a quarter in the past five years.

In the five years to June 2021, the Indigenous population grew 23.2 per cent from 798,000 to 984,000.

The population represents about 3.8 per cent of the total Australian population."

As the article notes, this is not organic population growth through births, but people reclaiming their link to their Aboriginal past. I have observed people doing this more and more myself. Where as in the past Australians would suppress their Indigenous acenstry, today they will look into their family lineage to seek it out, and happily make it part of their known identity. 

This is happening, because being Indigenous in Australia can afford certain benefits, and is encouraged by modern cultural attitudes. So it makes sense that more and more people would identify as Indigenous. 

This presents an interesting challenge for Australia as a nation. Because we are a land of rapidly growing diversity. Our addiction to multicultural immigration is bringing in vast numbers of foreigners, especially from Asia. Our obsession with diversity is increasingly causing a push for each people group to have its distinct identity acknowledged, celebrated, and protected. All of which makes it harder to claim Australia is a united people with a shared vision for the future. 

There is no unfied Australian identity anymore. Less people identify with the Australian flag and institutions, precisely because less people in Australia are linked to our British heritage. And Indigenous self identification is itself outpaced by foreign self-identification of immigrant groups. 

There are interesting times ahead for all Australians. Especially those of British descent, as the reality of our isolation far from our British brethren settles in over the coming years.The Anglo-American empire is receding and nationalism is increasing. Peoples of all sorts are asserting their national identities again. Indigenous Australians have every right to reassert their national identity. As do people of other nations. But this will cause increasing divisions. And what is worse is a lot of people cannot even see the challenges coming. 

Australia's multicultural experiment is seen as a great success by most of our citizens. But until now we have lived in a land of plenty, with wealth to go around. What happens to our vastly expanding divisions when this shared prosperity comes to an end? How will Australia as a nation-state juggle all of these competing diversities then? 

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