This topic guide will help you work with the topic of Australia. The guide is mainly intended for use in English class, but it may also be relevant for other school subjects such as History or Social Studies.
The guide is designed to give you a good overview of Australia's history, including information about the Aboriginal Australians and the way they were treated by the European colonists. You can also find specific suggestions for texts to use as reference points, as well as ideas for further thematic perspectives.
Before European settlers started to arrive, the Australian continent was very isolated compared to the rest of the world. The indigenous population consisted of many different cultures, who typically lived a nomadic life in hunter-gatherer societies.
The first European explorers visited the country in the 17th century, but colonisation did not truly begin until the second half of the 18th century, when the British started to explore new opportunities after the loss of their American colonies. The first British colonies were largely populated by convicts, who had been convicted to forced transportation to the Australian continent.
The colonists had many encounters with the indigenous population, the Aboriginal Australians, which in many cases led to violent conflicts. The colonists were almost always victorious in these conflicts due to their much more advanced weaponry. The Aboriginals were also extremely vulnerable to many of the diseases that the European colonists carried - smallpox alone cost an enormous amount of lives.
Over time more colonies were founded, and Australia gradually gained more independence from the British Empire, which finally resulted in full independence in 1931. Even though Australia was greatly affected by the Depression of the 1930s, the country played a significant role in World War 2, and after the war the economy started booming.
Today Australia is a wealthy nation with a high standard of living. The country still struggles with some societal issues, however. For example, Aboriginal Australians are still subjected to discrimination and generally have a much lower standard of living than the rest of the population.