The Europeans began to settle Australia on the 26th of January as a convict colony in 1788. At this time, Aboriginals had already inhabited the land for 50,000 or more years. In 1788, there were an estimated 300,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders living in Australia (www.schoolnet.ca/aboriginal/issues/health-e.html). Between 1788 and 1950, this number dropped to 50,000, now the population of indigenous persons living in Australia is approximately 1.5%, or approximately 427,000 (Van Kreiken, Smith, Habibis, McDonald, Harlambos & Holborn, 2000:532). When Cook landed in Botany Bay, he declared the land to be terra nullius, which was thought by many to mean blank space, or uninhabited, but in fact, it means unworked or unused agriculturally. When Europeans settled Australia, they saw the Indigenous residents to be savages, who wandered about aimlessly, through an arid wasteland, in a state of nature, (Morgan, 2001) and were considered to be animal-like, or not fully human (Van Kreiken et. al, 2000:536). Opinions have changed since those times, where Europeans treated the Aborigines violently, and an estimated 20000 Aboriginals were murdered and diseases introduced by the settlers killed numerous others.
During the 1800s, Aboriginals began to move to more urban areas of Australia, where they were alienated by other Aboriginals, who believed that they were abandoning their cultural ties, that had been in place since before the arrival of the settlers and turning their backs on their pasts, and families. The Europeans living in these urban areas also alienated these Aboriginals, as they looked different, and acted differently to the Europeans. (Morgan, 2001) The late 1800s, to early 1900s were the times where children were removed from their Aboriginal parents when they were considered to be half-caste (half European, half Aboriginal) as they were considered to be easier to assimilate, and were sent to live in foster care, with white families, who taught them the western way of life, and provided them with clothing worn by European children, and names used by the community.