Policy

Indigenous Australia

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Aboriginal people in Australia are the custodians of one of the oldest continuous living cultures in the world. Archaeological evidence suggests that Australia has been continuously inhabited for more than 60,000 years.

Another distinct group, of Melanesian origin, are the Torres Strait Islander peoples who first settled on islands north of the mainland, between the tip of Queensland and Papua New Guinea, thousands of years ago.

Today, most Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people live in cities and towns. Many people still remain on their traditional lands and maintain aspects of their traditional lifestyles in a modern-day Australia.

Prior to European settlement it is estimated that around 250 different languages were spoken. While Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages remain strong in some communities, it is estimated that more than 100 languages have been lost and around 110 are endangered. Efforts are underway to keep language strong in communities and to revive vulnerable languages.

For further information, please visit the Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade’s page on Indigenous Australia.