Publication Details

Castle, R. & Hagan, J. (1998). Settlers and the State: The Creation of an Aboriginal Workforce in Australia. Aboriginal History, 22 24-35.


White settlement of Australia began a process whereby the Aboriginal people who had settled the Australian continent for 40,000 years were dispossessed of their land, economy, society and often their lives. Henry Reynold's 'Law of the Land'' demonstrates the impact of the application of the doctrine of 'Terra Nullius' on Aboriginal society and the subsequent development of black-white relations in Australia. Land was the foundation of Aboriginal life - of an economic, religious and cultural system centred on hunting and gathering which provided a basis for a sustainable and stable society. The alienation of Aboriginal land and the resulting conflict as Aborigines resisted the spread of white settlement destroyed the economic base of that society and left the survivors in a marginal and dependent relationship with the European society that replaced it.