Power And Privilege In Aboriginal People Essay


Discuss about the Power And Privilege In Aboriginal People.



The secret river is a novel written by an Australian author, Kate Greenville, which has been adapted for theatre plays and television film. The novel’s major backdrop is vested in the British expansion in New South Wales and the relevant scenarios depicting the interactions between the white settlers and the aboriginal people in Australia. The definition of privilege could be identified as the exceptional advantage, immunity and rights anointed or accessed by a specific community or individual. Power can be defined in this context as the ability for influencing the behaviour of other individuals or course of events.

Power and privilege result in Aboriginal people being marginalised

The observation of power and privilege in the case of the secret river could be observed in the unwarranted treatment of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples by the newly arrived white settlers on the basis of racial superiority thereby depicting unauthorized exercise of power. Furthermore, the white settlers also depict potential highlights of privilege since they assumed control over the unclaimed lands in the area of the indigenous people without being concerned about the native laws regarding land ownership (Cur?eu, 2013).

The identification of the large scale marginalization of the indigenous people of New South Wales i.e. the Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islander Peoples could be considered as a major impact on their health alongside concerns of cultural safety (UTS: Indigenous Health Resources, 2017). The current health status of the native people could be apprehended from the depiction of favourable health conditions among individuals above the age of 15 years that reported their health conditions as excellent or good. On the contrary, lower proportion of females of the indigenous population has indicated fair health i.e. 37% as compared to 42% among males (Fujii, 2014). However, the health status of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples is comparatively inferior that that of the non-aboriginal people alongside the observation of a substantial gap between the populations of older age people in each segment. Furthermore, the natives have also depicted profound indications of various health conditions referring to kidney diseases and circulatory diseases alongside the prominence of risk factors such as smoking (Hou, 2016).

The interpretation of health status of the indigenous people refers to the influence of the disparities between the worldview and the person’s view of health. The following essay is aimed at describing the differential between groups of people as well as the impact of these differences on the contemporary healthcare of native people of Australia.

Ways In Which White Settlers Were Marginalised

The key points which will be highlighted in the report include references to the impacts of power and privilege on marginalization of aboriginal people through evidences from readings and the film ‘The Secret River’. Thereafter the report is directed towards estimating the effect of power and privilege on dispossession of aboriginal people with notable inclusion of worldviews on land ownership (Kuriki, 2015).

The following section of the essay refers to identification of ways in which white settlers experienced marginalization. Another significant part of the essay is directed towards the impact of British colonisation on the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People in the contemporary scenario. The report also addresses the development of opportunities for nurses to provide culturally safe healthcare for the indigenous people through an understanding of the impact of colonisation.

Power and privilege result in Aboriginal people being dispossessed

The naturally aggressive behaviour of Smasher Sullivan towards the native residents could be observed as a formal example from the film regarding the marginalization of the native people. Power and privilege were substantially observed as major influences on the outcomes of Australia’s colonisation through literary sources also (Magin & Yonge III, 2016). The basic rationale for Australia’s colonisation was generic ethnocentrism and xenophobia alongside the perceived limitations in the resident scientific climate. The impact of language used by the white settlers also suggested the demonstration of racial superiority.

The film depicts the implication of language as a resource for accomplishing racial superiority in the example of the first encounter between Thornhill and the aborigines. In the encounter, it can be observed that the language of the aborigines is not known and the aborigines’ reply by repeating the phrase ‘Be off’ uttered by William. This suggests the perception of inferiority of the race of aborigines by the white settlers. The encounter also serves as a formidable indicator of the feeling of power that can be validated on the grounds of inherent ethnocentrism of the white settlers (Majocha & Mullennix, 2015).

Dispossession can be defined generically as the act of depriving an individual or community of their land, possessions and property. The primary evidence that can be presented for the dispossession of aboriginal people is observed in the factor that the British colonists perceived insufficient use of the land resources by the aboriginal people. The film depicts this factor in the form of the arrival of convicts at New South Wales realizing freedom from being stalled in the lower strata of the society. The white settlers assume the lands to be unclaimed as in the case of William Thornhill, who named a piece of land as Thornhill’s point and expressed intent to own the land and live a prosperous life there. The evidence from readings was primarily directed towards the implications of cultural violence which led to the dispossession of the aborigines (McGillivray, et al., 2017). It is also imperative to apprehend the world views on land ownership in order to understand the context of dispossession depicted in the readings as well as the film clip.

The association of aborigines with the land can be perceived in terms of the definition of noble savage that can also be validated on the grounds of their behaviour depicted in the film. The aborigines in the film clip do not impose any sort boundaries on the land for ownership which depicts their worldview of land ownership i.e. their universal view regarding the claims to land. On the contrary, the significance of land ownership for the white settlers is observed in the form of a last option to develop a new life for themselves since they are convicts and have been released from the obligations to the society where their status was inferior. Now the source of conflict is apprehended in the vested superiority perceived by the settler convicts over the native individuals (Powell & Powell, 2015).

The behaviour of the aborigine leader towards William Thornhill observed in the film could be accounted as a formidable indicator of the marginalization of white settlers. Despite the limited instances, the marginalization of white settlers could be observed in the form of the refraining of aborigines from participating in the activities of the Europeans (Schindler, 2017). Furthermore, the marginalization of white settlers was also observed among themselves on the basis of preferences for favouring the integrity of the aborigines. The examples from the film which could validate this include the behaviour depicted by Smasher Sullivan for Blackwood on the basis of the latter’s advocacy for aborigines.

The compounding of racial discrimination with the institutional practices related to the domain of healthcare refers to institutional racism. Institutional racism has been observed as a profound barrier for effective provision of healthcare services for the aboriginals in Australia (Uysal, 2013). The impact of institutional racism in healthcare can be profoundly observed from the interpretation of its effect on minority communities. Institutional racism could be resolved through apprehending the gaps imposed by it in the healthcare of aborigines in Australia. One of the explicit solutions could be identified in the form of analytical review of the various discrepancies noted in healthcare setting especially in terms of minimum cultural respect for the aborigines (Uysal, 2013).

Effects of colonisation impact on the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People today

Nurses could make prominent sociological inferences from the impact of colonisation on Australia to determine the apprehensions among the native people for receiving treatment from nurses and healthcare providers belonging to different cultural settings. Nurses could obtain a formidable impression of cultural safety from the interception of practical experiences of colonisation and its impact on the land, people and history (Powell & Powell, 2015).

The unawareness of historical context of colonisation in Australia could be associated with detrimental consequences as observed in examples of white nurses being unable to administer appropriate healthcare to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People (NITV, 2017). The benefits of anticipating the impact of colonisation would enable the nurses to address social mechanisms such as institutional and personal racism effectively thereby improving the quality of healthcare provided to native individuals (Schindler, 2017).


The essay outlined references from film clip of ‘The Secret River’ in order to illustrate the effect of power and privilege on marginalization and dispossession of native Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People due to the colonisation of Australia. The essay also emphasized on the implications of the healthcare setting in Australia for the native people and a prolific interpretation of the impact of colonisation on the same. One of the profound highlights that can be inferred from the report is vested in the recognition of the role of nurses in providing culturally safe healthcare on the basis of outcomes derived from an understanding of colonisation’s impacts.


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