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IKC101 Indigenous Australian Cultures

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Key concepts:

  • Institutionalised ideas and taken-for-granted assumptions of the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. 
  • Constructions of Indigenous Australians in popular and other media.

Over module one you have reflected on your knowledge and understanding about yourself in relation to the construction of ideas about collective Australian culture, including of Indigenous Australians. In this task you will critique two examples from the Media to investigate how ideas about Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians are reproduced and reinforced institutionally.

You must provide a separate critique of 400 words for each article.

Use the following guide questions to assist you to focus each critique but do not respond to each question individually. You must provide a synthesised response which considers your own pre-existing knowledge and cultural competence.

1.Thinking about  your knowledge of Australian history, does the author provide all the information required to understand the issue being discussed? What information is missing?

2.Is there a presumption that readers already hold views about Indigenous peoples? What are the taken-for-granted assumptions?

3.What would a reader infer about the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples based on the text of the article? How are Indigenous and non Indigenous people positioned in the article?

4.Is there an Indigenous viewpoint included in the article? If yes, how does the author use Indigenous perspectives to support or contradict the main message? If no, how could this influence a readers' perception of Indigenous people and of the main message in the article? 

5.How might Indigenous and non-Indigenous readers interpret the ideas expressed? This task does not require you to express your opinion on the points made in the articles. You must critique the article to identify the main ideas that are evident and then analyse the sub-text - ‘reading-between-the lines’ – to investigate the impact of the message in reinforcing ideas about Australian culture and Indigenous peoples and issues.

  • be able to investigate, compare and reflect on standpoint to explain Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples' historical positioning.
  • be able to describe, analyse and theorise individual and collective standpoint in relation to Indigenous peoples' experiences of Australian history.

This task extends on Task 1 to work toward meeting the following IKC101 Learning Outcomes:

LO1: Be able to investigate, compare and reflect on standpoint to explain Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples’ historical positioning;

LO2: Be able to describe, analyse, and theorise individual and collective standpoint in relation to Indigenous peoples' experience of Australian history.

In Task 1 you focussed on the reflection of your own knowledge and the influences on how you came to know things about Indigenous Australians. If you are Indigenous, or have connections with an Indigenous community or group, you will have access to more social knowledge than those who are not Indigenous or do not have such associations.

Task 2 requires you to apply your self-reflection to the critique of two media articles. If you lack knowledge about a topic or issue institutions like the media may more easily persuade you to adopt a particular perspective. There is also knowledge that we take-for-granted because powerful institutions like schools, churches, government, the media (and social media) reinforce them.


Critique of article on ‘Aboriginal Activism in 1930-40s’

The history of Australia has been characterized by strikes and protest refusing unequal treatment of people and racial inequality (Short, 2016). The article addresses the steps made by an Aboriginal activist Cooper and his colleagues at the Australian Aborigines League. Their main objective was to find a resolution towards the way the Jews were being persecuted by the Nazis. However, the consul-general never wanted to see them. The message that was brought forth by William and his colleagues was addressing the termination of the cruel treatment of the Jewish people by the Nazi. According to the article, there were numerous cases of racial discrimination against the indigenous community.

Historically, aboriginal are among the first occupants of Australia before British colonists. This makes them have the right to be treated equally like other races. The fact that they were among the minorities groups in Australia made them fight the way to the top and get recognized by the government which was treating them unequally. During 1950’s and 1960’s the government of Australia regarded the aboriginal community as natives making them to be secluded (Rigney, 2017). This made it difficult for them to be assimilated into the white community. In the rural area’s women were being sexually assaulted without any help from the government.

 In the urban centers they were being treated as workers and considered marginalized not being treated as the whites. This racial discrimination is attributed to the conflict that happened 150 years ago. The British invaded Australia and killed more than 90% of the indigenous community (Genger, 2018). A decline in aboriginal population was evident between 1804 and 1834.Being a minority group and first occupants of the land, they were still being discriminated and treated as minorities in their own country.

A major similarity between the Jewish and Aboriginal community is that they were both facing discrimination and their population was declining due to the holocaust being performed by the Nazis. The article has no given a historical occurrence of events of how the Jewish and Aboriginal were being affected by racial discrimination. The main reason why Abe Schwarz supported Copper’s quest was to emphasize on equality and call upon the international community to help them in restoring their racial status and eliminate the unequal treatment that the indigenous groups were experiencing. After reading the article, it is clear that the Nazis and Colonialists led to the elimination of cultures and making them undergo different challenges. The main lesson from the article is the significance of appreciating the human diversity that comes with culture and racial difference. This is a way of preserving history and cultures of people.

According to the article, a reader may identify that the non-indigenous people have a bad relationship with the indigenous people. This can be evident by the cruelty that the indigenous communities were being subjected. The reader will also be left with an impression that the minorities are fighting for equality and fit within a society dominated by the non-indigenous community. An indigenous reader will interpret the article differently from a non-indigenous reader because their people were being subjected to unequal treatment and cruelty in their own nation.

Critique of First Fleet good for Aboriginals 

The first fleet to Australia was between 1788 and 1850.There were a total of 806 ships that were sent. However, the first eleven ships to arrive were known as the first fleet which are regarded as the Founders of Australia. When the first fleet arrived, they discovered that the natives were feeding on local plants and fish (Dunn, n.d). However, the settlers found it hard to fish thereby getting their food from the supplies that were brought by their ship. The first fleet explored the country to the west of Sydney Cove. This resulted in settling in a place called Rose Hill. Their main source of food was mainly agriculture. Historically, the first fleet was full of convict (Smith, 2016). Within the six ships there were a total of 756 convicts(564 males and 192 females).The names of the first fleet ship are; Alexander, Charlotte, Lady Penrhyn, Friendship, Prince of Wales and Scarborough. From this explanation, these people who came to Australia were convict. The question is, how convict can make a change in place where people were living happily. The arrival of the first fleet was the start of a war in Australia. This is because, the British wanted to colonize Australia.

According to the article, Tony Abott believed that the first fleet introduced westernization in Australia. According to the former Prime Minister Tony, he was of the opinion that the first fleet introduced westernization in Australia which was a good step for the indigenous communities. According to the subsequent flow of historical events, the first fleet had both positive and negative impacts. As an illustration, the first fleet introduced some aspect of westernization such as clothes and agriculture (Peterson, 2016).

However, negatively, westernization led to the death of people and culture of the natives. The death of the natives resulted from the mutiny that was being caused by the convicts brought by the first fleet. These convicts could not be able to bring substantial change since they were majorly charged for petty crimes like stealing. Their presence in Australia was a way of colonialist expanding their territory and not bringing westernization as the former prime minister says. His main contribution was advocating for the local people to be given jobs. This is certain that the locals were not being treated equally as the whites(Peterson,2016).The article has not described the basis of Tony’s argument making it hard to determine whether the first fleet had a positive impact when they arrived in Australia.

A reader going through the article may believe that the arrival of the first fleet had a significant impact to the indigenous community. The truth is, the article doesn’t give the flow of events claiming that the first fleet brought westernization. For a reader to make final decisions about the article, he or she should be presented with the historical events before and after the arrival of the first fleet. This should apply to both indigenous and non-indigenous readers.


Dunn C. (n.d).The First Fleet: Australian Research. Available at:

Genger, P. (2018). The British Colonization of Australia: An Exposé of the Models, Impacts and Pertinent Questions. Peace and Conflict Studies, 25(1), 4.

Peterson, A. (2016). Different battlegrounds, similar concerns? The ‘history wars’ and the teaching of history in Australia and England. Compare: A Journal of Comparative and International Education, 46(6), 861-881.

Rigney, L. I. (2017). Indigenist research and aboriginal Australia. In Indigenous Peoples' Wisdom and Power, 61-77.

Short, D. (2016). Reconciliation and colonial power: Indigenous rights in Australia. Routledge.

Smith, J. (2016). The first fleet: Australia's unconscious' chosen trauma'and its impact on our asylum seeker policies. Socio-analysis, 18, 15.

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