Indigenous Australia

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The Nations of Aboriginal Australia

Tindale's Catalogue of Australian Aboriginal Tribes


The People of Aboriginal Australia

The local Indigenous community can clarify appropriate use of all of these terms, and can be consulted for further advice.


These terms stress the humanity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

  • Indigenous Australian people
  • Aboriginal people
  • Torres Strait Islander people

Inappropriate terms tend to suggest that Aboriginal people are all the same, and thus stereotypes Indigenous Australians.


Although less appropriate, people should respect the use of these terms.

  • Aborigines
  • Blackfella
  • Whitefella
  • Yellafella
  • Coloured

The Aboriginal English words blackfella and whitefella are used all over the country; some communities also use yellafella and coloured.

The Men Of The Fifth World

The Colonisation of Aboriginal Australia

Indigenous Australians named all of Australia in their languages before British colonisation.

Part of the process of colonisation has been the renaming of places and natural features all over Australia.

The best-known example, Ayers Rock was a British name imposed on Uluru, a significant site in Central Australia which should be respected and recognised.

The White Australia Policy

Until 1972 when the policy was abolished, Indigenous Australian people were excluded by definition.

Governments classified people according to skin colour and parentage

Exemption certificates were issued to Aboriginal people with lighter skin colour.

This allowed them the same basic freedoms that people without Indigenous heritage took for granted as citizens.

The assumption was that any Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person with any European blood was more intelligent, and a fitter member of Australian society.