Current Issues Of Social Inequality Faced By The Whadjuk Noongar Peoples

Categories: Australia


Social inequality is a problem faced by all universally. It is of high importance that the people of Western Australia begin to acknowledge the importance of the Indigenous Peoples of the land in which we are on. The aim of the report is to describe the current issues faced by the Whadjuk Noongar peoples along with a concise description of the project solution. The current issues are further discussed referring to what shaped them as people and how the Whadjuk Noongars were impacted as a result of the invasion of white man.

The objectives of the report are to assess the context of the situation faced by the Whadjuk Noongar people and to assess the possible benefits of the project.

Part I: Contextual understanding

The problem to be solved involves producing product that may benefit the Midland Noongar community. This product will be a small-scale project that involves recycling plastic waste. This project must align with the values of NIWA.

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The location of the project will be in Midland, which is located within the City of Swan. The organization/main stakeholder for the project is NIWA, (Noongar Institute of Western Australia), with a minor stakeholder being The City of Swan. NIWA’s main values and aspirations are,:

  • To promote the importance of Noongar culture
  • To show the importance of the land/country to the Noongar community
  • To provide higher education and employment opportunities to the Noongar community.

The City of Swan has an Indigenous and Torres strait islander population of 2.

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9%. The estimated population in the City of Swan in 2017 was ~140,018. In 1829, ~600 wadjelas, (White Europeans), landed on the Swan River and set up a colony. The traditional owners of these lands were subsequently removed and displaced across the region; often via the use of violence and force. Conflicts were prevalent due to the differences in cultures, often with the wadjelas forcing their practices onto the Noongar communities; i.e. farming, land ownership and property rights. This in turn caused Noongar Culture to be erased from society during that time and into the future. Economically, 52.2% of aboriginal and torres strait islanders were unemployed during 2012-13, while only 24.4% of non-indigenous Australians were unemployed during the same time. Systematically the indigenous populations of Australia have always been economically disadvantaged. This is evident as up to 1972, indigenous Australians could have up to 75% of their wages taken from the government, hence stolen wages. The River of Swan region grew popular due to the economic opportunities involving agriculture and industry, with settlement opportunities arising as well. Midland began to develop into a town, with the formation of the Midland Railway Company’s headquarters being there by 188. By 1890, there was a massive population increase across Western Australia due to the gold rushes. This all contributed to the beginnings of an economically powerful part of Western Australia, along with its closeness to the CBD. Within the City of Swan region and Australia as a whole, the White Australian Policy had severe effects on what shaped the society and cultural identity of the region. The White Australian policy placed immigration restrictions on non-white immigrants, with this being law coming into practice by 1901. The White Australian Policy was a prime example of the racist culture in which Australia had, with evidence of this lingering today. Indigenous cultures were attempted to be driven out of Australian societies with the stolen generations being an example of multiple government policies. Such policies were evident from times dating back to the colonization of Europeans. Such policies involved removing indigenous children from their parents along with Indigenous peoples having all that they were and owned controlled via the governments. The Stolen Generations caused both cultural and spiritual divides between families and communities; with the effects of this still relevant today. The Noongar people have been in the South West region for at least 45000 years, with no other evidence of other peoples being within the region during this time. The Whadjuk Noongar peoples are just one of 14 different dialect groups within the South West.

Overall the entirety of the Whadjuk Noongar community will benefit, yet it can be noted that majority of the benefits will be felt by the Noongar youth. This is due to the fact the actual project itself involves engaging the youth in activities to promote cultural awareness and bringing them together as a community. Within the wider community, indigenous children have typically had lower year 12 graduation numbers compared to non-indigenous peoples. From 2006-2016, the year 12 graduation rates for indigenous Australians has risen by 10%. By continuing to support education for Indigenous Australians, their involvement and overall welfare will increase overtime. It must be noted that cultural shifts are required by Australian society as a whole. Australia’s racist past will continue to be a stain on our society.

Part II: Project Review

The project is within the design area: A 1-hour workshop for primary school aged children. With the item produced being used as a gift for a family member. The item being produced will be a laminated picture using native leaves and flowers to produce the images between the plastic layers. These pictures will be placed in picture frames that will be purchased at a low cost. The children will use a variety of the native leaves and flowers to create an image of their favorite animal for example. This workshop will involve the children learning the Noongar names of the native leaves and flowers, along with the Noongar names of native Australian animals as well. Overall the workshop will incorporate learning Noongar words, learning about native plants and animals and the importance of recycling. All these points emphasize the importance of land and country to the Noongar community. The project may face multiple issues involving infrastructure, financial issues, attainable resources and engagement. Referring to the infrastructure/financial issues, the class sizes may need to be altered if the rooms aren’t large enough to fit a large number of students. The project can also be completed with one or two laminators, hence with a limited budget, the project is still able to be completed by a relatively large class. The issue involving collecting milk bottles, plastic bags and leaves/flowers will need to be done prior to the classes. NIWA may have to investigate avenues such as setting up programs with the City of Swan Waste Management, in attaining plastic bags and milk bottles.

Contacting Coles and Woolworths may also be an option as plastic bags are slowly phased out. Another option is to partner with Clean Up Australia, this would provide the Noongar youth opportunities to clean up important landmarks and areas that have significant cultural meanings to their culture. The bags found could be used for the projects on later dates. The engagement of the project is determined by the age of the primary school aged children. The project is better suited for children in years 3 or younger. While it can still be done for older children, the engagement of the project may decrease.

Part III: Conclusion

Whether a project is unsuccessful or successful is largely determined by its potential to become self-sustainable and whether it permanently improves the standard of living for the people it was produced for. Typically, successful aid projects have the four characteristics of:

  • Simplicity
  • Engagement
  • Resilience
  • Indigenous Involvement.

The size of the projects produced also become factors at certain sizes, with larger projects being more problematic. Larger projects tend to be extremely complex in multiple aspects with them having multiple layers of communication and confusing implementation that involved the aid recipient having to endure many instructions. With poverty becoming a universal recognized problem; An understanding of what poverty is a must for engineering projects involving communities. Typically, poverty tends to be referred to by absolute term or relative terms; with this, the economic side is concentrated on. The understanding of what poverty really is has recently become more prevalent. Poverty includes many determinates such as:

  • Income
  • Basic needs
  • Empowerment
  • Housing
  • Health
  • Time.

These determinates are largely determined via the cultural, societal and political climates in which the communities are part of. The ENSC2011 is structured in a way that emphasizes the importance of researching the stakeholders to each project. It also places importance on researching and understanding the impacted communities of engineering projects, both the beneficiaries and the ones that succumb to the negatives of the project. Communication is also shown to be a vital tool in engineering, with ~85% of ones’ work being communication of ideas and solutions in the workplace.

Updated: Feb 21, 2024
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Current Issues Of Social Inequality Faced By The Whadjuk Noongar Peoples. (2024, Feb 21). Retrieved from

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