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The first inhabitants of Australia were the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. Most Indigenous Australians were hunter-gatherers who lived off the land. They hunted and ate native animals, insects and fish as well as plants and fruits. Today this hunter-gatherer diet is called ‘Bush Tucker’.
When European settlement started, the population of Indigenous Australians was between 750,000 and 1,000,000, over the next 150 years this number got dramatically lower. The biggest cause of death in Aboriginal communities were European diseases, for example smallpox and tuberculosis.
In the 1960s and 70s the government took Aboriginal children from their families and put them in orphanages or with white European families to force them to be more like white Australians. This generation of children is called the ‘Stolen Generation’ and is thought to be another reason why the population decreased.
As well as their children, indigenous Australians also had their land and their rights taken from them. They were not allowed to vote. They had to wait at the back of shops until all the white people had been served and they were forced to live on reserves. Today they are recognized as the traditional owners of Australian land and have equal rights as citizens of Australia, however, they are still disadvantaged.