Australian university sparks anger by telling students country was 'invaded' not 'settled'

'Australia was not settled peacefully, it was invaded, occupied and colonised'

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The Independent Online

An Australian university has defended its decision to advise students to use the term "invaded" rather than "settled" to describe the arrival of Europeans in the country.

The University of New South Wales's (UNSW) terminology guide on colonial history urges students against saying Captain Cook "discovered" Australia, pointing out Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islanders had long since lived there.

"Australia was not settled peacefully, it was invaded, occupied and colonised," says the guidebook.

"Describing the arrival of the Europeans as a 'settlement'' attempts to view Australian history from the shores of England rather than the shores of Australia."

Yet commentators have accused UNSW of "whitewashing" history and speaking "rubbish", in a backlash university staff said was further proof the country had not accepted its colonial past.

Aboriginal peoples in New South Wales, where the university is now based, around 1880 (Getty)

Australia's Daily Telegraph led criticism of the university, with a front page which read "UNSW rewrites the history books to state Cook 'invaded' Australia."

Radio hosts joined the paper in ridiculing the move, with presenter Kyle Sandilands calling university staff "w*****s".

Another radio DJ, Adam Jones, said such political correctness was "anathema to genuine scholarship and learning," according to the BBC.

Yet experts say the outrage fails to take into account how Aboriginal peoples perceive the past.

Jackie Huggins, an indigenous historian, told ABC: "For far too long it's been very unfair on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in terms of denying and having our history not even talked about it all.

"[The outrage] showed how far we have to go in educating our country and coming to terms with reconciliation and the debate that needs to happen."

Staff at the University of New South Wales have come under fire for issuing a guide on discussing colonialism (Google Street View)

The guidebook also said the term "Aboriginals" lumped many different kinds of people together and that "Aboriginal peoples" was more appropriate, while describing these peoples as "nomadic" reinforced the idea that Australia was not already occupied when the British arrived in 1788.

The terminology guide was not mandatory reading for students, said university staff.