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Concept: Constitution of Australia


The population history of Aboriginal Australians remains largely uncharacterized. Here we generate high-coverage genomes for 83 Aboriginal Australians (speakers of Pama-Nyungan languages) and 25 Papuans from the New Guinea Highlands. We find that Papuan and Aboriginal Australian ancestors diversified 25-40 thousand years ago (kya), suggesting pre-Holocene population structure in the ancient continent of Sahul (Australia, New Guinea and Tasmania). However, all of the studied Aboriginal Australians descend from a single founding population that differentiated ~10-32 kya. We infer a population expansion in northeast Australia during the Holocene epoch (past 10,000 years) associated with limited gene flow from this region to the rest of Australia, consistent with the spread of the Pama-Nyungan languages. We estimate that Aboriginal Australians and Papuans diverged from Eurasians 51-72 kya, following a single out-of-Africa dispersal, and subsequently admixed with archaic populations. Finally, we report evidence of selection in Aboriginal Australians potentially associated with living in the desert.

Concepts: Southeast Asia, Continent, Australia, Papua New Guinea, Oceania, Indigenous Australian languages, Constitution of Australia, Indigenous Australians


Aboriginal Australians represent one of the longest continuous cultural complexes known. Archaeological evidence indicates that Australia and New Guinea were initially settled approximately 50 thousand years ago (ka); however, little is known about the processes underlying the enormous linguistic and phenotypic diversity within Australia. Here we report 111 mitochondrial genomes (mitogenomes) from historical Aboriginal Australian hair samples, whose origins enable us to reconstruct Australian phylogeographic history before European settlement. Marked geographic patterns and deep splits across the major mitochondrial haplogroups imply that the settlement of Australia comprised a single, rapid migration along the east and west coasts that reached southern Australia by 49-45‚ÄČka. After continent-wide colonization, strong regional patterns developed and these have survived despite substantial climatic and cultural change during the late Pleistocene and Holocene epochs. Remarkably, we find evidence for the continuous presence of populations in discrete geographic areas dating back to around 50‚ÄČka, in agreement with the notable Aboriginal Australian cultural attachment to their country.

Concepts: Pacific Ocean, Australia, Papua New Guinea, Indigenous Australian languages, Constitution of Australia, Indigenous Australians, Archaeology, Indigenous peoples


Aboriginal Australians, one of the world’s indigenous peoples now outnumbered through colonization, are the most under-represented in genetic research because they feel that the benefits do not outweigh the social cost of involvement. Descendants of the First Australians have survived a period of European occupation during which time they were dispossessed of land, language and cultural identity resulting in inequities in health, education, and employment opportunities. Compared to Maori and Native American peoples, the ability to form organizations that help to control their affairs is very recent. The desire to control is understandably strong yet the ‘gate-keeping’ role of some organizations risks shifting the control away from smaller communities and has become increasingly politicized. In the past, research practices by Western scientists were poorly presented and have resulted in resistance to proposals that are perceived to have no beneficial outcomes for participants. In this age of advanced technological expertise in genetics, benefits to all humanity are clear to those carrying out research projects, yet not always to those being asked to participate, presenting extra challenges. Excellent guidelines for ethical conduct in research are available to assist researchers, prospective participants, and ethics committees or review boards that approve and monitor procedures. The essence of these guidelines are that research should be carried out with a spirit of integrity, respect, reciprocity, parity, recognition of survival and protection of social and cultural values, a need for control and shared responsibility. Specific Aboriginal organizations, with which researchers need to work to negotiate partnerships, vary within and between Australian states and will always expect Aboriginal personnel to be involved. People experienced in the consultation process are necessary as part of a team. By working patiently through lengthy negotiations with Aboriginal Australians, scientists can achieve valuable results, but failure to do so with respect and understanding will not yield hoped for outcomes. My own experience working with communities in the Darling River region of western New South Wales has been an enriching and rewarding one, with a long period of successful research lately delayed by increased expectation of monitoring and involvement at state level.

Concepts: Culture, Native Americans in the United States, Indigenous Australian languages, Constitution of Australia, Indigenous Australians, New South Wales, Indigenous peoples, Indigenous peoples of the Americas


Strongyloides seroprevalence is hyper-endemic in many Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, ranging from 35-60%. We report the impact on Strongyloides seroprevalence after two oral ivermectin mass drug administrations (MDAs) delivered 12 months apart in a remote Australian Aboriginal community.

Concepts: Australia, Papua New Guinea, Indigenous Australian languages, Constitution of Australia, Indigenous Australians, Queensland, Torres Strait Islands, Torres Strait Islanders


Deadly Liver Mob (DLM) is a peer-driven, incentivised health promotion program aimed at increasing understanding of hepatitis C, promoting harm reduction in relation to injecting drug use, and linking participants to screening for hepatitis C, other blood borne viruses and sexually transmissible infections among Aboriginal people in Western Sydney, NSW. This paper presents the evaluation of a pilot study examining the acceptability of the program as a first step of a scalability assessment.

Concepts: Health, Cirrhosis, Hepatitis C, Human sexual behavior, Hepatitis A, Constitution of Australia, Indigenous Australians, Sydney


Australian Aboriginal children experience a disproportionate burden of social and health disadvantage. Avoidable hospitalizations present a potentially modifiable health gap that can be targeted and monitored using population data. This study quantifies inequalities in pediatric avoidable hospitalizations between Australian Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal children.

Concepts: Immigration, Australia, Western Australia, Indigenous Australian languages, Constitution of Australia, Indigenous Australians, Queensland, Northern Territory


Evidence of identity, particularly a birth certificate, is essential to access many rights. However, the births of many Aboriginal Australians are not registered when they are infants. We examined factors related to birth registration among Western Australian children born to Aboriginal mothers.

Concepts: Australia, Western Australia, Indigenous Australian languages, Constitution of Australia, Indigenous Australians, Northern Territory, Liberal Party of Australia, Federation of Australia


Aboriginal Australians experience poorer outcomes from cancer compared to the non-Aboriginal population. Some progress has been made in understanding Aboriginal Australians' perspectives about cancer and their experiences with cancer services. However, little is known of cancer service providers' (CSPs) thoughts and perceptions regarding Aboriginal patients and their experiences providing optimal cancer care to Aboriginal people. Communication between Aboriginal patients and non-Aboriginal health service providers has been identified as an impediment to good Aboriginal health outcomes. This paper reports on CSPs' views about the factors impairing communication and offers practical strategies for promoting effective communication with Aboriginal patients in Western Australia (WA).

Concepts: Medicine, Oncology, Experience, Knowledge, Perspective, Indigenous Australian languages, Constitution of Australia, Indigenous Australians


High rates of dementia have been observed in Aboriginal Australians. This study aimed to describe childhood stress in older Aboriginal Australians and to examine associations with late-life health and dementia.

Concepts: Indigenous Australian languages, Constitution of Australia, Indigenous Australians


Aboriginal Australians represent one of the oldest continuous cultures outside Africa, with evidence indicating that their ancestors arrived in the ancient landmass of Sahul (present-day New Guinea and Australia) ~55 thousand years ago. Genetic studies, though limited, have demonstrated both the uniqueness and antiquity of Aboriginal Australian genomes. We have further resolved known Aboriginal Australian mitochondrial haplogroups and discovered novel indigenous lineages by sequencing the mitogenomes of 127 contemporary Aboriginal Australians. In particular, the more common haplogroups observed in our dataset included M42a, M42c, S, P5 and P12, followed by rarer haplogroups M15, M16, N13, O, P3, P6 and P8. We propose some major phylogenetic rearrangements, such as in haplogroup P where we delinked P4a and P4b and redefined them as P4 (New Guinean) and P11 (Australian), respectively. Haplogroup P2b was identified as a novel clade potentially restricted to Torres Strait Islanders. Nearly all Aboriginal Australian mitochondrial haplogroups detected appear to be ancient, with no evidence of later introgression during the Holocene. Our findings greatly increase knowledge about the geographic distribution and phylogenetic structure of mitochondrial lineages that have survived in contemporary descendants of Australia’s first settlers.

Concepts: DNA, Australia, Papua New Guinea, Indigenous Australian languages, Constitution of Australia, Indigenous Australians, Queensland, Torres Strait Islands