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Australian university says the English ‘invaded’ Australia in 18th c.

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
This file photo shows a print from a painting showing Captain James Cook (1728-1779) on the east coast of what is now Australia.

A leading Australian university has defended its decision to advise students to use the term "invaded" rather than "settled" to describe the arrival of Britons in the country back in the 18th century.

The University of New South Wales' (UNSW) stood with its decision to also use "occupied" and "colonized" after being accused of "rewriting history." 

UNSW's guidelines urge students against saying James Cook “discovered” Australia, pointing out that Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islanders had lived there long before Cook’s arrival.

“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,” the guidelines read.

“Captain Cook arrived; hence it was impossible for Cook to be the first person to ‘discover’ Australia. Most Aboriginal people find the use of the word ‘discovery’ offensive,” it said.

Students were also advised to use the term “Aboriginal people” rather than terms such as “Aborigines.”

The guidelines sparked anger from several commentators, with Australia’s Daily Telegraph newspaper leading the criticism and printing a front page, which read “UNSW rewrites the history books to state Cook ‘invaded’ Australia.”

The university dismissed accusations that it is trying to “dictate” the language used by its students.

“The guide does not mandate what language can be used. Rather, it uses a more appropriate/less appropriate format, providing a range of examples,” the UNSW said.

“Recognizing the power of language, the terminology guide is designed as a resource to assist staff and students in describing Indigenous Australian peoples and their history and culture,” the statement read.

“The University is committed to giving all our students a positive and inclusive learning experience and respecting and learning about Indigenous knowledge is integral to that,” it said.

A top Australian politician sided with the UNSW guidelines, saying she supported universities teaching “the truth.”

“For many years, Australian schools and Australian institutions have not told the truth about the way in which Australia was settled,” Queensland State Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said on Wednesday.

“A lot of Indigenous people lost their lives, there were massacres and the truth always must be told,” she said.

This file photo shows Aboriginal peoples in Australia around 1880.

There were already more than 250 tribes of Aboriginal people living on the east coast of what is now Australia when Cook claimed possession of the land on behalf of the British Empire in 1770.

Those tribes were later denied the rights to land, citizenship, and equal status during a process of colonization and land confiscation.

Around 500,000 of Australia’s 22 million-strong population claim Aboriginal heritage and cultural values.

Amnesty International has criticized the Australian government for what it describes as racially discriminatory policies toward the Aborigines.

Indigenous communities are considered the most disadvantaged in Australia, suffering higher rates of imprisonment, unemployment, illness and child mortality.

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