Rudd's apology risks leaving a sorry legacy

[extract: comment five

Well said Sam: Traumatised refugees who have lost their land, culture and extended relationships and who have no choice but to move into a new culture with which they have little or no acquaintance and no language ability have been able to make a fresh start, come to terms with the new reality, become successful and make a contribution to the host society within a matter of a generation or so, whereas our indigenous people are still encouraged by the mostly white activists in "indigenous industry" with their own agenda to cling to a culture and way of life that is completely incompatible with the way life is lived in the 21 Century. The ideal of the "noble savage" died with Rousseau. The modern believers in "cultural equivalence" have a lot to answer for and it is not too harsh to charge them with "blood on their hands"

LaVallette | Burwood - February 17, 2010, 8:52AM]

Sydney Morning Herald
17 February, 2010
By KATE GRENVILLE

Two years ago I stood with thousands of others on the lawns outside Parliament House in Canberra and watched on a giant screen as, inside the building, our new Labor Prime Minister did something his conservative predecessor had refused to do: he apologised to Australia's Aboriginal people.

By the end of Kevin Rudd's speech, most of the Aboriginal people in the crowd around me were in tears. Rudd wasn't apologising for the whole sorry mess that is the history of colonialism in Australia. His apology was specifically for the removal of Aboriginal children from their families, government policy for many years during the 19th and 20th centuries. Many of those people weeping quietly around me had suffered that most primal of dispossessions.

Rudd's speech ended on a cautious note: ''We take this first step in laying claim to a future where we embrace the possibility of new solutions to enduring problems.'' Two years later, how does it look? Any new solutions to those old problems?

Rudd was right to be cautious; indigenous people are still hugely disadvantaged. They're much more likely than non-indigenous Australians to suffer preventable illnesses, die young, be in jail, be illiterate and live in unacceptable conditions. Promised reforms in housing, health and education are moving with glacial slowness. Government support is often inadequate, and lacking in understanding and willingness to listen.

Public outrage about the stolen generations has faded.

A backlash, led by revisionist academics, has gained a public voice, arguing that no children were forcibly taken and that non-indigenous Australians have nothing to apologise for. The issue of compensation is still contentious.

The Howard government adopted a radical policy of intervention as a response to high levels of violence on some remote indigenous communities. It was widely perceived as clumsy, insensitive, insulting to functional communities and in many ways ineffective. In order to specifically target indigenous communities, it suspended the Racial Discrimination Act.

One of the accusations directed at the Rudd government is that, in spite of grand words about the ''healing of the nation'', it has continued the intervention. So was the apology just hot air, a cynical exercise in spin?

The Rudd government can't point to any spectacular policy changes or huge improvement in outcomes. But there has been some movement. The Racial Discrimination Act has been reinstated, so that income management of those on welfare no longer applies only to indigenous recipients. More than a billion extra dollars have been allocated to indigenous housing. There's been an unprecedented amount of consultation with indigenous groups, and a recognition that a ''one size fits all'' approach doesn't work.

When you spend even a short time among indigenous people, especially in remote Australia, you start to see just how snarled the problems are.

Take housing. Some indigenous communities are deeply divided about what should be built, where, and for whom. Threading a way through local politics is fraught with problems. As well, indigenous people often wish to live in extended families, but there are, traditionally, forbidden relationships. For example, a mother-in-law and a son-in-law can't share a space or even make eye contact. That makes housing not a simple matter.

When a person dies in a house, continuing to live there can be an issue - traditionally the people would move away. Housing policy has to accommodate people who wish to live ''between places'' rather than staying put. The idea of individual ownership - of a house or land - is not part of traditional culture and is a goal many indigenous people have no interest in. Add to all this the fact that many people in remote communities speak little English, and you end up with a situation in which the provision of desperately needed housing isn't as simple as it might first appear.

When a culture has been as thoroughly disrupted as indigenous culture has been by European colonisation over the past 200 years, the damage cannot be easily reversed. That culture, and the hunter-gatherer life it sprang from, can't be put back the way it was. At the same time, it can't be erased: assimilation is not the way to go. Between these extremes, indigenous communities are trying different ways to accommodate change as well as retain tradition.

Something unexpected and positive is happening: Aboriginal voices in mainstream media. Our richest literary prize was recently won by Alexis Wright, an indigenous woman, for a novel - Carpentaria - that fuses indigenous and European storytelling. Samson & Delilah, by indigenous director Warwick Thornton, a film about young love in a troubled outback community, won eight Australian Film Institute awards and the Camera d'Or prize at Cannes, and has reached big mainstream audiences.

All that has nothing directly to do with what Rudd said two years ago. Nothing his government has done since has made much difference. Symbolic acts don't change anything, and they're never enough. But this one was an overdue and necessary first step.

GUARDIAN

Kate Grenville is an award-winning Australian author. Her latest novel is The Lieutenant. Source: The Age

Comments

80 comments

Isnt it a sad state of affairs in Australian social life with many aborogins turning into drinking and drugs because of negative social interactions over the years.

"The Stolen Generation" where children of Aborigins were taken as late as 1970's will surely have an impact on Australia's take on racism issue and the world's perception of Australia.

The social impacts of forced removal have been measured and found to be quite severe. Although the stated aim of the "resocialisation" programme was to improve the integration of Aboriginal people into modern society, a study conducted in Melbourne and cited in the official report found that there was no tangible improvement in the social position of "removed" Aborigines as compared to "non-removed", particularly in the areas of employment and post-secondary education. Most notably, the study indicated that removed Aboriginal people were actually less likely to have completed a secondary education, three times as likely to have acquired a police record and were twice as likely to use illicit drugs.

Records state that there was uotp 750,000 Aborigins in Australia before Europeans arrived. Look at the numbers now. What really happened to all these people.

Some experts also view the Stolen Generations was nothing less than a case of attempted genocide, because it was widely believed at the time that the policy would cause Aborigines to die out. To merge the Aboriginal race into the white population by means of "breeding out the colour", and therefore eventually resulting in the former being "forgotten", bore strong similarities to the views of the Nazis in 1930s Nazi Germany. Sad but true all I can say.

Bappi | Siliguri, India - February 17, 2010, 6:54AM

Godwin's Law Bappi

steve | texas - February 17, 2010, 7:26AM

Two centuries of dispossession cannot be overcome quickly, nor do ill thought out interventions of an ongoing paternalistic kind solve anything. The repair of Aboriginal communities needs respect fro their culture, support and mentoring for real community development initiatives that seek to rebuild community integrity, personal dignity and some hope for the future. There are many whites who are working with Aboriginal communities to assist them in this process but the failures of government are a lack of capacity to respond effectively to community based innovation with funding and support that cuts across programmatic boundaries. These problems too will be overcome, but for the Aboriginal people it is happening at an agonisingly slow pace.

Lesm | Balmain - February 17, 2010, 7:49AM

If Aboriginals insist on remaining in remote communities and not learning or using English as their primary language then they will never move out of their disadvantaged situation. Aborginals already get much more assistance then any other group in Australia including newly arrive immigrants who deserve it more.

Many Asian immigrants come to Australia with no knowladge of Australian culture and usually speak little or no English. Yet these immigrants within a generation or even sooner integrate into society, make themselves susccessful and make huge contributions back to their adopted socieities. This proves that the aboriginals have nothing to whinge about and that they are the only ones holding themselves back. It also proves there is no inherent discrimination or racism that holds them back as many do gooders like to claim.

Aboriginal culture is a stone age culture and many aspects of it are incompatible with modern society. Aboriginals have to decide whether they want to maintain this culture or whether to drop incompatible aspects of it a modernise. If they continue to choose the first option they should not expect to continue to be subsidised by the government. There are many more Australians more deserving of government support then Aboriginals who refuse integrate into modern society.

As for the stolen generation I recall the stolen generation advocate Robert Manne was asked to provide a least of just 10 names of Aboriginals stolen for racial reasons. He failed to do that. I think that really says it all.

Sam | Parkdale - February 17, 2010, 8:02AM

Sam - Aboriginals actually receive less government spending per capita than many other Australians. Such is the sickness of the discourse on this issue, that people still parrot this nonsense unchallenged.

If you believe that bogans living with their parents, who want to buy brand new houses in the suburbs, "deserve" government cash more than Indigenous Australians, who live in third world conditions, without access to healthcare, further education, or employment opportunities, your priorities are clearly skewed.

boots | melbourne - February 17, 2010, 8:37AM

Well said Sam: Traumatised refugees who have lost their land, culture and extended relationships and who have no choice but to move into a new culture with which they have little or no acquaintance and no language ability have been able to make a fresh start, come to terms with the new reality, become successful and make a contribution to the host society within a matter of a generation or so, whereas our indigenous people are still encouraged by the mostly white activists in "indigenous industry" with their own agenda to cling to a culture and way of life that is completely incompatible with the way life is lived in the 21 Century. The ideal of the "noble savage" died with Rousseau. The modern believers in "cultural equivalence" have a lot to answer for and it is not too harsh to charge them with "blood on their hands"

LaVallette | Burwood - February 17, 2010, 8:52AM

Sam, Robert Manne provided Andrew Bolt with 250 names of Aboriginals who were forcefully removed from their parents for racial reasons. I suggest you read the following article.

http://www.theage.com.au/news/robert-manne/the-cruelty-of-denial/2006/09/08/1157222325367.html

Beth | Melbourne - February 17, 2010, 8:48AM

Sad today is that the number of abused Aboriginal children is higher than it ever was. My wife works in the "rescue industry" and is aware of the true figures. Political speak stops these true figures from being released. Sorry boots but Aboriginals do receive more per capita when all of the assistance is considered. An Aboriginal colleague (who does not believe in all of the handouts) surprised us with the types of assistance he qualified for. Some milk the system and some do not.

Rover177 | Canberra (Work) - February 17, 2010, 9:16AM

An excellent article by Kate Grenville. The Sorry was hollow indeed - thus the "annual death rate" (2004 data) is 2.4% (NT Aborigines), 2.2 % (Indigenous Australians) , 0.4% (what it should be), 2.5% (sheep in Australian paddocks) and 4% (Poles in Nazi-occupied Poland in WW2) (for data see "The Awful Truth", National Indigenous Times issue devoted to Aboriginal mortality, Issue 131, June 14, 2007: "It is widely known that before the 1967 referendum, Indigenous Australians were under the Flora and Fauna act..."

It is expertly estimated that Aboriginal Health is under-funded by a factor of 2 (however a doctor friend involved directly in Aboriginal health estimates a 3-fold underfunding).

The Ruler is responsible for the Ruled. The spin-driven Australian Labor Government is complicit in huge morbidity and mortality among its Indigenous Subjects as well its Occupied Afghanistan Subjects - in the latter case, annual per capita total health expenditure is US $29 as compared to US$3,122 for Australia, in gross violation of the Geneva Convention demand that an Occupier does everything to preserve Subject lives "to the fullest extent of the means available to it" and associated with an "annual death rate" of under-5 year old Australian-occupied Occupied Afghanistan infants of 7% as compared to 5% for French Jews under the Nazis in WW2.

The race-based exclusion of NT Aborigines from the 1975 Racial Discrimination Act is totally unacceptable to decent folk. I have done my duty and made Formal Complaints to the International Criminal Court (ICC) over Australian involvement in a continuing Aboriginal Genocide (for the Awful Truth see the "Aboriginal Genocide" website). .

Dr Gideon Polya | Macleod, Melbourne - February 17, 2010, 9:26AM

Governments need to stop giving outback Aboriginal people false hope. Each outback township needs to be assess for viablility first. If there is no work avaiable in these places, the government should be up front and declare that these town will not recieve any assistance with housing etc... In the same way the towns in Country Victoria and NSW have been allowed to die out due to lack of work. I find it hard to understand Kate statements about the intervention. After years of talking about the problem with the aboriginal industry Howard acted in desperation, so what has Rudd done? More talking with little or no action, more empty promises. At least Howard tried to do something.

Lukemac | Lara - February 17, 2010, 9:37AM

Does anyone REALLY believe that, had the First Fleet not sailed into Sydney Harbour in 1788, that the following 200 plus years would have gone by, and Australia would have remained as solely the home of a few wandering stone-age tribes ??? The aborigines were always going to be a dispossessed people. It was ALWAYS going to happen. It is worthwhile to remember this, before we rave on too much about how "hard done by" they are.

Lindsay - February 17, 2010, 9:32AM

bappi - "records state" no such thing about the number of Aborigines here before 1788. In fact, the views of statistical ethnographers etc is that there were between 250,000 and 1 million here. As it was a preliterate society, we will never be able to be more specific than that.

The people who try to call it "genicode" are no experts, just partisan race baiters out for a quick buck from the Aboriginal industry.

Toby - February 17, 2010, 9:29AM

The Racial Discrimination Act has NOT been reinstated.

The bill to reinstate the Act is currently before a senate committee. It has not passed the Senate and is not law.

There was not an "unprecedented amount of consultation". See the opinion piece in Saturday's Herald stating they interviewed 76 people to discover if income management is working. Based on their responses they are now rolling it out for the whole country.

Rudd has failed indigenous Australia.

Many people have serious concerns that the bill fails to properly reinstate the Act

D - February 17, 2010, 9:29AM

Sadly this debate about the Aboriginal people so often gets polluted from the start by people like Sam and La Vallette who have no knowledge of the issues, but plenty of opinions, mostly ignorant and generally racist.

We really need mainstream Australians to participate more in this debate and to bring intelligent ideas about how these issues can be addressed and resolved. We really don't need any more uninformed, bigoted commentary that makes no real contribution to resolving the issues. All they do is leave a bad taste in the mouth.

Lesm | Balmain - February 17, 2010, 9:41AM

Talk to people that work in remote aboriginal communities (i.e. Police Officers) and then maybe you would get a real idea of what causes aboriginal disadvantage. These places a blackholes for Govt spending. Can anyone genuinely come up with a real solution to any of the problems outlined in this article and in the comments? People are great in pointing out what the problems are but few have any solutions. This includes Aboriginal academics and community leaders.

G | Brisbane - February 17, 2010, 10:12AM

The aborigines should study the history of population movement across the ages. It is the cause and effect of their situation and it is not unique to them. Thinking I was here before you doesn't mean a thing in light of that history.

Then they should study C. Darwin's the Origin of the Species. Darwin writes, inter alia, that species that do not adapt to changing circumstances are destined to perish. That shows the Aborigines the way out of their present situation.

If you want to survive amongst wolves you have to howl like a wolf. Our capitalist society is like a herd of wolves.

Of course they need to look forward rather than backward. Listening to their elders got them nowhere.

Also they have to get off their a.... and do something for themselves. It does not help to say constantly "they (the rest of society)"should do something about it.

Not all of us were born with a silver spoon.

I started work at 14 because my parents were dead. "They" (the rest of society) weren't interested in my situation.

How many of the bleeding hearts have taken in an Aborigine and schooled him/her in the ways of surviving in the present circumstances. Deafening silence.

The bleeding hearts also say "they" should do something about it. For most people on earth it is you yourself have to do something about it.

If you make a life choice to live as a hunter and gatherer I respect that. But don't expect me to pay for your indulgence.

Fred | Sydney - February 17, 2010, 10:13AM

Pointing out the problems is easy. It would be more useful if commentators like Kate Grenville offered a few solutions for a change. But they don't because it is too complex and frought with ethical dilemas and issues of 'political correctness'. Far easier just to demand someone in government miraculously fix it.

But to her credit she recognises that western-style housing and 9-5 jobs are not the solution to indigenous problems.

Wyn - February 17, 2010, 10:15AM

For 40,000 years the aborigines were supposedly happy. Then the whites came with their morals, religion and living standards. The best thing to do is declare large areas of land in various areas aboriginal only. Leave them to their ways untouched, no matter what. If they want help let them come to the gate & ask for it, otherwise every do-gooder in the world butt out.

FredNerk - February 17, 2010, 10:27AM

How many of the bleeding hearts personally know any of the "stolen generation"? I know a few and can I tell you that after having heard their stories I am very inclined to believe that it was possibly the best thing that ever happened to them (that is in reference to the people I personally know and am not making a judgement on all aboriginals).

One in particular sees themself as a bit of a spokesperson for the "stolen generation" and will criticise white Australians at any opportunity. This person was taken from a "home" where one parent had deserted the family and the other parent was an alcoholic. A child being taken from that situation is not stealing them. What would have been a crime is to leave children to grow up in that situation. This person is now an educated adult who grew up in an adopted family that loved them. Had they been left in that situation they would have no education and I doubt much love either. Still though, they continue to claim that they were "stolen", and whinge about how their life has sucked.

Personally I think that any child (black, white or green) that is in a situation like this person was needs to be taken and given to a family that will educate and love them. Race has nothing to do with it.

Disagree | Australia - February 17, 2010, 10:38AM

So Kate, how about you actually name some of these supposedly stolen people, and demonstrate practically that they were taken for being aboriginal, and for no other reason. That so many of these people were saved, and then activists like yourself turn that into something more sinister is more the problem with todays world. But then thats just what you and your academic lefty cronies want to achieve isnt it.

TC | Melbourne - February 17, 2010, 10:39AM

What is all this anger towards Kevin Rudd for? Is Mr. He-man Tony Abbott going to be riding his push bike decked out in his wanky-shanky lycra to save the indigenous people. I think not. Maybe to visit the guy in the gulf who wants to go full on tourism in his area and no doubt make a quid for himself and others. Good idea but people, 4-wheel drives, boats etc do wreck the environment for sure.

Most white aussies are awash with alcohol too. Haven't you noticed? Not to mention the appalling objectification of women all around the country in the name of men preserving inheritance for their sons. Okay so what's new? Certainly not man's inherent nature to smash into the less muscular or stronger of our species; and other species too, none the less.

Every little bit counts in this world. Did you miss the documentary or whatever on organic gardening and replanting indigenous crop foods up in Northern WA. This is the support we want to see out there in the bush or desert...help and support for our indigenous people to subsist well, pursue their arts and craft and live true to their natures if they so choose.

Just lay off projecting all the white darkness on to these people. Many people have been uplifted by the Apology and it is a very important part of proper support for each other as humans. Get it!

Ros | 2050 - February 17, 2010, 10:41AM

Fred and FredNerk,

Thanks for both of those streams of unconsciousness. They illustrate, better than anything I could say, the general level of ignorance of the issues and the red-necked bigotry that be-devils any sensible and just resolution of these issues.

Rather than engage in any thought, the instinctive reaction of many is to reach for the racist switch that seems to be hard wired into the intellectually challenged, as it avoids the necessity for the thought of which they are incapable.

Lesm | Balmain - February 17, 2010, 10:48AM

Lesm my comments are not racist or ignorant infact they are part of the intelligent debate you claim that you want. The facts are the left and do-gooders have controlled this debate for decades and their ideas have dominated. There is no denying this.

There is also no denying the fact that these ideas have failed completely. What is even more amazing is that people like Lesm continue to promote them. They think the solution is to give aboriginals even more money on top of the excessive amounts they already get. They want to do this while providing no demand for improvements from the aboriginals themselves including integrating into modern society and adopting modern culture. And yes boots the Aboriginals do benefit from a huge amount of positive discriminating. They do receive more assistance from the government then any other group.

Lesm you are the only one who does not understand the issue. You are ignorant to any realistic solutions to solve the issue. All you can say to those who offer intelligent and realistic solutions is to parrot false claims of racism.

Rather then criticising other peoples ideas why not look at why your ideas have failed so badly. And here is a tip they did not fail due to a lack of government funds or inherent racism in society.

And Beth I think you'll find out of those 250 Manne could not name 10 actually taken due to a "racist" government policy.

sam | parkdale - February 17, 2010, 10:50AM

Great article Kate. If there's one thing we need its cross-cultural understanding. The more the better. The difficulties involved in indigenous housing solutions are probably unknown to 99% of Australians. We need to find out how indigenous people think, what practices and traditions influence how they behave - and maybe then we can produce localised strategies for long term improvements in health, education, housing ,etc... Lets get educated in indigenous culture and stop pretending Western solutions and mindsets will produce the improvement.

Another interesting concept - remember the phrase 'so-and-so has gone walkabout ?' . The implication was that indigenous people are unreliable as they may go missing at any time. But find out about 'Sorry Business' and family ties and obligations in indigenous culture. Commitment to family and clan is central and overrides all other obligations. A funeral means you have to go home to participate in traditional ceremonies. I'd say this commitment is admirable.But 9-5 Australia doesnt cater for cultural differences parfticulalry well.

Another point - its sad to see the issue of indigenous Australia has become so polarised. Reading the comments above there seems to be a lot of goodwill (but often tainted with anger) but also a lot of unsupported 'factual evidence' and criticism. Real leadership is required here to bring the country on board to Close The Gap.

One last thing - indigenous people did not choose to come to Australia as most immigrants do. They were already here living happily (read Captain Cooks comments) with a complete set of law to manage the environment and the relationships between 200 different tribes. So I'm not sure why they are obliged to adopt the 'Australian' way as immigrants from overseas do.

Berto - February 17, 2010, 10:54AM

To say sorry for what you have not done is not brave or the correct thing to do. Instead it is misleading and cowardly. The stolen generation's argument has been shown to be not done as a race hate crime it was done equally to the rest of the Australian community it is just a part of the Aboriginal Guilt industry. It also holds us to having expensive cultural ghettos small communities that could not sustain a doctor, a dentist or onsite police officer. The Aboriginal industry believes if they could sustain their culture they would have some pride but the culture is from the Stone Age and if we truly allowed it to go back there then we would be accused of neglect. We have all lost some part of our culture in adapting to the modern age but it is starker for them in having their unsustainable lifestyle idolized by some who believe in the noble savage fantasy supporting the dregs as well as the best of a culture. Aboriginals of today are just an iteration of the aboriginals of the past this land was invaded by at least 3 successive waves of aboriginals start crying for those previous waves for our current aboriginals dispossessed them. The myth of aboriginal harmony with nature is also a white lie fire stick farming and the extinction of the mega fauna is due to aboriginal occupation this is not harmony but naturalization. Aboriginal people need to find their own things to be proud about and not have the aboriginal industry thrust these idealistic dreams upon them.

bill | sydney - February 17, 2010, 10:59AM

People like Sam (above) who want Aboriginal people to walk away from their culture and become "modern" citizens, would I expect, have been unwilling to "convert" to Japanese culture had Australia be taken over during World War II.

We have trapped Australia's indigenous population in an impossible situation, to which there may not be any solution.

Their traditional way of life relies on having a land base that can support them. We have taken that away from them, leaving them only the marginal lands to live on.

So they are caught without the very thing that they need to survive, yet unable and (rightly so) unwilling to dissolve their communities into the stinking morass that western culture has become.

Aboriginal people are not to be blamed for the problems of their communities. We (white Australians) are to blame entirely.

LS - February 17, 2010, 11:02AM

To say sorry for what you have not done is not brave or the correct thing to do. Instead it is misleading and cowardly. The stolen generation's argument has been shown to be not done as a race hate crime it was done equally to the rest of the Australian community to take care of children in trouble. It is just a part of the Aboriginal Guilt industry's myth making. It also holds us to having expensive cultural ghettos small communities that could not sustain a doctor, a dentist or onsite police officer. The Aboriginal industry believes if they could sustain their culture they would have some pride but the culture is from the Stone Age and if we truly allowed it to go back there then we would be accused of neglect. We have all lost some part of our culture in adapting to the modern age but it is starker for them in having their unsustainable lifestyle idolized by some who believe in the noble savage fantasy supporting the dregs as well as the best of a culture. Aboriginals of today are just an iteration of the aboriginals of the past this land was invaded by at least 3 successive waves of aboriginals start crying for those previous waves for our current aboriginals dispossessed them. The myth of aboriginal harmony with nature is also a white lie fire stick farming and the extinction of the mega fauna is due to aboriginal occupation this is not harmony but naturalization. Aboriginal people need to find their own things to be proud about and not have the aboriginal industry thrust these idealistic dreams and victim hood upon them that also motivate them via race hate.

bill | sydney - February 17, 2010, 11:24AM

@ lesm: Typical "ad hominem" reply from a "poltically correct do gooder": Don't address the issue Sam and I raised; Just call us "racist" because we point out that the politically correct line followed for the last 50 or so years has set the cause of aboriginal advancement backwards rather then forward. In the meantime while you live in the comforts of suburbia with all the comforts of the "white culture", the indigenous people and their children suffer the disadvantages you pretend to be care about and your only suggestion to them is keep your hands out for government handouts while they attempt to live a hunter gatherer existence hundreds of miles away from centres of population and the educational and health amenities available there.

BTW you should know by now that the first one to use the term "racist" in such discussions is admitting that he/she has no intelligent comeback and have to resort to name calling.

LaVallette | Burwood - February 17, 2010, 11:28AM

To change history, or the future, one has to change the nature of the animal species known as homo sapiens. It was also homo sapiens that wiped out all the mega fauna in Australia some tens of thousands of years ago by setting fire to the continent. Or Aboriginals as they are called now. I think we all need to evolve for a few millenia a bit before laying blame for anything, past or future.

ppad | Melbourne - February 17, 2010, 12:02PM

Having just saved the country from the crisis of the GFC, Rudd is now being pilloried after a mere two years in office for not having rescued us from every other ill. Give the guy a break.

Chris - February 17, 2010, 12:10PM

Sam,

The level of government funding per capita for Aboriginals is nowhere near what it is for white Australians and never has been. If you knew anything about the subject you would have known that. The left as you call it, has never controlled any part of this debate as they do not, I think you might just possibly understand, control the media; Unless you define Rupert Murdoch, Kerry Stokes, the now deceased Kerry Packer and Ron Walker, as being noted left wingers.

You have no idea what Aboriginals want as you have never left the comfort of your living room to actually work with them and understand their needs. That is essentially because remaining remote enables you to retain your prejudices unsullied by the facts. Incidentally my ideas have never been tried, so it would be a little difficult for them to have failed in those circumstances.

Lesm | Balmain - February 17, 2010, 12:16PM

We all know the Aboriginal people were mistreated by the white "invaders", but the chickens are coming home to roost now. This "apology" mostly had everything to do with reparations and nothing to do with making people feel good, although I'm sure a lot of bleeding heart lefties slept better the day after. How much is your white guilt worth? Get ready for a shakedown people.

Jessie Hijackson - February 17, 2010, 12:20PM

Sam@parkdale; G'Day, having read the comments I can assure you of one thing, the first is that there are NO racist undertones here, and the other is that those people demanding that the aborigines lot in life be corrected, have never, ever, laid eyes on an indigine or his habitat. Lesm-bian is tragically one of the trendy fashionable lefty loonie contributors who apparently likes to see himself in print, and whilst he has a head full of comments, very few of them have any validity. The correction of prblems aborigine began in 1967 after the infamouse refferendum, and and it truely followed the path that Lesmbian demands should be followed now, and in the past forty three years this cure has done nothing but place the aborigine further into the morass than when this stupidity began. I have heard it said the Federal Government is practicing a form of genocide upon them, this may well be true, for it is well known by people who have to live with them, that the most effective manner of destroying the native Australians, is to give them every thing they want.Further to this, there is a guilt industry up here, that is full of Lesmbians, and it involves thousands of people all working for the same cause. These people are in fact parrasites, who have found a way of making an excellent income by panering to the needs of ... parrasites. It must be remembered that the guilt industry MUST have totally dependant indigenies to cater to, as independent self suficient Aborigines would have no need of paternal care givers, and there is your problem. The guilt industry is never going to allow the aborigine to become self suficient, or they, the GI, would all be unemployed.

The Stump | Alice Springs Australia - February 17, 2010, 12:24PM

LaVallette,

I love the dependability of the far right. It is comforting in a way that you can always rely upon their habits. They mistake vigorous debate for this strange creature they keep referring to; "ad hominem" gets so much of a work-out in their posts that it is almost like a signature. It gives them away every time. I note that it is in inverted commas, as is "politically correct do gooders", which tends to suggest that I have used the term, which of course i haven't. You also tend to make assumptions about what your critics have or have not done, without the slightest knowledge or comprehension. Your assumption that I sit "in the comforts of suburbia" is another failure on your part. I have been working with an Aboriginal community for around fifteen years and real progress has been made in that community. Much more needs to be done of course, but shortage of funds is always the problem when it comes to Aboriginal needs.

I note your fatuous suggestion that we should censor our conversation to avoid accurate descriptions of the attitudes of our opponents. That isn't even a good try. If it looks like a racist, smells like a racist and sounds like a racist, it probably is a racist!

Lesm | Balmain - February 17, 2010, 12:26PM

This was first posted on Posted 30-1-10. The problem of the indigenouse is massive, There is a hugh industry in Australia, known as the 'guilt industry' that controls all thing that happen with the indigenouse population. The guilt indusry is extremely influential, it has access to billions of dollars of federal funding, and it employs thousands of people.The guilt industry relys absolutely upon the aboriginal being dependent upon total support from the Department of Social security, aided and abetted by the Dept. of Aboriginal Affairs, variouse land councills and state and territory governments. Billions of dollars have been poured into this problem since 1967 and the aboriginals today are worse off that they were in 1967. Did any of the bleeding hearts commenting here ever wonder why this was so, and that NOTHING has changed one iota in the past forty three. Nothing has changed dear do-gooder because you keep demanding that the aborigine remains an alcholic, depedent parrasite in his own country. You demand that he MUST NOT have his own freedom, but must remain under the controll of the government and the guilt industry. And so it shall be.

The Stump | Alice Springs Australia - February 17, 2010, 12:33PM

It's taken as gospel by the left-leaning media ("journalism at it's very best"), as articulated here in this article, that the intervention is an unecessary attack on Aboriginal communities. Literaries like Ms Grenville like to accept the facts from one side (the side with all their 'art' loving friends with the dinner parties) and discard the other side (the real story), referring to the other side as "revisionist".

I recommend Paul Sheehan's book: "The Electronic Whorehouse", in particular the chapter "How to make a Bomb" which illuminates the two-faced world that Ms Grenville inhabits. It describes the attack on Keith Windshuttle's book "The fabrication of Aboriginal History" by Misha Ketchell and Robert Manne. The Age never mentioned Windshuttles work until it acused him of plagarism. A very weak and unsubstantiated accusation as Sheehan eloquently points out.

As Sheehan points out:

"No-one has done more in Australian public life than Robert Manne to link the accusation of genicide with removal of aboriginal children from their families. The central device in his argument is his portrayal of the career of Aurthur Octavius Neville.

A.O. Neville's long career as administrator of the Aborigines was used to build the foundation of the genocide accusation articulated by the authors of the 'Bringing them Home Report" in 1997. This argument was picked up by Manne and used by him ever since as providing proof of a desire...to 'breed out' mixed-race Aborigines and thus evidence of genocidal intent. To sustain this argument, one has to ignore a mass of detailed evidence that, far from wanting to exterminate the aborigines, Neville's career was driven by a desire to lift them from circumstances of abject poverty, exploitation and eventual demise."

Don't believe their words, look deeper | Sydney - February 17, 2010, 12:39PM

(cont)This emerged clearly in Pat Jacobs' biography of Neville, 'Mister Neville', published in 1990, well before the stolen generations report:

'The two powerful forces whichheld the north in it's crude organic unity were aboriginal labour and Aboriginal female sexuality. Any serious threat to the existing balance, which Neville persisted in posing, caused a deep hosility and anxiety. Neville's angry report in 1927 on the state of virtual slavery in the north and his dislocure of the extent of white male dependence on the sexual availability of Aboriginal females had been forcefully repressed and consequently ignored.' In January 1930, in a letter in THeWest Australian, Neville himself wrote:

'We know that there has been wanton and unwarrented destruction of black life for which our race is responsible, but if we work on the right lines now it may be contended in days to come that the white man eventually saved the black man from entire extinction.'

Interesting that a man who devoted his life to preventing the extinction of the Aborigines and ending what he regarded as their virtual enslavement would later be characterised as an agent of genocide"

In conclusion, I include this link to a moving speechby Bess Nungarrayi Price on the NT Intervention: http://apo.org.au/video/bess-nungarrayi-price-nt-intervention

Don't believe their words, look deeper (cont...) | Sydney - February 17, 2010, 12:40PM

With the bulk of the aboriginal population of Australia being half caste or less, the ability of these people to receive benefits that true Aboriginals receive is scandalous. They deny their white blood for the chance to be termed Aborigine.

Over the decades billions of dollars have been spent on programs to provide Aboriginals with a life equivalent to the rest of Australians. The royalties from mining and development of the country to the fiasco of ATSIC, run by Aboriginals, adds up to a lot of money apparently wasted since nothing seems to have changed.

They are happy to take what white Australians provide and then call them racists if they are critical of Aboriginal behaviour. Their culture is rightly preserved, but they need to realise that the world has not stopped still for them. They have had more than 200 years to adapt to their new world. If they choose not to accept that,that's up to them. This country was developed on the blood, sweat and tears of the Europeans and Asians who often came from conditions as bad as some Aboriginals experience today. But they rose above it and contributed so that future generations would not have to go through the same trauma they did. Apart from a few admirable people who are struggling to help their people to leave the negatives of their lives behind them, most are content to sit on their hands and wail about how " they was robbed". Get over it! We would have more respect for you if you had some for yourselves.

mags | Queensland - February 17, 2010, 12:46PM

For those that claim the aboriginals don't get more money/advantages that the rest of Australia, I beg to differ. As I type this I am sitting across from someone that has been told by their doctor to start identifying as an aboriginal.

This person, purely by accident, found out that a great-grandfather was part aboriginal. Which makes them now a small part aboriginal. This person has a child with a medical condition that requires a lot of medication, treatment and the possibility of an organ transplant further down the track.

When their Dr found out that they had aboriginal in their history they were advised to start identifying as one, and identify the child as one as well. This will enable them to get more medical help for their child than is currently given, and will allow them to pay nothing for medical services that everyone else pays for. It will also give the child some sort of priority if and when it comes a time for an organ transplant.

I am sorry but that is just disgraceful to me. If someone can please explain to me why this child is more important and more entitled to medical help and transplants than another child I would love to know.

still disagree | Australia - February 17, 2010, 1:04PM

If we want the Aboriginal "problem" "solved", then we should install Noel Pearson in a position overseeing all the various efforts and give him as much money as he wants and complete authority.

David | Sydney - February 17, 2010, 1:09PM

As an after thought to my earlier comment.

What would have happened if one of the Asian populations would have migrated here before the Europeans??

Or the Vandals and Goths (by that time the concept of Europe did not exist)??

Would they have been nicer to the Aborigines.

I paid for my block of land. The person who got the land grant for free and subsequently sold it can give the money to the Aborigines. Perhaps that would give those who feel guilty for living here a bit of relief.

Can anyone please turn the clock back a few hundred years so that the bleeding hearts and aborigines can feel better about themselves.

I am off to the middle east, they just loove Europaen migrants there, especially if they are Christians.

Fred | Sydney - February 17, 2010, 1:14PM

@ Leswm: methinks you doth protest too much!!! So stop name calling and tell us; what is wrong or racist with Sam's and my initial submission.

LaVallette | Burwood - February 17, 2010, 1:31PM

What were you expecting from Rudd - apart from fluff. Tell me where in his life as PM his deeds have matched his words. To be fair to him, though, part of the problem is that the so called 'Stolen Generations' suffers from the same thing that that other great myth, Man-Made Global Warming, suffers from. A fundamental grounding in plain and simple truth.

Anthony | Melbourne - February 17, 2010, 1:31PM

IN SUMMARY

Of 28 respondents

9 are Pro-indigenous, 14 anti and 5 dont reveal a leaning

Themes :

PRO
Racial Discrimination Act is bad
White Australia is responsible
Need respect and localised solutions

ANTI

Suspicion on Stolen Generations
Survival of the Fittest
Choose to live remotely and suffer the consequences

Of the 5 respondents who claim personal knowledge

1 Pro 3 Anti 1 no leaning

For those claiming personal knowledge there is a theme that funding is abundant and wasteful.

Total includes 1 academic, 1 who's only concern is to leave Rudd alone.

Berto - February 17, 2010, 1:37PM

"Sorry".What was that Kevin,a bit louder please."SORRY". now that's better.The chattering classes have heard it and are going ga ga about the wonderful symbolism of it all. Blind Freddy could have told Rudd that it was always ever about compensation,and why not ? No amount of cash is going to fix the past or the intractable problems of the present and future for many Aborigines. Howard knew that and, as James Thurber said," better to fall flat on your face than bend over too far backwards. Actions speak louder than words and Rudds words mean nothing unless translated into real action to assist Aborigines.

Henry | Melbourne - February 17, 2010, 1:40PM

Lesm

"The level of government funding per capita for Aboriginals is nowhere near what it is for white Australians and never has been."

To cut to the chase, can you steer us toward the data on which you base your opinion on funding? You come across as very confident in your view so I figured that you had access to the facts.

As Ye Sow - February 17, 2010, 1:52PM

Berto

You are wrong in saying the Aborigines weren't immigrants. You should inform yourself (use google) of the Indian racial make up. You will find that Australoids are found there. It is also a well known fact that Australoids moved from Asia to Australia. the name Australia didn''t even exist then.

Terra Australis quinta pars orbis ( the great south land the fifth part of the globe) was coined by Europeans.

I stand to be corrected but there appears to be no evidence that Aborigines realized or knew that the inhabited a continent.

I hope that the Aborigines raise up from their situation but it doesn't come just from art, music and social security payments.

They need to become plumbers, electricians, carpenters, weldesr, mechanics, accountants, lawyers, business men and so on.

In other words they need to abandon the old ways because this is the 21 st century and the past is long gone. The world has changed and continues to do so. We all have to adapt continuously to changing circumstances or we go under.

Fred | Sydney - February 17, 2010, 2:09PM

Wow - heated debate.

I had an aboriginal great-great-grandmother. On that basis one of my brothers claims status and benefits as an aboriginal, though I do not. I cannot send the white part of me back to England in order to undo the injustice where my white ancestors arrived here between 2805 and 1920....black and white have to coexist and move forward. That makes solutions hard.

One of my sons has just returned from 18 months working in a remote aboriginal school in WA. Inconceivable social problems abound (how many infants kids struggle with feotal alcohol syndrome or have been busted sniffing petrol at YOUR local school?) and my son has heard a range of opinions (even some aboriginals who believe we need another stolen generation!!) I don't believe the current intervention is as universally unpopular as Kate suggests, though it is certainly controversial.

A central point coming through is how you allow some aboriginals to preserve a primitive culture and at the same time have all the benefits of a modern one (health, housing, education). How can this be made to work?

But as one who worried that the apology would open a floodgate of compensation claims, I have to admit that it didn't, and I think Rudd did the right thing to apologize. I also think he has done the right think in continuing the intervention started by the Coalition. This is one area where Rudd hasn't been all talk and no action.

And while I don't think we can fix this by throwing money at it, neither do I think we can ignore the problem.

Wazza - February 17, 2010, 2:15PM

I feel disgusted to read the posts in this discussion, the majority of which are racist and ignorant. 'Racism' in this case exemplified by wildly generalised statements such as "They are happy to take what white Australians provide[...]". I feel embarrassed to be Australian (I should probably go back to where I came from, right? A privilege unavailable to Indigenous people).

Do many of you actually know any Aboriginal people? Have you worked with them? Talked to them? Tried to understand their perspective? Why do we lack any desire to actually understand other people's lives? It's easier to be lazy to sit back and spout generalisations instead, and it would be too confronting to admit that we are occasionally wrong.

As for the comments about Australian Aboriginal people being responsible for the extinction of Australia's megafauna; I believe that the science is inconclusive on this. It is just as likely to have been due to climate change. If anyone has more definitive evidence on this then I'm sure our scientists would love to hear about it.

Even if it were true, do you think that non-indigenous Australians would have done a better job of keeping megafauna alive? Because we've done so well with preserving our current flora and fauna, what with introducing the rabbits and the foxes and the cane toads etc. I can't believe Aboriginal people aren't learning anything from the fine examples we set...

etoile - February 17, 2010, 2:23PM

Hi Lesm. How could your statement "The level of government funding per capita for Aboriginals is nowhere near what it is for white Australians and never has been" possibly be true? We know there is funding set aside for aboriginal-specific programs, but I'm not aware of any government funding program that specifically excludes aboriginals. IE they get what everyone else gets, plus more. What am I missing?

And I do think you have to justify your charge of racism. I admire your passion about this topic, but the fact that someone doesn't agree with your preferred solutions doesn't make them a racist. I'd be interested in the specifics of where you think others have been racist.

Wazza - February 17, 2010, 2:36PM

As Ye Sow,

You could try the Commonwealth Grants Commission, The Australian Bureau of Statistics, papers by Dr John Taylor at the Australian National University, Dr Dennis Griffith, a senior lecturer at James Cook University, various reports of Enquiries undertaken by the State and Federal Parliaments and the Parliamentary libraries to take just a few.

Lesm | Balmain - February 17, 2010, 2:43PM

LaVallette,

The very fact that you have to ask that question provides the answer to it. In order to arrive at the statements that both of you have made you have made assumptions that are prejudicial to Aboriginal people without any evidence for those assumptions. They were racist in that they automatically assumed that most aborigines are, given half a chance, unable to achieve what the mainstream does. That ignores just about everything relevant to the experience of discrimination and oppression that Aboriginal people experience from the white community. There can be no other reason for the adoption of those incorrect assumptions than racism.

Lesm | Balmain - February 17, 2010, 2:53PM

LOL@Berto - February 17, 2010, 1:37PM

Dave - February 17, 2010, 3:02PM

Wazza,

I have already answered that in my response to LaVallette. What you are not coming to grips with is that Aboriginals are largely excluded from the labour market because of prejudice and because of the low levels of their education. That education has rarely been tailored to their cultural needs and when it has, it has resulted in major achievements.

They are also excluded from housing in many areas of Australia and have been subjected to discrimination, even in going to the swimming pool in many country towns in the past. Your view is a little like saying that African Americans have always had access to the same services as white Americans so why are they whingeing. It's funny how bigots in so many countries have found, without any evidence, that their first nation peoples, or slaves they imported to do their dirty work, are somehow culturally inferior to them. Surprising that, isn't it? It seems that wherever Whites have invaded and occupied someone else's country they have found those people to be culturally inferior and therefore not to have time wasted on them. It is also a characteristic of such debates that it has been the group often described as the "poor white trash" that have found these native peoples to be inferior to them. It seems they need someone, somewhere, to feel superior to!

Lesm | Balmain - February 17, 2010, 3:06PM

Rudd's apology hollow?? Really, who would have thought.

Tim | Adelaide Hills - February 17, 2010, 3:53PM

The more money spent on the outback Aboriginal population, the more the problems compound. I am uneasy that a select group are deemed to have special needs that require special legislation and Government departments. Apart from the unemployment and social welfare benefits available to the rest of the Australians there are special provisions for health care, housing and community payments that mean that the remote Aboriginal communities are nett consumers of taxpayer dollars. ATSIC demonstrated how a few (Aborigines) in positions of power, managed to pay themselves large salaries and buy 4wd vehicles and put themselves high on the housing list. And collect the mining royalties while still calling on the taxpayer. Provision of housing is well intentioned but the damage done by the occupants mean that it is a never ending drain on resources. It had been argued that if the locals were trained to build their houses that there might be a better appreciation and care but alas this does not appear to be the case. Perhaps a one off grant of a caravan to each family might solve the housing location and family dynamics problem. The 'Sorry' apology was never meant to solve the problems that has been going on for over a hundred years. It is more up to the Aboriginal communities to get their own welfare in order. Boots - Aboriginals actually receive MORE government spending per capita than other Australians.

Quantum of Solace | Mentone - February 17, 2010, 4:03PM

Until the wider aboriginal community embraces a system of shared responsibility there will be no progress on this matter.

Money is not the answer

Sergio | Melbourne - February 17, 2010, 4:25PM

Glad you liked it Dave.

I work in indigenous education so its very interesting to see public responses to an indigenous article. It highlights all of the issues that need to be addressed if we are ever going to gain understanding between the 2 cultures. One thing my reading has highlighted - there are 2 types of commentators on these issues. Those that read the paper and those that have first-hand knowledge of indigenous people, culture and communities.

Want to extend your knowledge beyond ideological statements about 'lefties' and 'conservatives' ?

If you want a fantastic read about the difficulties the average whitefella has in making a difference get a copy of 'Balanda' - a new book by Mary Jordan (?)

If you want a real down to earth honest assessment of indigenous affairs - try Bob Beadman's report athttp://www.workingfuture.nt.gov.au/ntcg_report1.html

One thing is also clear - the name calling 'lefties', 'racists','do gooders' - never seems to elevate the debate. We need to have honesty in indigenous reporting and preparedness to look at what has worked and what hasnt. regardless of political leanings. That needs a mature informed debate.

As for the blog - It's a bit scary to read all the comments telling indigenous people to forget their tradition, accept the invasion and assimilate. I would think as a wealthy country we could come up with a solution that retains indigenous culture and tradition.

Berto - February 17, 2010, 4:35PM

David@Sydney: If you did give Noel Pearson the funds and the authority as you suggest, you would be horrified at the outcome. I have much respect for Noel and his group, unfortunately, Noel is a salt water wei, (man) and so would be held in contempt by the people where I live, who are all fresh water wei quei subra munya. Any body who knows anything about indigines, would know that the different skin groups DO NOT like and WILL NOT tollerate each other. For example a woman schooled at Yirrara and trained as a nurse in the Allice could not work at Port Keats because they would not permit that to happen, The reverse would be true of the people schooled at Kormilda, in the top end. Read the article about the rape and mutilation of the quei in Tennant Creek about twelve weeks ago, it was assessed as the most brutal attack and mutilation ever visited upon a human being in the history of the community, and by a wei no less. And whilst all the good advice is being handed out here, will someone please tell me how we address the problem of the little four and five year old girls I see who have syphilis and or gonorrhea, or their thirteen year old sisters who have two children, each born with the 'feotal alcohol syndrome' and who is the third generation of her family who has this problem. The lot of the Aborigine WILL NOT ever improve until that becomes the desire of the Aborigine. The billions of dollars that have been poured onto the problem over the last forty three years has proven that, and as long as the guilt industry and the do-gooders give advice, nothing will ever change.

The Stump | Alice Springs Australia - February 17, 2010, 5:07PM

Berto, I have also worked alomngside indigenous people and the diversity of their condition or personality is not represented by either side of the debate. Both are essentialising indigenous people to buttress their ideological position, either as victim or bludger.

What is most frustrating is the near constant reporting of aboriginal people as failure. Whilst it is true that many are suffering, there is also a sizable proportion, if not a majority, who are doing just fine and I am sure they would appreciate that once in while media commentators acknowledge it.

Dave - February 17, 2010, 5:29PM

@Lesm: Your repostes and insults are just the sort of glib answers one expects from activists in the "indigenous industry". You have neither answered our submission nor advanced the discussion. It appears everyone and everything is to blame except the principal group involved. One does not go forward if one is constantly encouraged, especially by those who have a personal agenda, to keep looking backwards to a life style that is no longer viable in this day and age and to expect others to solve all your problems and pay you while you wait for the solutions to be worked out. The issues that we have raised are matters that are on the historical record.

BTW if you want to raise issues of assumptions about those holding a different view to yours: I was among the first implementers of the Aboriginal Study Grants when they were first introduced way back in 1969. To allege lack of knowledge about issues against those who do not support your politics is again one of those furphies designed to insult your opponent while avoiding answering the point at hand. .

LaVallette | Burwood - February 17, 2010, 5:54PM

Hmm yes.

"They're much more likely than non-indigenous Australians to suffer preventable illnesses, die young, be in jail, be illiterate and live in unacceptable condition"

How about you look after yourself in terms of food, water and hygiene to get rid of a lot of those illnesses and also to increase life expectancy, stop committing crime so you don't go to jail, work at school so you can read and work to take care of your property?

Answers are simple really, problem is the Govt can't provide effort, that must come from teh individual.

The Word | The Lord - February 17, 2010, 6:45PM

Calculating Government expenditure is tricky. (Ask Barnaby). We need to differentiate between what is spent providing basic services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and what is spent 'controlling' them. The per capita cost of incarceration is a case in point. State and Federal governments continue conducting costly reviews that make the same non-implemented recommendations as the Report on Aboriginal Deaths in Custody 20 years ago. Stop reviewing, start listening to Indigenous communities and work with them instead of emasculating their leaders and controlling their lives.

Jantar | Brisbane - February 17, 2010, 6:44PM

@ The Stump:

"And whilst all the good advice is being handed out here, will someone please tell me how we address the problem of the little four and five year old girls I see who have syphilis and or gonorrhea."

You could start by reporting these observations to the police.

In fact Stumpy, as you live in the NT, if you know or suspect domestic violence is taking place you are required by law to report this to the police.

By failing to do so you may be committing a crime.

http://www.safeterritory.nt.gov.au/stopping_violent_crime/domestic_violence_reporting.html

D - February 17, 2010, 7:29PM

We should end discrimination - no more benefits based on someone's supposed indigenousnous. All Australians should be treated equally by the government. It is just a waste of taxpayer money throwing more billions at remote settlements, especially for housing. There was no 'Aborginal people' as such, just a collection of frequently warring stone age nomadic tribes, before British settlement. I watched some of 'Samson and Delilah' on TV recently but it was to bleak and depressing, young people wandering around in a daze sniffing petrol. A good example of what passes for 'Aboriginal culture' today, another excuse to wallow in their own victimhood for what that wicked nasty White Man do to them.... We bring them civilisation, modern medicine, democracy, and shower them with special funding but they still have their hands out. Yes I am indeed sorry about that.

Roger | Scoresby - February 17, 2010, 7:57PM

Kate, you end your article with the statement: "But this one was an overdue and necessary first step." Like almost EVERYTHING that consituted the Grand Visions of Kevin 07, the distance between the government's first and their SUBSEQUENT steps is SO great that nothing but crushing inertia results.

Phil J | Seaforth - February 17, 2010, 9:25PM

At what point does the fate of aboriginal australians fall into their own hands?

Traditional living indigenous aussie's have a tough life. They choose to live in the bush but it is their choice to make and as a society we should do all we can to support that.

Urban aboriginal's are a different matter. They have chosen to live a western way and must adapt for their own sake.

Take the case of the various immigrant groups that have come to australia. Many adapt and prosper and others don't. It is exceedingly interesting that many asian groups have come to australia with less than the shirts on their backs, qualify for no more than the average Aussie in govt help yet they succeed where the first immigrants to Australia seem to have so much more help yet they fail to prosper.

This is the true question of disadvantage. If Australia can welcome people from 140+ countries we are not racist, it is more than we are growing tired of the "aboriginal question"

Wayne | Fitzroy - February 17, 2010, 9:27PM

Lesm,

Can you seriously believe that people can not see through your broad generalisations and name calling.

Aboriginal Australian are entitled to every benefit afforded to non aboriginal Australian's(red, brown, black or pink) in addition they have access to special benefits to redress their disadvantage,

Don't attack people simply because they choose to debate you. Be specific and address the issues.

The intervention is radical, it does single out a specific race for different treatment but it is a different approach and far better to act and realise it is wrong than to not act and wonder.

Let's face it, what ever is done has to be radical and it will be an experiment.

But please explain to me how my tiwi cousin can get through high school, qualify as a nurse and now be a nurse practitioner while others don't even try.

Society has to expect all Australian's to try to succeed and I mean all.

Wayne | Fitzroy - February 17, 2010, 9:44PM

When will the white man learn that the prblem lies in the white man thinking they know all the answers and the problem can be fixed with money. The dignity of the aboriginal has been destroyed by successive governments making them dependant on government handouts, accommodation and services. How much money has been poured into Aboriginal welfare since white rule? The only outcome to this date is the decline of a once proud community. Unfortunately I cannot see any way out until all government welfare and do gooders are removed together with the aboriginal leaders who are bought with government money. Allow the leaders within each community to step forward and take control. Sure this will take sometime to establish, but in the long run the their dignity and pride will return.

sunnycoast - February 17, 2010, 10:15PM

The fundamental question is this,

If our countrymen decides to embark on a stone age life style, with their family, with all that implies for health, employment, income and social order, who has the right to stop them?

Further, who has the right to blame third parties for the artifacts of the stone age lifestyle, both good and bad, that manifest with the countryman and their family?

Currently,

If people who happen to be aboriginal decide to become rocket scientists, this is called, 'cultural genocide'.

If they live in the open with whatever that implies, as they always have, this is called, 'disadvantage'.

There is clearly no a solution to this.

More to the point, was there ever a problem?

With freedom of choice comes consequences both good and bad. It is not for others to judge, or for third parties to take the blame.

Richard | Sydney - February 17, 2010, 10:57PM

Sadly, the only culture that aborigines now possess is the culture of victimhood. Mainstream society can do everything under the sun to improve their lot, but for better or for worse, until aboriginal communities decide to focus on improving their future then nothing will change. At a certain point they have to take some responsibility for themselves instead of marinating in misfortune and complaining.

And by the way, nothing annoys me more than discussions where people seek to superimpose 2010 sensibilities over events that happened 200+ or even 50 years ago. Even if the British had never arrived and made Australia a colony, someone else surely would have. Aborigines would still be complaining - the only difference would be that they would be complaining about a different lot.

The fact of the matter is that plenty of aboriginal communities are propped up by government and industry - and do NOTHING for themselves. For example, my brother lives in the Northern Territory where aboriginal communities receive HUGE royalties from mining companies. What they do all day long is sit in circles under trees waiting for the next massive cheque to arrive. You'd think that they'd realise by instinct on some level that that kind of existence is not sustainable...

Enough with the excuses ... stop whinging and finally do something. At a certain point you have to just get over it and move forward.

Trent | Melbourne - February 17, 2010, 11:14PM

I agree, stop the handouts for the indigenous, but stop it for the white trash bludgers, who smoke, drink, use and abuse their kids more than the aborigine, 4th generation welfare with 7 kids. Now that would be survival of the fittest and save us tens of billions every year. Ohhh, but they're white right, so its their right? Sam, LaVallette, be interested to hear what you have to say....

SPR | Brisvegas - February 17, 2010, 11:14PM

Of course no-one expects Aborigines to forget their culture, traditions or history ... but they need to EVOLVE from the stone age (just like every other community, animal, insect or even plant).

As long as Aboriginal communities resist this need to evolve and find a place in a 2010 world they will continue to suffer and stagnate. We've long passed the point at which everything could be conveniently blamed on white colonialists.

All over the world people find themselves in misfortune and pick themselves up, sometimes with a helping hand. Why should Aborigines be any different?

Mary | Melbourne - February 17, 2010, 11:28PM

I thought the "the stolen generation" at the "I'm so sorry" parliament house get together looked and acted civilised and integrated; maybe more should have gone down this route. As for comments about aboriginals not getting their fair share - what rubbish. They are paid a larger welfare cheque than others, get totally free medical care, their children even get paid to go to school, whether they do so or not. Very hard to assimilate aboriginal and non aboriginal people when the Australian government practices an apartheid policy in favour of non whites in this case. Call an aboriginal "black", you are called a racist; but when an aboriginal calls a non aboriginal a "white c...t" it's OK, decades of being under privilaged and other rubbish being the excuse. Two choices are open to aboriginals; stay in the outback but don't expect much from us, or assimilate into the urban community and actually do something positive instead of drinking, drugs, violence and playing the racist card.

easioz | Perth - February 18, 2010, 12:18AM

Lesm,

Thanks for the steer on your sources of information, as general as it was. It would have been handy to know specifically which papers you're referring to. It is pretty easy to find information about how much is spent exclusively on indigenous programs and extrapolate that per capita. What I can't seem to dig up anywhere is information on government funding of exclusively non-indigenous initiatives.

For example, according to the DFAT site the feds are allocating $1.6 billon to indigenous housing over the next 4 years. According to the Commonwealth Grants Commission there are about 110,000 people living in discreet aboriginal communities around Australia. So if we assume that the $1.6 billion will be spent mostly in aboriginal communities that's a spend of $14,500 per capita. You can do the same with indigenous health, education and infrastructure programs. But how do you compare it to non-indigenous funding when the indigenous population is not excluded from other government initiatives that the rest of the population benefits from?

If there is a definitive study that compares government spending per capita (indigenous vs. non-indigenous) I'd appreciate it if you could point it out. Otherwise the argument that our indigenous population gets less from the government logically just does not stack up.

As Ye Sow - February 18, 2010, 8:50AM

I couldn't agree more with Richard and Trent. Once Aborigines have settled on being victims and totally absolved themselves of any responsibilties then this is the situation that you end up with. There simply is no durable solution.

If you try to help a stone age culture move forward then that is "cultural genocide". If you allow them to do as they please then you're "perpetuating the disadvantage they suffer".

How do you help people who refuse to help themselves?

Toby | Melbourne - February 18, 2010, 11:07AM

As Ye Sow - I feel your frustration.

It really is futile trying to keep the discussion objective and get anything like basic facts. Aborigines and the various apologists make all sort of claims, use language like "genocide" at the drop of a hat ... but are perpetually at a loss when it comes to serving up hard evidence.

And if all else fails, they just call you ignorant or racist. *Sigh*

Toby | Melbourne - February 18, 2010, 11:16AM Show more comments

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