I thought that maybe writing something about the Aborigines could have been interesting, but now that I’m setting pen to paper (well, symbolically…) I realize that I’ve no idea where to start from… their history? No, that sounds too long for such a short page! their culture, on the other hand, seems too complex…
Perhaps, Kevin Rudd’s apology could be a good starting point? Let’s try…
All of you have probably heard of the 13 February 2008 formal apology to Stolen Generations, led by Prime Minister Rudd and passed by both Houses of the Parliament of Australia. I was not yet here at the time, but they all tell me it was a really great event, with wide screens pitched up in the main square and hundreds of people watching, crying and clapping while Rudd publicly admitted and asked forgiveness for the removal from their families and culture of half-cast children (born from Aboriginal women and white men) in the period between approximately 1896 and 1969.
It sounded just like the beginning of a new attitude to Australian Aboriginal, their culture and their rights and all seemed eager to take part in it.
SBS (one of the most followed and appreciated Australian TV channels) produced a new 8-week serial called The First Australians a retelling of the Aboriginal people’s history, told by Aboriginal historians from an Aboriginal point of view; it had been largely publicized beforehand and was an instant success , with lots of DVD and books sold.
All round Melbourne, public buildings are boasting plaques which ‘in the spirit of reconciliation’ recognize they were built on lands formerly belonging to the Waraijderij people (one of the Australian Aboriginal peoples)… but the descent of those dispossessed people continue dispossessed a few metres off those same buildings, drinking, shouting, often fighting each other and mostly waiting for the St. Vincent De Paul's van which every evening brings them a hot dinner.
On April the 1st, the Australian Associated Press released this article:
On the first anniversary of the national apology, Mr Rudd told The Koori Mail that he believed a bridge of respect had been built between non-indigenous and indigenous Australians. But the legal director of the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre, Michael Mansell, doubts Mr Rudd’s claims.
“Aboriginal people and especially members of the stolen generations, are probably worse off now than when Kevin Rudd made the apology one year ago” Mr. Mansell said.
“There’s no land rights for the dispossessed, no compensation for the stolen generations, the health standards are not improving and the Aboriginal imprisonment rate continues to climb.
Any criticism of Mr Rudd’s neglect to address Aboriginal issues is met with the stock Government response that it gave the apology.
The apology has provided the Rudd Government with a political shield against criticism of its failure in Aboriginal affairs”
Mr Mansell said Mr Rudd gained valuable political capital on the cheap by making the apology, and the real losers were members of the stolen generations.
“Rudd used Aboriginals to improve his social standing, then walked away”, he said.
What will you make of it???