Future of aboriginal Australians

Problems such as alcoholism and drugs are proportionately higher among Aboriginal youth. The health problems of Aboriginal communities are worse

Future of aboriginal Australians


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o assert that they were forcibly removed from their parents.

This second obsession is very offensive indeed to those who were forcibly removed and to many thousands of other Australians. McGuiness's approach reached a kind of high point in the notorious ABC program in which he gratuitously insulted Lois O'Donoghue, one of the stolen children herself, in his most arrogant way, by pouring contempt on the idea that any children were stolen. His extraordinary performance on that occasion took many people's breath away.


Michael Duffy, another "expert" on Aboriginal affairs


The Murdoch tabloid directed at the less formally educated sections of society, the Daily Telegraph, retains three rabidly right-wing populist columnists whose function is to cater to the perceived prejudices of the paper's audience, to whit, Piers Ackerman and the Janissary journalists Miranda Devine and Michael Duffy.

On the Telegraph opinion page of January 5, 2000, Duffy has a carefully worded piece headed, Keep the H word out of our history. He goes out of his way to stress the Jewish origins of a number of prominent public critics of Australian racism against Aborigines, while of course disclaiming any anti-Semitism, in singling out these Jews.

Apparently Jews are more sensitive on these things because they got here more recently and their familiarity with the Holocaust directed at the Jews of Europe has made them overly preoccupied with such matters and led them to exaggerate the magnitude of the atrocities perpetrated on Australia's Aboriginal population. Get the message! Rootless cosmopolitans don't understand Australian history as well as older "real Australians" such as Duffy, who properly understand in their bones that our treatment of the Aboriginals wasn't all that bad.

Duffy is worried that the Labor side of politics may be gaining some momentum among liberal-minded Australians by its defence of Aboriginal rights, and he bemoans the fact that the vigorous defence of Aboriginal rights, and a vigorous focus on past wrongs done to the Aboriginal population, is dividing Australia. He says:

The last thing Aborigines or those genuinely interested in their wellbeing need is for their future to be affected by the introduction of concepts and words which inflame and confuse our view of those horrors which did happen here.

And, later:

In the meantime, the best thing the rest of us can do is resist attempts to polarise Aboriginal matters. This includes attempts to change the meanings of words in common use.

Elsewhere he makes the extraordinary statement:

Most people would now agree that One Nation was in fact not a racist phenomenon.

So we had all better get the message. Pauline Hanson is not racist, and anyway, many of the people making a fuss about Aboriginal oppression are a just a bunch of Jews. British Australia did some bad things to the Aboriginal population, but we shouldn't exaggerate it. After all, the main danger in Aboriginal affairs is not really the oppression of the Aboriginal people, but the damaging possibility that inflaming anger about injustices to Aborigines will interfere with the Sydney 2000 Olympics.

In the Telegraph a bizarre competition is developing between Duffy and Piers Ackerman, with the two tabloid columnists trying to outdo each other in the vicious extravagance of their comments on Aboriginal affairs. Well, Duffy now has to be way in front in this contest, with his contribution on March 25 to the debate on mandatory sentencing. The following extract is something of a new low in nasty tabloid treatment of these matters:

It is particularly nauseating that this new racism has been practised in the name of virtue. Many of these sanctimonious whites, this small army of lawyers, anthropologists, public servants and journalists, have lost touch with the spiritual roots of their own culture and have tried to redeem themselves by feeding off Aboriginal issues, which they pervert to suit their own decadent spiritual requirements. Their new religion is anti-racism, and everything is interpreted as a racial issue, no matter how wrong and destructive of Aboriginal interests this might be. It is time these white moral maggots were shaken off the body of black Australia, from which they have sucked so much life.

White maggots, indeed! White maggots of Australia unite! Within a couple of days of Duffy's extraordinary outburst in his column, an opinion poll was published in the newspapers of March 28, showing that more Australians opposed mandatory sentencing than supported it, and many more again opposed mandatory sentencing of adolescents. I'm considering having a badge made for public sale, with the slogan, "I am a white maggot".

It almost goes without saying that it would be fascinating to get Duffy down on a couch and try to draw out of his mind by psychoanalysis what ghosts and demons are running around in his head about "rootless cosmopolitans" and "white maggots" "interfering in Aboriginal affairs".


The saga of Jack and Lallie Akbar


A brutal and instructive episode in both Aboriginal affairs and Australia's race policy relating to Asians, sharply refutes McGuiness's proposition that no state policy was involved in the stolen children saga. A moving and informative book by Pamela Rajkowski called Linden Girl, a story of outlawed lives (UWA Press, 1995) recounts the extraordinary saga of an "Afghan" (actually an Indian Muslim from the Punjab), Jack Akbar, who married a young Aboriginal woman, Lallie, in Western Australia in the 1920s.

This scholarly and thorough book documents how the notorious Western Australian "Protector" of Aborigines, Auber Octavius Neville, had Jack Akbar and Lallie, who ultimately produced a family of three children, imprisoned several times for the "crime" of marrying each other. It is an extraordinary story of human courage and endurance. The devoted couple escaped a number of times, on one occasion making an extraordinary journey across the Nullabor Plain with Lallie pregnant, and which they only survived because he was an experienced camel driver and she, coming of a tribe of desert Aborigines, was used to living off the land.

Eventually they beat the rap, so to speak, for their marriage "crime", and lived happily for many years after the Department of Aboriginal Affairs eventually gave up trying to separate them out of exhaustion.

The significance of this book in relation to the stolen children is that the author found repeated and constant references in "Protector" Neville's private papers to the policy of removing mixed-race children from their Aboriginal parents in an attempt to "breed the colour out". One of Neville's objections to the marriage between Akbar and Lallie was that in his racist universe they were both coloured, and therefore a union between them would only perpetuate the continuation of undesirable coloured races.

Auber Octavius Neville was by far the most forceful person in the adoption of the stolen children strategy in Aboriginal affairs. In the minutes of the meeting of Protectors of Aboriginals from the different states and territories that in 1937 adopted the policy as official strategy, he emerges as the most forceful, domineering and articulate advocate and practitioner of this terrible government practice.


Aboriginal resistance


The history of Aboriginal resistance to the war of conquest, has been carefully covered over in the past, but Forgotten rebels: Black Australians who fought back, by David Lowe (Permanent Press, Melbourne, 1994). Black War by Clive Turnbull (1948), and Aboriginal Tasmanians by Lyndall Ryan (Allen and Unwin, 1996), and in particular the wonderful and ongoing work of Henry Reynolds, describing the many episodes of Aboriginal resistance, have gone some distance towards correcting the historical record.

Australia's collective repressed memory. Sexual relations between conquerers and conquered produced multitudes of mixed-blood Australians from the first moment of settlement, and many of them have been absorbed by "white" Australia

Despite the very real attempt at extermination, Aboriginal Australia displayed an extraordinary resilience in some ways. From the first days of settlement, sexual relationships between whites and Aboriginals produced many mixed-blood offspring, who survived because of their immunity, inherited from the white parent, to imported diseases. Many of these were absorbed, because of the shortage of women, into white colonial society, giving rise to a very widespread but often hidden Aboriginal ancestry among working-class and rural populations. Recently, even the well-known television personality Ray Martin has discovered a remote Aboriginal ancestor.

This question of the amount of "racial" mixture in older Australian populations has been constantly repressed in the collective memory. There can be very little doubt about the widespread Aboriginal contribution to "white" Australian population, particularly in the older settled areas and in rural and pastoral areas.

Particularly during the explosion of pastoralism beyond the 19 counties around Sydney, from the 1820s onwards, all observers noted constant sexual relationships between ex-convict shepherds and Aboriginal populations. Even the rapidly developing distinctive Australian version of the English language was strongly influenced by the interplay between Aboriginal idiom and Irish Celtic speech on the pastoral interface between Aborig

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