Click here to watch John Pilger's awesome doco 'Utopia' (SBS Video on demand – free 1:50:22) And luckily for us there are some great comments at the bottom of that piece to balance out the argument some more. Worth scanning.
Gee whiz that is a powerful piece of work. For me, I love the historical aspect and the human story of what happened. Of course, the real story played out way before any of us alive today can remember. It's an oral history – the First Australians experience of being invaded has been recorded as an oral history from these past centuries (in some locations in Australia a lot less!) and in more recent times scatttered photographs and writing. These histories are now being documented and corroborated to give us, at the very least, an overall approximation of the shameful neglect of beautiful and culturally rich peoples who were doing just fine before we got here. There was no need for the Indigenous Australians to be "civilised" and our western ideas about a "good life" need not necessarily have been correct – for everyone. Of course, in retrospect we can evaluate our beliefs in a contextual way and see that our white forbears thought they were doing the right thing, after a fashion. I'm sure there were people with the best intentions to somehow save what they saw as a hard life – little did they realise the aboriginal people were actually having a pretty nice life on this land – hunting, gathering and sharing their stories with their children as they had done for many thousands of years – 50 thousand years by some accounts.
The UK sent some of its more compromised citizens to the colonies to work and build its then idea of its place in the world as an imperial power. I guess that was the done thing in those days… set off in ships to find new resources – food, plants, spices, textiles, land, slaves, etc. I think life for the convicts in their homeland was bad enough but to be sent away from their families to the other side of the world would have no doubt added to their already traumatic life. Those early days would have been extremely confrontational and quite frightening for both the Indigenous Australians and the newcomers.
The only real contribution of Rudd's government was to actually say sorry. I was really glad when that happened… it was getting a little awkward. Sorry for what? Well, in my mind it's better than not saying sorry. It's a damn good start. Just because we ourselves in these generations alive now weren't there and didn't see what happened I think we can safely say the evidence is in – that the Indigenous Australians were deeply affected and are still living with the effects of the invasion all these generations later. I hear the rhetoric often that these people should get up, brush themselves off and get on with it. Get a job and start acting like the rest of us? Get a house and aspire to the same crap we're aspiring to – unsustainable consumption, materialism with perpetual waste and broken familial and community bonds (individualism – 'every man for himself'). Well, there's a hole in the bucket dear Liza.
So, what's the solution? What needs to happen next? Crikey – I don't think it's easy at all to figure out what happens next. I guess we could start with sharing and helping a bit more than what we do. As in John Pilger's doco you can see they're not happy with their lot – and indeed why should they be? A third of Indigenous Australia will die before they reach 45. WTF. Seriously? In one of the wealthiest and most propsperous countries in the world we have a minority group (3% population) of our own First People living treacherous (health / eduation outcomes) lives. I've heard people say that they should stop drinking and get a job. I've seen the drinking and I know for sure no one would choose that life. Seriously. Who would say – hey I want to live an Authentic Alcoholic's life? I want to die young from renal and liver failure. I want to be in pain and suffer with the burden of failure for my community, my family and my self. I don't think so. I think the issues we see in our aborginal communities are of neglect to offer appropriate resources and support. To ask them how they want to live and build their image of themselves and their culture in 2014 – not build a bunch of square boxes and demand assimilation. Our country is rich enough to do the right thing in this case – to right the wrongs of our ancestors.
I'm not sure I understand the funding arrangements but I can assure you this. The funding that we are paying via our taxes isn't always hitting the ground. The people who are working in Indigenous programs are moving fast and working hard to find solutions for their community issues. So what's going wrong?
A couple of days ago (5 June) this piece this the news: