Perspective is important when looking at the situation of Aborigines in particular and indigenous peoples in general.
If you look at the US, Canada, NZ and Australia the circumstances of indigenous peoples are very similar, regardless of whether they received their rights sooner or later. Something is wrong and the something wrong is probably the political correctness which, in all nations, had the delusional idea that somehow indigenous people could be held – pinned like metaphorical moths to a board – in some sort of fantasy of their original lives.
Guilt can be a useful reminder but it can also be destructive. When the Aboriginal issue is studied in the perspective of the times it allows perspective in these times and provides the capacity to more rationally assess what was done. The stolen generation is a classic example of this although the reality of the circumstances is often denied or repressed in this politically correct age.
Those Aboriginal children taken away were taken away because they were at risk. At the same time, non-Aboriginal children were taken away for the same reason and continued to be taken away by social services well into the fifties. I know the reality of this because with an ill and absent mother, as a child, I and my siblings faced the constant risk of ‘being taken away.’
So first of all, the treatment of Aborigines was not particular to Aborigines. Secondly, those Aboriginal children taken away were half-caste and as with many societies and cultures, it is and was the half-castes who were often not accepted by the community. In other words, a lot of these kids were neglected. Instead of watching propagandised movies, read the reports of the times.
Those responsible for the care of the children had a choice – leave them in their mother’s world where they were at risk, or remove them and bring them up in their father’s culture. Of course this traumatised the children, removal always does, whether Aboriginal or not, but many of those removed were not traumatised and went on to assimilate and live fulfilling and functional lives in the non-Aboriginal world.
It is not about diminishing the wrongs done to indigenous people anywhere but about applying reason, common sense and fair perspective to what was done, when and by whom. Many of the actions taken from the time of English settlement, again, read the reports easily found by reading books (non-propaganda) and reports and articles published at the time (Trove, National Library) had a clear focus of doing what could be done to help the indigenous people and to draw them into the colonial culture.
Of course things went wrong and it is just as delusional to claim that the settlers and later colonists were sweetness and light toward the Aborigines as it is to claim that they were bent on genocide.
Racism and abuse, if you read the original reports was not institutionalised as the current propaganda would have it. Government programmes may have been ineffective but that was not because of a lack of motive, money or intent.
If the billions of dollars poured into trying to improve life for Australia’s indigenous people has achieved virtually nothing, it is because most of it has gone into programmes which aim to resist assimilation and to seek to ‘preserve’ the Aborigines in some sort of politically correct aspic.
Those Aborigines who survived and prospered after colonisation were the ones who assimilated and call themselves Australian. Those who suffer are those who did not and who were not allowed to, either by their own culture or by the wider culture with its legions of deluded do-gooders.
The fantasy of Aborigines retaining their culture was always deluded simply because it was impossible. Nomadic people who want what we have – Toyotas, guns … to use for hunting, spears and boomerangs being old hat, houses, which they will not live in if someone dies in the house, and the Flying Doctor whizzing in to pick them up if they are sick; access to hospitals and medical centres and schools (even if not used) are not living a traditional life. They are living some soap-opera sitcom which is a version of what the political correct brigade believes is a ‘traditional life.’
No wonder they are seriously fucked up. The enormous levels of social dysfunction, abuse, violence, alcoholism, drug addiction etc., in Aboriginal societies in particular and indigenous societies everywhere in the developed world, is sourced not in colonisation but from the historically recent lunacy of rejecting assimilation.
Every country on this planet exists because of occupation, colonisation and assimilation. Study English history as a good, clear record. Where we have failed Aborigines in particular and indigenous in general is refusing to draw them into the wider community – casting them instead like shadows on the edge not just of our life but of their lives.
It is heartening to see finally, even Aborigines recognise this reality and asking for their children to be ‘taken away’ to boarding school so that they may get an education and an opportunity to be a part of Australian society and culture.
And yes, it is a long post because the actions of the do-gooders and the political correcters have demonstrated yet again how much evil can be done in the name of so-called good. They have turned Aborigines into victims, denying them the same qualities of all human beings – capacity for both good and evil – and dismissing the reality that Aborigines, (look at Aboriginal tribal culture) as just as capable of being racist, discriminatory, intolerant and colonists and occupiers.