A CONVERSATION ABOUT: RECONCILIATION AND INDIGENOUS RIGHTS

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Better communication needed

 

by Sharon S.

 

In our personal lives we’ve probably all, at one time or another, felt the need to make amends and/or to build a friendly relationship with someone. To reconcile implies that the relationship had previously been estranged or distant.

 

Open communication can result in a better relationship, or at least a better understanding of where the other party is coming from. To reconcile assumes a responsibility to bridge the gap in a positive, pro-active way.

 

As a white Australian, I’ve inherited many stereotypes, misjudgments and assumptions about indigenous Australians and their culture.

 

For me, this view personalises the issue of reconciliation between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians and creates responsibility rather than treating it as an issue apart. As a white Australian, I’ve inherited many stereotypes, misjudgments and assumptions about indigenous Australians and their culture.

 

These are born out of ignorance and have survived through a lack of interaction and understanding. Most of these stereotypes are disrespectful, destructive, and irrelevant, yet have come to form our knowledge about Aboriginals or Torres Strait Islanders. Unfortunately, these fictions have fed our imagination and, for some, served as a springboard to lay judgement and decide on what the first Australians deserve – especially in terms of land and welfare.

 

Few Australians have a relationship with an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person so the estrangement between the two cultures has continued and the myths have been kept alive. Our responsibility to bridge the gap and aim for reconciliation needs to starts with dispelling these myths. We will need open communication to set the record straight.

 

Sorry, not sorry

 

by Robin Marsh

 

Elton John sang that ‘sorry is the hardest word to say’ yet, our leaders seem able to say it with ease.

 

Since Kevin Rudd uttered the words “we are sorry” on February 13 2008, our Government’s actions have proven that their apologies are as empty as their promises. In the seven years since Rudd’s apology, the number of Indigenous children removed from their homes with Care and Protection orders has continued to rise.

 

According to the 2014 Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage Report, which was started in 2003 prior to Rudd’s apology, 11 in 1000 children were removed from their homes. According to the latest report, that number has increased to 49 in 1000. The report states that these orders are issued to protect the children from neglect and abuse. These are two of the same reasons that were given to remove children of The Stolen Generation – except they didn’t have Protection orders to OK the removal of the children back then.

 

I guess they’d have to actually stop stealing the children before they make sure it never happens again.

 

In the same “sorry” speech, Rudd said: “We today take this first step by acknowledging the past and laying claim to a future that embraces all Australians. A future where this Parliament resolves that the injustices of the past must never, never happen again.”

 

I guess they’d have to actually stop stealing the children before they make sure it never happens again.

 

Negative reinforcement?

 

by Steve Monev

 

Whatever your view of Australia Day is, perhaps we should be focusing on improving our future as a whole rather than obsessing over the known past and all the negativity that is constantly highlighted – fussing about excessive political correctness and forcing guilt on people for an event that happened over 200 years ago.

 

Acknowledging and accepting all points of view is definitely important but the end goal of equality, rights and improving relations should be emphasised.

 

Most modern day Australians are aware of the unfortunate events that surrounded the First Fleet’s arrival, however, we have definitely made progress and pointing fingers and blame is currently not the best use of resources.

 

Yes, we must, and do, acknowledge the events that have occurred in the past and we’re constantly learning from our mistakes to make improvements.

 

Reconciliation should be about ushering in positive change, conducting meaningful actions, forming relationships, creating further understanding of cultures and spreading ideas to create a better Australia for all inhabitants.

 

Trust and respect for each other’s communities and cultures, removing stereotypes and discrimination and seeing everyone as equals would remove a lot of animosity whilst forming solidarity.

 

Yes, we must, and do, acknowledge the events that have occurred in the past and we’re constantly learning from our mistakes to make improvements. These are important steps to consider, but the fact is we know what happened during those times and cannot alter those events.

 

Dwelling so heavily on the negativity  instead of improving our future and making true progress together seems counterproductive. Talking civilly, not yelling at each other, will help us improve as a society and reduce discrimination and stereotypes.

 

Building relationships between all Australians and getting people to talk constructively about issues and concerns we face in regards to reconciliation will help everyone move forward into a better and more equal future.

 

Rooting for ‘the home team’

 

by Nathan Woods

 

Being raised in Melbourne by American parents, I have always found myself with a sceptical view on patriotism. While I understand the want and desire to root for ‘the home team’ – as it were – the unquestioned belief that said home team is genuinely superior to all the other teams merely be cause of its geographical proximity to your personage is, to me, absurd.

 

When you are outside that bubble of patriotism, the veritable circus you observe when you peek inside can at times come off as truly bizarre.

 

Australia is a great country. However, we are not perfect. Our country has a history built on violence and greed, where the white man has always come out on top. This is a history that most of us push to the back of our minds because we weren’t directly involved. Why should we take responsibility for the actions of our forefathers – actions which took place in a different time when the world was following a very different set of rules on how it handled indigenous populations?

 

When you are outside that bubble of patriotism, the veritable circus you observe when you peek inside can at times come off as truly bizarre.

 

Which brings me to the indigenous peoples, who at this point in history must feel somewhat like foreigners in their own country. In this instance we can’t just don our wife-beaters, display our Southern Cross tattoos and yell at them to go back where they came from – they are where they came from and they’ve been here considerably longer than anyone else.

 

Reconciliation is about more than just awareness – while racism is sadly still alive and well in this country, it is still worth celebrating how far we have come regarding human rights in what has been an incredibly short time in the history of our species. We can’t undo what the British colonials did 100 years ago, but what we can do is work here and now to make this a better country for all.

 

A push for justice and equality

 

by Nesrine Rima

 

Reconciliation is about unity and respect between the non-indigenous Australian population and the Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islanders communities. Valuing justice and equality for all. Respect is about healing, it is about the inclusion of indigenous people in our communities.

 

The loss of language, culture, disconnection from the land, and other socioeconomic factors has lead to health inequalities of indigenous people.

 

While reconciliation may help somewhat, the Abbott Government needs to do more in areas of education and access to health services to improve the life of the indigenous population. The health issues and lack of education within the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders communities that are present today are credited to colonisation.

 

The loss of language, culture, disconnection from the land, and other socioeconomic factors has lead to health inequalities of indigenous people. Indigenous people define wellbeing more broadly than merely physical health. They have a social determinant of health, where people, land, food, and health are key components of being alive.

 

The Indigenous idea of sickness is from the absence of connection with family. Income, education, employment, living conditions, social support, and access to health services are factors that apply to the health of indigenous people.

 

Reconciliation Week is a chance to discover more about indigenous history, and a time to reflect on the achievements so far and on what must be done to go forward. It would benefit all Australians to participate.

 

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