Current Affairs Politics

Australia’s Shame

The physical chains have gone but the economic, social and political chains remain for Australia’s indigenous communities

Native Australians make up just 2% of Australia’s population but form an incredible 26% of the national prison population, rising to 90% in some regions. That is a shocking indictment of the continental nation’s relations with its indigenous peoples. Something is very, very wrong in the land down under and Vice magazine highlights one particular example of the revolving door incarceration that has become everyday life for thousands of young Aboriginal men and women. Remember when Irish people under Britain’s imperial rule were stereotyped in British popular culture from the 18th to 20th centuries as habitual criminals fuelled by poverty and alcohol? The destructive effects of colonialism are universal, whatever the time or place.

6 comments on “Australia’s Shame

  1. One of the reasons I think why this Scottish independence is such an important thing for me, is that it would in my mind hopefully be a small beginning to the end of colonialism, and a step for countries who are part of the ‘British empire’ regaining their identities. One thing that worries me though, is the smaller groups of people such as the Native Australians, Canadians, Americans etc. in whom centuries of damage lies at the base of their cultural identity. It’s not an accident that these groups are over represented in prisons: it’s the same pattern worldwide with many native groups and in Ireland it is the indigenous Traveller population.

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  2. I studied Australian history in University some years ago and up until very very recently the Aboriginals were left out of it. The treatment of Aboriginals was nothing short of inhuman right up until the 1990’s. There was an automatic curfew for Aboriginals up until the 1970’s too. Just because they were Aboriginals. Progress has been made since then though, especially statutorily, but very little has been done to tackle the effects of colonialism on those peoples and their culture. Unfortunately, comparing their situation with that of Irish Travellers is not viable, the Aboriginal situation has been and is much much worse.

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  3. This is just so horrifically tragic. Will we ever learn, or should we hope that the climate crisis gets rid of us before we destroy ourselves out of our own hatred, greed, and fear. It would be selfish and foolish to fall into despair, but so easy to be so thoroughly disgusted with my fellow human beings to do so anyway. People who choose to brutally oppress others will themselves into prisons of their own making and they waste their lives unconsciously serving only themselves. That honestly just adds to the tragedy. I’ll go back to hoping now, as it’s the productive thing to do, but needed to express my anger. What has been done to Aboriginal people and Native American tribes is unconscionable and appalling and we should all forgo the shame since that doesn’t do any good and instead take collective responsibility and acknowledge complicit or active guilt and respond with action not dejection. Otherwise nothing continues to be done. And, even if you don’t live in either country, if you continue living consciously you make it all the harder for others to continue destroying each other while sleep walking. sorry to be so blunt about it.

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  4. john cronin

    “What has been done to Aboriginal people and Native American tribes is unconscionable and appalling and we should all forgo the shame since that doesn’t do any good and instead take collective responsibility and acknowledge complicit or active guilt and respond with action not dejection.”

    Er, who’s “we”? Nobody in my family ever did anything to an Aborigine.

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    • That’s why I said the thing at the end that if you don’t live there, by living consciously you improve what’s going on in the world. Perhaps we, as a world, should hold those who treat aboriginal people disgracefully to higher standards of accountability. Barring that, we, as people of a world, should treat everyone we encounter with dignity and respect, wherever we are. And that is what I meant by “we.”

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