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Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Stolen Generations

I had my first exam yesterday, for the Australian Idol subject. It went really well considering the amount of studying that I did for it, = zero. I had to write two essays. I wrote about the Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s apology to the Stolen Generations last year, and if the reconciliation has stagnated after that or not. 
History Lesson: The Stolen Generations refer to the children of the indigenous people that were removed from their families during Australia’s six decades of racist White Australia policy. The European settlers considered Australia as a no-man’s land and to them Aboriginals were doomed to extinction. Aboriginals were denigrated, dehumanized and oppressed because of the false sense of superiority of the European settlers and the aboriginal culture was almost destroyed. The present disadvantages of the indigenous people such as alcoholism, diseases, alienation and other devastation is all because of the European settlers. Even as late as in the 1980s they were for instance denied service in shops or bars and spat on. So, resolving these issues is essential for Australia to truly see itself as a first rate social democracy, the land of the fair go and better chance. That’s basically what I wrote... But seriously, the indigenous people were denied from all of their basic human rights such as DRINKING!!! Imagine that!!! And I read somewhere, that even if you were 1/128 aboriginal they denied some of your rights! It seems like the apology was merely a symbolic start for true reconciliation. The Rudd Government has committed to some real action such as increasing the education of aboriginal children as well and there have been some improvements.
But reconciliation will be difficult to achieve. It’s a two-way process and requires respect, forgiveness, acceptance and also the will of the aboriginals to help themselves. It’s easier to divide people than it is to unite and people’s attitudes change slower than legislation. I think it’s important that the non-indigenous Australians recognize that it was their ignorance that caused the dispossession of land, culture and language. It doesn’t mean that individual Australians should feel personal guilt over it. It means that the same way they can feel national pride over sporting or the Anzacs, they should be able to feel national shame of past actions.
Okay that was just a summary of it, I could give you a long lecture about it but somehow I doubt that you’d read it…
Another question that I wrote about was about Australian immigration and racial exclusion. I didn’t have that much to say about that. Basically Australian immigration has been really restricted throughout the history. I actually read somewhere that they had this dictation test, where e.g. Maltese people wanting to immigrate to Australia were asked to write a 50-word length statement in DUTCH!! Just to prevent them from entering the country because they were not white enough although they too (to my knowledge) have been under British rule. I think it’s interesting how in just a few decades Australia has managed to become such a multicultural country despite all that...

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