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The Forum > Article Comments > Indigenous Australians must accept the olive branch > Comments

Indigenous Australians must accept the olive branch : Comments

By Anne Matthews-Frederick, published 16/12/2004

Anne Matthews-Frederick argues that it is time for Indigenous Australians to forgive.

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The beauty of free speach is people like Ms Matthews-Frederick are able to voice their opinions on issues that they obviously have little or no understanding of. To suggest Indigenous people 'should' accept the olive branch because the bible says so is just the beginning of her ignorance, with respect to other Aboriginal people who believe in Christianity our culture isn't based on those beliefs so why is it relevant to the issue. Your version of reconcilliation is very interesting I would like to know how you arrived forgiving all debt considering the industry you were in. I could attack this 'opinion' for days, weeks, years but I have dealt with attitudes similar to this for 20 years, all I can say is how would you feel if someone came around to your home with a gun in hand and said we're living here now and you can live in the backyard and feed on our scraps, no discussion or equality or sharing the existing resources or wealth but you'll be given identification tags like the dogs in the backyard. Then many years down the track still living in backyard with your children and grandchildren you realise all things that were taken from you including self esteem and the right to make your own decisions. I think the term "Don't bite the hand that feeds you" is appropriate.
Posted by Wayne, Saturday, 18 December 2004 6:53:42 AM
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I don't know how many people I've spoken to over the years who say that Aboriginal Australia should stop moaning over what happened 200 years ago. They should be happy to accept the enormous amounts of money given to them by the government and stop drinking and blaming all their problems on white Australia. But these people have missed the point entirely I think.

Look at the problems in Northern Ireland, the former Yugoslavia, Spain to name just a few. All of these present day troubles have their origin in events alot older than 200 years. The problems faced by Aboriginal Australians today originated then and have never been addressed by anyone in a position to do anything about it.

It's ridiculous to say that present day Australians had nothing to do with what happened 200 years ago because obviously that is true. Everyone accepts that. That doesn't mean that we can't do something to solve the legacy of those events today.

Aboriginals weren't allowed to vote in this country until 1962 and were not even considered people until 1967. This really is incredible and goes to show what Aboriginal people have had to battle against.

Most people would strongly deny any racist sentiment towards Aboriginals. The word "racist" is an ugly, evil word bringing up images of goose-stepping Nazis and burning crosses. I think that those type of racists are the tiny minority in this country, but the fact is Aboriginals are stereotyped as drunken, violent bludgers. While we feel brotherly love for the Aboriginal as a human being, it's the drunken, violent bludger we feel a bit put off by, hence we avoid, diminish & dismiss them. It's the stereotype we dislike and both Aboriginal & non-Aboriginal Australia must work to change this as a matter of urgency.

Aboriginal culture is the oldest on Earth. It is something all Australians should be immensely proud of and we all - indigenous and non-indigenous alike - should work hard to preserve it, treasure it, and respect it.
Posted by bozzie, Saturday, 18 December 2004 12:48:55 PM
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Anna - with your clarion call for "an Aboriginal Indigenous leader with the finer qualities of Nelson Mandela" ringing in my ears, I thought you might like to read the following story, attributed to Richard Broinowski, from Mungo McCallum's latest book "Run Johnny Run":

"In 1998, an election year which was also the year of Howardís ten-point plan to protect farmers from the consequences of the native title found by the High Court to be retained on certain pastoral leases, some bright spark had the idea of inviting South African President Nelson Mandela to attend the Reconciliation Convention to be held later in the year. The plan was cleared by both the Department of the prime minister and Cabinet and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and in due course the Australian high commissioner in Pretoria was instructed to issue a formal invitation. To his delight it was immediately accepted, and he so advised Canberra by cable. Shortly afterwards the phone rang: the caller was a member of the prime ministerís personal staff who informed him tersely that the prime minister did not want Mandela in Australia, and that he was to be disinvited (the minderís terms) forthwith. The high commissioner protested: such a snub would be both undiplomatic and unprecedented, and he certainly wasnít going to do it on the strength of a phone call. He would take no action unless and until he received a written instruction in the form of a cable. At his home that night the phone rang again; this time it was a very senior officer from his department and the message was terse and to the point. Mandela was to be disinvited and there would be no cable and no record. End of story. Mandela did not visit Australia and the high commissioner resigned soon afterwards. Howard attended the reconciliation convention himself and delivered a ranting self-justification which caused many of the delegates to turn their backs on him in a pointed gesture of rejection and disgust. It is hard to decide which aspect of this story is the most disturbing: the arrogant authoritarianism, the deceit and cover-up, or the sheer cowardice..."
Posted by grace pettigrew, Saturday, 18 December 2004 3:16:31 PM
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Anne, I think that from the comments so far that such a horrendous history perpetrated on the Aboriginal people is an emotional and complex issue that cannot be resolved in such a simpe and logical fashion. People don't operate that way. With such a simplistic approach some people will inevitably take the easy option of shooting you down in flames rather than the harder path of thinking about developing a workable solution.

Take Wayne for instance: obviously bought a house from a Vendor Agent at fair market value and still loses sleep over it. And despite his obvious empathy for the legitimate pain and suffering of the Aboriginals, (and lack thereof for another minority group = Real Estate Agents - Hypocrite?) he 'seems' to have made no other contribution other than to hone his "understanding" on middle aged Christian ladies for the last 20 years.

It is obvious from this comment that whilst there is plenty of empathy for the Aboriginal people in the general public, no-one really has any idea on how to go about reconciliation other than to keep on "understanding". Whilst this is great for a warm and fuzzy feeling, it does nothing else, except perhaps create a fertile field for a Mandela type to spring up with a workable solution. Obviously we are still waiting and chopping down anyone who doesn't quite measure up to that incredibly high mark.

Anne I agree with Bozzie that reconciliation isnt a forgiveness and all will be well issue. It is a long term process that I certainly don't believe will be fully seen within my lifetime. I mean, there is still ongoing reconciliation to deliver equality with women in some areas, who have a whopping 50 % of the population, let alone a small minority with less power or voice.

MY personal opinion is that we should be dramatically escalating the current programs to increase the level of health, and living standards of aboriginal people. But equally important is education AND participation in politics. REAL politics. I believe decision making responsibility for the aboriginal people should be increased BUT not just over their own affairs which promotes segregation but over the full population of the country. By this I mean an increased representation of at LEAST 10% at the government preferably at a federal level, so they can take responsibility for all of the people living in Australia. If we are going to give the Aboriginal people a voice then lets hear it in full, on what future they see for all of us Australians. This increased exposure and public responsibility would also hopefully change the unfair stereo types.

Whilst this too is an extremely simplistic approach, and full of numerous holes, I believe a full hug says more that a warm hand shake and a title deed for the Sydney Opera House. On the flip side there is a huge amount of fear against change. By this I mean change which could possibly lose the wealth built up by the nation or just by a family. It is this fear that brought Johnny running back for another few years. It seems obvious from that stunning quote from Grace that this type of change of stereo type will not be forth coming with the attitudes of the current voters giving Johnny such a huge victory,... well in the short 5 - 10 year term anyway....

Dylan
Posted by Dylan, Monday, 20 December 2004 6:16:24 PM
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Sorry Dylan, wrong on all accounts. I'm one of those Aboriginals who built their own house and land and very happy with the result, I also don't have a problem with middle age christian ladies, many are friends and family, a naive if not stupid statement at best. Lets not attack each other but do as you say, 'increase the level of health, and living standards of aboriginal people. But equally important is education AND participation in politics', I'm interested in how this will be achieved considering 'Howard' has systematicaly destroyed any political influence we had with the demolition of ATSIC, Reconcilliation Council and other bodies that represented the general interests of Aboriginal Australia.
Posted by Wayne, Tuesday, 21 December 2004 6:02:58 AM
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Why is it when people make comments and you respond in a civil fashion a deafening silence is heard. Dylan I'd be interested in your opinion?.
Posted by Wayne, Saturday, 8 January 2005 7:04:12 AM
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