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The Forum > Article Comments > Don't turn away from the history of Indigenous disadvantage > Comments

Don't turn away from the history of Indigenous disadvantage : Comments

By Bob Babunda, published 4/1/2005

Bob Babunda argues that in Indigenous affairs there is a case against 'mainstreaming' and the need for 'symbolic gestures'

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Maybe aboriginal land councils allowing private ownership of land would be a good start in helping aboriginal people. The right of the individual to own and use land is a basic requirement of empowerment that seems to have been neglected by aboriginal leaders.

I can't believe that any aboriginal person would bemoan the demise of ATSIC. The amount of waste, unaccountability & corruption in that organization would not be tolerated in any other public body. ATSIC proved that throwing money at aboriginal Australia is not going to solve any problems. It's about time that aboriginal Australia found itself some real leaders who acknowledge that the improvement of their lives requires some action from within as well as from without.

Every plan of action put forward by the Howard government, such as the "snotty nose" scheme, however silly they may be is met with derision, laughter and dismissal. Alot of them may deserve no better than this response, but at least they are more than what I've heard from aboriginal leaders (apart from broad, sweeping statements big on rhetoric and short on actual solutions). The aboriginal "problem" is social in nature, politicians can only offer political solutions. More leaders and less politicians within aboriginal Australia may be the answer.
Posted by Cranky, Tuesday, 4 January 2005 2:23:26 PM
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Perhaps the Aborigines need time to evolve at their own pace.We are trying to fast track them to our hyper activity and has anyone ever asked them what they actually need or want.They are not driven like us by a competitive obsession but they do need to find ways of making a living that is less dependant upon Govt handouts which are destroying them.
Posted by Arjay, Tuesday, 4 January 2005 6:23:16 PM
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I think I understand what the author is getting at.
My contribution concerns Aboriginal people who are non-traditional residents in an isolated community in the Northern Territory. Acknowledging the history theme: the historical fact is that they mostly were forced on to the communities. In the 1970's when assistance for Aborigines shifted from tea,sugar,flour and a balnket a year to cash payment, the Government and bureaucrates of the day made a huge mistake. The cash payment was introduced in response to the belief that it was racist to give money to unemployed people in the towns and cities and not Aborigines. This may well have been good thinking. The problem was that people in the towns and cities could not find suitable work to earn a living, so unemployment money was paid. In the Aboriginal communities, residents were engaged in industry: cattle work, leather work, vegetable gardnens, orchards, pigerys, fowl meat and egg production, bush tucker collection. If the Government had given the money as well as encouraging continuation of the commercial and cottage industries, today's history would, I believe, be dramatically different. Kevin Diflo
Posted by KPD, Wednesday, 5 January 2005 4:01:08 PM
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Unfortunately the idea of mainstreaming has been a) distorted in popular and political discourse, and b) demonised in the Indigenous context. There is another version of mainstreaming which, I believe, is more powerful and could lead to more equitable outcomes for Indigenous peoples. This is taken from the international development context and derived from the process of gender mainstreaming.

Put briefly, the foundation of gender mainstreaming is the acceptance of difference rather than the pretence of sameness. In that recognition of difference there is an implicit recognition of differing life experiences and consequent modes of operation, giving rise to the need for thoughtful approaches to activities which impact on both women and men. At the very least, development practice government social policy should be constructed so that it does not impact negatively on particular groups in society. This in turn means that government policies, programs and projects should be scrutinised with the difference in mind. The translation of this theory of development practice into the Indigenous arena is not seamless or faultless, but it does deserve consideration. This is especially so in the current vacuous state of Indigenous policy.
Posted by awol, Saturday, 8 January 2005 7:14:07 PM
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Awol just explain what you mean in simple language.A string of generalised verbosities will only impress lawyers and public servants.In essence you have said that all indiginenous people have different needs and should be treated accordingly.WE can say that about all humanity.We know Govt policies are stuffed because political correctness dictates that only minority groups of the soft option persuasion can influence their decisions.Indigenous policy is stuffed because we won't face the realities of our cultural and genetic differences.
Posted by Arjay, Saturday, 8 January 2005 11:20:30 PM
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The awol piece (8/1/05) is an example of one of the barriers blocking Aboriginal policy development. The condition of people living in Aboriginal communities is not only of academic interest. In fact, it is hard to understand how such comment will assist in helping Aborigines become qualified for paid work instead of Centrelink income. In our community, we have about twenty paid positions apart from CDEP places. Only four are occupied by Aboriginal people. Our community has been going since 1973. This, you would think, is enough time to have a few qualified teachers, police, nurses, retail managers to fill our available positions but not so. Why, after thirty years, is this the case?
Posted by KPD, Wednesday, 12 January 2005 9:10:05 AM
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