It is sadly unbelievable and appalling in the fact that those with the capacity for change and progress argue that they are lost for solutions. Steve Pennells writes a good descriptive piece, page 28 June 11 in The West Australian, however despairingly quotes the confounded WA Indigenous Affairs Minister Peter Collier, the WA Nationals Brendan Grylls and Kalgoorlie MP John Bowler. In terms of Aboriginal disparity they agree that they do not know what the solutions are. How dare Peter Collier maintain the Indigenous Affairs portfolio? How dare there be Ministries for 'Indigenous Affairs', how demeaning and racist are these? We are all humanity and we need to live and walk alongside each other, and we need to allow for each others advancement.
Steve writes, "For years, successive WA governments have handled the Indigenous crisis with clumsy juggling of ideology and pragmatism, throwing money at problems when they became public." Let us get the facts straight, our governments created the crises. Secondly, they have never adequately funded the rights and development of our Aboriginal brothers and sisters. Our Aboriginal brothers and sisters for near a century and a half were the only peoples in this country that lived in Apartheid and who the majority were denied the right to accumulate various equity, such as infrastructure, education and health. To remedy this our governments, State and Federal, need to prioritise vast amounts of funds, sustained at least for over a generation. This is not rocket science, however it is something governments do not want to do.
Colonialism had a devastating effect upon Aboriginal peoples, and the British colonialists were the 'greatest' slum-builders in history, inducing poverty on the original peoples of Australia, South Africa, the Indian subcontinent, wherever Brittania went and their predominant legacy for these peoples was to reduce them to inter-generational poverty. How do you remedy this? Well, return to them adequate amounts of wealth to build equivalent communities in terms of standards that the rest of the population enjoys, and allow for Aboriginal advancement by Aboriginal peoples and drop the paternalism.
Steve correctly referred to the appalling state of the Kalgoorlie-Boulder camps. I have visited these camps on three occasions. It is to this State's and to the Commonwealth's utter shame that people languish as under-nourished in all areas of life including their right to prosper their cultural settings. Australians can look at similar situations elswhere in our world and ironically scream discrimination and racism!
The camps are a disgrace in that they are essentially Apartheid-like settlements, where our Governments, State and Commonwealth, are prepared to allow and embed people in this dire living. The State and the Commonwealth would not allow Anglo-Celtic folk to live in this en masse dishevellment. Recently, Federal Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin was applauded for the paternalistic insult of $100,000 to $500,000 in funds to the Boulder camps. It was appalling for Kalgoorlie Mayor Ron Yuryevich and O'Connor Federal MP, Tony Crook to consider this drop in the bucket as some sort of meaningful investment or a first step in the rightful and long overdue advancement of these people trapped, enmeshed and incarcerated in the Boulder camps.
How long will we continue to hide our hostile denial of racism and systemic disenfrachising racialism in this country? How long will we continue to disregard and disempower people from accumulating equity? How dare politicians pat themselves and each other on the back with chief-protector like paltry hand-outs?
It takes only six months to build a suburb in our metropolises, with all utilities, broadband, shopping centres, schools, parks and access to various services. Why is this high standard not occurring in remote, semi-remote, and rural communities for our Aboriginal brothers and sisters? Why are they are not compensated with home ownership and the security of the remnants of their lands so as to move forward rather than enduring social engineering, once again, for instance in the Northern Territory, and elsewhere throughout Australia?
If you want Aboriginal advancement by Aboriginal people, if you want people to enjoy their identities, if you want disparity and disadvantage to end, if you want Aboriginal folk to enjoy health and education, if you want us all to work alongside with each other, to enrich our national identity, to walk together side by side, then let us pursue the justice that has for so long been denied. The Aboriginal folk of Kalgoorlie-Boulder, Laverton, Leonora, Roebourne, Halls Creek, the Northern Territory and everywhere else deserve to be fully regarded by the State and the Commonwealth. Give them full funding, build real communities, do not steal their lands, allow for their full suite of human rights. It's easy.
PhD in Law researcher in Australian Deaths in Custody
Convenor, Human Rights Alliance