Archives for category: Aboriginal Australians

Yesterday I had the privilege of watching a Webinar of a meeting of a group of Australian Aboriginal people, hearing the views of young and old, male and female. All of them are achievers, all of them have suffered as Aboriginal people who are treated as second class citizens in their country. Importantly the whole event was convened by Aboriginal people. It did strike me as a sharp contrast to the conferences I attend on ageing, which are organised by younger people, the speakers are largely younger people, as are the attendees. One day hopefully all groups who are treated as second class people will have their voices heard at a national level, although I suspect it will not happen in my lifetime.

Yesterday’s Webinar happened not long after a respected TV show had exposed the unintelligent, and cruel, treatment of Aboriginal youngsters in a state-run detention facility. The cruelty of those involved, from ministers responsible for overseeing it, to administers responsible for running it, to staff involved in handling the inmates, was unbelievable. Australia was shocked. Many years ago an investigation had been undertaken into the fact that Aboriginals end up in prison far more frequently than their non-Aboriginal counterparts. Since then the situation has worsened. I think, and hope, last week’s report is more likely to be effective because it had visual footage of the situation and therefore reached more people.

What struck me about yesterday’s Webinar was the lack of the ‘blame game’. The speakers were all being positive about what needs to be done, looking forward, not backward. They had very intelligent suggestions about the future, without blame or finger-pointing. These were the views of highly intelligent people, keen to look forward, not backwards.

If only those running this country, and I suspect the same applies in most other countries, would listen to such groups. The current situation leads to a lack of respect for parliamentarians, and one has only to look at current and past members of Parliament to realise the low standard required to be elected, for an answer to the current situation to be obvious. The behaviour of those , including those involved in positions of authority, particularly in places such as the juvenile detention centres, is often inexcusable. One way to overcome this is to expect and demand a high level of behaviour of all those whose salaries are paid by governments.

Meanwhile the Aboriginals I had the privilege of listening to yesterday, struggle to have their voices heard. We need to create an environment in which those who struggle to create a better world for all are given the respect they deserve and their voices are heard, particularly when they speak on behalf of those groups whose talents are frequently overlooked, from young to old. Think of the rich, in all meanings of that word, world it would create.

May those who are speaking up continue their fight until we have the better world they are fighting for. One day it will happen, I hope.

I think many people are questioning the type of people who rise to leadership positions in any society. Some of them do so by force, inflicting brutal regimes on their people. This doesn’t work because subdued people never produce their best work and there is little room for talent to be encouraged except when it relates to enforcing, and usually spreading, their violence.

In so-called democracies, there also seem to be problems. In Australia, in spite of frequent and peaceful changes in leadership, we never seem to produce leaders who reflect the desires of most of their countrymen. My feeling is that most people want to create a fair society, with a fair share of the wealth and goods, usually springing from our resources, for all, regardless of talent and skills. My feeling that as long as we elect rich people, in other words money addicts, to our top jobs we will never achieve this.

These thoughts were triggered last night by a talk I went to given by an Aboriginal, a representative of our poorest people, the original inhabitants. We know that their share in our wealth is less than it should be, with lower life expectancy and educational achievement.

This Aboriginal man is a very successful journalist who happened to write an article last year about our treatment of one of our top sports people, also an Aboriginal, who was called an ape by a 13 year old at a football match. The player involved took exception to this which annoyed the crowd who booed him whenever he appeared on the field, including in subsequent matches. Eventually he took time off as it was all too much to deal with.

This behaviour inspired last night’s speaker, Stan Grant, to write an article about the plight of our Aboriginal people in his newspaper which was read by countless people (it went viral) and inspired him to write a book about his story as an Aboriginal person which is rapidly becoming a best seller. The venue for the meeting last night had to be changed to accommodate the thousands of people who wanted to hear what he had to say, and buy his book.

So what did he say which inspired me to write this blog? It wasn’t so much what he said but his even handed approach to the problems which face Australians in our treatment of the first settlers in this land. No bitterness or rancour, just sadness at what was/is happening to his people, and the quiet response as to how we could handle problems to satisfy those involved.

This led me to the thought that if we had more leaders in the world, with his qualities, we would have a much more prosperous and happier place to live. We would all have the opportunity to achieve to the best of our ability. We would move from a world in which we moved from thinking about ‘me’ to thinking about ‘us’.

Stan Grant’s book which is proving so popular is called ‘Talking to my country’.