Let's Go Outback Tonight!

by Shaker Christina and Shaker Trinity

In the US, we're led to see Australia as a land of deadlier-than-reason-would-allow beasts (seriously, a poisonous mammal? Why? Just...why?) with people who run about in khaki shorts, wearing funny hats all named Bruce, drinking lots of Foster's and eating some bloomin' onions. Aboriginal Australians, when we see them at all, are mysterious people who wander in and out of movie scenes, dispensing wisdom to the hapless Americans or coming to the rescue of their white "mates" in times of trouble in the strange and dangerous Outback. The truth is, Australians know more about the US than I would suspect the average American would know about Australia. Considering they keep getting dragged into our wars, I assume that's a survival technique.

For example, did you know that right up until the 1970s, Aboriginal families were subject to forced removal of their children simply for being Aboriginal? I did not mistype—the nineteen-seventies. Sounds rather familiar to those of us who have some knowledge of the history of Native Americans here in the United States and Canada. (For more on The Stolen Generations, see the government report here.) We will also be familiar with the forced removal of land from those who aren't "using it properly" and the desecration of sacred sites because there's some kind of mineral under it that is more important.

Australia signed the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (Genocide Convention) in 1949. Lets just examine what they actually signed.

Article II of the Genocide Convention defined genocide as

... any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical,
racial or religious group, as such:
(a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; (...)
(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

So for the next twenty odd years, Australia practiced the very act they had committed themselves to preventing and punishing in an act of international hypocrisy so blatant we have rarely seen the like.

Of course, that's not all. Aboriginal Australians are also subject to the stereotypes that, here in the US, are usually reserved for African-Americans—dangerous, crime-prone, welfare recipients who just keep on having babies and living off the Australian tax dollar. Strewth, Archie Bunker has nothing on Bruce in this regard.

Recently, the new Prime Minister Kevin Rudd issued an apology to the Aboriginal Australians for the Stolen Generations, which puts Australia ahead of America for sure, but many people thought, "That's nice but what will be done on a concrete level to fix the disaster caused by this?"

The answer seems to be, not much really:
Meanwhile, a retired federal court judge said the legislation [The Northern Territory Aboriginal Intervention] was constitutionally valid but "extremely discriminatory".

"Well I think it's constitutionally valid but it's extremely discriminatory legislation," Murray Wilcox said on radio today. "That is actually acknowledged by the legislation because it specifically excludes the operation of the Racial Discrimination Act and the Anti-discrimination Act in the NT. "In other words the Government is saying this is racially discriminatory legislation but nonetheless it is to be regarded as valid."
Part of the Northern Territory Aboriginal Intervention is to quarantine 50% of the income of Aboriginal Australians to "ensure that it is being properly spent" regardless of whether or not it is actually being spent appropriately. This does not apply to white Australians in any way. There is some talk of rolling out that policy on a national basis despite it being an unqualified disaster in terms of health and delivery of appropriate services as well as on human rights.

The latest in this utterly mind-bogglingly racist legislation is to determine the "viability" of various Aboriginal communities and, for those who do not meet this vague viability, to deny them services. That isn't referring to services like parks. It is referring to basic human rights like health clinics, schools, adequate housing, stores and a police station. We are suspicious that a police station is part of deal to receive things like housing in that it's a great way to make sure that Authority has a foothold right in the center of any remaining indigenous community, and are completely flabbergasted that there is any community in an industrialized country in the 21st century without access to schools. Let's not forget that the quarantined payments are dependent, upon other things, to attendance at school. Nice little Catch-22 there, isn't it? You get a choice: either send your child away to a school that may be hundreds of miles from your home voluntarily or have your income reduced by half, therefore making it impossible to feed said child and the government takes your child and sends him/her to a school hundreds of miles from your home.

Of course, what's racism without a healthy dose of sexism to give it body and flavor?

See this, in the article teased in that screenshot:
White truck drivers
Speaking to the Bennelong Society conference in Melbourne, Mr Milroy said the intelligence confirmed that earlier reports of Aboriginal teenage girls being targeted by white truck drivers offering cash for sex were not isolated incidents.
is a failure of the Aboriginal communities, don't ya know? It seems more like a failure of the community of white truck drivers, but what do we know?

In the long list of things "wrong" with the Aboriginal community (because, of course, all these things only happen in Aboriginal communities):
"If these types of stimulants are used by Aboriginals, they are not conditioned to this as some of the white community are, and it will be devastating...

...He said there instances of child sexual abuse including sodomy and rape, while a high number of sexual assaults, pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections had been reported among children under the age of consent. Intelligence had also confirmed examples of child sex offenders working with children in indigenous communities.Mr Milroy said children had been gang-raped by teenagers but the crimes were not reported by the victims for fear of retribution.

The taskforce found a high level of sexualised activity and behaviour has been demonstrated by children, including seven-year-olds experimenting with sex and sex toys. Intelligence also suggested that children as young as seven were actively using alcohol and drugs such as marijuana, or passively smoking the cannabis used by their parents.
(I'll get back to that bolded statemtent in a moment.)

is this little...what do the Aussies call it? Oh, right, a "brown-eyed mullet":
Many 12-year-old girls were using contraceptive implants and/or taking injections, making them a target for sexual attention.
Did you see the logical disconnect there? It's the contraceptives making 12 yr old girls targets for sexual attention. I would guess a red neon sign develops on the forehead flashing "Now taking BC!!" or something. And Aboriginals are not "conditioned" to deal with drug abuse so The Great White Man in his benevolence must save the poor naive savage by taking half their incomes and their land and communities.

Now, back to the bolded statement. We can't say this strongly enough. Seven year old children do not "experiment with sex," "have sex," or "experiment with sex toys." Seven year old children are raped and act out that rape. The Boy, as co-author Christina's son is affectionately known, is seven years old. His idea of what sex is has something to do with eggs and fish and having to show his boy parts to a girl-not-his-mother and that's just gross especially the fish part. He doesn't like fish. So a seven year old who is exhibiting this behavior has been raped. If one were to read the media reports, one would think that child sexual abuse is not only epidemic but also endemic to the Aboriginal community. We have some doubts about that, only because the same is said here about African-Americans, Native Americans and other minority communities here but the reality is that child sexual abuse rates are pretty much equal across ethnic lines. We'd bet dollars to donuts that is also true in Australia.

[Note: It's also possible that what those children were doing is the perfectly natural body experimentation that all children do—but because the children are members of a group already erroneously regarded to be highly sexualized as native and othered (see also LGBTQ and promiscuity) populations tend to be, it's translated into something inappropriate, when it's totally normal. However, upon reading about the 800 cases of child sex abuse, we feel it is unlikely they're talking about kids playing doctor.]

Aboriginal Australians have been living in Australia, some say for as long as 120,000 years, others say it's more like 40,000 years. They lived there, developing technology and sophisticated tribal cultures in relative peace until 1606. They are the oldest surviving culture in the world with the oldest continuous religion in the world. They were among the first, if not the first, to practice cremation. They revere art to a level difficult to understand for a non-Aboriginal Australian. They traded songs right alongside other things that we would understand as something of value like food or tools. Before colonial intervention, every community had incredibly sophisticated codes of behavior, and very complex family dynamics.

Co-author Trin is a Koori woman who has a twelve-year old girl, who under any circumstance and in any context could not reasonably be seen as a legitimate target for sexual attention no matter what prescription medication she's taking. She also has an 8 year old son with cerebral palsy who couldn't make an 80% attendance rate in school if school was brought to him and conducted in his bedroom. She has a 7 yr old, a 4 yr old and a one year old girl, too, for whom she and her partner provide a loving and safe home and have made arrangements to make a flexible household work for them and their budget allowing the children to have pets, for there to be phone service and internet service giving the children access to the information age. These policies will have a profound impact on them and on their extended family and on their community and the only reason they are being punished in this way is because they happen to have been born Koori.

Not because they need help to manage their finances. Not because they're spending their money inappropriately. That is totally irrelevant. Their Aboriginality is the sole qualifying factor.

Australia should be better than this. The world should be better than this. We can't ignore issues like this in the world we live in today. The age of technology and the internet is forcing this shameful Black history into the limelight, and countries can no longer hide their dirty laundry in their own backyard. Aboriginal people are starting to find an audience for their voice, across Australia and around the world. Listen to them, hear their stories, let them share their struggles with you, and value the knowledge, the experience and the insights they bring as much as you value your own. America knows what damage this will do to the country, still dealing with our own shameful haunting.

Let the Prime Minister of Australia (Mr Kevin Rudd) and the Minister for Indigenous Affairs (Ms Jenny Macklin) know that the international community sees what is happening and recognizes it for what it is. Don't tolerate this erosion of human rights. You may sign the petition to stop the national rollout of the intervention program. Oxfam works to aid Aboriginal community health organizations, helping to deliver services to targeted needs identified by the community and are active in the Close the Gap campaign to address the 20 year gap in life expectancy rates between white Australians and Aboriginal Australians. Stolen Generations works to restore to the Aboriginal community that which has been taken from them by the Australian government's heinous policy of genocide. Contact them here to see about donations.

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