Saturday, 9 February 2008

Stolen or Removed??

The following rant is something I feel very strongly about, and need to get off my chest!

The Federal Government wants to say "Sorry" to the Stolen Generation of Indigenous Australians. At last!

BUT....it is almost unbelievable that the Federal Opposition is, in February 2008, still debating the point . At the moment, many in Opposition are arguing against the use of the word 'stolen' in regards to Government or Church representatives who went into Aboriginal communities and took the children against the wishes of the parents or carers, last century. They would rather the word 'removed' was used, arguing that often this was done with the welfare of the children in mind, and that many children benefitted from it!! Oh Yes!!! They argue also that the officials believed they were doing the right thing. Yes!! I'm sure they did!! Please feel free to insert pedophilia, persecution on gender or sexual grounds and and removal of cultural artifacts and even body parts in here also!!

History is sadly littered with countless incidences of the Church or Government doing the right thing, when they thought they had the moral high ground automatically, because of their position. We know how WRONG they really were!

I made the collage-y thing above as a response.

6 comments:

Julie said...

This astounds me, too. People seem to be worried that saying "SORRY" is too big a thing to do. It has been put to me, that we should only apologise (and hasn't JWH queered the use of that word!) to those actually forcibly removed. This does not include their descendents (or presumably their parents) and it does not include those whose parents actually gave them up "willingly" (like Lowitja O'Donohue). The hurt of removal spread through entire families and we need to include them as well. And how are we to know why someone gave up a child - maybe they believed that they were not good enough to parent that child. If you are told that over and over, you eventually don't know what to believe. Wednesday is a very important day for me. I intend to express my personal sorrow and then to insist that we harness this sorrow and continue some (some!) of the interventions currently occurring in remote communities. The level of education MUST be increased. It is only through more education (and mainstream skills like reading and writing) that we can hope to include indigenous people into the broader community. Yes, we need policing to reduce sexual assault and property vandalism. Yes, we need medical care to reduce the appalling afflictions that we seem to think is the inevitable. But without education, we are condemning each successive generation to the same future.

We need to say "sorry" and we need to commit sufficient funds to deliver meaningful and productive schooling both to remote and fringe communities.

Oops ... a rant ...

Neva said...

The things I learn and can relate to while blogging....wow...

Jules said...

Love the sentiments expressed here and love the collage!!!

GMG said...

«They believed they were doing the right thing...». Well, it seems German officers also believe the same between 1939-1945... :((

Sally said...

Jude, that's really beautiful. Your soulful response is very moving....in both words and visually.

Anonymous said...

My grandmother and her sister were 'removed' to Sydney to train as 'domestics'. How helpful to them and to their employers! My grandmother had a big family of her own later after she ran away back to Cabbage Tree Island. She removed her family out bush so they couldn't be taken. My mother never saw a town until she was seven. I was talking to an Aunty (from my extended family)yesterday who was taken and forced to scrub floors and mind kids for a doctor in Sydney. She said it took her a long time to learn not to hate white people after that. I think the SORRY means "We empathise with the pain and heartbreak our forebears caused you and we hope that we can move forward from this together as a united nation" At least that is what it means to me. I think a lot of people thought it meant that they had to personally apologise for wrongdoings done by others/ancestors which to my mind is impossible. It was the 'sorry' of one nation to another, not one person to another. It devalues it when it becomes that narrow. Let it be a national consciousness of an historic evildoing because that's what we need to develop. Most right thinking adults have a personal conscience already, we just need to develop a Nation with a conscience.
Bundjalung Woman.