?“This is the welfare generation, and that is incredibly sad. That will be judged in history as being far worse; I believe, than the stolen generation, because we are literally losing thousands and thousands of our indigenous brothers and sisters to the effect of welfare- drugs, gunja, low morale, alcoholism. I see it every day and it can stop. The solution is education, training and a guaranteed opportunity. ” – Andrew Forrest Andrew Forrest suggests that aboriginal Australians are worse off now than in the past. To what extent do you agree that the Aboriginal Civil Rights movement essentially failed?
Legal rights- ref Wik Mabo Land rights Equal wages Publicity- to be noticed Reactions from politicians Freedom rides Sorry speeches Measures of equality Health + literacy stats Life expectancy Social attitude Racism- Adam goods in football Disease The 20th century has born witness to the ever changing landscape of the treatment of the Australian indigenous community. Throughout this period it has been stated that the Civil Rights Movements initial goals of total equality for indigenous and non-indigenous Australians has failed to some extent and has not fulfilled what it has initially intended to do.
These statements can be seen as partially incorrect as the Civil Rights movement had some success in highlighting the plight of the indigenous Australian and generating some sort of action in Aboriginal issues and affairs. However, it is true that in some respects various factors of the Aboriginal Civil Rights movement have primarily succeeded, through publicity and legal rights. One fundamental success of the Civil rights movement in Australia was its ability to publicise the issues, and draw attention to the plight of the Australian indigenous population.
The civil rights activists were able to use the media to voice their opinion; this was of great significance because this inevitably meant that there was a wide range of support for the movement from the non-indigenous society. For example the 1965 Freedom ride demonstrated to what lengths people were willing to take to expose the level of discrimination against indigenous people was a success. Led by Charlie Perkins, students travelled through western, northern and coastal New South Wales. The students who participated were for the most part non-aboriginal and had been involved in organised protests in Sydney.
The tour started as a fact-finding mission but eventually ended as a protest against segregation across Australia. The Ride was to highlight examples of segregation including public pools, picture theatres and pubs, where Aboriginal people were declined entry. Perkins and the students helps to bring the ingrained discrimination and racism in NSW towns to the attention of the wider Australian public, and was part of a broader push for Aboriginal Civil Rights taking place across the county. Another success through publicity was the formal apology from former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.
He apologised to Indigenous Australians for poor or unwise treatment from the time of the European settlement through to recent years. Another example of a successful movement, through a public awareness campaign enabled a referendum to change the constitution which enables indigenous Australians to be recognised in the census. In 1967 the Holt government had rejected the land rights to the Gurindji people at Wave Hill. Recognising that there were inequalities to address, however Holt called a referendum to count Aborigines in the Australian census that same year.
The referendum was most successful ever passed, with over 90 per cent of Australians agreeing to the application. The Mabo case in 1992 was one of the most significant moments in relations between indigenous and non-indiginious Australians and enabled the High Court of Australia to deliver its landmark Mabo decision, which rewrote the Australian common law and gave a massive boost to the struggle for the recognition of aboriginal rights. Eddie Mabo led the Meriam people and took action to the high court to overturn the doctrine of terra nullius.
However if the original protagonists of civil rights here in Australia were alive I believe that they would believe that their dream has been deferred . This is because the original goals of the Civil Rights Movement failed because they did not achieve their initial objectives. Andrew Forrest states that “Aboriginal are worse off than in the past. ” Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show that Indigenous Australians accounted for around 25% of Australia’s prison population in 2009.
The age-standardised imprisonment rate for Indigenous people was 1,891 people over 100,000 of adult population, while only 136 for non-Indigenous Australians; which meant the imprisonment rate for Aborigines was 14 times higher than that of a non-indigenous person. Data showed that from 1989-200, 15. 7 per cent of homicide offenders and 15. 1 per cent of homicide victims were Indigenous. There is also a great variance in comparing Aboriginal life expectancy to a non-Indigenous person. Aboriginal people are expected to die more than 10 years earlier than non-Aboriginal Australians.
The life expectancy is so low because Aboriginal health standards in Australia are so depraved that 45% of Aboriginal men and 34% of women die before the age of 45. 71% die before they reach the age of 65. Literacy rates among Aboriginal students are lowest in remote communities; reasons include low literacy of parents and poor school attendance. 30 per cent of Aboriginal adults lack basic literacy skills. Conversely racism in Australia is perceived as immoral and degraded, it is classified as intolerable. The Adam Goodes incident which included a 13 year old girl calling the Indigenous footballer an ape sparked opprobrium from all quarters.
The effect of these remarks is simply to highlight how deeply racism runs through our community. There is no way of avoiding the conclusion that within us all there is a racist streak. Australia has come a long way in addressing racism in society, but the job is still a long way from being complete. The cumulative low literacy standards, increasing criminal statistics, the year gap in life expectancy as well as racism still exists are far more important measures of failures to the Civil rights movement. In this context, Forrest states about the state of contemporary aboriginal Australia is somewhat significant has some merit.
Andrew Forrest suggests that Aboriginals are more beneficial to be living in the past rather than the present. His statement to some extent has merit; however there have been many successful events in the Aboriginal Civil Rights Movement that speak otherwise. Actions that have received accomplishment are firstly, publicising the discrimination and inequality toward non-Indigenous people. The significance of awareness led to a referendum to change the constitution, which allowed Aborigines to be recognised in the census.
Political and legal change was substantial as demonstrated by the recognition of indigenous land rights. However these successes do not essentially achieve the aims of the Civil Rights Movement, and that the life expectancy, literacy gap as well as criminal records are more important measures of the failures of activism than the rather less perceptible gains by politicians. Forrest‘s solution is an accurate approach to the problem, with education, training and guaranteed opportunity Australia can change the living habits of the Aboriginal people.
Subject: Native title,
University/College: University of Chicago
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 5 January 2017
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