Saturday, 23 June 2007

Howard's plan racist?

There has been a lot of controversy over Howard's plan for Indigenous communities. To get us started on some debate, here is a news report:

"The federal government's sweeping plans to halt the abuse of Aboriginal children in the Northern Territory are racist and won't work, ACT Chief Minister Jon Stanhope says.
"I think by any definition of racism, this is racist," Mr Stanhope says in News Limited reports.

"Give me an example of any racist action anywhere in the world that has ever successfully led to change," he said.

Under the federal government's unprecedented reforms, half of welfare payments for indigenous people in the NT will be quarantined for food and essentials, while access to other benefits will be dependent on children's school attendance.

The election-year plan also includes bans on alcohol and pornography in indigenous communities.

Meanwhile, Rex Wild, QC, is glad that the problem is now at the centre of the nation's attention.

The intervention, which involves bans on alcohol and hardcore pornography, welfare restrictions, increases in police numbers and compulsory health checks for Aboriginal children, followed the release of a damning report on the abuse of youngsters in the region co-chaired by Mr Wild and Aboriginal health worker Pat Anderson.

"I think the detail of it is not necessarily correct, but the pleasing thing is that the matter is getting national attention big time and that's a very good thing," Mr Wild told the Seven Network.

He said he was concerned that the federal plan was flagged to last six months, when a much longer blueprint was needed.

"Our concern has always been the short-term outcomes that are obtained in these things are just not sufficient," he said.
"(In the report) we talked about the need to spend 15 years or so on this project in the hope of turning around the problems in Aboriginal communities.

"It won't happen in five minutes; it won't happen in six months. It needs to be something properly resourced and properly explained to Aboriginal people and properly done in consultation with Aboriginal people."
He said Aboriginal people the inquiry spoke to wanted more interaction.

"What they want done is for re-empowerment of Aboriginal people, for the leadership of the Aboriginal people to be recognised within the Aboriginal community so that they can work with government departments and senior people who visit and work out programs, projects and plans, with long-term initiatives and objectives that they can be a part of."

My opinion? Howard has successfully played wedge politics once more. He manages to be "seen" to be doing something but at the same time reinforces all the same old prejudices against Indigenous people. White people don't abuse their children? Don't use welfare payments to buy drugs and alcohol? We would all agree that the current situation is terrible, but playing the race card doesn't help at all.

Let's give Indigenous communities what they really need (and what they have needed for many years. It's funny how these issues "come to light" in election years). First of all, let's apologise for what we did to them in the first place. Let's develop policies that help long-term, that empower the communities and work with people to educate them. Let's make it a priority...but not use it as electioneering grandstanding.


urbanmonk said...

I dont think anything the government does can "fix" the problem. I think the church should be working to empower indigenous people outside the structures of politics and social programs. Many probably already are. Solutions imposed from above may provide relief and societal illu8sions of "progress" but I reckon real healing and justice wont happen from within societaland politcial structures. The reasons being that the market economy is now the strongest force of "salvation" in society. Thats the only solution conservative or Left leaning governments can see. I would hate to see indigenous run Casinos in the central deserts and KAkadu.

The real solution surely has more to do with GOds burgeoning kingdom than politcal symbols and imposed programs for the "betterment" of the indigenous people. Has it ever worked in 200 years? WHat makes us think that our hubris will get it right this time?

And what am I doing about it? Absolutely nothing. So I guess you can ignore pretty much everything Ive said here.

Like your blog and re4ad often.

honeysuckle said...

The young people deserve a chance and if their own peope are in no position to do so, then it is up to the Govt. Yes, the Govt. need to listen to the indigenous people and work with them how to overcome the problems they are facing instead of a bandaid affect. I just hope and pray that the young people can recieve the help they really need.

Emma said...

Thanks urbanmonk :)

yeah I agree, the churches should be rallying here. And I am too infused with disgust at myself that I too pretty much do nothing...amybe I'll look into it and post something on the blog that we can actually do.