Aborigines recall when Australia called them wildlife

This video is called Australian Aboriginal Genocide.

From The Scotsman:

Aborigines recall when Australia called them wildlife

By Michael Perry

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Aborigine Jackie Huggins remembers when she was regarded as part of Australia’s native wildlife.

As a young girl, Huggins was not counted as part of the Australian population.

Back then Aborigines existed only under the country’s flora and fauna laws.

On Sunday, Aborigines will celebrate the 40th anniversary of a 1967 vote that extended Australian citizenship to Aborigines.

“At 11 years of age I became a citizen of my own country, where my people had lived for 70,000 years,” Huggins recalled in an interview with Reuters on Thursday.

“Mum told me we would be counted in the census now, along with the sheep and cattle,” said Huggins, now head of Reconciliation Australia, which aims to end the social and cultural gap between black and white Australians.

“I thought things would get really better now that we had the shackle of invisibility taken away,” she said.

They didn’t and racism still haunts Huggins’ life.

Aborigine Linda Burney, 10 at the time of the 1967 vote, says she recalls being a teenager and being taught “my people were savages and the closest example to Stone Age man living today”.

“I felt ashamed and embarrassed.

I vividly recall wanting to turn into a piece of paper and slip quietly through the crack in the floor,” said Burney, now a minister in the government of Australia’s most populous state, New South Wales.

Australia’s 460,000 Aborigines make up two percent of the 20 million population.

They are consistently the nation’s most disadvantaged group, with far higher rates of unemployment, alcohol and drug abuse, and domestic violence.

Aboriginal male life expectancy was 59.4 years, compared with 77 years for all males.

For indigenous women, life expectancy is 64.8 years compared with 82.4 years for other Australian women.

The Australian Medical Association, which represents the nation’s doctors, says institutionalised racism is preventing Aborigines gaining proper health care and shortening their lives.

“There should be no mistake that the state of indigenous health in this country is an abuse of human rights,” said Burney.

“Last month, I turned 50 — am I already a dead woman walking?”

“A decent standard of health and life expectancy equivalent to other Australians is not a favour asked by our people. It is our right, simply because we, too, are human.”

The majority of Aborigines do not live in cities but in isolated communities, often in the outback, with limited access to health care, educational services and employment.

In 2004, Prime Minister John Howard axed the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC), which ran aboriginal affairs, saying the “experiment” in black-elected representation had failed, arguing ATSIC was more interested in symbolic issues such as land rights than improving living standards.


Many Aborigines believe Howard has turned his back on reconciliation, preferring practical measures to improve black lives and rejecting spiritual issues.

Howard refuses to say sorry for past injustices towards Aborigines, such as an assimilation policy that promoted the forced removal of thousands of aboriginal children, known as “The Stolen Generation“, to be raised in white Australia.

Huggins says reconciliation must include recognition that Aborigines are Australia’s “First People”, justice in overcoming social disadvantages and healing for past injustices.

“You can have practical reconciliation where you give a blackfella a house, a car or a job but if the symbolic is not addressed then we will never achieve reconciliation,” she said.

Aborigines hope the anniversary of the 1967 vote will rally the reconciliation movement in Australia.

“It is almost impossible to put into words the distress being felt at the roll-back in aboriginal affairs,” said Burney.

“If winning the ’67 referendum is to be more than just symbolic, we need to continue on in the spirit of the heroes of ’67. If we all personally take responsibility, things can change.”

Huggins believes Australia’s racial reconciliation movement, which saw 250,000 people march across Sydney Harbour Bridge in 2000 demanding a government apology to Aborigines, is again growing as more Australians believe equality is achieveable.

Yet many black and white Australians still need to change their attitude towards racial reconciliation.

“Whitefellas have to come to terms with the racism too many of them will accept and excuse, even if they don’t feel it themselves.

Whitefellas need to look past their whiteness and try to feel what it is to ‘walk a mile in our shoes’,” said Huggins.

See also here, on the Australian film Jindabyne.

Aborigines jeer Howard: here.

15 thoughts on “Aborigines recall when Australia called them wildlife

  1. Sydney ,referred by the local
    Aborigines as “Warrane”,has been inhabited for at least 50,000 years.50,000 year old
    grindstones been found in the area recently, predating any previous finds


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