This silence, which stretches across the country only to reach the highest levels of the political and media elites, is arguably Australia’s greatest outrage, and a stain on our projected global image as an egalitarian state with justice for all.
This ‘silence’ being, it would seem, the silence of white Australia to the awful news that the prison population is somehow out-of-kilter with the demographic percentages of wider society, and that this must be explained by ‘racism':
Over 40% of all adult Western Australian prisoners are Aboriginal, and deaths behind bars remain too common. During a visit to Western Australia this week, I heard first-hand the reality of these failed policies, and the ways in which politicians in both the Labor and Liberal parties wilfully ignore measured recommendations to treat Aboriginal men and women as equals.
If you think that this means what it seemingly says – that aboriginal men and women should bear the same penalties for the same crimes – well, no.
That’s not at all what he means.
The vast bulk of the coverage in our press features stereotyping that reinforces images of Indigenous dysfunction. I’m not questioning the vast problems that exist – including sustance (Ed: sic…well, it is the ‘Grauniad’!) abuse and domestic violence – but the lazy ways in which reporters cover it. I’ve seen rampant alcoholism amongst young Aboriginal men in Derby, a few hours from Broome, and it’s not these faces and stories we hear about when political leaders and their media courtiers praise the “fair go” mentality in Australia.
I’m not sure where the ‘fair go’ mentality is supposed to come in here. Surely Aboriginal men have the same choices that white men do, to drink or not drink? To make an arse of themselves when in drink, or not?
It’s true if you have power or access. Most do not.
So we look away. We don’t want to know.
As just one example of constant harassment by authorities of Indigenous people, Marc Newhouse, the Perth-based chair of deaths in custody Watch Committee in Western Australia, told me that West Australian police routinely target Aboriginal funerals to impound cars, citing legal breaches, instead of regularly engaging with elders to address any perceived or real problems.
I suppose suggesting that the way to avoid this is to ensure that you comply with the Road Traffic laws in Australia is somehow ‘racist’?
Meanwhile, in a bid to save $500,000, the West Australian state wants to restrict permission for prisoners to attend funerals. This deeply affects Aboriginal people who often have to travel large distances to mourn their dead.
You mean, white Australians don’t also have to travel long distances?? I thought the country was entirely composed of long distances!
But no, the thrust of his diatribe is actually something we’ve seen before; a demand not for real equality, but for aboriginals to be treated differently. To not be forced to comply with the same laws as everyone else. To not face the same punishments for breaking the law.
And that’s not equality.