26 May 2007

Forty years on

It is now 40 years since the passing, by what many at the time considered a surprisingly large majority, of the 1967 referendum amending the Constitution to empower the commonwealth government to make laws with respect to aboriginal people. It also for the first time authorised counting aboriginal people in national censuses.

The anniversary has occasioned much media comment. The general tone of the comments, not surprisingly given facts such as a 17 year difference between white and aboriginal life expectancy, is one of disillusion.

The current issues, at least as they impact upon aboriginal people, are aptly summed up by Nicholson's cartoon in today's Australian. It shows a remote
aboriginal community with vignettes of drunkenness, domestic violence, aspiring AFL players (a positive note), and poverty. In the foreground a signpost points in different directions:

Hope 2000k
Education 1375k
Jobs 1650k
Longevity 1700k
Career 2500k
Government 4000k
Wet canteen 50 metres.

Another piece which IMO is well worth reading is Noel Pearson's "White guilt, victimhood and the quest for a radical centre" in the current Griffith Review.

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