We’ve been focusing on understanding. Understanding ourselves and our background, understanding migrants and now our First Nations people.
How would you feel if a policy was passed that was aimed at eliminating everything you stood and believed in? You would not be allowed to work, send your kids to school, support the footy or cricket, shop where you usually do, go to the coffee shop, no more McDonalds. How would you react if all of that was taken away from you.
That is what happened to the Aboriginal people when Europeans arrived!
What’s even worse is that there were policies put into place to erase Aboriginal culture. This policy aimed to force the Aboriginal people to die out completely or be absorbed totally into European culture!
They were forced off their land and not allowed to return. They were not allowed to go into the centre of Perth and places like Broome and forced to live in camps on the fringe of towns. Their kids weren’t allowed to go to school. They were paid less than white fellas for the same work and often paid in tobacco, sugar, flour and alcohol.
This took place for a couple of hundred years.
It has only been reasonably recently that the richness of Aboriginal culture has been recognised. That the rights to land have been slowly introduced. Like the recently new initiative, ILUA (Indigenous Land use Agreement). It’s a legally binding agreement between Native Title holders and other groups who wish to use the land, to protect it.
So, after all this misuse and abuse, how long does healing take to restore dignity, faith, hope, trust, confidence and the ability to participate equally?
This is the time we’re in right now, healing and building and we’ve got a long way to go.
Look with respect at our First Nations people. Think about what you need to learn and understand. Think about what you can do and how you can help your family and friends to understand?