SAI HARINI SEETHARAMAN
What matters to me is the lack of respect we give for the original people of this land. Australia prides itself in giving everyone a fair go; this statement is often heard and said, but is it true? We say that we have changed from 200 years ago. I agree, but have we changed enough?
Aboriginals experience racism and discrimination daily. Racial profiling when shopping, denied rental housing are some of the indubitably ridiculous acts of discrimination they face in their everyday lives. Aboriginals are 15 times more likely to end in prison than non-Aboriginals. 97 % of Aboriginal people experience racism “often”, and 87 % of Australians agree that there is racial prejudice in Australia.
Even politicians elected by the people misrepresent the facts on indigenous issues. To quote a statement made by Pauline Hanson “Along with millions of Australians, I am fed up to the back teeth with the inequalities that are being promoted by the government and paid for by the taxpayer under the assumption that Aboriginals are the most disadvantaged people in Australia.”. This statement indicates a lack of respect and a high level of ignorance about indigenous living standards. Aboriginal people are experiencing shocking living conditions even today in certain parts of this country, which is appalling. Things such as poverty, poor health/nutrition, poor housing, dispossession of their traditional lands, low education level, high unemployment are some of many factors that contribute to a lower life expectancy to Aboriginals than any other indigenous communities across the world.
This sort of mistreatment isn't just a few measly statements by only some right-wing politicians. It still happens with the decisions made by the government. The government has not apologised for claiming this nation as the British's property and then treating Aboriginals abhorrently; in fact; the day they claimed this land as their own is celebrated as Australia Day. The custodians of this land arrived almost over 60,000 years ago: yet this fact has not acknowledged in the Australian constitution. Every human deserves respect regardless of their shape, size, religion or nationality. The government denies aboriginals this fundamental human right which is inhumane.
Interestingly enough our treatment of indigenous Australians is at odds with the fact that 95 % of tourists come to Australia to experience Aboriginal culture. We say we respect aboriginals by recognising the ownership of this land, but we do not have an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander flag flying on the Sydney Harbour Bridge or the Parliament House. Even though the Harbour Bridge isn't necessarily linked with Aboriginal history, it is still, nevertheless a favourite tourist spot. Are we suggesting by not including the flag of the Aboriginals that they do not deserve to be represented on a world-famous tourist attraction, that supposedly represents Australia and its people?
The indigenous people should not have to protest endlessly for what is theirs. The statement 'everyone has a fair go' should be true in all cases: especially for the owners of this land. If we accomplish this in our nation, we can live united together and serve as a role model for the world.