The more things change, the more they stay the same. Particularly when it comes to responsible reporting of Aboriginal poverty. Last week, Four Corners pointed its lens into a few Aboriginal communities in Western Australia and produced a beautiful piece of promotion for the WA government and its plans for a catastrophic assault on Aboriginal homelands.
The brutal determination of Indonesian President Joko Widodo to kill two Australian citizens comes as no surprise to West Papuan independence activists, who say they share Australia's pain. A West Papuan independence activist, who has been in exile for 12 years after escaping the Indonesian-controlled province, has called on the Australian government to look on “in sympathy [and] in pain” for his own people, who are being “killed like animals” after the execution of two Australians.
The rate of Aboriginal children removed from their families has increased each year since Kevin Rudd said sorry to the Stolen Generations, and more and more Aboriginal children are being placed with non-Indigenous carers, a new report into Indigenous disadvantage has revealed. In 2008, Labor Prime Minister Kevin Rudd apologised to the victims of past policies of forced removal that led to the Stolen Generations, promising that the “injustices of the past will never, never happen again”.
Hundreds of Aboriginal West Australians who had their wages withheld from successive state governments could miss out on a reparations payment, after the Barnett Liberal government refused to extend the deadline. The Stolen Wages Reparations Scheme was announced earlier this year, offering a $2000 ex-gratia payment in exchange for the millions of dollars in Aboriginal wages and entitlements withheld within a system of trust accounts from 1905 to 1972. The withholding of wages and pensions compounded the disadvantage and poverty of Aboriginal people throughout Western Australia.
You’ll never guess which political party sat and watched while the Aboriginal incarceration rate sky-rocketed. We heard it on the radio. And we saw it on the television. Report after report, and promises delivered by talking politicians. But while this was occurring, Aboriginal people wallowed inside this nation’s jails and detention centres, their futures cast by a system that jails them at staggeringly disproportionate rates. It’s a problem that cripples our families, and our communities, and is as complex as it is troubling.
In 2007, it was all about Kevin Rudd. Well … not so much the man, but the campaign slogan. Kevin07 was streamed from the rooftops, plastered on ALP propaganda and adorned the T-shirts of young and old alike. It was a brilliant, fresh campaign. But the joy was not to last. Three years later, the bandwagon that everyone had so merrily jumped upon had lost its wheels, its driver demoted and dejected. The campaign was just that, a campaign. Right for the time, but ultimately short on distance.