Today in Australia it is National Sorry Day, where our cousins across the Tasman reflect on how Aborigines have been treated since Europeans arrived.
An event held annually in Australia on 26 May, commemorating the Stolen Generations. It is part of the ongoing efforts towards reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.
A day to acknowledge that the colonisation of Australia was barbaric. That as a result of actions like state-sanctioned massacres, the Aboriginal population went from an estimated 1-1.5 million before invasion to less than 100,000 by the early 1900s. That subsequently the forced removal of children has been devastating, prohibiting many from using their language or partaking in their culture.
We know the grim statistics that exist still today. We have similar ones here for Māori. Data indicating how Aborigines are doing compared with other Australians. There remains much to be sorry for.
Today one First Nations person is killed in circumstances involving police every 28 days.
There have been some advances for Aboriginals. The nation’s highest honour even. To be acknowledged in the pre kick-off rituals before footy games. So that’s good.
But despite that progress it was only weeks ago that TV host Stan Grant said he was “stepping away” in response to online abuse over his comments during King Charles’ coronation about historic Aboriginal dispossession.
The inevitable racist abuse on social media that fell upon Grant and his family has been described as “grotesque” and “unrelenting”. It led Grant to announce his intention to step back from writing for ABC’s website and hosting its live discussion show, Q+A.
It has also sparked renewed discussion in Australia about enduring racism, pernicious media influence, and accusations about the institutional timidity of Australia’s public broadcaster in defending its Indigenous staff.
To be fair when it comes to the most fundamental measure, life expectancy, this diagram shows that the treatment of indigenous populations is a bloody disgrace elsewhere too.
On this side of the Tasman we look across the ditch with a sense of superiority. Comfortable that historically we treated our indigenous population better than they did. But that’s kind of like saying someone’s good with kids - compared to Ian Brady.
Let’s not be too smug eh. Yesterday in Aotearoa it was the 45th anniversary of this shameful event.
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