We’ve started Reconciliation Week with a bang! And not the good kind…
Anglo-Australian multinational corporation Rio Tinto has destroyed a 46,000-year-old sacred Aboriginal site in Western Australia this week. To be precise, they detonated charges to loosen up land that was situated “11 metres away” from two deep rock shelters. And these shelters housed priceless artefacts that shared a personal history of an ancient civilisation.
But where’s the uproar?
This is Reconciliation Week, and we’re treating it like any other national holiday. With clever marketing campaigns and sweet and soppy gestures that don’t really capture the problem.
We’ve got Aboriginal communities stretching across this vast continent who are simply trying to find their place. They are losing the culture that they’ve cultivated for thousands of years. Their history is lost within the British colonisation of this great land.
Ain’t it ironic that after all these years the White Australia Policy is still having an impact. Far too many Aboriginals are dismissing their history to fit into the Australian culture. This silent assimilation is a product of the Stolen Generations.
They are discarding their ancient culture for finer pastures in the concrete jungles of colonisation. But they shouldn’t have to give up their heritage to do so.
And that’s where we’re failing in reconciliation.
NZ does it better
As much as I hate to compare Australia with New Zealand, the fact is we have so much to learn from them. Because Kiwis share a stronger bond with their indigenous people than we do.
Their national day is Waitangi Day, celebrating the treaty they signed with their first nations people. But we have Australia Day, which celebrates the colonisation of New South Wales.
Their national anthem is written in both English and the native Māori tongue. Ours celebrates British colonisation with no reference to the original inhabitants of this land. In fact, it calls Australia “young and free”, ignoring the thousands of years of Aboriginal culture, customs and history.
Their sports begin with the Haka, a ceremonial dance from Māori culture. And what do we have for our indigenous sporting stars? We racially abuse our Aboriginal players to the point where they have to give up their career.
Which begs the question: Are we really reconciling?
Or are we just masking it with pretty slogans?