Sunday, July 08, 2007

Letter to the Age

There was an opinion piece in the Sunday Age today written by Terry Lane. I was outraged by pretty much everything he said but in particular I was dismayed by his suggestions that "we may be as sentimental as we like about indigenous culture, but it is simply incompatible with real life and must change or be changed....Realistically there is no alternative to assimilation". I have written a response and sent it to the Age. Here's what I wrote:

The real world?

Exactly what part of the ‘real world’ does Terry Lane want Aboriginal Australians to assimilate to? The ‘real’ world where 8 people get stabbed when they go to a party? Or the ‘real’ world which is obsessed with Terrorist threats? Yes Terry, obviously the ‘practices of traditional marriage’ need to change. Better that they join the ‘real’ world where one in three marriages end in divorce. And Aboriginal parents really should join the ‘real’ world on parenting practices too. Better they get full time jobs working ridiculous hours to pay for a mortgage and lifestyle they can’t afford while their children go home to empty houses and spend their time playing computer games and injecting crystal meth.
How is it that an educated man, in the year 2007, honestly believes that ‘there is no alternative to assimilation’? I know you are trying to be controversial Terry; you’re baiting the hook. But you know what? I’m biting, because I can’t in good conscience let anyone spout such vile, poisonous statements without saying “You are wrong!” The Aboriginal people who are part of my life do not want or need to be assimilated into the ‘real’ world. They are strong, traditional people who look after their children, send them to school and think carefully about the sort of future they want. The idea that they would be better off assimilated is a lie, it is ignorance. I can’t believe The Sunday Age is giving you space to spread your ignorance as fact.

Lisa Hall
School Teacher
Remote Central Australia


Paul said...

Well said. Your experience makes your perspective quite valuable. I've put a link to your postings on my recently created blog.

I think your '200 year drought' comment in an earlier post is what is being called for in this posting by HOTHhacker, when they talk of reframing the myths of this issue.

Judy Redman said...

Thanks for blogging on this.

udderendup said...

came by this blog via [hold this space] blog.

not sure if you've read it but, "Terra Nullius: A journey through No One's land" by Sven Lindqvist (2007) is an excellent book reflecting on the colonisation of Australia and the unbelievable impact on our indigenous brothers and sisters.

having lived previously in Halls Creek as a youth worker for a number of years, and having been accepted and welcomed into the families of many indigenous people in the town, I continue to find this current climate of bureaucratic, centralised governmental decision making very confronting.

Lisa said...

haven't read that book but will try to get hold of a copy.
Thanks for your comments.

Marcus said...

Great letter. Did they publish it?

I'll put a link to your blog on mine shortly.

Cam Tero alerted me to yours.

Take care