2 min read

race relations - a bloody past

I just read a news article that has left me pretty unsettled…


AUSTRALIA’S Aborigines have the worst life expectancy rates of any indigenous population in the world, a United Nations report has revealed.

Of the 90 countries examined by the report, indigenous people in Australia and Nepal fared the worst, dying 20 years earlier than their non-indigenous counterparts.

I was talking with some friends recently about how good it is to be a middle class suburbanite living in Australia. Free healthcare, free schooling, a peaceful country with almost no territorial or internal conflict… It’s really is quite nice. To conversation moved on to Johannesburg, unanimously declared by all who’ve lived and been there as one of the most dangerous cities in the world, primarily because of racial tensions between the the white colonists and the black native Africans that have been fostered since the Dutch arrived there in the 1700’s.

The conversation took an interesting turn at this point as the reality of the genesis of our prosperity and peace in Australia stuck out like a sore thumb…

Australia was colonized by Europeans in the 1700’s, just like South Africa. These Europeans, from whom we’ve descended, displaced a native population, just like in South Africa. So why is Jo’burg considered nasty and Sydney considered nice? Aside from the intricacies of cultural characteristics that would surely play a part, we decided that the freedom Australia enjoys from the tensions that exist in South Africa is largely because the Europeans did a far more thorough job of wiping out the native population when they arrived…

What a horrible blight that is on our apathy when it comes to Aboriginal affairs – the fact that the main reason Sydney doesn’t resemble Jo’burg is because we managed to almost genocide the local population when we first got here. Is that something to be proud of? Something to take credit for? I know I don’t want that blood on my hands. I think that thought alone should make everyone uncomfortable enough to want to do something.

What – I don’t know. How – I am not sure. But what I do know is that every time I think about this issue I feel ashamed of how we treat Aboriginal people and want to do something more about it. Perhaps learning more would be a good start.