A recent petition to G8 Summit stated:
‘The standard of health of Aborigines lags almost 100 years behind that of other Australians, according to the World Health Organisation. Some indigenous people still suffer from leprosy, rheumatic heart disease and tuberculosis. A similar survey from Oxfam and the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation reported that Australia ranked last for health among rich countries with indigenous populations’. (International edition The Guardian Weekly, London, 11 May 2007).
Yet I received the following email from within Australia: “We are fortunate enough not to know the experience of extreme poverty first hand, therefore, it is our duty to use our blessed position in the world to help in whatever way we can.” — Petition titled ‘HURRY, only 72 hours to help fight the end of world poverty’.
The person who wrote this email in support of the above petition is clearly fortunate enough not to have visited places where many working class people live: Logan City in Brisbane, or ‘the Block’ in Abercrombie St, Redfern, or Marrickville in Sydney, Walgett in western NSW (the most racist town in Australia), or downtown Alice Springs, or Palm Island, or Hopevale mission in Nth Qld , or parts of Dunwich on Straddie, and so on.
The third world is at our doorstep, we know it, yet do nothing. It never features in election outcomes for local, state, or federal elections. The parties wring their hands and ignore it. Labor Prime Minister Paul Keating made the famous Redfern speech in the early 1990s and then made economic plans to ensure the survival of poverty in Australia.
On the southside, darkside
South of the freeway them Logan kids
Use to hang out in that trashed out Rooster & Ribs
Fast food, junk food, foul, food, chunder
McDonalds, Kentucky, rail line thunder
Tavern drive-in, ya buy the piss
The grog we flog, they’ll never miss
Poor behind, square one, it’s hard to start
Five fingered discount from the rich K-Mart
– Kev Carmody, aboriginal singer and activist, from Darkside
Contrast this with the case of
“Nicki Webster representing ‘Young Australia’ (in terms of settler history and in a generational sense) in the Opening Ceremony of the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games only a few kilometres from the Block in Redfern..
She is an image of an innocent white Australia and, as a child, it is difficult to associate her with colonial violence, frontier conflict and cultural genocide.
What she can be seen to represent, however, is a representation of a settler desire to find a blank slate, a pure, unadulterated white canvas with which to start again.” – Kev Carmody, comments on ‘One night the Moon’