Aboriginal issues in Australia on back burner?

An op/ed piece in the Canberra Times laments that Aboriginal issues in Australia need to be reignited. The author is non-Indigenous and states that he is not speaking Ior indigenous Australians. But he argues that from his perspective “the struggle has gone quiet and that we are yet to reach moral clarity to achieve real justice.”

He noties that the Australian Parliament apoligized to the Stolen Generations in 2008 and offered to ”reset” black and white relations with measures to reduce disadvantage.

But he’s writing to point out that “We are yet to even acknowledge a little word most Australians find hard to utter: genocide.”

In 1998, apparently the ACT Supreme Court’s Justice Kenneth Crispin said in a case: ”There is ample evidence to satisfy me that acts of genocide were committed during the colonisation of Australia.” He states that a decade later Australia is no closer to criminalising genocide or signing treaties with Aborignal peoples.

He notes that Australians hear many ”warm and fuzzy”statements, like when the Rudd government endorsed the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People. But Minister Jenny Macklin went to great pains to point out that the Declaration was non-binding, would bestow no additional rights on Aboriginal Australians, and would ”not affect Australian laws”.

He also points out that Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has promised a referendum in 2012 on the question of Indigenous recognition in the constitution. He hopes that it will spark a genuine and challenging debate about acknowledging Australia’s past and create real ways of making things right.

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