Coercive Reconciliation

Received this book in the mail this week from Arena publications Association. It is a strong analytical work on the response of the Australian Government on ‘Little Children are Sacred’ report on the difficulties facing Aboriginal children of the Northern Territory of Australia. From the preface, it is based on the “extraordinary and confronting intervention of the Australian Government in the lives of 40,000 Aboriginal people.” The editors are John Altman Prof Aboriginal Economic, Aust Nat Uni, and Melinda Hinkson lecturer Social Antrhopology ANU. It includes a chapter by Rex Wild QC, co-chair of the inquiry that released the ‘Little Children are Sacred’ report. The satirical cartoons that accompany the titles of each chapter are brilliant. Accompany Rex Wild’s chapter, “Unforeseen Circumstances” is the Prime Minister in a pith helmet facing a group of Aboriginal people, and saying, “As intervention has clearly failed, here is some more of it’ (For the uninitiated, Australia has been intervening in Aboriginal lives to ‘save them, protect them, soothe their dying brow’ for over 100 years now, with devastating results on cultural and community life.) This is the same Government that has refused to sign the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. And for anyone who has an opinion on the effect of public policy on Indigenous peoples, this is a must read.

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