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Homogenous? I don't think so

By Stephen Hagan - posted Thursday, 23 August 2007

Muhammad Ali (born Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr. on January 17, 1942), the greatest heavy weight boxer ever, once said: “The man who views the world at 50 the same as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.”

I agree with his powerful words as I also believe too many leaders are still living in the past and can’t see the “forest for the trees”.

I would consider those remarks analogous to an Indigenous leader falling asleep on his or her watch and posing a belated question to their community: “What are the police and those fellas in the camouflage outfits in big green trucks doing in my community?”


Or the non-Indigenous political leaders who strip rural and urban communities of essential programs (employment - CDEP, and housing - CHIP) and redirect all federal funds to remote communities: because they have this notion of the “noble savage” -one foot resting on the other, spear at the ready, gazing out over the horizon - as representative of the “real blackfella”.

While many Indigenous people nationally praise the action of the federal government, in intervening in the Northern Territory on child abuse and alcohol related violence, they are however in concert in saying “what about us?”

The New South Wales Coalition recently called on Premier Morris Iemma to finally act on the shocking report into child sexual abuse in NSW Aboriginal communities following state government officials dismissing the crisis as not their problem.

The Breaking the Silence report was commissioned in 2003 and Morris Iemma still isn't taking the issue seriously.

"At every stage the Iemma Government has sought to delay or downplay this matter, from the report's publication to the release of its response during the Christmas-New Year period," NSW Liberal Leader Barry O'Farrell said.

"The failure to respond quickly to the report's findings and the refusal to fund a program to end the abuse, leaves the Iemma Government effectively complicit in this sorry state of affairs," he said.


It’s little wonder child abusers and women bashers in Indigenous communities outside the Northern Territory are grinning from ear to ear as the rest of the country, through the media, have taken their eyes off them and are instead focusing their collective angst at those NT perpetrators who will eventually be tracked down and dealt with by the full force of the law.

So while some Indigenous leaders are quick to condemn the actions of the Howard administration in intervening on the horrendous child abuse issues as identified by the Rex Wild QC and Patricia Anderson Little Children are Sacred report, there are many like myself who continue to sing their praise and hope they widen their plan to incorporate a total national strategy in a similar heavy handed approach to identify and rid the violent abusers and sexual predators, black and white, from all Indigenous communities.

However, I preface my comments by saying that like the majority of Indigenous people who are celebrating this historic endeavour of the Federal Government to combat child abuse - they, like myself, do not support the associated plan that involves abolishing the permit system on Indigenous land or to do health checks on children without adhering to cultural protocols as identified by appropriate Indigenous health professionals.

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About the Author

Stephen Hagan is Editor of the National Indigenous Times, award winning author, film maker and 2006 NAIDOC Person of the Year.

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