Adding insult to injury
Respect and honesty are not in the vocabulary of the present government. Nor the term "stolen generations" which has already been included in dictionaries to describe the results of policies affecting generations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Peoples. Many thousands of Australians became aware of the cruel and unjust policies of removing children from their indigenous parents. through the publication of the Bringing Them Home report into the forceful removal of Aboriginal children from their parents. They have taken part in walks for reconciliation, read the report and taken part in discussions with Aboriginal people about the past. They said "sorry" for the past and many continue to take part in everyday struggles to bring about positive changes. The Federal Government and the Prime Minister stand accused of deliberately undermining the indigenous peoples' struggle for self-determination, land rights and meaningful participation in economic and political life. Mr Howard's stubborn refusal to say "sorry" to stolen generations is a telling example of how unprepared the government is to treat Indigenous Australians with dignity and respect. The coming opening of the Reconciliation Place in Canberra, which was to be a national memorial to advance reconciliation, has turned into another political ploy to rewrite history. Slivers of glass and metal which rise from the landscape include one which is supposed to tell the story of stolen children. It is this particular sliver that had made Aden Ridgeway, Democrats Deputy Leader call for a boycott of the monument. The sliver includes archival images of happy children at play — in foster homes and at school. These images will be strengthened by a recording of children singing and playing. It has also transpired that members of the stolen generations have not been involved in the project! In other words, here's a monument to reconciliation which by its own existence once again denies the past, fouls the present and brings divisions into the future. Mr Howard and his Government have once again made it clear where they stand. It should also be made clear to them that decent Australians — both Indigenous and non-Indigenous — are not prepared to be insulted and degraded.