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Reparations for aboriginies in Australia

 
 
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Fri 22 Feb, 2008 07:45 pm
dadpad wrote:
I saw Phil Fontain (Assembly of First Nations) Canada on TY the other night.

February 12, 2008

AFN National Chief Congratulates Australia's Indigenous Peoples on Government Apology to its Stolen Generations

Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Phil Fontaine today expressed overwhelming joy to the Indigenous peoples of Australia and congratulated Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd for issuing an apology for the "Stolen Generations" as the first order of business by the new government.

"This apology is monumental for our Indigenous brothers and sisters in Australia, and throughout the world on righting a great wrong," stated AFN National Chief Phil Fontaine. "First Nations in Canada applaud the Australian government for its demonstrated leadership on issuing this long awaited and profound apology. The forced removal of children from their parents was the most egregious of human rights violations imaginable, causing enormous harms."

Its worth reading the whole speach

I note that Fontain seems rather pleased with the 1.9 billion reparations fund. It would be worth looking at how this is administered and the practical results achieved.



You know, when I was looking up trying to see if the US had apologised to native Americans, I saw lots of stuff on the web suggesting that reparations had gone badly in Canada, and I meant to lkook that up more, but haven't.


I wonder if any of the Canadians who might be reading here could comment?
0 Replies
 
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Fri 22 Feb, 2008 07:48 pm
msolga wrote:
(Thanks for posting. I was wanting to find this thread again to throw in my two bob's worth on repatriation & couldn't locate it again....)

My thinking on repatriation is rather confused, I'm afraid. I wish things were more clear, or straight forward, but ....
On one hand, I believe that all Australians should be treated in the same way under the law. So if the stolen generations had children removed against their will, if numbers of those children were abused & some had wages withheld from them, then they should have the right to appeal to the courts for redress, like any other Australians can & do. Of course.

But, on the other hand, there are pressing concerns which need to be addressed, urgently. Recognizing that available funds are finite, should the emphasis be on addressing the urgent health, education & housing issues that many Australian aborigines live with now? ... whether they are from the stolen generations or not? It is clearly unacceptable that, on average, the life expectancy of aborigines is 17 years less than whites in this country. How to address this basic health issue & other concerns like inadequate education opportunity, the level of dysfunction of many aboriginal communities, inadequate housing ... etc, etc, etc ?

The Rudd government's approach appears to be to try to address the health/education/housing concerns, rather than redressing the abuse of the stolen generations (through compensation). Opting for a better future, rather than compensating for the past, terrible though the past was. But it worries me how these "improvements" will actually be carried out . How much real consultation will there be with the communities involved? How much real cooperation will there be from aboriginal communities? How to tackle the problems of alcohol abuse & dysfunction? How to gain trust & active cooperation from the very people the government is trying to assist? The very last thing we need is a new form of Big Brother telling aboriginal people what they must do, for their own good. That hasn't worked in the past (obviously) & it won't work now. This is a huge challenge (say nothing of a very expensive one, which will take time) for all of us.



Oh good...I was going to ask you what you thought.



I think the stolen wages stuff IS in court in Queensland, at least, as are individual cases of aboriginal (and non-aboriginal) people abused as kids in care. THAT one could become bloody big, as Australia becomes more litigous.....and abuses continue, despite better knowledge about potential abuse and attempts at better oversight....not just for the government but for many of the churches, who run many of the kids' "homes" for aboriginal and white kids alike.


As Vikorr pointed out, though, court processes suck in many, many ways.


I think there ARE beginning to be some damned good strategies worked out to address the issues you speak of, Msolga..........some programs and communities seem to have discovered great ideas.....but, as you say, the thing is so BIG, and our abilities so small, that it seems overwhelming.


Governments truly attempting to tackle this problem always seem to end up with a similar situation as those European would-be conquerers of the world who invade Russia.


Sigh.
0 Replies
 
hawkeye10
 
  1  
Reply Fri 22 Feb, 2008 08:34 pm
Why are some people so guilty about stuff they had nothing to do with that they feel the need to apologize and/or give money to people they do not know? This has got to be a sign of some kind of mass mental illness.
0 Replies
 
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Fri 22 Feb, 2008 08:58 pm
hawkeye10 wrote:
Why are some people so guilty about stuff they had nothing to do with that they feel the need to apologize and/or give money to people they do not know? This has got to be a sign of some kind of mass mental illness.


Guilt & acknowledgement are two entirely different things, hawkeye.

One can acknowledge terrible things that were done to generation after generation of aborigines (leading to our eventual gain now, if we're really honest!) without being mentally unbalanced.
0 Replies
 
hawkeye10
 
  1  
Reply Fri 22 Feb, 2008 09:06 pm
msolga wrote:
One can acknowledge terrible things that were done to generation after generation of aborigines (leading to our eventual gain now, if we're really honest!) without being mentally unbalanced.


That's what history books are for. You say "yes, I agree that this is what happened" You don't issue apologies unless you feel some responsibility for what happened. That is what apology means, you personally feel that you did some wrong.

How far back is the nonsense supposed to go? Do Americans now deserve an apology from England for instance? If not why not? Reparations as well?
0 Replies
 
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Fri 22 Feb, 2008 09:27 pm
hawkeye10 wrote:
msolga wrote:
One can acknowledge terrible things that were done to generation after generation of aborigines (leading to our eventual gain now, if we're really honest!) without being mentally unbalanced.


That's what history books are for. You say "yes, I agree that this is what happened" You don't issue apologies. How far back is the nonsense supposed to go? Do Americans now deserve an apology from England for instance? If not why not? Reparations as well?


But, you see, some people rewrite history to serve their own beliefs & vested interests!
One of the reasons that the previous Oz government wouldn't apologise was because it (apprently) didn't acknowledge the accepted (by most historians) version of aboriginal history. Their leader (aggressively)preferred a "white man's" history of glorious achievements!

In any case, since there was massive support from the Australian community for this recent apology, why not do it?

BTW there are examples of aboriginal children taken ("stolen") from their families as late as the early 1970s. The stolen generations are recent history. This isn't ancient history. A formal government apology would seem understandable, I think, for people damaged by government policies in the circumstances? Aborigines spoke of the "healing process" beginning after the PM's apology. It obviously meant something very important to them. As it did for many white Australians.

What is your actual objection to apologising to peoples who have been mistreated by the state because they are of a particular race? Apart from thinking it's a rather silly or crazy thing to do? I don't really understand the nature of your objection.
0 Replies
 
hawkeye10
 
  1  
Reply Fri 22 Feb, 2008 09:40 pm
msolga wrote:


What is your actual objection to apologising to peoples who have been mistreated by the state because they are of a particular race? Apart from thinking it's a rather silly or crazy thing to do? I don't really understand the nature of your objection.


In a democracy the State is the people who are alive at the time. The Australia of 100 years ago was not you, it was your grand parents and great grandparents. I have no problem with you thinking that they did wrong, but why do you feel the need to feel guilty about what they did and apologize for what they did? This indicates to me that you misunderstand who you are as an individual and what you are responsible for, thus the mental illness crack.

If you want to feel sorry for the Aborigines and give them money have at it, but leave your ancestors out of it. You don't know what they would want, you don't have the right to apologize on their behalf. Again, this indicates confusion on the part of the current population on what an individual and his rights are.

It concerns me because a mass mental illness of any type affects me, and this particular one seems to be spreading rapidly.
0 Replies
 
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Fri 22 Feb, 2008 10:12 pm
First of all, the stolen generations cover the period from 1869 - to the early 1970s.:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stolen_Generation

It isn't ancient history, as I've already said.

You seem to have a fixation on "mass mental illness" for some reason, that I can't really fathom. Confused So I'll leave that one to anyone else who might be interested in commenting.


You also seem very concerned about any financial benefits that might be gained by members of the stolen generations through compensation. (I've said what I think about this in an earlier post today. I don't really want to do it again)

But tell me this: imagine you (alive & kicking right now) were stolen from your family by the state against their will (& you'd lost track of your family for years, perhaps forever), were put into an institution where you were treated badly, went onto employment where your wages were withheld from you & you were possibly abused and/or raped ...

Tell me, would you think it's reasonable that the state say "sorry" to you for what had been done to you? That your history be acknowledged, not denied, at the very least? This is the story of those stolen children, many who actually exist (as adults, obviously) in our society right now.

Frankly, I'd think there was something very wrong with a society which didn't acknowledge what had actually happened!
0 Replies
 
hawkeye10
 
  1  
Reply Fri 22 Feb, 2008 10:37 pm
msolga wrote:


Tell me, would you think it's reasonable that the state say "sorry" to you for what had been done to you? That your history be acknowledged, not denied, at the very least? This is the story of those stolen children, many who actually exist (as adults, obviously) in our society right now.

Frankly, I'd think there was something very wrong with a society which didn't acknowledge what had actually happened!


If the state had anything to do with it happening, or failed to protect me as others violated me, then the state owes me something. Not my kids, not my racial group, they are not the ones wronged.

If the state had nothing to do with my violation then it owes nothing to anyone, it is a matter for history. After I die there is nobody to apologize to, no way to right the wrong. If the state wants to say nice words to my descendants, and wants to give them money, and they all feel better about themselves then bully for them. But really, that would have nothing to do with me.

The state has an obligation to make sure that history reflects the truth....that is all.
0 Replies
 
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Fri 22 Feb, 2008 10:54 pm
hawkeye10 wrote:
If the state had anything to do with it happening, or failed to protect me as others violated me, then the state owes me something. Not my kids, not my racial group, they are not the ones wronged.


The state had everything to do it it.

It was the government law that meant you could be taken away (as a small child) against your parents' will.

That made it possible for you to be defenseless & abused in an institution & later on, at work (& possibly, in society).

Imagine how simple parenting would be after almost a lifetime of abuse like this!

The very least the state can do is acknowledge it's part in what happened to your life & your childrens' lives.
0 Replies
 
hawkeye10
 
  1  
Reply Fri 22 Feb, 2008 11:58 pm
msolga wrote:
The very least the state can do is acknowledge it's part in what happened to your life & your childrens' lives.


There must be a full accounting for history. Once it is recognized that a wrong as been committed every remaining stone must be turned in the investigation into what happened. To the extent that anyone who participated in the wrong or who was wronged is still alive justice must prevail. Once this history is found out and documented it must be yelled out far and wide, so that all are aware of what took place, and hopefully will take care to see that it never happens again.
0 Replies
 
Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Sat 23 Feb, 2008 03:12 am
hawkeye10 wrote:

If the state had anything to do with it happening, or failed to protect me as others violated me, then the state owes me something. Not my kids, not my racial group, they are not the ones wronged.


This is just not true. Every modern societies' legal system says otherwise and the families of a wronged individual can often lay claim to compensation for wrongs done to a deceased family member. Plus, the concept was almost universally acceptable for thousands of years throughout historic legal systems with reparations made to family members of wrongly slain individuals.

Now you may look through the annals of History and see "mass mental illness", you may well see these billions of people who accept this simple concept as mad. Others may just see one significantly uninformed (not even crazy) individual in this scenario.

I personally see someone who might not have thought this all through. So do you really believe that, say, if the Australian government kills an infant's parents it owes the infant nothing? If you do not, you at least understand that the responsibility of harm can be extended to the "kids" on a theoretical level.

Quote:
If the state had nothing to do with my violation then it owes nothing to anyone, it is a matter for history.


Yet we are not talking about any such case. We are talking about systemic policies by the state and that aren't "history" and that happened in many people here's lifetimes and that was covered up by the state within all of our lifetimes. I'm starting to think you have not acquainted yourself, even on a superficial level, with the subject you are opining on.

Quote:
After I die there is nobody to apologize to, no way to right the wrong. If the state wants to say nice words to my descendants, and wants to give them money, and they all feel better about themselves then bully for them. But really, that would have nothing to do with me.


That's fine but if the state's actions toward your hypothetical dead you can cause harm to others (e.g. leaving a family destitute) and they can be compensated for this harm. Most people don't think it's "mental illness" they think it's "fair".

Quote:
The state has an obligation to make sure that history reflects the truth....that is all.


And an apology is a good start. Especially after decades of denial. You still have Australians claiming this is a hoax to this day. This is not yet history at all and this has all come to light within my lifetime and denial of the events has been present at each step of the way.

Quote:
In a democracy the State is the people who are alive at the time. The Australia of 100 years ago was not you, it was your grand parents and great grandparents. I have no problem with you thinking that they did wrong, but why do you feel the need to feel guilty about what they did and apologize for what they did? This indicates to me that you misunderstand who you are as an individual and what you are responsible for, thus the mental illness crack.


This indicates to me that you know next to nothing about the subject you are opining on. We are talking about systemic events that are continued as recently as 1969. What on earth are you talking about? If in a democracy the state is the people then do you object for the people (millions of whom were alive at the time) taking responsibility for their democratic state's actions?

Freshly armed with the basic facts on the case (the Australian government committed extensive human rights abuse within the lifetimes of a large portion of the current Australian population) do you really object so much to an apology?

And if you don't feel it's warranted, I too would like to ask from whence comes the strong feelings against it. A lot of things that aren't necessary are done every day, what makes this so objectionable to you? You claim it "affects" you, how so?

Quote:
There must be a full accounting for history. Once it is recognized that a wrong as been committed every remaining stone must be turned in the investigation into what happened. To the extent that anyone who participated in the wrong or who was wronged is still alive justice must prevail. Once this history is found out and documented it must be yelled out far and wide, so that all are aware of what took place, and hopefully will take care to see that it never happens again.


Ok, now I don't get you at all.

"There must be a full accounting for history. Once it is recognized that a wrong as been committed every remaining stone must be turned in the investigation into what happened."

- Enquiry started 1995.
- "Report of the National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from Their Families" - 1997

"To the extent that anyone who participated in the wrong or who was wronged is still alive justice must prevail."

- People who were part of the state doing the wrong are alive, people who were wronged are alive. So compensation to them is seemingly warranted?

"Once this history is found out and documented it must be yelled out far and wide, so that all are aware of what took place, and hopefully will take care to see that it never happens again."

- I like this idea, what do you think about having a prominent leader (like a Prime Minister) proclaiming it from, say, Parliament?
0 Replies
 
hawkeye10
 
  1  
Reply Sat 23 Feb, 2008 04:11 am
For Robert Gentel:

I am not a legal expert so I don't know if the law would support my view. However, my view is that justice delayed is justice denied. I don't think that they should be any compulsory payment of claims for compensation of loss that is not executed near the time of loss. The law might support compensation to my family or genetic group for my loss decades or centuries after the fact, but in my view this law would not be supported by the concept of justice.

I realize that some of the people who were at the age of majority while the abuse was taking place were still alive at the time of the apology, however this must have been a very small percentage of the population. Those people would have been born 1949 and earlier. In my view with those people being such a small minority of the composition of the state at the time the apology was made the state had no right to make an apology on the offenders behalf. Had the state dealt with this issue in a timely manor they would have retained this right, but almost all of the offenders (those who allowed the abuse practices)are dead.

re the accounting for history: I was outlining the principle that I think should be followed. I do not know exactly what has been done in this regards in this case.

re my personal stake: the concept of reparations and apologies for long ago acts started a few decades ago, and it has spread like a cancer. It is an affront to the concept of the individual, of individual responsibility, is a miscarriage of justice, it encourages grudges, it purports to right a wrong when it in fact that ability died with the one who was wronged, and when money transfers take place in these cases it tends to harm the best interests of the society because of economic destabilization. Great harm to important principles is being done with the sole purpose of discharging guilt, in many cases those who feel this guilt had no right to take it aboard...it is not rightfully their burden.
0 Replies
 
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Sat 23 Feb, 2008 05:33 am
hawkeye10 wrote:
For Robert Gentel:

I am not a legal expert so I don't know if the law would support my view. However, my view is that justice delayed is justice denied. I don't think that they should be any compulsory payment of claims for compensation of loss that is not executed near the time of loss. The law might support compensation to my family or genetic group for my loss decades or centuries after the fact, but in my view this law would not be supported by the concept of justice.

I realize that some of the people who were at the age of majority while the abuse was taking place were still alive at the time of the apology, however this must have been a very small percentage of the population. Those people would have been born 1949 and earlier. In my view with those people being such a small minority of the composition of the state at the time the apology was made the state had no right to make an apology on the offenders behalf. Had the state dealt with this issue in a timely manor they would have retained this right, but almost all of the offenders (those who allowed the abuse practices)are dead.

re the accounting for history: I was outlining the principle that I think should be followed. I do not know exactly what has been done in this regards in this case.

re my personal stake: the concept of reparations and apologies for long ago acts started a few decades ago, and it has spread like a cancer. It is an affront to the concept of the individual, of individual responsibility, is a miscarriage of justice, it encourages grudges, it purports to right a wrong when it in fact that ability died with the one who was wronged, and when money transfers take place in these cases it tends to harm the best interests of the society because of economic destabilization. Great harm to important principles is being done with the sole purpose of discharging guilt, in many cases those who feel this guilt had no right to take it aboard...it is not rightfully their burden.



Leaving aside the notion of reparation....the current government apologised for the actions of successive previous governments. I would like to see your argument for saying that this is wrong.

Up until late last year, the then Prime Minister, as only one example, was a person who had sat in governments during the time being apologised for. He was far from the only one.
0 Replies
 
hawkeye10
 
  1  
Reply Sat 23 Feb, 2008 07:34 am
dlowan wrote:

Leaving aside the notion of reparation....the current government apologised for the actions of successive previous governments. I would like to see your argument for saying that this is wrong.

Up until late last year, the then Prime Minister, as only one example, was a person who had sat in governments during the time being apologised for. He was far from the only one.


I would go so far as to say that it would be just for the highest ranking person in government who was around during the abuse to make a statement. It would be fine for him/her to stand in Parliament representing the government/country/people and give a statement of fact of what happened....calling it a crime or abuse or whatever the facts demonstrate to be true. He/she should then give a personal statement of regret/remorse/ apology for what the government that he was a part of did. He can not do this speaking for the government, the people, or the country. The others who are still alive should also make similar statements if the opportunity presents itself in public life. All those who can be found who were personally harmed should be compensated.

I am American so I don't get the parliament system well, but to my mind succession in government is like the next generation in a family. I don't believe that sons are responsible for the sins of the father, so the current government is not responsible for the sins of previous governments. The current government can say the previous governments were wrong, acted badly what ever, but can not apologize for them. There should be a statement made into law that is a finding of fact that previous governments acted badly.

I know it looks like I am splitting hairs, but they are important distinctions. An apology would be very wrong, but the current government and citizens should have be able to do much to repair the damage with out going down that road.
0 Replies
 
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Sat 23 Feb, 2008 05:51 pm
hawkeye10 wrote:
dlowan wrote:

Leaving aside the notion of reparation....the current government apologised for the actions of successive previous governments. I would like to see your argument for saying that this is wrong.

Up until late last year, the then Prime Minister, as only one example, was a person who had sat in governments during the time being apologised for. He was far from the only one.


I would go so far as to say that it would be just for the highest ranking person in government who was around during the abuse to make a statement. It would be fine for him/her to stand in Parliament representing the government/country/people and give a statement of fact of what happened....calling it a crime or abuse or whatever the facts demonstrate to be true. He/she should then give a personal statement of regret/remorse/ apology for what the government that he was a part of did. He can not do this speaking for the government, the people, or the country. The others who are still alive should also make similar statements if the opportunity presents itself in public life. All those who can be found who were personally harmed should be compensated.

I am American so I don't get the parliament system well, but to my mind succession in government is like the next generation in a family. I don't believe that sons are responsible for the sins of the father, so the current government is not responsible for the sins of previous governments. The current government can say the previous governments were wrong, acted badly what ever, but can not apologize for them. There should be a statement made into law that is a finding of fact that previous governments acted badly.

I know it looks like I am splitting hairs, but they are important distinctions. An apology would be very wrong, but the current government and citizens should have be able to do much to repair the damage with out going down that road.




Why would an apology be wrong?

Have you read the actual words of the apology, by the way? Here they are again:

Today we honour the Indigenous peoples of this land, the oldest continuing cultures in human history.

We reflect on their past mistreatment.

We reflect in particular on the mistreatment of those who were Stolen Generations; this blemished chapter in our nation's history.

The time has now come for the nation to turn a new page in Australia's history by righting the wrongs of the past and so moving forward with confidence to the future.

We apologise for the laws and policies of successive Parliaments and governments that have inflicted profound grief, suffering and loss on these our fellow Australians.

We apologise especially for the removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families, their communities and their country.

For the pain, suffering and hurt of these Stolen Generations, their descendants and for their families left behind, we say sorry.

To the mothers and the fathers, the brothers and the sisters, for the breaking up of families and communities, we say sorry.

And for the indignity and degradation thus inflicted on a proud people and a proud culture, we say sorry.

We the Parliament of Australia respectfully request that this apology be received in the spirit in which it is offered as part of the healing of the nation.

For the future we take heart; resolving that this new page in the history of our great continent can now be written.

We today take this first step by acknowledging the past and laying claim to a future that embraces all Australians.

A future where this Parliament resolves that the injustices of the past must never, never happen again.

A future where we harness the determination of all Australians, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, to close the gap that lies between us in life expectancy, educational achievement and economic opportunity.

A future where we embrace the possibility of new solutions to enduring problems where old approaches have failed.

A future based on mutual respect, mutual resolve and mutual responsibility.

A future where all Australians, whatever their origins, are truly equal partners, with equal opportunities and with an equal stake in shaping the next chapter in the history of this great country, Australia.



What, specifically, do you object to in those words?

(I think the "great country" stuff is icky, personally, but there you go...)



The highest ranking person from previous governments was the previous Prime Minister, and he refused to apologize, by the way. He went out of his way to increase problems and bitterness, in my opinion.
0 Replies
 
hawkeye10
 
  1  
Reply Sat 23 Feb, 2008 06:12 pm
dlowan wrote:

Why would an apology be wrong?


The living have no right to apologize for the behaviour of the dead. Individuals have no right to apologize for other individuals with the exception of their minor children. Current governments have no right to apologize for previous governments.

The current government has violated the sovereignty of the previous governments, as well as the dead. They should be condemned for doing so, their words should be seen as void because they had no right to speak them. The government has gone for the quick emotional fix and in the process has violated the core values of democracy. This apology in my opinion shows the current government to be unfit, the people should see to it that they are replaced, in my opinion.
0 Replies
 
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Sat 23 Feb, 2008 06:19 pm
hawkeye10 wrote:
dlowan wrote:

Why would an apology be wrong?


The living have no right to apologize for the behaviour of the dead. Individuals have no right to apologize for other individuals with the exception of their minor children. Current governments have no right to apologize for previous governments.

The current government has violated the sovereignty of the previous governments, as well as the dead. They should be condemned for doing so, their words should be seen as void because they had no right to speak them. The government has gone for the quick emotional fix and in the process has violated the core values of democracy. This apology in my opinion shows the current government to be unfit, the people should see to it that they are replaced, in my opinion.



Why do you say "the living have no right to apologize for the behaviour of the dead"?
0 Replies
 
hawkeye10
 
  1  
Reply Sat 23 Feb, 2008 06:37 pm
dlowan wrote:

Why do you say "the living have no right to apologize for the behaviour of the dead"?


You can only apologize for yourself, nobody else, living or dead.
0 Replies
 
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Sat 23 Feb, 2008 06:41 pm
hawkeye10 wrote:
dlowan wrote:

Why do you say "the living have no right to apologize for the behaviour of the dead"?


You can only apologize for yourself, nobody else, living or dead.


Why?


You simply keep repeating that one cannot, and you clearly feel very emotional about it.
0 Replies
 
 

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