It’s time to end the silence on violence

Yet again this week it has been made crystal clear that we just can’t talk about some problems facing Aboriginal people – unless of course we are prepared to be called racists (whitefellas) or sellouts (blackfellas). And if we can’t talk about these problems, how can we address them?

On Studio 10, Yumi Stynes accused Kerri-Anne Kennerley of being racist. This was because Kerry-Anne dared to ask if any of the Australia Day protestors pretending that Aboriginal people are hurt by celebrations on Australia Day had actually been to the outback where children, babies, mothers, sisters and aunties are raped, as part of everyday life. That is a legitimate question. While I saw a tsunami of attacks on Kerri-Anne, with a host of accusations that she is claiming all babies and mothers are being raped, I did not see a response from any protester saying “Yes, I have visited these communities and know of these problems.”

Of course, all the social justice warriors chorused: “Well, has Kerri-Anne been to these communities?” I suspect she hasn’t, but why does she have to? She is under no illusion that the most urgent issue facing too many Aboriginal people today is the dysfunction in so many remote communities, including violence and child abuse. If the protesters Kerri-Anne was referring to were to visit these communities, and better yet, live there for a month, they might think about junking their ‘Invasion Day’ banners and making ‘Stop the Violence and Child abuse’ banners.

The gasoline on the bonfire was of course Yumi’s claim that Kerri-Anne was being racist. Racism is ugly, but so are baseless allegations, like Yumi’s. So why are some people so quick to play the racism card when there is no racism? The short answer is that it makes the dobber feel important, – and it is a very convenient way to silence your opponent and undermine their credibility. But there is another reason.

Most Australians want to see an end to the suffering that far too many Aboriginal people endure. Most want to see them have the opportunities and life’s pleasures that most of us take for granted. Thousands of Aboriginal people already enjoy the good life that Australia offers, but we know that there are still many, often in remote communities, living in conditions we wouldn’t let a dog live in. And they suffer the sort of abuse that Kerri-Anne spoke of.

When we sit in our comfortable homes enjoying the telly, not having to worry about where our next meal is coming from or if we will be bashed or raped, maybe a little bit of guilt creeps into our awareness. Many Aussies are left thinking “What can I do to help these Aboriginal people?” Most of us don’t have the opportunity to go live in a remote community and help out in a practical way. We should not feel guilty, but we are still left telling ourselves “Yeah, but I have to do something.”

For many, the solution is easy, and thanks to social media, you don’t have to leave the comfort of your chair. All you have to do is make a claim of racism and you can feel that you have made a difference, when in fact you’ve done nothing. Yumi didn’t even have to leave her seat. “You’re sounding quite racist right now” was quite enough to elevate her to hero status amongst the offendarati.

A day later, Jacinta Price and Lidia Thorpe discussed the matter of violence in remote communities. Lidia trotted out the usual claim of “racism endured everyday.” If you challenge that, this is seen as an act of denial, or indeed racism itself. She also used the classic ‘victim of the past’ narrative, not realising that so many Aboriginal people, herself and Jacinta included, are not suffering due to colonisation, and in fact are doing quite well. Lidia, you are in a position of influence. One of the most powerful messages you could give Aboriginal people is that we are never ever victims of the past, but only ever victims of our view of the past.

Lidia then follows up with “We need to heal the wounds of the past.” Actually, Lidia, for those who are trying to heal the past, they are actually wounding the present and killing the future for thousands of Aboriginal people. Jacinta, Kerri-Anne, and others have so eloquently highlighted the most serious problems facing so many Aboriginal people. Healing comes from tackling the problems of today! Enough is enough. End the silence on violence.

Anthony Dillon

Anthony Dillon

Anthony Dillon, originally from Brisbane resides in Sydney where he works as a researcher at Australian Catholic University and is a noted commentator on Aboriginal affairs with contributions in The Australian and Quadrant Magazine.  More of his writings can be found atwww.anthonydillon.com.au 
Anthony Dillon

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9 Comments on "It’s time to end the silence on violence"

  1. Caroline Daniell | 31/01/2019 at 11:22 am | Reply

    Excellent &, as I have indicated several times, reflects my views entirely. Kerry Anne made not one racist comment. She merely stated facts. Yumi’s reaction,IMO, was immediately on the defensive & held no
    Substance whatsoever. Neither do I even know who she is … never heard of her. Her immediate reaction … ‘racist’ … merely reinforces the emptiness & lack of hands on/grassroots experience of those who have No Idea of the conditions faced Every Day by Aboriginal People living in remote communities! I could on but won’t!

  2. Well said Anthony, yet again. Your voice of reason and others like you lay the foundation for the future of this wonderful country.

  3. Rhonda Foster | 01/02/2019 at 9:53 am | Reply

    I hope what happened to Kerri-Anne doesn’t deter others from speaking out about the atrocities occurring in our indigenous communities.

  4. Most of us are getting sick of the aboriginals complaining all the time, it’s time they grew up and accepted that white settlement of this continent was beneficial to them. They have all the advantages of the modern world now, thanks to the white man.

    • well said seems the only people holding first Australian back are them selves the rest of Australia white , yellow ,red and brown are just so over it

  5. I dont believe in races.We are one race..human.
    Lets see real change and everyone stop blaming those alive today for what happened in the past.
    Aboriginals in remote areas choose to live remotely.
    Yet they blame Whites for not providing everything that Aboriginals enjoy in cities.
    Not long ago Aboriginals lived simply off the land without any medical assistance,convenience stores or money.
    So why are we expected to take care of those wishing to live outback.
    Aboriginals want their cake and to eat it too.

  6. Maree Taylor | 02/02/2019 at 4:43 pm | Reply

    White Aboriginal people are very privileged. Their parents got benefits, they got benefits, their children and now grandchildren are getting benefits. They go to Catholic school for free, they are place in university and given jobs on a silver platter. They have been compensated a million times. Lydia Thorpe was very privileged and is only 25% aboriginal, I know this because I know people who grew up with her. The protesters are fake and liars, why don’t they tell the truth. White people who harmed aboriginal people 200 or whatever years ago were hung. The real aboriginal people in Australia need to be helped – something must be done to protect the woman and children, the focus should be on helping the victims. These protesters have not got a clue on what is really happening and they don’t care. They are very unhappy people who want to divide Australians. I am over listening and reading all the lies every Australia day. Real Aboriginals are not complaining, the protesters need to go these towns and see what is going on.

  7. Jill Slack | 02/02/2019 at 7:05 pm | Reply

    ‘Offenderati’ is an excellent word.

  8. David Griffiths | 02/02/2019 at 9:36 pm | Reply

    I spoke to someone who works in these communities. She said it is even worse than is being described. That you can’t talk of it. Compared it to Africa, third world conditions. The Unions and ALP caused this. These people had a workable lifestyle and purpose as stockmen until unions said they should get full pay. Before that they had food for their families and accomodation of their lifestyle, times of walkabout. After, they lost their jobs and went into decay.

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