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Child Protection Week marred by Bolt commentary

by PeakCare Qld on 17th September 2014

Home -> Articles -> 2014 -> September -> Child Protection Week marred by Bolt commentary

Child Protection Week marred by Bolt commentary

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It’s all black and white according to Andrew Bolt (Courier Mail, September 11). During Child Protection Week he managed to selectively quote Aboriginal leaders and spokespeople while assigning them to one of two camps.

There are defenders of Aboriginal culture prepared to sacrifice their women and children to rape and abuse in order to preserve romanticised views. Or there are ‘honest injuns’ vilified for questioning parts of Aboriginal culture and opposing violence within their communities.

Mr Bolt tries to weave an argument to stop trying to save some Aboriginal communities that might be better dismantled. He says “Assimilation, not Aboriginal culture, is the best hope for Aboriginal children”.

It is unfortunate his views came during Child Protection Week. It is a week that draws public attention to the vulnerability of all children. During a week that promotes protecting children from harm, Andrew Bolt draws up battle lines.

Non-Indigenous readers must agree with and support one camp or the other. Indigenous readers and leaders are silenced. Speak out and, however cogently your words are spoken, they will be diminished and selectively used to assign you to one camp or the other.

In falling for this divide and conquer approach let’s just ignore certain facts.

Ignore the impact of poverty, social isolation and economic disadvantage that wreak havoc on all families irrespective of their race. These are major contributors to child abuse, neglect and all forms of violence within and outside of families, irrespective of race.

Let’s ignore that these features of society are most certainly not the inventions of traditional Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander cultures. But it is Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families, much more than most, who contend with these issues every day of their lives.

To accept Andrew Bolt’s claims about the endemic nature of violence within traditional Aboriginal cultures we need to ignore the history and extent to which non-Indigenous cultures, European in particular, have been steeped in violence.

Without the evolution of European-based culture, we would still be embracing public executions, torture, religious persecution, trading South Sea Islander slaves and burning witches at the stake.

Can Mr Bolt arrogantly think the evolution of non-Indigenous values and beliefs has been so perfect and complete that it can now be imposed holus bolus on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples? And should this happen without any recognition given to the devastation that this arrogance has brought to people who are indigenous to countries throughout the world.

These opinions add nothing to the discussions or debates being led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders about child protection. We are fortunate that governments throughout Australia and an educated public can look beyond Mr Bolt’s tactics of omitting facts and polarising opinion.

We are also fortunate that few are falling for his invitation to adopt simplistic black and white views and join one camp or the other on either side of the battle lines he has drawn in his war that few are enlisting in and most are ignoring.

Lindsay Wegener

Executive Director, PeakCare Queensland