By Rama Gaind
PS News Books
Aboriginal Self-Determination: The Whiteman’s Dream
By Gary Johns (Connor Court Publishing, $29.95, softcover, 323 pages)
A great deal has been promised for the whiteman’s dream of self-determination for Aborigines, but despair has been the primary result.
In fact, Dr Gary Johns says the dream that “Aborigines could live collectively and separately from the rest of Australia, has turned sour”.
In reviewing public policy and Aboriginal affairs over the past four decades, he calls for a different approach to practices and attitudes of the recent past.
Dr Johns, an associate professor of public policy, Public Policy Institute, Australian Catholic University, doesn’t profess to be an expert in this area even though he’s been thinking about Aboriginal policy and politics for at least two decades.
He’s travelled into the Pilbara and Cape York and Central Queensland and western NSW and visited a lot of communities, spoken to a lot of Aboriginal people and those who work in the Aboriginal field.
The former special Minister of State in the Keating Labor Government points out that “unfortunately, many Aboriginal leaders misdiagnose their peoples’ dilemma”.
Restraining Aborigines from leading a good life are culture, land rights and welfare. Exodus is a reality even though welfare has become restrictive, land is a burden and bad behaviour is being mistaken for culture.
Aborigines have to abide by the same rules as every other Australian and study hard, search for better opportunities and behave well.
This is in contrast to the dream of Aboriginal autonomy. An exit strategy is necessary for Aborigines, especially those in remote Australia.
Aboriginal Self-Determination outlines tactics, even those that are harmful, and destroys the “rallying cry for culture over economy”.
It demonstrates that the way to self-determination is through individual dignity.
We should also remember that it is essential for Aboriginal people to be “happy and at peace”.
To find out more about Rama Gaind click here.