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Why change Aborigines into images of ourselves?


The respnse to Brian McCoy's latest article Why change Aborigines into images of ourselves? has been vocal. Here are some of the letters...

from Sarah Ferguson

22-Aug-2006 I was the reporter of the recent Sunday programme on Wadeye. How about a right of reply since I am being accused of displaying ignornace of and disrespect for Aborginal people and culture?

from Joe Goerke

22-Aug-2006 I fear that the "Catholic" background we had as children and which may well have given us our present prosperity is no longer there because we, as Catholics, came to be just like the dominant Anglo group with whom we were once at such odds. Why we even accept the term "Anglo-Celtic" today! But our "culture", however defective it may be is not an unchanging thing. We are very different today to what our own ancestors were 100 years ago and if we tried to go back to that way of life how would we fare? The problem, as I see it is that we are all on a kind of treadmill, so to speak, in which the increasingly interconnected world is sweeping us all along into something, the end of which we don't have the foggiest idea about. It is indeed difficult for Aboriginal people to preserve their culture and values, howver good they may be in a world that carries us all along at breakneck speed.Maybe we should all sit down with Aboriginal people and sing that famous song "Stop the world I want to get off"!

from James Massola

22-Aug-2006 I have emailed Sarah and invited her to reply. We are happy to provide her with a right of reply on these pages.

from Wayne Quilliam

22-Aug-2006 More than 10 years ago a group of Indigenous media representatives including myself organised a conference where the heads of non-indigenous media organisations were invited to consult with us regarding the appropriate protocols to consider when working with the different communities throughout the country. What has changed, virtually nothing and please don't think Im attacking Sarah Ferguson but I personally find most journo's head to somewhere like Wadeye, Palm Island or Arakun communities that have a multitude of social dilema's and paint the entire Aboriginal community with the same brush, it's no wonder we continue to face racism in it's present form. Recently I visited more than 10 communities throughout the country in the search for organisations that provided a positive and productive service to help both Aboriginal and non Aboriginal people. As a professional Aboriginal photographer I conducted photographic classes to allow Aboriginal children the opportunity to portray Reconciliation in their enviroment. We will launch the exhibition at the Opera House at the 'Deadlys' a night that will showcase Aboriginal talent. Why isn't this shown on mainstream television?.
Wayne Quilliam

from Mark Duffett

23-Aug-2006 Do you really want the rhetorical question posed by the headline answered? At least one valid answer is, to coin a phrase, 'it's the economy, stupid'. I find it amazing how an article on these issues can manage not to even mention the word. Such privileges as we enjoy in this country don't come from being 'white' - they come from participating fully in its economy. To the extent that aspects of Aboriginal culture are inimical to this, that is a problem (for all of us, I should add, not just for Aboriginal people).

That is what the Minister for Indigenous Affairs is getting at in suggesting Aboriginal people work in 5-star hotels - he's simply suggesting 'here's a market need/opportunity - why not meet it?'. Much closer to scandalous is that there have never been more than one or two Aboriginal people working at the Yulara resort - never mind the big cities.

from Gerry Harant

23-Aug-2006 Current attitudes by government and bureaucrats to indigenous people at best faithfully reflect the attitudes of white do-gooders of a century ago, such as missionaries and their supporters. They really felt that to "permit"tribal people to enter white society and allow indigenous people to acquire property, buy and sell their land, and marry in church would represent advances for the benighted natives. They don't understand customs like group marriage to this day, nor the fact that there are individual "nations". They think that there must be some mechanism by which indigenous culture can be equitably bought with money. Unfortunately, a lot of this has now become a self-fulfilling prophecy. In many cases the old customs and culture can now only be understood by anthropologists and by tribal elders, some of whom are still trying desperately to re-establish the old ways. Good luck to them, but don't let us whites brought up in a capitalist set of"values" kid ourselves we will ever reach more than a surface understanding of a culture based on co-operation and non-material values.

from F.Pownall

24-Aug-2006 Most Australians would be most happy if Aboriginals stayed as their ancestors, in the bush and self sufficient.

They now have vast areas of land where they can do just that.

They, however, want others to support them. Endless complaints from critics will not allow the government to leave them living in their natural state, which is in our minds squalor. Nor will imported disease allow it.Nor will Christians leave them alone as they see sexual arrangements that are not acceptable.

Foreigners who come to Australia are gradually assimilated. I see no alternative to the same happening to the aborigines for all sorts of reasons, especially as they, when educated and intermarried assimilate quite well. Most of us were amazed to find large numbers of blue eyed blond 'aborigines' appearing from the population when there advantages to be had for being 'black'.

'Blacks' were never the 'servants' of white people in the general sense. The Wavell Station events came from white urging by 'do gooders'. I think it was inevitable but was it a good move, ending in large numbers of 'sit down money' recipients.

I think your article represents what you condemn in the five minute reporting.

Rather than criticise others, please give a detailed plan for the future so that aborigines can live in peace in the bush or next door to you without me paying for it.



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Existing comments

Sarah Ferguson (5 Sep 06) accuses Brian McCoy of laziness and failure to watch her TV Program carefully, yet she herself has patently failed to read his letter with attention. He says explicitly, "Personally, I am not so sure there is a conspiracy." He does refer to a reporter going to live in a community for ten tays and thinking she has got the measure of 'the cultural and social issues at play'. That is an unmistakable reference to her. He does refer to her program twice, but to assume that any other reference he makes to the media is aimed at her program smacks of paranoia.

I happened to be visiting Wadeye when there was an invasion by two TV crews. (The few indigenous people I spoke to referred to the town as Port Keats.) I would question that any of the Nine crew actually lived in the Indigenous Community at all. Miss Ferguson may have stayed for that short time in the same town but I very much doubt that she actually lived in the Indigenous community.

I saw a video clip of her meeting with the town council but one of the local people felt the need to translate what had been said, for the benefit of his fellow councillors.
Denis Matthews | 07 September 2006

hey every one how are you
my name is tabby-lee and i am half aboriginal and half spainsh and i think that it is great what you guys are doing cause i have met ernie dingo he is realy nice guy to meet and i go on trips with my school to do aboriginala activies it is so fun well i have to go and do my work thansk for your time ok from tabby-lee

tabby-lee | 19 March 2007

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