sol bellear hits the nail on the head...
And in particular, they don't have an excess mortality rate even approaching that of Indigenous people in Australia. Research by Australian Dr Gideon Polya reveals that the excess mortality rate of Aboriginal Australians is one of the worst on earth, twice that of the mandatory reporting death rate for live cattle exported on a boat from Australia, and the same rate as a sheep in an Australian paddock. It's actually higher than Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam during their respective wars.
But can we blame all this on a lack of self-determination? Research by Dr Paul Kauffman, another Australian researcher, provides some interesting food for thought. In 2003, he completed a study called 'Diversity and Indigenous Policy Outcomes: Comparisons between Four Nations'.Briefly, it compared the progress in Canada, the United States and New Zealand against the appalling state of affairs in Australia. And it looked specifically at what sort of institutions each nation had which could be classed as self-determination in action. The results are startling.
In Australia, the rate of Indigenous over-representation in prison is 10 times greater than in the US.
Australia's Indigenous youth suicide rate is twice that of New Zealand and three times that of the US.
In New Zealand, 85 per cent of Maori have a post-school qualification. In the US the figure is 65 per cent. In Australia, it's fewer than 14 per cent.
To round out the study, Dr Kauffman noted that Canada, the US and New Zealand all have treaties, constitutional recognition and extensive employment diversity programs. Australia does not.
Dr Kaufmann's study may not be conclusive proof that self-determination is the difference, but it's pretty compelling. Either Australian Aboriginal people have a knack for death and destruction, or something else is going on.
That's not to suggest Australia doesn't pretend to support self-determination, because we certainly do when the rest of the world is watching. In 2008, the Australian Government endorsed the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, a document which was crafted specifically to set out the rights of First Peoples to govern their own lives and communities.
Yet virtually every Australian government policy announced since flies in the face of our stated international position. The Northern Territory intervention and its bastard son, the Strong Futures laws, for example, breach almost half the articles of the UN Declaration.
Put simply, we will make many of the same mistakes that have been made - and continue to be made every single day - by mainstream Australian political and governance structures.
On occasions, our 'parliament' will be as toxic as yours. On occasions, our leaders will embezzle funds and abuse their travel entitlements, just like yours do. On occasions, our leaders will make bad decisions that favour themselves and their families, just like yours do. On occasions, our communities will erupt into crime and violence, just like yours do.
But I can also guarantee you this: over time, the advances we make will be far greater than those under a system of colonial occupation.
How do I make this guarantee? Because we could hardly do any worse, and because decades of international experience, research and outcomes tell us so.
We are the only first world nation on earth that thinks self-determination is a dirty word, and yet Australians are in the worst position of all to lecture.
The fact is, my people will not simply surrender anymore than you or your children would if Australia was invaded tomorrow. So you can talk till the cows come home about wanting to help Aboriginal Australians, but until the conversation shifts to how non-Aboriginal Australians can stand aside and permit Aboriginal Australians to help themselves, then we're just marking time.
While we wait, many more of my people - people like William Bugmy - will die, having lived tragically short lives marked by violence, dispossession and misery.
Sol Bellear is the Chairman of the Aboriginal Medical Service, Redfern, and a long-time Aboriginal activist. View his full profile here.
read the full article at: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-10-21/bellear-indigenous-sovereignty/5032294
Picture at top supplied to Gus...