That is the title of Stephanie Jarrett’s book based on ten or twelve years of work starting as a Ph D at the Uni of Adelaide.
There is a reluctance to scrutinise and address the fundamental cultural generators of Aboriginal violence. Where violence is seen as part of culture, too often it is defended as the culture’s “right” to practice it. Above all, the separatist self-determination model maintains customs that are dangerous, particularly to women and young people. Hence, if we keep to a separatist, self-determination model, we will keep having to have crisis responses, major enquiries and interventions, and decades more of assaulted Aboriginal women and young people facing the terrible dilemma of abandoning their country, their community, to get some safety.
This is an interview with the author.
I am committed to the liberal-democratic principles of universal individual human rights and non-relativism regarding violence. My left-leaning feminism increases my outrage against the oppressions endured by remote Aboriginal women. Through my research, I came to understand that Aboriginal self-determination is a key causal factor in the persistent, high levels of violence against Aboriginal women.
She reported on one of the forgotten scandals of progressive (catastrophic) policy, the elimination of a scheme where some country Aboriginal families moved en masse to a suburb of Newcastle with support from the local community, resulting in 100% school attendance, and full employment.
The Aboriginal-initiated, voluntary Family Re-Settlement Program in New South Wales of the 1970s, where mainstream communities provided welcome and support for Aboriginal families establishing a new life in a city, is exemplary here. The program ceased when funding stopped because it was deemed assimilationist. Hopefully we are now more enlightened.
Don’t bet on it.
Jim Franklin and his wife organized an event in Sydney to promote the book with Bess Price in support and Gary Johns the Master of Ceremonies. Bess Price was hesitant at first and delivered a moving account of the suffering of her parents’ generation in frontier violence (violence from outside the Aboriginal community) and her perception and personal experience of violence against women (culturally condoned violence within the community).
Stephanie Jarrett was quite emotional, partly due to the impact of the stories that her book has to tell and possibly in part due to the shock of coming from the left and finding that the facts she found in her research did not fit the politically correct straight jacket that is supposed to be imposed on the truth.
Taking up johanna’s 9.55 comment “The best thing we could do for Aboriginal people is to apply the law impartially across the board. Yes, it would increase the rate of imprisonment, at least temporarily. But down the track, everybody would be much better off.”
That reminds me of a question to the speakers from a school teacher in the audience, along the lines – “what can be do about this in the new standard school curriculum because the issue of black deaths in custody is “out there” in the history and social studies courses there but community violence is not on the agenda?”
So the issue of black deaths in custody is “out there”. The statistics indicate that blacks are no more likely to die in custory than others. The issue is a racist beatup that completely sidesteps the central issues, one of which is the very different rate of imprisonment (even before blacks are put in gaol) and the other is the prevalance of violent incidents in some of the Aboriginal communities which according to Bess Price are seriously understimated in the official statistics that they collect in Canberra.