The First Australians and the truth of the matter

Clare Condon

Recognition is a profound and powerful concept. Every human being needs to be known, to be recognised, to be acknowledged as belonging, writes Good Samaritan Sister, Clare Condon SGS.

Following the announcement of Aussie Rules football star, Adam Goodes as the 2014 Australian of the Year, I was reading a report in one of our national newspapers and noted a comment which went something like this: 'Adam is a good choice because he is a good role model for his people.'

Suddenly I felt a pang of disbelief and profound sadness. The comment implied that he was a role model for Aboriginal people only. Adam is Australian of the Year. And why? Because he is a good role model for all Australians. He is one of us – one of all of us.

Adam Goodes, age 34, was identified at an early age as an exceptional sportsman. He put his energy into building his natural talent through hard work and generosity. He has overcome injuries and setbacks. Along with his friend Michael O’Loughlin, he established a foundation to mentor other young talent and to advocate for education for all young Australians.

The comment I quoted above was probably said without thinking. But it does highlight a subterranean racism in Australia. Often we hear comments about people whose first culture is other than 'white Anglo' as though they don’t quite belong – as though they are 'other.' Such an attitude is deep in the corporate psyche of this country. And it’s why we need desperately to right the wrongs of the past; why we need to recognise the First Australians in our national Constitution.

Our Indigenous brothers and sisters are the First Australians. The rest of us are the late-comers, the second Australians. When will we face this truth? This is the truth of the matter. It is a fact of history. There should be no massaging of the truth or hiding the reality – which has happened in the past.

Let all Australians face the fact that this country was invaded by colonists. Let us face the fact that there were multiple massacres across this land. Let us face the fact that the Indigenous people of this land were treated as though they did not own this country; nor did they belong to it.

FULL STORY Recognition a universal human value (The Good Oil)

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