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By Editorial staff

Journalist


Racism still rife in Australia, vote shows

Indigenous people are still not recognised in Australia.


Australia used to characterise itself as “the lucky country” – for its climate, its resources, its democracy (even as part of the Commonwealth under the British monarch) and its happy people.

That sunny image, though, masked a deeper darker, hidden reality that Australian society is still, in some respects, racist … especially when it comes to the treatment of its indigenous Aborigine people.

As recently as the early part of the 20th century, you could buy a permit to hunt them, because they were considered vermin.

In the 21st century, one might have expected things would have changed, but following Saturday’s resounding vote against constitutional amendments to recognise indigenous people, it seems as though Australia is not yet ready to deal with its colonial, racist past.

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Aborigine people, understandably, feel betrayed by their fellow, white Australians, with one of them remarking bitterly that “reconciliation is dead”.

The debate and polarisation have echoes of our own anguished debate in South Africa about the legacy of colonialism and apartheid. As in Australia, many white people cannot fathom the hurt these caused to black South Africans.

“Get over it” is not a message people will hear.

How close is our country to the death of reconciliation?

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