At the moment, Australia is teetering at the cusp of an important decision — The whole of the country must vote in a referendum on whether we should recognise the Australian Aboriginal people as having lived here for over 60,000 years as custodians of our country (their country), and to give them the Voice to Parliament individually, rather than needing to go through an intermediary, who may not have their best results in mind.
Some of my ancestors are pioneer stock, arriving in South Australia very soon after the area was settled by white people from the United Kingdom and Ireland. The area where I now live was settled by farmers from those areas, back then, but I have no knowledge of what was done to any Aboriginal people already living there.
This ‘not knowing’ is not something to be proud of, in fact I am ashamed of my lack of such knowledge. Being proud of who you are and where you came from is an important thing, for sure. But being aware of hurts dealt out to vulnerable others is certainly nothing to be proud of.
And with Australia looking strongly to finally properly acknowledge those whose land was taken over, with little to none recompense being paid, well, nothing to be proud of there, that’s for sure. I certainly know some Aboriginal people, but only a few really, and I don’t know any really well. In fact I couldn’t say I have spoken to an Aboriginal person in the past few years, to be honest.
I love where I live, and in fact currently working on an Art Installation set where I live, and and proud of what I am doing with it as a Contemporary Conceptualist. But I am aware of the need to tell as full a story as I can, and at the moment, because of the nature of my exhibit, there is nothing I can put on show that has any reference to Aboriginal people, even though I’m sure there would such people living here for thousands of years, before their land was invaded.
History so often is a white people’s history, with the unwanted and unneeded people ignored. Such ignorance is a thing that must be halted, and History become Theirstory as well!
So as an Australian right now, I want to speak to a future that recognises and pays recompense to those who have been treated appallingly badly, so all can then join together and be proud of what we are now doing.
Black, white, and all of the other skin tones there are, all are people with stories that should be told, whether or not those involved are heroes or villians, the true story is the story that must be told. It is to be hoped this referendum will be the beginning of such a truth-telling movement, toward a time when all are truly one, and working harmoniously together.
Without such a thing, my country, Australia will continue to be an invading nation instead of a fully formed nation going well for all of those living there. Harmonious relations can only rule, when the truth is acknowledged and appropriately dealt with. Hiding from past wrongs, victim blaming, abusive treatment, these are not the correct ways to go, far from it.
But with harmony, healing can happen, but we need to say we are sorry, and show that to be so, in our dealings with Aboriginal people, instead of abusive actions taken against them, over and over, even now, when we know of the harm being done!
I am proud of what is being attempted, and hope it leads to proper retribution. Only when that happens, can I say I am truly a proud Australian.