First Aboriginal in Australia’s Parliament
Few groups of indigenous people have faced more racial discrimination than the Aboriginal population of Australia. Out of a total population of 22 mill, approximately 500 000 claim to be of aboriginal ancestry. Now, nearly 250 years after James Cook claimed the Australian continent as British soil, the first Aboriginal has been elected as a member of the Australian Parliament.
In the country’s August election Ken Wyatt (58) won a seat for the Liberal Party by a clear margin. He says that his prime target will be to fight racism in Australia. And he has seen a lot of it when he grew up in the 60s and 70s. Aboriginal communities are still the most disadvantaged in the country, suffering grave social conditions with a high rate of imprisonment, unemployment and child mortality. They also have the lowest life expectancy in the country. They are frequently referred to as “The Lost Generation” since thousands of Aboriginal children were taken away from their families to be “civilized” by the British colonists.
Amnesty International has recently criticized Australian authorities for not doing enough to end the discrimination against the Aboriginal people. In 1998 a coalition of community groups declared May 26 as National I'm Sorry Day to make amends for the violation of the Aboriginal population. Ten years later, on the 13th of February 2008, an apology to Australia's indigenous peoples was given by the Australian Prime Minister in the House of Representatives.
Ken Wyatt has received racist hate mail since his victory, some of them saying that they would not have voted for him if they had known that he was an Aboriginal. Nevertheless, it is an historic event and its symbolic value will hopefully mean inspiration for the Aboriginal population, and be a reminder for the authorities of all the wrong-doings in the past.
Check the link below, and do the tasks:
- Find out more about Amnesty International and their criticism of Australia.
- Find examples of countries where human rights are violated. What can the international community do to make these countries stop this? Some key words: intervention, boycott, bilateral talks, trade, cultural exchange, cooperation, UN declarations, alliances, travel restrictions, demonstrations. . .
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