Australia The land of the Young, White, Able Bodied, Heterosexual, Male, Fair Go…..

ausflag

The question of “Australian Identity” reared its head again this week (as it so often has a remarkable tendency to do whenever this nation gets within spitting distance of an election).

At first, due to my overwhelming cynicism of all such notions hoisted  up on behalf of nationalism, I summarily dismissed the question.

However upon reflection, I think this time around, it might just be a question well worth asking.

Though not in terms of assessing what the average Aussie now looks like but rather in terms of assessing Australia’s mythologizing of the ‘Fair Go Spirit’.

So can Australia, through the lens of identity, really be seen as the land of the iconic “Fair Go”?

I have a rather unsettling suspicion the answer to this question might just be no.

If you look at the Australian response to illegal refugee’s (AKA ‘Boat People’) the answer would most definitely have to be a resounding no to the idea of a ‘Fair Go’.

There has been a rather concerning lack of ‘fairness’ shown toward those who arrive on our shores without the benefit of that all-important small piece of paper known as a valid passport.

So being Australian today, if you believe the political spin, now includes holding a rather alarming propensity for locking asylum seekers away.

Another Australian propensity related to this revolves around the broader issue of racism.

Apparently Australians today are a racist bunch and indeed if you were only to look at Australia’s policy driven responses to Indigenous Affairs, you would undoubtedly see clear evidence of this.

Australia’s history of  ‘Intervention’ in Indigenous Affairs is a rather sad and sorry one. Consisting of one human rights violations (such as the “Stolen Generation”) on top of another..

So far, the notion of the Australian ‘Fair Go’, in terms of identity, only applies to those who are born white and non-Indigenous in this country.

The Australian identity (well at least our political one) is also  homophobic too.

If you look at the political stance that Australia’s leaders have taken over  Gar Marriage, you could also add the denial of the right to marry the one you love, to the list of  human rights violations occurring in this country.

In terms of identity, the ‘Fair Go’ spirit does not seem to apply to those born elsewhere or born of a different race (ethnicity), nor to those born with a different sexual orientation.

But wait…. There’s more……

If you are an Australian with a disability or the parent of an Australian with a disability, guess what?  Apparently you are excluded from the notion of a ‘Fair Go’ too.

The recent political ‘push through’ of the National Disability Insurance Scheme in Australia (NDIS) is not what many within the disability community had hoped it would be.

Nor can the NDIS even be seen to be, at this point time, as providing a solid promise toward making the lives of those with disabilities ‘fairer’.

So far all it has done is make those agencies who provide disability support workers, richer and quite frankly, that’s about it.

The quality of care has not increased even thought the amount of money being thrown at organizations who provide said care, has.

As the parent of a young adult with a disability I can tell you that there is absolutely nothing even remotely  ‘Fair Go-ish’ about the way this country both treats and regards those with disabilities.

So far the concept of a ‘Fair Go’ only applies to those who identify as white, born in this country but not of Indigenous or any other ethnic descent  and who are entirely heterosexual and also not at all disabled.

And then there’s the unemployed whom have been quite vocal of late in airing their grievances over the fact that unemployment benefits haven’t risen for the last 20 years despite the constant leaps and bounds in inflation.

Of course I should also add the elderly and those who work as unpaid familial carer’s, to the ever growing list of those whose identities, are no longer experiencing the much mythologized Aussie Fair Go.

Ok, I will. So here we go…..

Identities that don’t qualify for the Australian ‘Fair Go’ experience are those who are Indigenous or of any other ethnicity, not born in Australia, homosexual, disabled, elderly or work in the care giving industry and those who are unemployed.

Qualifiers for the Aussie ‘Fair Go’ experience are those who are white, born in Australia with not too much ethnicity, heterosexual, able bodied, young, workers.

I really should also add the growing, (not shrinking), lack of equal pay being experienced by Australian women  in terms of wages and job security in this country.

One more time….

Those who qualify for the Aussie ‘Fair Go’ are……..

-White,

-Non-Indigenous

-Australian Born

-Young,

-Heterosexual,

Able Bodied,

-Male

-Workers.

Sounds like a capitalists dream workforce really……. Oh wait

Those who do not qualify for the Aussie ‘Fair Go’ experience are those who are……..

-Indigenous

-Any other ethnicity

-Not born here,

-Aged,

-Gay,

-Female,

Disabled,

-Familial Carers

Unemployed

Makes me wonder just how much of the Australian population there is left for politicians to marginalize?

So what do all of the potential leaders of the Liberal Party worried about?

Well, clearly they fear that an elderly, disabled, gay, unemployed, refugee seeking female, on a boat may be coming their way.

Related articles

Australia Day – Invasion Day

I am truly grateful to live in this beautiful land.

At the same time, I am also honest enough to be able to acknowledge the history of dispossession that shadows our land and hence to seek to understand and honor the feelings of Australia’s traditional indigenous population regarding Australia Day.

In so doing, I offering up my humble apologies for the disrespectful way in which Australia was stolen from its traditional indigenous land owners all those years ago.

I believe that holding the capacity to acknowledge the wrongs of the past does not make anyone a “bad Aussie”.

If anything, I believe that holding the capacity to truly acknowledge our past, whilst also offering up a genuine willingness to pay respect to the true custodians of this land, would make us better Australians.

There is no shame in showing respect and understanding towards those for whom Australia Day is not now, nor has it ever been, viewed as a day of celebration, but rather a day that signals the loss of their country, ‘Invasion Day’.

We lose nothing by showing compassion and support for those who still feel the sting of dispossession.

We lose nothing by tempering our own views in such a way as to be able to incorporate within Australia Day, both our gratitude for being able to live in such a beautiful land our acknowledgement that our fortune came at the loss of our Indigenous population.

Were we personally responsible for the past?

No, of course not.

But we are personally responsible for both the present and the future.

I for one have spent years explaining to my children that for many people, Australia Day is double-edged sword.

It is a day filled with both joy and sorrow.

A day that attempts to celebrate the diversity of the Australian way of life, whilst seeking desperately to cover up the ugliness of a past that includes genocide and endless interventions aimed only at one race.

Hence racism.

I make sure that my children know the truth about the history of this nation because it’s a history that has created the framework for the circumstance in which our indigenous population all too often find themselves living in today.

Living lives in rural and remote outback towns, filled with poverty, poor health care, lack of educational and employment opportunities, high infant mortality death rates, lower than average life expectancy for both men and women and the by the far the highest per capita rate of incarceration.

I make sure that my children understand that this is a past that can never be truly left behind until all of the inequities that have accrued from that time forward, are both acknowledged and addressed by all Australians.

There is no point in trying to hide or excuse the actions of those who have gone before us.

There is even less point to it if, whilst in the process of doing so, we are enacting further harm, isolation, dispossession and outrage upon those who have already been harmed so much.

This Australia Day, let’s work toward recognizing the rights of our indigenous people via having the courage to honestly to acknowledge exactly how white Australian’s came to be here, and not just to ourselves, but also to our children and to our neighbors.

Let’s honor the truth and validity of those who consider the 26th of January to be ‘Invasion Day’ by showing them the respect they deserve instead of getting all fired up simply because we feel as if we’re being “shamed” over the actions of the past.

The only in which the actions of the past can ever continue to cause us shame will be if we continue to deny and vilify our fellow countrymen for feeling differently about Australia Day.

As I’ve said before, we are not responsible for the past but we are responsible for the present.

So I’d love to see every Aussie donning the colors of the Aboriginal flag somewhere on their body, in support and recognition of Indigenous Australian’s on Australia day.

To me, that would truly be proving Stan Grant’s words that “we’re better than that”, right.

#AustraliaDay #IndigenousRights #InvasionDay #StanGrant