During Saturdays rally in Sydney from Town Hall to the New South Wales Parliament on Macquarie Street, action at the outrage of the treatment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people not only in the Northern Territory but around the country was the major theme. Action against a government just making noises. Action from people coming together and telling the government that “enough is enough”.
Malcolm Turnballs’ announced Royal Commission couldn’t have come at a better time for his government, having barely scraped through to form a majority. Being criticized for his indecisiveness, his knee-jerk, overnight announcement of the commission provided the low hanging fruit he so badly needed to make a positive public impression. The commission is seen by many as band aid effort, as it only sets out to micro manage current issues rather than dealing with more deep seated racial inequalities.
Police presence was high with horses, bikes, and paramilitary style performances intended to achieve maximum intimidation. One speaker pointed out that by intimidating, Police were only doing what they were programmed to do, carry out orders from senior police. The timely and synchronized donning of leather gloves by front line officers, when the march stalled at an intersection stopping traffic, didn’t go unnoticed, it was just another part of the deliberate act to intimidate.
While Adam Giles, the new Corrections Minister in Northern Territory, announces the building of a new prison, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner Mick Gooda discusses $700 million in savings that can be made as a result of implementing community based correctional measures. What is bewildering is not the polar opposites in their operations and outcomes, but the fact that Adam Giles is focused on spending more taxpayer money to perpetuate the problem rather than investigating long term solutions.
The struggles indigenous Australia faces is similarly experienced by the indigenous of many colonized countries around the world. Current models of government are failing people and the environment and it is time for a change. A positive change. What has happened in the Northern Territory identifies that this change is long overdue. A Royal Commission into this specific event, similarly identified in the “Bring the Children Home” report published some twenty years ago, will no doubt make people feel warm and fuzzy, but it won’t change the inherent racial inequity in Australia. What will bring positive change is more people taking notice and actually caring about it enough to influence government.
Saturdays march attracted a cross section of the community. There were grandmothers who are self-confessed serial marchers but are none the less passionate and supportive of the cause. Families and single couples sacrificed sports and shopping to show their support during a sunny Saturday afternoon. I only bumped into two Māori but know of a couple of others that attended the rally in Sydney. More must be done. It is so agonizingly simple; keyboard warriors can read and share content such as this; If you live local, attend rallies such as the one on Saturday; if you can’t make it, tell your friends, workmates and family about what, where and when events are happening.
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” – Edmund Burke