The Aboriginal dilemma continued


In a previous article, I examined the current status of Aboriginal Australia and commented on the general unbalance between the Aboriginal population and the larger white community. From events I have witnessed and heard in the last few weeks I wish to revise my opinion as the subject continues to intrigue and astound me.

For the past week I have been exploring the Northern Territory, which is the state that occupies the northern central portion of Australia. Spectacular and breathtaking scenery aside, the broad state of the Aboriginal communities greatly contrasts those in Sydney and surrounding settlements in the New South Wales area where I have been mostly staying.

I firstly started in the city of Darwin, the capital of Northern Territory. Aboriginal groups accumulated on the city streets at night begging for money with desperation. Police frequently move them on as begging is deemed illegal, so many sit on the streets banging sticks together in order to evade this rule, claiming that they are busking instead. Opinions were mixed when I asked locals about the Aboriginals, ranging from rational and reasoned arguments to unjustified strong racism. What really disturbed me was how the horribly racist comments were also held by locals from our generation as well as the older generations.

As I travelled from Darwin to Alice Springs, I thought I was going to see similar situations. Alice Springs is one of the biggest tourist destinations in Australia due to its close proximity to Uluru (also known as Ayers Rock), which is regarded as one of the most vital features to visit. Surprisingly though, the Aboriginal community is seemingly treated with much greater respect by tourists and locals alike. An abundant amount of Aboriginal artwork painted by local artists hangs in the numerous galleries in the city centre. Also they appear more integrated with the white community as they wander around in the daytime. Seeing many Aboriginals in the daytime in Darwin was rare, let alone seeing them shopping or queuing up for coffee.

From visiting Alice Springs, I got the impression that the Aboriginal community was more greatly appreciated due to their cultural values and traditions. This might be because of the higher importance of tourism in Alice Springs than Darwin. But, I believe there is much more to it.

When visiting Hermannsburg, a small Aboriginal town outside of Alice Springs, I learnt about the importance of family within Aboriginal communities from one of the Aboriginal elders. Cousins are viewed as brothers and sisters and the younger generations are greatly taught and influenced by the older generations. I understand and identify with this significance of family, as I hope others do too. For the first time, I was able to see a faint similarity between their lives and ours. Perhaps it is the vast amount of differences between the white communities and the Aboriginal communities that cause the majority of the tensions. Thus maybe a possible answer is highlighting such resemblances like those being carried out in Hermannsburg.

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