At office today, I participated in a 2 hour training on Aboriginal Cultural Awareness. It was good to listen to something outside of work and other than the controversial Gilly innings. Gilly innings is becoming a major topic all around the world and most are positive that ICC would do something about this, if not the credibility of the game is at stake.
Back to the topic of cultural awareness, which really was a new lesson for me and as found out, to most of the non-indigenous Australians. For most Australians, history is that "Captain Cook came to Australia and then British settlers came here and started colonies". But the trainer enlightened us that a lot happened whilst colonising. Aboriginals have gone through so much trouble due to British settling which brought a huge cultural gap.The trainer herself was indigenous, so she told us the real life experiences of her elders. The owners of the land have been treated in a very cruel way during the colonisation process. We are not talking about an unknown long history here, everything happened within less than 200 years! Elderly people who are alive today can remember the situation or have heard from their parents.
There are many natives who have mixed up well with the rest of the community but the majority hasn't. Their education and life quality is far below the others. Mixing up seems to be the major issue, and as I gathered, its mainly because the difference in cultures and value systems. The training session tried to teach us these values and life style of these people. Its nice to know who they are? what they are? why things happen in certain ways? etc.
Good thing today is, they are treated as equal and their ownership of land is acknowledged and government spends money on uplifting their lifestyle. At the beggining of every public speech (presentations, talks, discussions etc.), the presenter has to mention or have a slide to acknowledge that the land that the meeting is held belongs to the aboriginal people. Soon after I came to Australia, I was surprised to see a statement acknowledging aboriginal land ownership in every slide template! That's fantastic! But that not enough, they need to be helped to live in the way they want.
Today, they are considered as citizens of Australia and get all the rights, which had started in 1967, so you would expect the problem to end, but due to the large differences, that process is slow. As my colleagues told me, educational system has not taught them the aboriginal culture. I am not sure whether that happens now, but I think, awareness is important to minimise the gap and bring those people to the good living standards. If not, they don't have the bush they lived, but they also cant do a job for a living because of the lack of education. So, what would be the result? Those results can be seen on streets, natives just wonder around and frequently hear theft and other injustice incidents on news. Sydney riots a couple of years back is a another occasion where cultural difference and lack of awareness came to the fore.
I am happy that I learnt something new and am sharing it with others.