gallop speaks "home truths" to aboriginals - about

  1. Yak
    13,672 Posts.
    Premier attacks 'culture of denial'
    By Paul Toohey and Misha Schubert
    August 20, 2003

    IN a direct challenge to indigenous Australia, West Australian Premier Geoff Gallop warned Aboriginal leaders and parents to "get real" and shake off a culture of denial in which events in the nation's history were blamed for their children's bad behaviour.

    The even-mannered leader turned angry yesterday as Aboriginal leaders and families blamed anti-social behaviour among indigenous youth on historic dispossession, after a stolen car crashed and rolled on a Perth highway on Monday, killing Carl Morrison, a 12-year-old Aboriginal joy-rider.

    As indigenous leaders accused the Premier of inciting racism, Dr Gallop said the issue of anti-social behaviour by indigenous children was a national priority.

    Dr Gallop said indigenous child abuse and protection issues would be high on the agenda when the Prime Minister and premiers meet at the Council of Australian Governments later this month.

    "We want all of the states and territories working towards common new solutions. And you're not going to get new solutions while people have blinkers as to what the problems are. Let's deal with the issues honestly and openly instead of trying to pretend there are some historical reasons that justify this behaviour."

    Dr Gallop also defended police for chasing the stolen car, and called for Aborigines to take responsibility for their children.

    "The issue yesterday wasn't about the police chase. The issue was about those youngsters stealing a car and going on a joy-ride when they should have been at school. That's the message that should be sent out by Aboriginal leaders."

    Dr Gallop's comments were endorsed by federal Indigenous Affairs Minister Philip Ruddock, who said they sat "with the message that is coming from many indigenous people themselves, that is you have to deal with substance abuse and take responsibility for your own actions".

    But Aboriginal leaders accused the Premier of insensitivity and politicising the tragedy. Indigenous family violence expert Boni Robertson condemned Dr Gallop's comments for turning "a terrible tragedy into cheap political point-scoring".

    "It's a very sad statement for somebody in his position to make," she said. "It's offensive and racially inciting because it apportions blame to Aboriginal families when the same things happen in white families. You can't blame indigenous parents."

    National Secretariat for Aboriginal and Islander Childcare chairwoman Muriel Cadd said Dr Gallop's comments were "cruel and insensitive".

    "I am surprised and disappointed in him," she said. "We need to work with Aboriginal parents, but we need to strengthen families, not attack them by saying they are turning children against police and making them more violent."

    Dr Gallop reacted to calls to talkback radio, including one from "Delvine", an aunt of the dead boy, who said high crime rates were linked to the past. "It all comes back to (the) stolen generation, when the white people took the black man away," Delvine said. She said Aboriginal children were regarded as scoundrels whenever they stole cars because they were outcasts.

    Dr Gallop also rejected a call by state Aboriginal Legal Service director Dennis Eggington – who said the Premier was at risk of becoming a "black basher" – that police review their pursuit strategy.

    He said he spoke out because Aboriginal children were growing up "contemptuous of the law and the system".

    "These mixed messages that are going out to many young Aboriginal people that I think are confusing them and leading many of them to think that aggressive, offensive behaviour is acceptable. And it isn't."
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