Gerry Georgatos – In the 1970s and 1980s, the various Offices of Multicultural Interests did not majorly employ migrant born Australians nor Australian born children of culturally and language diverse migrant Australians. A sea of White privilege, two decades long, was the firmament of the Offices of Multicultural Interests, while White privilege – the oppressor – waited for acculturated and assimilated Australian born children and grandchildren of migrant parents or grandparents, with non-Anglo-centric surnames to fill positions. So, it is again, with First Nations Australians.
The bureaucracies that make up Prime Minister and Cabinet, Australia wide, that are the engine rooms of the Commonwealth Government, have since Federation, following a century of the ruthless invader and endless barbarities, been driven by the continuum of White privilege, by the oppressor. The White Australia Policy is not dead and buried.
Many times in recent years I have been in the company of First Nations people at meetings with bureaucrats from the National Indigenous Australians Agency, who whether inadvertently or otherwise, patronisingly ask how can the NIAA better work with First Nations peoples.
The National Indigenous Australians Agency is made up of 1,200 bureaucrats, most of them scions of Anglo-centric White privilege. The majority of First Nations people who have scored jobs in this pile of bureaucracy are at the lowest end, with next to no agency or influence. They are mostly workers stationed in town camps and homelands and individuated to the perfunctory; in communities where the sea of White privilege does not want to be.
The National Indigenous Australians Agency, as should have the Offices of Multicultural Interests, should lead by example, and be managed by First Nations peoples, and its workforce should be near all First Nations, in fact thereabouts 11 to one, not the other way around.
Australia has thereabouts 300,000 First Nations Australians of working age. If 1,100 of the 1,200 possible positions, were dedicated to First Nations Australians, then wow, thereabouts one in 300 working age First Nations Australians would be employed in the most influential vessel for First Nations Australians. That’s a self-determining value, reclamation of First Nations affairs, First Nations people leading and working as they so choose with other First Nations peoples, and Brown and White sisters and brothers.
If one in 300 First Nations Australians were to make up the NIAA, that’s influence, voice and reach yet not known and more representative reach of First Nations families and communities. Imagine, eh, First Nations Australians finally formulating policies, representing to the Commonwealth their peoples, the affected representing the affected. Hey, who’d think?
If we’re going to have a National Indigenous Australians Agency, well you’d want it to be First Nations, eh?
The majority of the NIAA should resign their positions and make way for First Nations Australians. If not now, then when?
The CEO of the NIAA must be a First Nations person.
The representatives of the NIAA to every engagement must be skilled First Nations people. There are thousands of highly qualified First Nations Australians.
How is it that the head of the NIAA is not First Nations? How is it that most of the jurisdictional offices of the NIAA are headed by non-First Nations individuals? How is it the majority of the NIAA’s management does not even reflect the demography of the nation, the 3 percent First Nations?
In 1970 there were no First Nations lawyers, but today there are more than 1,000. In 1970, there were no First Nations doctors, but today there are thereabouts 500. Today, there are hundreds of First Nations Australians with high level managerial capabilities. So yeah, seriously, why is the NIAA not led by a First Nations person, why is its management, nationally and jurisdictionally, not 100 percent First Nations? Why is its total workforce, for the purpose of critical self-determining value and concomitantly for other proximal relational values, not predominantly comprised of First Nations people?
The NIAA should stop pretending it is First Nations and actually step it up and be First Nations, as so similarly so should have the Offices of Multicultural Interests actually done the right thing during the 1970s and 1980s. Subsequently there’d be improved relations among all Australians, polycultural intertwining and narratives, respect and love, an authentic Australian identity instead of the racism we continue to languish within, damned by an Anglo-centric oppressiveness that also keeps hostage to the reductive those too of Anglo-centric heritage.
If the NIAA is First Nations led, in entirety, and its workforce with more than ninety percent comprising First Nations people, then rest assured, the reprehensible incarceration rates will be reduced, the tragic suicidality of the impoverished will be reduced, the entrenched abominable rates of poverty will be reduced, the crushing poverty and miseries in much of the remote addressed.
There remains in Australia a hostile denialism to racism, and a misunderstanding of what racism actually is. Racism is the obfuscation of voices and their right to influence, to self-determine. Look at the nation’s media; the majority is delivered by a sea of white privilege – yeah on some media platforms there are Black and Brown faces, but they are usually ‘presenters’, ‘news readers’ and not the hosts of programs.
We all have contributions to make as sisters and brothers, however we are mired in the contrived obfuscations and abrogation that damn us all and drown us in the -isms.
The original sin of racism remains steadfast, and for some of us, whose lifetimes are, say, two-thirds done, the resolutions that our purist selves cry for remain out of reach and the racism immutable.