In recent weeks considerable angst has been expressed about our public monuments and the potential that we may inadvertently be honouring some figures with questionable morals. We have seen the statues of slave owning confederate generals torn down in the USA and questions raised about our own statues by ABC's Stan Grant, including those of Captain James Cook and Governor Macquarie, and the names of certain rivers and roads.
With this in mind, it is only fair to apply the same standards more generally. So what of the actions and morals of the Elders past and present that we raise on a pedestal at every government meeting? How do their actions compare?
I’d like to begin by acknowledging the Traditional Owners/Custodians of the land on which we meet today. I would also like to pay my respects to Elders past and present.
Here are a few stories about present elders we are paying respect to:
Aboriginal elder hears rape victim statements ABC 12 Jul 2007
The teenage victims of an Aboriginal elder who raped them in exchange for petrol to sniff have told the South Australian Supreme Court that they now suffer eating disorders and sleep deprivation in the wake of their sexual assaults.
Winkie Ingomar, 52, has pleaded guilty to raping three girls in their early teens in Yalata in the west of SA early last year.
Aboriginal elder pleads guilty to child sex charges SMH DECEMBER 7 2015
In the mid 1990s, aged in his late 30s, he'd become obsessed with a teenage girl and for five years subjected her to physical and sexual abuse.
His depraved actions resulted in the birth of two children – one when the teen was a day shy of her 16th birthday, and the second almost a year later.
A third pregnancy in quick succession ended abruptly with a miscarriage at 12 weeks.
Elder's rape sentence to be reviewed SMH September 28, 2005
The Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission plans to intervene in a case in which a judge gave a short jail term to an Aborigine who anally raped and bashed his 14-year-old "promised wife". In an unusual move, the commission will seek leave to appear before the Northern Territory Court of Criminal Appeal to intervene in the interests of the girl, who was promised to the 55-year-old man under Aboriginal customary law at the age of four.
Culture of Denial The Australian March 2007IN 2005 I spent several days in the Alice Springs hospital after falling ill while attending a friend's wedding. I shared a ward with a middle-aged Aboriginal man who was quite proud that he had raped a 13-year-old girl. As he said, "She wouldn't say yes, so I f---ed her hard."
It did not surprise me. A few years before, I was in Alice Springs talking to two Aboriginal men in their early 70s. They were preparing to go into town to buy plastic toy dinosaurs. This was to pay a 12-year-old girl for having sex with both of them at the same time.
To judge the actions of "respected" Elders of the Past, readers are referred to Tony Thomas’s excellent series on Quadrant that some time ago broke the "Great Australian Silence" Stan Grant seems so keen not to comment on:
Part I: Yabbered to death
Part II: A Long Bloody History of Violence
Part III: A Blacked-Out Past
Part IV: When The Horrific Is Mundane
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