Owning Your Past – Colonial Australia – Part 2

To read part 1 -> Mistakes – Owning Your Past

Continued … Colonial Solutions for Social Problems

StrandedOne of the few institutions of the colonial era that did address a social problem prevalent of the day was Point Puer, at Port Arthur Penal Prison. Young boys and men were seen to be in an insidious position when they arrived into the colony as convicts. Some as young as 9yrs old were exposed to the worst of social constructs, abuse and ill-use as convicts, this particularly in the penal settlement of Hobart Town where the majority of convicts were first sent. This problem of unassigned boys and how to deal with them was considerable .

Unlike the young girls who were quickly assigned for reasons addressed previously, as well as being placed into service as domestic servants, the boys were unwelcome and viewed as a drain on the penal system and so Point Puer was developed. It was no holiday for the young boys and young men but it was a improved arrangement which often gave them skills and training they badly needed. Some of these skills were of course questionable as can be seen in the wake of the bushranging era of the mid-late colonial era… many of these bushrangers were early inmates of Point Puer.

It was however the women who were systematically abused and ill-used for many years as a matter of policy. I wrote an article on ‘To Own a Woman’ that further looks as the abuse of women in our history, which might shine light on the past social practices, which are often today misrepresented to support a particular political view, generally racially orientated.

IMG_1063In regards to our Aussies of Aboriginal descent there is a great deal that is not said.  Too little known in our account of history about the role the Native Police and indigenous people played in the development of our country. The impact the Native Police force had on Aboriginal society and Australian society as a whole is mostly completely ignored. Mostly because it places a very bad light on the Government of the day and the Squattocracy as a whole, who largely controlled or constructed the Government. The practices encouraged and fostered within the formation of the Native Police Force, demonstrated English colonial rule at its most despicable.

Screen Shot 2013-12-28 at 5.35.57 amThe concept of a Native Police Force was a sound concept. Aboriginal Australians, are our first Australians who in colonial times had a different understanding of social constructs. Who would be better to police the tribes than their own. It did largely work well in the early formation of the force in the more southern states where the men were drawn from local tribes.

Unfortunately Aboriginal Australia of the colonial era did not see themselves as a nation and the different nations or tribes often saw themselves in competition, or as adversaries commonly as within traditional practices. The Native Police force devolved into a very effective tool of repression and the men of the force commonly bought their tribal loyalties and fighting cultural practices into the job, to the benefit of the Squattocracy in their grab for land. Today the Aboriginal people see themselves largely as a repressed nation, yesterday they were competing families and tribal groups, competing with each other and the colonists for resources, women and survival in their own ‘Country’.

The Native Police Force became a feared, violent and secretive force within Colonial Australia. They are often portrayed by many people of Aboriginal descent today as being mindless and without any self determination of any kind. This mostly is an attempt to dehumanise the men of the force and blame solely the authorities of the day for the actions of the Native Police Force. That is simply crap. It is well known that Native trackers and men of the bush are without contest the best at what they did, with no comparison found amongst whitefella’s of the day. They were inscrutable hunters, trackers and stockmen who were largely dispossessed of their own ‘Country’ and who were undoubtably seeking to find a place in their changed world. Today our Aboriginal people need to own them… as much as they have disowned them to date.

I have no love of English rule, they were, and often can be seen today to be a brutal and inhumane lot. My ancestors were largely of convict origin and I am very proud of their achievement’s, their struggles and their survival in what was often a very brutal and misguided construct society led by a commonly barbarian colonial government.

The Government did have its good days but what can be done with such a society which was born of such a brutal rule as in the convict transportation for the menial crimes of a desperate social class. One of their worst polices though was the removal and transportation of children across the world and it is heinous. That children were considered convicts is truly amazing particularly in view of the menial crimes committed, those often more about survival in the slums of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. It is equally amazing and truly as heinous as is the removal of children from parents in what is termed ‘The Stolen Generation’ today.

handiesThey are the same thing in my view, a practice born of the same policies. The difference is that the children of the Aboriginal stolen generation have support now and the possibility of returning to their family and ‘country’ if their removal was within reach of their personal history. Not so with so many others of this same policy and practice, including those children removed from their families in the 1950’s such as the infamous case of the Liverpool Children who were sent to Australia without the knowledge of their parents and families.

eyeThe past policies of removing children from parents, be they deemed by the Government bodies of the day as being at risk was a long and common practice for more than two centuries in Australia. One of the biggest fantasies though is that such incidents are relevant only to particular racial profile. As far back as the when the first tent was erected in Botany Bay children have been removed from their parents, it happened under policy to any female convict once the child reached 12 months, long before it was a crime committed against Aboriginal Aussies. It happened to cross-cultural children of the colonial era who had mixed race parents and it happened during and after times of war or social struggle. The reasons more often than not were that in enforcing this policy there was an economic gain for the government of the day. Be that in ensuring a steady labour supply by a convict, or training cross-cultural children to be domestic servants and feeding a social demand usually by the well-to-do or where a labour shortage was growing.

I have also had the privilege of a conversation with a Elder who was a child of the ‘Stolen Generation’ and his account was that it was a holiday on the Bay Islands from which he would return, and again be sent off to on a regular basis. He didn’t realize it was a tragedy. It is often forgotten also that many of the children of this tragic policy came from fringe camps and were exposed to some horrific abuses.

smileHowever a bad policy… is a bad policy. I have a friend of my teenage years who had her child forcibly removed by documents signed by her parents. She was underage, a young mother who bore a child before the Government support of ‘Single Supporting Parent’ payments were available in the late 1960’s, payments that the current government is steadily moving to undermine, creating a new social low in our society.

To this day, this woman suffers each year on the birthday of her baby and her skin is white, her racial profile is European. Why should this make any difference?

Racial profiling, in developing any policy is the problem and it does make a difference. Media attention on any injustice of the past or present, is commonly racially profiled and the practice is ludicrous. What we need to have is some honesty in our historical account to prevent the same misguided policies reoccurring. We need integrity and vision in our media and we need to ditch the racial bias of our society, fighting it in very instance. If a policy is truly worth implementing, then it should be effective across the broad spectrum of society. Anything other than this is racially biased and should be illegal.

We need to ditch the cultural bias of our society and develop a better more cohesive society for our children. We need a better grade of leaders than the party political vampires and supplicants we have today and we need to nurture our society and its children.

How is this for a new years resolution for a country and a nation.

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