Quite simply, the answer is that Australians do NOT see Aboriginal Heritage & Aboriginal Cultures as part of their Australian Identity. If we did, then there would be two way learning in this country that is dedicated to the Western Culture and the
Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Cultures (plural). Firstly, all Australians need to know these things:
1. There are over 200 separate Aboriginal Cultures in Australia. These Cultures come from the land that we call Australia.
2. An Aboriginal persons’ identity is linked to a specific tract of land of which they have a bloodline descent connection to dating back 60,000 + years;
3. It is this specific tract of land that an Aboriginal person has special rights and interests in. The moment they leave this tract of land, they become a “visitor” with no rights and interests. These rights and interests are sometimes recognised through the native title process.
4. One special right is the “right to speak” for country. Only an Aboriginal person from that tract of land can speak for that land.
5. The currency for Aboriginal peoples’ is RESPECT. The place to start with any consultation; engagement; or decision-making, is to build respect.
6. Your country is 60,000 + years old. It is NOT 229 years old.
7. This country IS racist because it has only been 42 years since it became illegal to discriminate against another based on race. Further, this country was build on “White Australia Policies”, which sought to destroy Aboriginal Cultures, and as a minimum, “breed out the black” in Aboriginal people that also had English descent.
8. Aboriginal children that had a an English father, if found, were “taken away” or “stolen”.
9. In WA, conditional citizenship rights were available to Aboriginal people with English descent from 1944. If you got your citizenship rights, it was a condition that you NOT interact with any family that did NOT have citizenship rights, and that you NOT participate in or practice your Aboriginal culture.
10. In 1967, over 90% on non-Aboriginal Australians voted for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to finally become Australian citizens WITHOUT condition.
Remember that YOUR AUSTRALIAN IDENTITY includes Aboriginal Heritage & Aboriginal Cultures. If you are proud to be Australian, then you must respect ALL of your identity by learning about Aboriginal Heritage & Cultures.