~ The Art Of Change ~ with Carol Omer ~

Art and Creativity as Mediums for Empowerment , Connection and Change…

When people we care about express views that oppose our own…

Posted by carolom on August 6, 2007

A good friend and former colleague made a comment recently about how she ‘struggles’ with the public protocol of acknowledging that we are on traditional Kaurna Land here in Adelaide.
My friend went on to express her concern…”how long do we have to keep saying sorry”…”other people have had terrible things happen too”…

Even recalling her comments stirs that feeling inside that we still have such a long way to go before the impact of systemic genocide and the child abductions of the white Australia policy that still resonantes in the lives of many people today is healed and resolved…for some it will never be as they live out their life of disconnection in a void and wilderness of cultural identity and belonging…

Wheras I fully endorse the acknowledgement as a very small step in the Reconciliation process, when I am speaking publically I also add as part of the acknowledgement, that many of the things we are seeking today and have been identified in our current State Strategic Plan… connection , meaning, mental well being, family, community, creativity and envorinmental management…are traditional Aborginal cultural values and practices that kept Australia healthy and well, with clear waters and strogn soil for thousands of years…

My friend and I have shared many special and sacred moments over the years we have known one another, sharing the journeys of homeless women and our personal trials and tribulations and it is a solid connection but I have to admit that I felt myself withdrawing from her and concerned by the views she holds, even knowing that she is as impacted by the negative portrayal of Aboriginal people as many other members of mainstream, middle class white Australia are, didn’t help to shift the sense of ignorance-born-of-‘privielge’ that sweeps across divide between Black and white Australia.

I was going to detail the conversation to demonstrate how someone who works in the area of human services and is a kind and caring person in so many areas, can be so ignorant of the deep impact of the European invasion on so many levels…and how that level of ignorance reflects how early it is in the journey of recovery as a Nation…but instead I’ll share a more forward moving news…
I was thrilled to hear the news that Bruce Trevorrow, a Ngarrindjeri man who was stolen from his family as a little boy and placed in a prison-like institution, will be compensated for the actions of the government and the devastating impact it has had on his life.

$500,000 stolen generation compo awarded
Article from: AAP

By Todd Cardy
August 01, 2007 06:49pm
AN Aboriginal man taken from his family as a baby has been awarded more than $500,000 compensation in a South Australian court, a first for a member of the stolen generation.

Bruce Trevorrow was 13 months old in 1957 when a neighbour drove him from his Coorong family home, southeast of Adelaide, to the Children’s Hospital on Christmas Day, with stomach pains.

Hospital notes tended to the South Australian Supreme Court show staff recorded that the child had no parents, was neglected and malnourished.

Two weeks later, he was given under the authority of Aborigines Protection Board to a woman, who later became his foster parent, without the permission of his natural parents.

He did not see his family again for 10 years.

In June 1998, Mr Trevorrow sued the SA Government for pain and suffering, claiming he had lost his cultural identity, suffered depression, became an alcoholic and had an erratic employment history after being taken as a child from his family.

The court heard the 50-year-old was depressed due to a chronic insecurity and had been treated with antidepressants and tranquillisers since he was 10.

Justice Thomas Gray today ruled in favour of Mr Trevorrow, saying the state falsely imprisoned him as a child and owed him a duty of care for his pain and suffering.

Justice Gray said Mr Trevorrow had had a “tumultuous young adult life” and the removal of him from his family caused injury and damage, which manifested throughout his childhood and adult life.

“I have reached the conclusion that the plaintiff has, thus far, generally had a miserable life,” he said in his findings.

“He does not belong. He feels isolated. His depression has led him to abuse alcohol. This abuse has compounded his problems.”

Justice Gray noted a “level of determination” on the part of the Aborigines Protection Board to ensure Mr Trevorrow and his mother did not have contact.

He rejected arguments from SA Government lawyers that the child was not unlawfully removed from his parents because the Aborigines Protection Board was not part of the government.

The Government was ordered to pay $525,000 for injuries, loses and false imprisonment.

Mr Trevorrow left court vindicated, saying he would pay off his house with the money.

“I thought that we would never get there,” he told reporters outside the court.

“But the day’s come when I’ve got the peace of mind to start my life.”

Rik Morris, a spokesman for SA Attorney-General Michael Atkinson, said the government would read the lengthy judgment and seek legal advice before making a decision on whether to appeal.


4 Responses to “When people we care about express views that oppose our own…”

  1. DjA said

    Perhaps a precedence is set that will not be easily accepted by those who have been indicted directly and by association, that is, those who live-out their lives from within their “position of privilege”, which is, unfortunately the absolute majority of Australians backed-up and enforced by their favoured political representatives, past and present; another current example is the recent dismantling and “mainstreaming” (dare I say “white-washing”) of Aboriginal Housing Authority and its services in South Australia. I think that’s called inter-generational authoritarian decision-making (or transference of “Force” by collusion and inheritance).
    Well done to George and supporters, but oh so many still await for justice to be done in the physical and the actual, and not just by the “spiritual” intending to… implied yet rarely enacted. 😉

  2. DjA said

    PS: Oops, I meant Well done and congrats to Bruce T.

  3. I think one misses the point if one feels what’s being asked for–in Australia, the U.S., or anywhere else–is for people to say they’re sorry for things they weren’t part of at the time.

    The concept that one inherits his father’s sins is fairly outmoded and was repudiated when the States broke away from the U.K.

    Presuming one can realistically apologize for something they did not personally do, something that was, in fact, lone done by the time they were born quite unknowing of it, then to say those words might often be viewed as an easy out.

    We need, I think, to acknowledge the here and now and the continuing lack of partnership that has arisen out of the fact people did not say they were sorry when they, personally, did the wrong things. Saying one’s sorry, like throwing money at it, leads to an out-of-site, out-of-mind approach to one’s brothers. It leads to a refusal to engage peoplein true and proactive dialogues for the betterment of all.

    Saying one’s sorry is too damned easily and usually a discount.

  4. carolom said

    This is the link to the Sorry Day site…http://www.nsdc.org.au/index.php?option=com_frontpage&Itemid=1

    The issue is a complex one both for the legalities of acknowledging a wrong was done and the right to compensation and that, as a Nation, we are prepared to honour the Anzacs, expressing sorrow that so many died, we embrace people whose lives were traumatised by the holocaust and demonstrate our sorrow as a nation by supporting survivors in their healing…but still, 0ver 200 years after the European invasion of Aborginal Land, our government refuses to heed the call of thousands of Australians who wish to publically acknowledge the atrocities of the child abductions and slavery inflicted on the traditional people and formalise the Sorry process.

    It is of course just a word and legislation does not necessarily raise consciousness or put people into the heart space…but in my view, the formal recognition of what has happened, what is too thousands still living history, not ancient, as so many people have not yet come home…is an important link in the cirlce of healing right across the country.

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