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May 13, 2015
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May 25, 2015

‘Remote Hope’ of hearing the Aboriginal voice as an authority

By Pamela Nathan

Re: ‘Four Corners’ fishbowl journalism does more damage to Aboriginal people’, By Amy McQuire, Opinion piece in New Matilda, May 12th, 2015.

In case you missed it last Monday night, the ABC’s ‘Four Corners’ featured an investigation, ‘Remote Hope’, into remote Indigenous communities in Western Australian and the debate surrounding potential closure of small communities deemed ‘unviable’ by the WA government.

The investigation shone a spotlight on the disempowerment and intergenerational trauma that plagues many Aboriginal communities. It highlighted the problems of urban drift from remote communities exacerbated by the closure of remote communities. However, the resilience of Aboriginal people to ‘walk in both worlds’ and live in small communities that have retained a very strong connection to country still silhouetted through this report clearly.

Yet, as Amy McQuire asserts in her astute review of the program, one of the most disturbing aspects of this report was the relative absence of the Aboriginal voice as an ‘authority’. McQuire states, “by prioritising the views of non-Aboriginal people and acting as if they are guardians of the solution, it again pushed Aboriginal people to the periphery’. 

I agree with McQuire – unfortunately ‘Remote Hope’ again promulgates the ‘problems with Aboriginal people’ according to Whitefellahs.

Think about the particularly disturbing comment by the “representative of the Broome Chamber of Commerce, who doesn’t believe in alcohol restrictions for the town because tourists don’t want to be told what they shouldn’t drink… ‘It’s not the Australian way'”. Why no discussion of problematic alcohol consumption within the wider Australian community?

I urge you to read McQuire’s review – it is an insightful precis of so many of the issues and hypocrisies that permeate discussions, reports and debates about Aboriginal people, which perpetuate their place as somehow separate from ‘the rest of Australia’ and them as inhuman, namely devoid of voices and beliefs worthy of recognition and dialogue.