Monday, December 01, 2008

Advance Notice - failures in Aboriginal policy

In a post earlier today, Blog Performance - November 2008, I said:

Increasingly, the actual writing and publication of posts for my own writing enjoyment and immediate read by those interested is only part of the blogging process.

There is also an update process, correcting obvious errors when I spot them and establishing cross-links, The blogs are also my own reference base for both factual material and past thinking at a personal and professional level. Here I want to consolidate, document and then extend my thinking. Beyond this, there is all the interaction associated with the blogs.

As part of the interaction process, Joe Lane contacted me. He did so in part because I said that I was withdrawing from discussion on indigenous policy issues. Here he gave me the courtesy of reading back through some of my past posts. He found that some of the things that I was saying and especially my focus on indigenous achievement and on the need to recognise indigenous diversity rang true.

Joe and Maria Lane have fought for Aboriginal advancement since the 1970s. Joe said of his wife:

I was married for 43 years to my dear wife, a real fighting Ngarrindjeri, a battler who left school at fifteen to work as an unpaid servant, then moved to Adelaiade to work for years in factories, before she ran her pre-school, and then went on to university as a mature-student, gaining employment at the Uni of SA, and becoming a senior lecturer in charge of Indigenous student support on eleven sites.

Joe has strong views.

A left person himself, he believes that those on the current left have hijacked and distorted the debate. He believes, as I do, that Australian have failed to recognise the diversity in indigenous conditions. As part of this, he believes that southern Aborigines, those living in the south of Australia, are actively disadvantaged by the current debate.

Most of all, he believes that we have all failed to recognise the huge success that has been achieved in indigenous education compared to the time when there was just one indigenous graduate, Charles Perkins.

In writing to me, Joe wanted to preserve and present the achievements of his wife, Maria Lane. I think he feels that our current obsessions discredit the achievements of people like Maria. Yes, and Joe feels this strongly, there have been huge failures. But there have also been successes.

I suggested to Joe that we run some posts setting out the story. He agreed, although I warned him that he might attract criticism for his views.

I have not tried this, a guest post series combining me with others, before. Joe and I do not necessarily agree on all things. But there are things that need to be said.

If this series works, I will try others. This may not be an A-list blog, but it is getting to the point that it can act as a platform for different views.

Even if the series does not achieve quite the results we want, the issues are too important to be left. Here the fact that Joe contacted me when I had given up is very important. If he wants to try, then so should I.

It will take us a little while to get going. Still. I hope that we will have our first posts up later in the week. These will include Maria's paper on indigenous educations successes written in August 2008 shortly before her death.

As I write, the latest Government policy statements on indigenous development are coming through. On the surface. they seem to mirror many of the failures of the past. When will we learn?

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