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Aborigines threaten to shut Uluru

Aborigines threaten to shut Uluru | Geography Education |
Aboriginal leaders threaten to ban tourists from a top Australian landmark in protest at "racist" government policies.
Seth Dixon's insight:

This is an old article, but a fascinating topic that cuts across many geographic issues.  Uluru, the landform that that European explorers named Ayers Rock, was the key place that is at the center of a struggle between indigenous people and the government.  Many feel that the government's course of action in the mid 2000's was paternalistic and racist.  They banned alcohol and pornography in over 70 indigenous communities in an attempt to lower the rates of child sex abuse.  Sex Abuse is high (and often hidden)  in aboriginal communities where a child is 7 times more likely to be abused than in the rest of the Australian population.

Questions to Ponder: Would the government impose such measures on other populations within Australia?  When crimes have a racial component, does a government have the right to limit a particular groups' actions?  Why or why not?


Tags: Australia, indigenous, ethnicity, race, Oceania.

Elizabeth Bitgood's curator insight, April 24, 2014 8:15 PM

This article points out the political and cultural geography of Australia.  The legislation that the indigenous people sees as raciest and painting a picture of them as bad people may lead to their closing off on of Australia’s tourist attractions.

Kendra King's curator insight, April 13, 9:22 PM

I have an issue with the fact this legislation isn’t directly targeting the issue of child sex abuse. Rather the legislation focuses on farther off underlying factor like alcohol (I say this because the article never made a clear link to the use of such substance and the abuse). In a way, I can see why the Aboriginal leader could say it is a racial issue seeing as how their whole peoples style of living is being targeted. Now I am not sure if I would feel differently if the legislation was actually working, but as the article mentioned the legislation isn’t actually having a great enough impact. To me it feels the legislation was really about trying to improve their countries standard of living in regards to life expectancy, etc. Maybe that is because of the way the article read, but really given how indirectly the legislation acts I think there was an ulterior motive.  As such, I am of the opinion that trying to change someone’s way of life (even if it is at their own peril) isn’t right. Inform them if you want, but don’t have such bans because I think the people should be able to choose how they live their life. Unless I see more evidence to the impact of abuse, I say this is just an overreach of power by a modern area.


It seems that even though colonialism ended, the aboriginal way of life is still looked down upon. Under colonial times we learned how most of the colonist went to Africa because it was the "white man's burden" to "civilize". Australia wasn't too different. By looking down on these people, the colonist had no qualm about exterminating entire populations. At least the current leaders judgement of the Abortionist's way of life doesn't put the Abortionists entire life at risk. So it is better than the past, but no by much since the people's way of life is still in subject to constraint constrains that don't match how the society operates. I also think they were looked at in a hypocritical manner here too because alcohol and pron are all commodities sold throughout Australia without the same kind of restriction. 

I do think the life expectancy statistic and issue of child abuse is troubling. If a more supported cause of the problem were demonstrated, I would have to think pretty hard about regulating the society because I am not a huge fan of telling a local population how to live, yet there is clearly something going on that is harming the population.  

Bob Beaven's curator insight, April 26, 4:18 PM

The battle going on in this article is interesting because it is between the Australians of European ancestry and those of native ancestry.  The Aborigine community doesn't appreciate the fact that the Australian government is becoming paternalistic and setting up "racist" laws to fix a problem plaguing their community, child abuse.  It is also interesting to consider that as a response the Aborigines would shut down Uluru (Ayer's Rock) in protest.  The fact that tension exists between the two groups is not surprising however, due to the fact that the whites drove the Aborigines off their land and then put them in reservations (much like the United State's treatment of its Native American Population).  It is a shame that the Aborigines would shut down the tourist site just to teach the government a lesson, in a tourist sense of view.  However, it is also a great threat because it would hurt the pocketbook of the country so to speak and it could make the government change its policies that it is using to fix the problem in the Aboriginal communities.  The whole situation is complicated in my point of view because the problem should be fixed, but it needs to be handled in a way that the Aborigines do not feel discriminated against.

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