THE rejection of the Voice referendum is deeply disappointing, but was predictable from the outset because Australians have believed in their own urban myth that we are a fair go, she’ll be right, tolerant country, for far too long.
The silly myth that we are larrikins like Crocodile Dundee, who happily live in the red dirt, shooting kangaroos and battling with huge crocodiles. We are not!
The ‘happy go lucky, best country on earth’ brand the marketing and advertising people have given our country is far remote from the reality of racism, misogyny and cultural intolerance.
The identity we believe in is not a country that has a strong rejection of Aboriginal people and their culture.
If you believe I am wrong and over the top, ask the coloured people in this country about the regular racism and rejections they have to put up with, ask all those women who are the victims of brutal domestic violence, ask those with an accent, who come to start a new life here, but can’t find a job because they have no Australian experience, even when they have the qualifications.
Australia is a wonderful country, full of wonderful people and full of immense contradictions.
It is a country where many people will go out of their way to help and support others, while many others refuse to educate and inform themselves, and live in blissful ignorance, as the outcome of the referendum shows.
We are a very long way away from a country of equity, respect and equality, when Aboriginal children as young as seven commit suicide, because they believe death is a better future than life.
That reality should shake us out of our complacency and seriously want a huge improvement in the living standards of our First Nations People.
When there still is only a very remote chance for most Aboriginal children of ever making it into university, then there is something seriously wrong with Australia.
When our Aboriginal people on average die eight years earlier than the average Australian, we should know that we have to do better.
For the 41 years I have lived in Australia I have often felt as if I am watching the slow suicide of a wonderful culture and its people.
I have felt enormously powerless to fight the ingrained racism, especially against Aborigines.
I have listened in pubs and shops to the snide remarks about our indigenous people, and listened to the huge ignorance about them and their culture.
Instead of reaching out and trying to connect, many Australians reject and judge.
We live in a country where people will ask if you saw the five obnoxiously drunken Aborigines, while totally accepting the dozens of annoying white drunks who wander the streets of our cities on the weekends, because that’s what we Aussies do.
Many go out to get pissed, and that’s OK, because it is the Aussie way, but only when you are white.
We need to wake up from our urban myth nonsense and start dealing with our reality of cultural intolerance and the fact that a very large number of Australians have very little respect and tolerance for Aboriginal people, and those who are different.
Although I am deeply frustrated, I still believe Australia is a better country than that.
If I did not, and if I did not believe there is hope, I would not continue to live here, but move on instead.
What is desperately needed though, is better education about our First Nations People, and trying to connect all of us, so that we can come together for a yarn, a chat, a bit of friendly banter.
That we learn to appreciate our differences, and come to the realisation that we have so much in common despite them.
As a big Aboriginal man in Fitzroy Crossing said to me one day, “Isn’t it amazing, bro, that we both got red blood and brown shit.”
Yes, and we also all have a heart, that we need to engage more often. What Australia needs is more empathy, respect, compassion and tolerance for those who are different.
The Australian Electoral Commission reports that even in progressive Fremantle the NO vote was 53.24 per cent and the YES vote only 46.76 per cent.