In Arena Magazine No. 82, just on eleven years ago, I wrote about the denigration of Aboriginal homelands in very remote Australia, first by Amanda Vanstone as minister for Indigenous affairs and then by the likes of Gary Johns, then president of the now defunct Bennelong Society, and The Australian’s news media in their conservative editorialising. I challenged these negative depictions of homeland living as being both emotive and ideological. Deep down, I doubted that such discourse, which ignored inconvenient facts about the relative success of homelands, would gain policy traction. Now, with the benefit of hindsight, I see this discursive assault – a form of symbolic violence – as the harbinger of a project to eliminate the lifeways of the people who live on Aboriginal homelands. This process gathered pace with the Northern Territory Emergency Response (NTER, the Intervention), and I now interpret it as genocidal.
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