The Answer to All of Their Problems
Many Australians and members of the international community were in a furor recently as Prime Minister John Howard announced a radical new plan to "improve" the health of Australian Aborigines. PM Howard's plan stems from a recent report surmising that Aboriginal health is completely inadequate and the current, rural Aboriginal community is run rampant with illiteracy, poverty, child abuse, and alcoholism. Howard's solution is to ban all alcohol, pornography, and restrict access to welfare until conditions improve.
Needless to say, many of the Aborigines whom are affected by this scheme were not happy, as no Indigenous Australians were actually consulted when crafting this solution.
Unfortunately, it is true that the Aborigine population in Australia is grossly under served and unhealthy. The most alarming statistic is that the life expectancy for the Indigenous population in Australia is around 65 years old for Aboriginal females -- seventeen years less than non-Indigenous Australians.
There are many factors that have influenced this decay in Aboriginal health. Like the Native American Indians in the US, the Aborigines were victims of an aggressive and brutal imperialism by the European colonists. In the early 1900s, it was decided that Aboriginal children who could pass as white should be taken from their families and raised in white, civil society (see the film Rabbit-Proof Fence). It wasn't even until the 1960s that Indigenous Australians were granted citizenship. Today, their numbers amount to a small percent of the population; many of whom live in impoverished areas or on land reservations (similar, again, to American Indians), and racism targeted at Aborigines runs rampant.
Needless to say, PM Howard's get-healthy-quick solution is probably not going to solve 200 years of violent imperialism, especially when he refuses to admit that the Aborigine population was ever mistreated in the first place.
Howard's hope is that by banning alcohol, alcohol abuse will disappear (because that's exactly what happened during prohibition in the US). Welfare will now be tied directly to a student's attendance in school. If an Aboriginal child misses so many days of school, the parent(s) will not receive as much money from the government. And the ban on pornography will hopefully eradicate children's access to such a demoralising medium and decrease their desire to have sex with each other, while also curbing the sexual abuse at the hands of adults.
Ultimately, instead of redirecting funds to increased education about responsible drug and alcohol use and sex education, or any ounce of community development, the government has decided to just outlaw those things it deems to be contributing factors in hopes of seeing results. And isn't it just typical that pornography should be on that list. Catherine MacKinnon should be proud to know that, despite her long-term failure in other parts of the world, John Howard and his conservative party members still view pornography as one of the principle causes to a population's degradation.
Apparently white Australians know how to handle their porn and booze responsibly since they have absolutely no health or social problems whatsoever.