THE ABC report on the treatment of Aboriginal youths in custody in Darwin has triggered an overwhelming response.
Yet it is the tip of an iceberg that has been growing for decades.
The historic policy of past governments was to gradually assimilate and integrate indigenous people into Australian society. Paul Hasluck in his book Mucking About describes the gradual success of this policy.
In 1967, a referendum overwhelmingly accorded full citizen rights to indigenous Australians. The worst outcome was indigenous access to alcohol.
After 1972, the Whitlam and Fraser governments fully ratified UN treaties on non-discrimination. This prevented State and Federal governments from passing common-sense policies protecting the rights of Aboriginal families, in particular women and children, against violence.
I suggest we initial and not ratify UN treaties. We can then legally provide coupons instead of cash for unemployed indigenous people or in situations where drugs, alcohol and violence are destroying families.
In addition, gradually close down dysfunctional settlements and start to assimilate indigenous children into mainstream Australia.
After 40 years, the present failed system is costing $30 billion a year.
By contrast, in 1971 I visited the racial and cultural melting pot of Southern Africa. Health, housing, education and employment were the best in Africa with South Africa and Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) employing more than 500,000 workers from other countries.