Welcome to Australia
This 1999 special report hosted by John Pilger takes a painful look at Australia’s deliberate exclusion of its Aborigines in sports as well as in other areas.
In the year 2000 Sydney, Australia was chosen as the place to host the summer Olympics. It was a time of much celebration and joy as Australians all over the world joined together as one. Yet no one mentioned those Australians who have been excluded from ‘paradise’ and who comprise the group of invisible people—the ones that live in that other Australia.
The previous games to be held in Australia were in 1956 in Melbourne, when national pride was displayed while at the same time they hid a powerful secret truth: there were no natives in the national team because Aborigines were regarded as less than human; they were not citizens and had no vote. Early history books either ignored their existence or compared them to half-wild dogs, mere animals of prey who ate their own species. So while the government was busy projecting an image of civilization, Aboriginal families were being torn apart by policies that promoted a form of slavery. The boys were sent to work as herders in sheep and cattle stations. The girls were sent to ‘training homes’ where they were made into domestic servants and given over to white middle class families.
In the 19th and 20th century, Christian missionaries ran isolated, regimented reserves where Aboriginal children were sent after being forcefully removed from their homes. They were regarded as ‘racially incurable’. Those who had been fathered by white Australians were also separated from their mothers and it was government policy to mate them with whites in order to breed out the color.
It wasn’t until 1997 when the Human Rights Commission published a report that the truth was brought to light. It was estimated that more than 100,000 children had been stolen from their families. The report called for an apology from the government and reparations for the victims. The Prime Minister at the time refused to make a public apology and clearly stated that there would be no compensation.
The conditions in which the Aborigines live is so bad, that their life expectancy is among the lowest on earth.— even lower than most of Africa. Thousands of Aboriginal athletes have been ignored and banished, and denied the right to represent their country in sports. Many of them were many times better than their white counterparts, yet they were not respected as athletes or given the support others received.
When the International Olympic Committee toured Australia, looking at its sporting facilities in order to determine if the country qualified as an Olympic Games host, they were not taken to see the conditions under which Aborigines practice sport. If they had, they would have at least issued a warning to the government and might have never considered Sidney for the final bid. Has any of this changed? Watch this documentary now.