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There are parallels here in the U.S. to what is is and has happened in Australia: mass incarceration of blacks, a minority labeled as rapists, and native lands taken for the benefit of oil or mining corporations.
John Pilger's dissection of the modern status of Indigenous Australians in the "post-apology" world can be preachy at times, and doesn't really offer an answer to go with all of the criticism, but you'd be blind to not receive the message that this documentary is spreading.
The Indigenous population of Australia was all but decimated when European settlers (mostly from Great Britain), and in the years since have suffered from massacres, genocide attempts, stolen generations and a political status as non persons. The issue came to life during the first John Howard ministry in the late 90's and early 00's, and a formal apology was administered by Howard's predecessor Kevin Rudd. However, social issues abound within the Indigenous community to this very day, and government responses come under nearly constant criticism.
This movie highlights the criticism, canvassing views from Indigenous community elders, as well as prominent politicians such as Rudd, Warren Snowden, Mal Brough, and, in archive footage, Howard and Gina Rineheart. As an interviewer, Pilger wears his heart on his sleeve, with his own personal opinion as obvious as any of Michael Moore's. But, the enthusiasm for the topic is infectious, and as a viewer, you go away doubting Australia's self-proclaimed title of "The Lucky Country" is anything but a bald faced lie.
I can't believe this is Australia in 2012 and we still treat Aboriginal people less than human - it's disgusting. I'm glad there have been more programs implemented in cultural awareness.
A shocking expose of the way Aboriginal people have been (and still are) treated in Australia. Everyone should watch this.
Passionate and well meaning, but sadly inconsistent. At its best powerful and important, but at other times muddled to the point of sounding conspiracist. Unfortunately this gives detractors, and Pilger has plenty, all they need to ignore or shout down issues that have to be addressed and resolved. Not a film likely to covert many people, but however flawed it will hopefully raise some awareness and leads to more intelligent questions.
Once again Pilger returns to the theme he will probably and unfortunately never be able to leave behind, how one of the richest countries on earth can have its indigenous people living in such appalling conditions.
But his approach of standing in front of people and asking them the questions 99.9% of journalists seem to not want to ask will never become tired.
In this film he has uncovered that the entire Intervention was based on another of John Howard's lies, a direct lie contradicted by investigations AND the police.
You will need a strong stomach as the film does actually contain footage of people dying in police custody.
Pilger is a National treasure even if I doubt he will ever be offered (or accept) a knighthood.
Compulsory viewing if you live in The Lucky Country.
It intentionally is attempting to prey upon the guilt of modern people, when they are given every possible opportunity in this modern age.
a bleak view of life today for Australian Aboriginal people-some memorably strong people interviewed in the film. in contrast, the politicians interviewed from both sides of politics appeared corrupt, conniving, indifferent, ignorant, self-serving or a combination of all of these.
An interesting academic viewpoint was the Australian gov't of whatever political hue is incapable of solving the terrible social and political inequalities described and that outside aid was necessary- an indictment, but an interesting idea and a possible answer...
It has been an arduos journey for this film to even get shown in the country it is holding accountable for all the horrific ordeals that it depicts. Indeed that goes without saying - it's Australia's dirty laundry after all and there is an all-too-familar stench of suppression/embarrassment of the past amoung the ordinary people in the street in this country. Apathy you may think has alot to blame for the problems in Aboriginal Australia but as this film exposes there is something more malicious at play. There is plenty that will stand out in this brilliant, hard-hitting and honest report on the modern-day plight of the most enduring human entities on this planet, but the one phrase that stuck with me was 'rack 'em and stack 'em'. The phrase was used by a government official responsible for the prisons in Western Australia (the vast majority of which are Aboriginal people, usually arrested for alcohol-related incidents). Many of the stories are moving but for the most part, they are disturbing. People will say that it is just an ex-pat trying to convince people from outside of Australia that the whole country is racist. I've been in this country and have worked closely with Aboriginal people for nearly three years and it is hard for me to argue with that. Pilger could not secure a release for the documentary in Australia, so he had to get it shown somewhere other than here. The London Film Review rated it as one of the best films of 2013. Although it is only now getting a 'tour' around the cities of Australia, you know very well it will get very little publicity if Murdoch has anything to do with it. Sure is it not an affront to the white supremicists governing this country. It maybe that (it's supposed to be!) but it is also an extremely important indication to the people around the world who may have seen The Secret Country back in 1986, that nothing much has really changed. No 'limp 'sorrys' will ever change anything. Throwing money at it won't change anything either. People here still live in poverty and are treated as outsiders in their own country. That's the fucking problem. The mining boom has capitulated the whole situation into freefall. Heritage is increasingly destroyed and links to their incredible past is being dissolved at an alarming rate. Aussie pride mate, aussie bloody pride!
Important topic. Pilger is both interesting and annoying. The most effective thing about the film is that it encourages you to find out more about the topics that it attempts to cover; deaths in custody, health problems, housing issues, the removal of Aboriginal children by child protection services and flaws in the native title system. One of the strongest segments is the critique of the Northern Territory Intervention.
"It examines the lies that the entire "Intervention" was predicated on by the Howard government and in particular the unsavoury actions of Mal Brough, the Minister responsible for Aboriginal policy. It looks at the role of the ABC's Lateline program which interviewed an alleged whistleblower. The alleged whistleblower made some outrageous statements in regard to paedophilia in certain Aboriginal communities. As Pilger advises us, all the studies and reports at the time and subsequently have indicated that this was not true of those communities. This video of Chris Graham, former editor of the National Indigenous Times, analyses the background of the whistleblower and the allegations that were made. The whistleblower was subsequently found to have been a senior public servant reporting to Mal Brough. The allegations that he made were found to be completely baseless and predicated on a series of lies concerning his own knowledge of the issues and his experiences therein." (The Stringer 1/2/14)