Australia’s indigenous population faces many challenges. Some of these are disadvantages created through systematic government policy over many decades, including dispossession, genocide, and removal of children. Others are a result of the choices of indigenous people, in response to “white culture” and to traditional practices. In recent years there has been a revival of concern about past abuses. This culminated in an apology to indigenous Australians.
Indigenous people, sampled as a group, are likely to live 17 years less than other Australians. This has been called a “national shame”. Christopher Pearson’s article in The Weekend Australian, “Nanny’s unhealthy regard”, slams this idea. Pearson rightly points out that smoking, alcohol abuse, and poor nutrition are matters of personal choice.
“The first thing to note is that these are all matters of individual choice rather than anything that could remotely be considered an occasion of national disgrace.
“In a pluralist society, the nanny state can deplore people’s lifestyle choices but Aborigines are as entitled as the white proletariat to tell nanny to mind her own business.”
Australians are right to be ashamed of the actions of some of their ancestors. At times with good motives, at times with evil ones, many settlers and government officials of the past abused the indigenous people of Australia. Responsibility must be taken. At the same time, modern Australians must be realistic about the contribution that the choices of indigenous people make to their disadvantage. I’m sorry, but the nanny state can’t make up for that.