It seems that one of the main reasons that Canadian psychologist Jordan Peterson so enrages certain types of people is his uncompromising message of self-responsibility. “Clean up your room!”, Peterson admonishes. In other words, take responsibility for the smallest things in your life, the things you can and should easily manage, and the rest will flow from that.

But self-responsibility is not much in fashion in certain circles these days. Instead, it’s all “the gummint should do something!”: protect us from words we don’t like, test our illegal pills, hold our hands from cradle to grave. “It doesn’t matter what I do,” sang the Proclaimers. “You have to say it’s alright. And I need you to send somebody around to tuck me in at night”.

Why? The song answers: “Because everybody’s a victim”. Nobody more so than “First Nations people”.

A core tenet of Australia’s modern national identity is belief in a fair go. Yet the promise of a fair go is not a reality for everyone in this country. The difference in the life outcomes of First Nations people compared with the rest of Australia is stark.

There is more than just a gap; it is a chasm, a gaping wound on the soul of our nation. Collectively, we need to call this out, be truthful about the failure of governments to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people so that we can chart a new and honest way forward.

How much louder can it be “called out”? From activists to politicians to media, they haven’t stopped banging on about it for decades.

But, a “fair go” has never meant a “free go”. Note how the writer only talks about “the failure of governments”? The rest of the piece sings relentlessly from the same hymn sheet:

A decade ago, governments committed themselves to closing this gap[…]Governments have misled the public[…]governments have been ripping funding from dedicated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander programs and services[…]

Gummint, gummint, gummint! Money, money, money!

The last is completely false, too: commonwealth spending on Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders has risen steadily since the 1970s, with only minor dips along the way. Dips which track almost exactly against overall rises and falls in commonwealth spending.

Australia still spends twice as much per person on “First Nations” people as it does on everyone else.

But, over and over, the only solution presented is “More government!”

Never have leaders of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled peak bodies from across the country come together in this way: to bring their collective expertise, experiences and deep understanding of the needs of our people to the task of closing the gap; and never has there been this level of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representation in parliaments and government decision-making positions.

And yet, still things haven’t improved. Which suggests that more and more government, spending more and more money, isn’t the answer.

In over 900 words, the author says nothing about individual Aboriginal people taking responsibility for themselves. Nothing about giving up the booze and drugs, laying off the women and children, making sure kids go to school. Getting off the government tit.

There are leaders who urge Aboriginal people to throw off the shackles of the welfare mentality. People like Jacinta Nampijinpa Price and Nyunggai Warren Mundine advocate Aboriginal self-empowerment and ending the cycles of dependency and violence.

For that, they are too often demonised and marginalised, especially by the sort of race-baiting activists for whom a lifetime of whining and carping has become a nice little earner, at the taxpayer’s expense.

Something has to change, all right – but it’s not the government.

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