Setting a new goal: to close the gap in our own imaginations

For a nation that’s now majority migrant, it needs to be attainable for brand new Australians of British or Irish or European or Asian or Middle Eastern or African heritage to think about the alienation of First Australians and, importantly, to notice the distinction in experiences. Each new migrant wave faces a model of the next dialog with Australia: our households are too bizarre and our meals is simply too unique for native tastes. But if we allow them to tease us, maybe we might be associates. Our new monarch, King Charles, obtained the tender finish of this welcome throughout his time at Geelong Grammar, when his schoolmates known as him “Pommy bastard”. The then Prince Charles noticed it as a term of affection, which was “good for the character”.

For the remainder of us, the joke doesn’t change into humorous with hindsight; it simply not applies to us as a result of there’s at all times a brand new migrant neighborhood to take our place within the arrival corridor of bigotry.


First Australians have by no means had this luxurious, both the inherited privilege of a monarch to know that he would in the future rule his tormentors, or the acquired privilege of the migrants who realise that this nation can’t prosper with out them.

There is one small straw of hope on this mess of per week. And it’s the willingness of Australians to embrace their Indigenous heritage. Old Australians – those that had been born on this nation, with mother and father and grandparents who we’re additionally born right here – can relate to this growth. Many have fortunately embraced the convicts of their household tree; one thing that might have been unthinkable to Australians a century in the past, after they had been furiously wiping that stain from their white pores and skin.

At the 2021 census, 812,728 Australians had been recorded as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander, representing 3.2 per cent of the whole inhabitants, or 3.4 per cent of the inhabitants the place a rustic of start was said.

Following every census, an adjustment is made for the undercounting of First Australians. That is the determine that got here out this week. It elevated the quantity to 984,002 representing 3.8 per cent of the inhabitants at June 30 final 12 months. I’ve adjusted the newest estimate of the English-born in Australia, primarily based on customised information provided to me, and give you a complete of 967,390 which can be 3.8 per cent of the inhabitants.


While Victoria has Australia’s quickest rising Indigenous inhabitants, it additionally has the smallest, at simply 1.2 per cent of the state. The largest variety of individuals figuring out as Indigenous for the primary time are younger individuals within the rugby league heartlands of regional New South Wales and Queensland.

Here’s the paradox. Melbourne is the primary capital in Australia the place the English-born have dropped to 3rd place, behind Indians, who’re the town’s largest overseas-born neighborhood and Chinese, who’re ranked second. But the English outnumber First Australians in Melbourne, and certainly throughout Victoria. In truth, First Australians wouldn’t even make the highest 10 on Melbourne’s ethnic ladder.

Melburnians have lengthy been thought to be the nation’s most politically progressive. At the 1999 referendum, 17 of Melbourne’s 20 metropolitan electorates voted for a republic when 54.9 per cent of Australians voted to retain the monarchy. Victoria additionally recorded the very best “yes” vote on the 1967 referendum to incorporate Aboriginal individuals within the census – 94.7 per cent in opposition to the nationwide complete of 90.8 per cent.

Is the absence of a shared existence between First Australians and new Australians in a spot like Melbourne one of many the explanation why footy seems to maintain repeating its errors? This is to not excuse the remainder of the nation, or gratuitously condemn Victorians. But if we’re all to do higher, we have to shut the hole in our personal imaginations.

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