What happened to the Australian fair go? 91



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Elizabeth Farrelly believes the Aussie fair go is dead. In a recent Sydney Morning Herald column, the prominent author asked “what happened to us? Australia used to be the land of the fair go”. She goes on to make some interesting points about domestic violence, institutional child sex abuse, and the treatment of asylum seekers in Australia. Farrelly’s points have got us wondering where you stand.

Last week Farrelly wrote, “increasingly Australian-ness seems to involve the strong beating up on the weak. Rich on poor, male on female, citizens on refugees, priests (and others) on children, white on black, developers on communities, private schools on public, big mining on fragile ecosystems”. She went onto argue that “if we took the fair go seriously, none of these battles… would exist”.

In regards to domestic violence, Farrelly pointed out that 79 women have died violent deaths this year alone. One in three women in Australia have experience violence perpetrated by men, whilst one in five has been stalked. Domestic violence rates are also expected to spike during Christmas, as alcohol abuse and financials stresses surge. As Farrelly points out, this is “hardly a fair go”.

Farrelly also highlighted the plight of child sex abuse survivors, especially as Cardinal Pell has delayed giving evidence to a Royal Commission. “Abuse of a child by a religious leader is an especially profound betrayal of trust”, observed Farrelly before describing other cruel and unchristian responses to the survivors. “A fair go? Really?”, she wrote.

Meanwhile, Australia’s bid to join 47 members of the UN Human Rights Council has been critiqued based on our mandatory detention of asylum seekers. Specifically, critics have taken aim at detaining more than 200 children. “Our adherence to mandatory indefinite detention – is not just immoral but to a significant extent illegal”, argues Farrelly.

“The common ground of all these battles is that single, shared principle, Australia’s founding ideal and primary point of difference; the fair go. Be it brief, humble and colloquial, the fair go is both our true constitution and our closest approach to a bill of rights”, writes Farrelly. She certainly has some contentious thoughts, and we are wondering what your take is.

Is the ‘fair go’ in Australia alive and well? Or have Australians forgotten this important principle?

Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. I feel that many (not all !) Australians have become more self-centered. Many (not all) have a belief that they are better than others, certainly better than anyone not born in Australia. Many (not all) Australians believe that Australian norms and standards are the standards that the rest of the world should adopt, and till they do, they should be measured by these standards.

    10 REPLY
    • I agree with you Berndt Rudiger Olesen I am a fifth generation Aussie but I have also lived over seas coming home to Australia after three yrs abroad was a real eye opener. I was shocked to say the least at the change in most Australians attitudes to basic decency.

    • Rosalind Battles That is exactly, what I am talking about. Thank you, Rosalind. I’m not allowed to have an opinion because I now live in N.Z. ! Only Australians living in Australia count ! And they should really be white and born in Australia ! Gosh, what to do at the next election ? I am obliged to vote, but since I do not live in Australia, how can I express an opinion ?

    • would you like to hear our opinion on New Zealanders? we don’t give one because we don’t live there and anything we know here is second hand knowledge, just like yours is

    • Lee Horrocks I agree and although this is not unique to Australia, it is probably more noticeable because Australia used to be such a welcoming and helpful society.

  2. I could not agree more! I have become so disheartened at the nastiness and vitriol displayed by some members of the community. Then you see a simple act of kindness and feel so much better. The sad thing is all the people living in hate, fear and bitterness are doing more harm to themselves than anyone else could do.

  3. The Aussie fair go is dead buried and cremated, in many ways we have become a nasty country and the Nanny State always looms getting ever closer

  4. Nastiness is an understatement, thugs protesting in the streets seem to have become the norm, the Australia I grew up in was an easy going country, always willing to give everyone a fair go. That Australia is long gone

    5 REPLY
    • I am 6th generation Carolyn Ostrich and I don’t remember these anti Muslim protests generations ago at all, white Australia accepted all races into this country and these same races seem to want to protest about Muslims being here.. not on

      1 REPLY
      • White australia policy! never been a fair go unless you are white and male

    • marching for your rights is one thing, we all marched in the 60’s for everything from woman’s rights to anti Vietnam rallies BUT none us marched to target another race like they are doing now

    • Yes Libbi I remember marching back then for Vietnam they were peaceful even growing up everyone played with each other didn’t mater where they came from

    • Sorry Libby, but thete will always be arséhòles in any country! I welcome everybody to our beautiful country witj opened arms – it’s always been the dickhead minority who get all the publicity! Shame on our media outlets!!

  5. if it is dying there is no need to look any further than multiculturalism as the cause

    5 REPLY
    • Sorry Dave I would have to disagree with you on that, we have always had multiculturalism here and never had the problems we are currently witnessing. There was a time where we didn’t lock doors and men never raised a hand to women, and everyone helped each other because we all respected one and other. It’s seems to me that most people care only for themselves these days and lack respect for everyone else. Yes the fair go attitude is dead.

      1 REPLY
      • When and where was this itopian couñtry?

    • I mostly agree. However the bad was still there even in the 50s & 60s. But it was more hushed up. Not spoken about & even swept under the carpet. With information highway we have now we hear about it almost every day. I don’t think it had anything to do with multiculturalism. Whites are just as bad

    • I reckon there was discontent and disharmony years back, women didn’t get a fair go, Immigrants were viewed as second classed citizen and “were stealing our jobs” I’ve always wondered about the ” fair go” thing, I’ve been suspicious about it, are we romanticising the sun tanned Aussie maybe. But then I realise when in need and in dire straits we come out and give aid I without batting an eye, and the hundreds of volunteers out there doing their stuff without praise, so haven’t given up on us yet.

  6. I can’t see that institutional child sex abuse and domestic violence are anywhere inside or outside the Australian “fair go”. They have nothing to do with being Australian, but simply greedy, angry, undisciplined and nasty pieces of work who take what they want; either abusing a poor child, or abusing a partner for what they consider their right to express their anger. I will give almost anyone a fair go, subject to how they treat those I love, other people and myself.

    3 REPLY
  7. I agree, it’s seems that from the 70ties on the way of Australia changed and not for the better.. Decency, empathy, manners, respect, caring, hard working, concern was taken over by rudeness, disrespect, hate, laziness, racism, money took over and now I look at the youth of Australia and cannot help but fear the once land of opportunity is slowly turn into a quagmire of violence and self pity.. If you listen to children of today it’s not please may I have to IWANT, I want.

    8 REPLY
    • Unfortunately, you find that sense of entitlement everywhere, but I experienced Australia as a very welcoming country with encompassing and extremely helpful people that made me proud to be Australia. Sadly these values are being diluted and that very rapidly.

    • I agree, I thank god my sons chose professions that show compassion, trust and respect that genders or race do not enter there minds even when they experience it In Performing the duties of the jobs they have chosen. It doesn’t stop me worrying but they take it and deal with it.

    • I recently had a look at the names at the recent Cronulla protest I was amazed to see that those protesting had non white anglo names, the stupidity of this is astounding, first the Muslims, then the Asians and down the list it will go till it gets to them, in many ways I think we have imported many of our problems and I am not talking about the Muslims

    • To a degree we have, the thing most ppl don’t realise is that these ppl don’t know how to live in a place where they don’t have to fear. They come from countries that from the moment of their birth they are indoctrinated into a way of life that to us who live in freedom and choice would be a nightmare. Frankly the majority of these ppl are suffering.. It’s like putting a man or woman who is starving in front of a table full of food and telling them to eat. They will eat only to throw it back up because the body can’t tolerate it. It has to be eaten a little at a time. Here they face the same thing. A land that has every thing but no true guidance on how to cope with all they have.

    • I am lucky I am guess, I grew up in a family that treated everyone equally, I am not racist and in my own circle of friends and family I don’t know a single person who is. Australia is an Island, we all need to learn to be tolerant and get along because if there is ever trouble..we have nowhere to run

    • I was brought up in a very multicultural environment, mostly European, different foods, different customs I found it interesting and fun, but then my parents encouraged my curiosity to discover different things. But they also taught me respect, love, honesty, loyalty, manners, compassion and understanding. Yes there are rotten apples in the barrel but that doesn’t mean we have to throw the whole lot out. But these are ideas from a different time and frankly I have no idea what we can do to repair the damage that is happening now in Australia. Back to basics? But how do you put the cork back in the bottle?

  8. That old furphy.

    For survivors there hopefully be a benefit in the way the government has responded through providing GP directed support as so many “miss out” from the much publicly lauded support available and on offer from the many religious groups identified by the Royal Commission.

    Australia is no different to the many other countries where they have been used to provide access to vulnerable children under the guise of a benevolent religion.

    Possibly one of the most devastating understandings coming from recent hearings of the Commission can be accurately as the cream of the Catholic system and its 2,000 year old history together with unlimited funds for travel and formation; include 5 or so years personal development in the best of their education systems and they return an group of individuals 9 points below average.

    Interestingly there is a growing chorus from survivors who are saying that missing out on a range of the toxic teachings was instrumental in their survival. Many describe the bullying buy nuns and family members as these dysfunctional human beings wielded fantastic power over the children and refused to listen to their pleas that they were being sexually abused.

    With two more years to go it is hoped that the Royal Commission will begin to show us some of the reality that has been hidden from us now that it is trauma informed and focusing on the evidence that science has to bring to this issue.

  9. it became stuff you Jack, I’m alright. A product of the lowering of the standard of living, and it will get worse.

    2 REPLY
    • tell that to the thousands of homeless in all our major cities, homeless that are now ten times the ratio they were in 1960. tell it to the people who can’t afford to buy a house, tell it to those that have been thrown out of mental institutions because we can’t afford to keep them. tell it to the chronic unemployed and those over fifty that can’t get work. just because we have more millionaires does not make the country richer, it makes the privileged better off.

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