FROM 1951 to 1954, I was officer-in-charge of the Finke Police District, covering the whole of the Northern Territory from a line 10 kilometres south of Alice Springs to the three adjoining state borders.
The population of the Finke district was mostly Aboriginal. In those three years there was only one criminal offence by an Aborigine — a murder in 1953. There were no other situations among Aborigines warranting official police action while I was in command.
Aborigines then were law-abiding, long-lived and healthy. This is vastly different from the situation today. So what changed?
The policy of protection that was in force until the mid-1960s ensured that Aborigines were able to maintain their ancient culture.
The so-called "reforms" to Aboriginal policy that were introduced in the 1960s assumed that Aborigines were the same as us and should be treated the same.
They are not the same as us. They are different and must be treated differently, as they were in the 1950s.
When I retired, I entered Flinders University as a mature age student, eventually gaining a PhD for a thesis inspired by my contacts with Aborigines.
It is almost too late to restore the policy of protection that safe-guarded the well-being of Aborigines, but I am convinced it is the only policy that did work and can work.
When will we stop killing Aborigines with policies that will not and cannot work?
Dr Tony Kelly, Eden Hills, SA
From letters: http://www.theage.com.au/news/letters/a-lot-more-than-just-letting-off-steam/2007/08/06/1186252623776.html
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