By Colin Tatz
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Additional resources for Aboriginal Suicide Is Different: A Portrait of Life and Self-Destruction
6 per cent of the population, Indian suicides are 5 per cent of all jail suicides. Suicide in Aboriginal societies Why this widespread belief that deaths while in custody were the most serious issue, a belief which I, myself, shared? Briefly, because suicide had been an alien concept in Aboriginal life. In my long involvement in Aboriginal affairs, especially in the Northern Territory, Queensland and Victoria, suicide had not been an issue. It was never mentioned by Aborigines, anthropologists, linguists, government officials, missionaries, magistrates, pastoralists or police.
In practical, physical and legal terms, major changes have occurred since the 1960s: the repressive legislation has all but gone, albeit leaving scars that will take generations to fade; the system by which Aborigines were minors in law, seemingly in perpetuity, has ended, albeit with administrative remnants and relics still intact; the so-called ‘dinosaurs’— the old boss superintendents and managers of institutions called settlements, reserves and missions, replete with powers of physical punishment and imprisonment — have gone; the old prohibitions on freedom of movement, religious and cultural practices have ended.
In the past two years the number of students undertaking Aboriginal Studies in New South Wales has declined: students, teachers and parents tend to shy away from 2-unit subjects in the Higher School Certificate. Strong efforts are being made to recruit students. Particularly, Obstacle Race, and, with Paul Tatz, Black Gold. Sydney Morning Herald, 1 May 1999. Tatz, ‘Aborigines and the Age of Atonement’. My view of the treaty idea, the ‘Makarrata proposal’ as it was known, was published in 1983. I opposed the notion, for reasons which were and which remain cogent.