Criticism of Mabo and welfare policies aimed at improving the living standards of Aboriginal people are often mistakenly branded as being motivated by racism. As will be made clear later, this is manifestly not the case with respect to this monograph. The conditions in which many present day Aboriginal Australians live is a continuing national disgrace which demands urgent attention. It is submitted, however, that the Mabo decision does little to advance the needs and problems of the Aboriginal poor and much to retard it. Public controversy surrounding the issue of native title has aroused hostility and misunderstanding of Aboriginal issues when what is required is support and positive action.
From the appointment of the first "protectors" of the Aborigines during the colonial period, government policy towards Aboriginal people has been based on a paternalistic welfare model. The end result, as we see today, is dependency, lack of dignity and deplorable living standards for most Aboriginal people. Historic "welfare" policies, such as assimilation, external in origin, and unilaterally imposed upon the Aboriginal people, have been subjected to harsh criticism by contemporary commentators. There is no reason to believe that the present-day continuation of welfarism will be judged any less harshly.
There is strength and vitality within the Aboriginal community, and, as many Aboriginal leaders realise, the only means by which the Aboriginal people can improve their situation is to participate on an equal footing in society. Policies should be aimed at ensuring equality of opportunity, not at maintaining the outmoded and insulting view of Aborigines as an incapacitated race requiring special treatment.
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