Mendelssohn, Joanna: Breaking the silence: Australia must acknowledge a violent past

Mendelssohn, Joanna

Breaking the silence: Australia must acknowledge a violent past‘, The Conversation, 7 March 2016

Review of the exhibition, ‘When silence falls‘, at the Art Gallery of NSW till 1 May.

From the northern tip of Cape York to the back woods of Tasmania, from the east coast to the far west and the land in between, oral and written histories of both European and Aboriginal people tell tales of murder.

The author describes some notable exhibits and compares Australia’s official and cultural reluctance to recognise massacres with the more straightforward and honest approach taken in Germany. While official Australia is better now at recognising Indigenous warriors in uniform, Indigenous resistance fighters also deserve such recognition.

Most importantly, places where people are known to have been killed need to be publicly identified and the stories of each and every massacre marked. The great amnesia has served to convince many Australians that we have no connection to the crimes of the past, yet ending the silence and recovering memories is a prerequisite for national healing.

Some evidence that a change of policy is developing at the Australian War Memorial. How they do it in Germany.

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