Aboriginal Australia Information Deficit Syndrome (AAIDS)

You might be here because you too are suffering from the Aboriginal Australia Information Deficit Syndrome. Millions of Australians do, and a cure seems far away.

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Are you suffering from the Aboriginal Australia Information Deficit Syndrome? Take the following simple test to find out.

Aboriginal Australia Information Deficit Syndrome Test

Name 5 to 10 American Indian nations (tribes): _______________________________________________

Name 2 to 4 black politicians or actors: ______________________________________________________

In the test above you probably knew some American nations—Cherokee, Comanche, Sioux, or Apache, for example. Now, how many Australian Aboriginal nations do you know? Hint: You have 600 to choose from.

How many actors or politicians did you remember? Which countries do they come from? Did you know any Aboriginal Australians?

If you couldn't find a single Aboriginal nation, politician or actor you most likely suffer from what I call the Aboriginal Australia Information Deficit Syndrome (AAIDS). Children infect themselves usually at school to become lifelong sufferers unless they take action later in their lives.

Queenslanders, in general, know more about the great cowboys and Indians of mid-west America than their own land struggles as the state began.

— Tony Moore, Senior Reporter

Schools fail Australians

Until quite recently white Australian students received inadequate schooling about the oldest chapter of the history of their own country: Aboriginal culture.

History lessons started with Captain Cook's landing, brushing over 50,000 years of Aboriginal culture. Few young adults are able to engage in discussions about Aboriginal people, older adults are caught in stereotypes which prevent any dialogue with Aboriginal Australians.

If you are Australian, do you know who Eddie Mabo is? Where would I find Anangu people, where Koories? Did Aboriginal people build permanent shelters? What is the name of the latest successful feature film made by an Aboriginal director?

No information available

But not only schools fail Australians. Australian media eagerly reports the latest Aboriginal binge drinking incident or child abuse case forgetting that the same happens—sometimes worse—in non-Aboriginal families.

Not a single Australian newspaper, printed or online, dedicates a section to positive news about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Their successes, their achievements, their stars in the arts and sport, remain anonymous and distant. Rarely succeeds an Aboriginal person to rise above the mist of exclusively white information to shine in the national, and international, light. Cathy Freeman, Aboriginal athlete, achieved that with her Sydney Olympics 2000 win. But how many know what she's doing today?

Where are the black actors on television, in shows and mainstream feature films? Not only would they help Aboriginal people build their self-confidence, but also non-Aboriginal Australians to learn about and appreciate the talents of their peer minority.

A lot of people in this country are aware of the fact that Aboriginal people are disadvantaged, but so many people aren't aware of just how much.

— Kavyen Temperley, lead singer of rock band Eskimo Joe

Shame and guilt prevent healing

If you are like many Australians you might feel ashamed and guilty about your ancestors and their actions against Aboriginal people.

"I actually think... I've avoided learning about it for too long because the feelings and stories expressed reminded me of my own generational tragedies and pain I didn't want to face," admits Amy, a subscriber of my Smart Owls newsletter.

Even if you don't remember anyone of your family being directly involved, there is a collective unease among Australians to touch the dark chapters of history, own what happened, admit the wrongs, apologise from the heart and extend the hand in reconciliation.

Don't worry if you are having difficulties, Australia's leaders are no better.

Politicians—ignorant and unaware

"I clearly recollect the Prime Minister of Australia, Mr Gough Whitlam, standing before 60 of us Aboriginal people and asking that we tell him what we wanted from his government rather than 'what we think is best for you'. No other Prime Minister had ever made that statement and nobody since, including Kevin Rudd," says Chicka Dixon, Aboriginal activist and humanitarian.

When John Howard, Prime Minister from 1996 to 2007, was in danger of losing office he initiated the Northern Territory Intervention. He justified military assignments with the 'emergency' of child abuse.

It has since been clearly established that the whole intervention, carried on by the next government, was an election stunt not designed to help Aboriginal people at all. It was masterminded to take Aboriginal people's land.

The social, political and economic indicators of Indigenous Australian wellbeing have, since the 1950s, been an acute source of international embarrassment to Australian federal and state politicians.

— The Guardian

In April 2013, the Governor of Western Australia, Malcolm McCusker, said in a speech that "Australia has one of the oldest democratic systems of government in the world, a system achieved without civil war or bloodshed, and which is the envy of many." Sadly, he forgot that thousands of Aboriginal people have been killed while the system was "achieved".

Prime Minister Tony Abbott, self-declared "PM for Aboriginal people", in 2014 first said that "the arrival of the First Fleet was the defining moment in the history of this continent" , forgetting that this moment meant thousands of Aboriginal deaths, as well as the stealing of Aboriginal land, children, wages and remains.

Later that year he said with reference to Sydney, and in the presence of British Prime Minister David Cameron : “As we look around this glorious city, as we see the extraordinary development, it’s hard to think that back in 1788 it was nothing but bush and that the Marines, and the convicts and the sailors that struggled off those 12 ships just a few hundred yards from where we are… must have thought they’d come almost to the Moon.

“Everything would have been so strange. Everything would have seemed so extraordinarily basic and raw and now a city which is one of the most spectacular cities on our globe, and in a country which is as free and as fair and as prosperous as any."

How would that make you feel if you were an Aboriginal person? Would you think Australia was "fair" and "prosperous" for you?

The prospects for meaningful recognition of the land rights, cultural rights, language rights and right to wellbeing of our first peoples, will only be fully realised by a revolution of the Australian spirit.

— Jeff McMullen, journalist

How can you be healed?

Schools, media and politicians failed to recognise that there is a hunger to learn about Aboriginal culture. It is not before people start seeking themselves and research Australian Aboriginal culture that they discover a treasure hidden from them for so long.

Many other nations could be their role model. Besides Australians, this website gets most hits from North Americans, Germans, Canadians, Britons, New Zealanders and French people. Many of these nations have their own Aboriginal minority.

So what can you do to feed your hungry mind?

If you thought that Aboriginal culture waits behind closed doors I have to disappoint you. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are happy to share their culture, knowledge, thoughts and opinions with you.

To cure AAIDS you need just three things: Genuine interest, patience and respect.

I know a woman who has learned an enormous amount about Aboriginal culture in just two years. She participated in Aboriginal events, joined classes and read a lot. She was a sponge for Aboriginal information and became a well-known person within her circles. She is German.

Australians have all it needs to quench their thirst at their doorstep. You can join the Aboriginal crowed on Australia Day, ask questions to the Aboriginal curator at your state's art gallery, buy books written by Aboriginal authors or get DVDs where Aboriginal directors tell about their lives and problems through film.

If Aboriginal people sense that your interest is genuine they open up a whole new world for you.

But don't forget to pay your respect. Drop the 'I-show-you-how-to-fix-it' mentality white people have for far too long applied to their relationships with Aboriginal people. Practice 'deep listening'.

Start your journey here and now

Thank you for reading to the end. I have a passion for Aboriginal people and their culture and spend hours to better and add to this website.

Shake off your Aboriginal Australia Information Deficit Syndrome. Go and speak to Aboriginal people. Ask them how they thought about the apology. Tell them you are sorry too. Tell them you want to learn and you'll put a smile into their heart.

Start here. Start now. Be a healer.

Test your knowledge: How much do you really know about Aboriginal Australia?

Find out in this short quiz.


View article sources (6)

[1] 'Queensland history's hidden warrior', Brisbane Times 3/5/2015
[2] 'Eskimo Joe joins the gap campaign', Koori Mail 523 p.49
[3] 'Only 58% of Indigenous Australians are registered to vote. We should be asking why', The Guardian Australia, 30/6/2016
[4] 'Nation's political bloodshed 'ignored'', 19/4/2013,, retrieved 1/5/2013
[5] [5a] 'Tony Abbott Says 'Nothing But Bush' In Australia Before White Settlement', New Matilda 14/11/2014
[6] 'Indigenous Australia is the true foundation of our multicultural society', Jeff McMullen, The Guardian Australia, 6/8/2015

Cite this page

Korff, J 2021, Aboriginal Australia Information Deficit Syndrome (AAIDS), <>, retrieved 16 June 2024

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