21 January 2009


Amidst the concerns about the global economy, climate change and ongoing conflicts around the world the inauguration this week of Barak Obama as US President, the first black to hold the office, was a significant moment; a culmination of the civil rights struggle to overcome the legacy of injustice, slavery and segregation experienced by African-Americans and a ray of hope for the future.

The election of Obama has been marked by optimism that the hopes and concerns of many for a better world may be realized. The Avaaz website provides a forum for the expression of those hopes.

Whilst many around the world joined Americans in celebrating the inauguration with renewed hope for a new age of political idealism, the celebration of Australia’s National Day (Jan 26th) will not generate the same level of unity or enthusiasm.

For indigenous Australians the commemoration of the arrival of the first fleet, which marked the beginning of permanent European settlement, is not a cause for celebration, especially considering the continued size of the gap in health, and living standards between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians.

The measures introduced in the last federal budget to Close the Gap give some grounds for hope for improvement but as with the election of President Obama, the real test will be if rhetoric and promise is backed by tangible results.

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