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Aboriginals treated as subhuman: Anderson

AAP logoAAP 12/10/2016 Lucy Hughes Jones

The chairwoman of the Lowitja Institute says in the past 10 years Australian society has been on a moral decline in its treatment of Indigenous people that lacks any decency.

Patricia Anderson, who heads the national Aboriginal health research organisation, gave evidence to the Northern Territory's royal commission into youth detention and protection on Wednesday.

Ms Anderson cited football fans booing Australian of the Year Adam Goodes in 2015, while a supporter threw a banana at Adelaide Crows player Eddie Betts this year.

"Australians are orgasmic about the Maori coming and doing the Haka... but not anything to do with this mob," she told Darwin's Supreme Court.

Ms Anderson, who co-wrote the 2007 Little Children Are Sacred report which was used to justify the Intervention, said Australia's paternalistic attitude towards Aboriginal people means they're constantly undermined and not considered part of mainstream society.

"We can win gold medals or we can be high achievers, actors, poets, painters," she said.

"We can be recognised worldwide but here at home we are still uneducated, undisciplined and dirty."

Ms Anderson said in researching the 2007 inquiry into the protection of Aboriginal children from sexual abuse, she interviewed countless families who shared deeply intimate stories in the hope of finding a solution.

"The government's response was to have the Intervention. This was a huge betrayal," she said.

The federal government's NT National Emergency Response was a package of changes to welfare, housing, and law enforcement, which Ms Anderson says only added to Indigenous trauma.

"It's a further abuse of Aboriginal people and it continues today. We're on our knees here. The last 10 years have just been appalling," she said.

She said a media frenzy followed in which "every Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander man in the country was suddenly a paedophile."

The 2016 inquiry was announced by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull hours after footage of boys being tear gassed, shackled and spit hooded at Don Dale Youth Detention Centre was aired by the ABC's Four Corners program.

Ms Anderson, whose mother was part of the stolen generation, said the survival of Aboriginal people depends on the findings not just being "dropped into a filing cabinet".

"All this country does is talk about black fellas," she told Darwin's Supreme court.

"That's got to stop. We are not going to be here in another 20, 25, 50 years."

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