Of Aboriginal Girls, Police and Rape

Our Daily Lives page presents excerpts of women’s autobiographies, essays, letters, journals, diaries, oral histories and testimony, with the hopes our readers will respond to the authentic emotions and ideas, see a connection to their own lives, and write or email us a note. Women’s Enews will post selected reactions from our readers for all to read.Editor’s Note: When Australia’s Cathy Freeman raced in the recent Olympics, she won a gold medal in the 400 meters not only for her nation but also for the Aboriginal people who have experienced tremendous bigotry and repression in their homeland.This month, WEnews brings you an excerpt from “Snake Circle” (Allen & Unwin, Australia) by Dr. Roberta Sykes, a prominent Australian activist for the rights of the Aboriginal peoples. Here, she recalls a period more than 20 years ago when she was traveling as an education/liaison officer with the New South Wales Health Commission. The events recounted took place more than two decades ago, and some would say conditions have improved. However, WEnews believes it is important to be aware of the past, be alert in the present, and thus prepare for the future.Excerpt from Chapter One of “Snake Circle”:It is 1977, ten years since the Referendum which acknowledged Aboriginal citizenship, but what’s changed?In Wilcannia, I was walking to the petrol station in the main street for a cool drink, when I was joined by a group of five or six young Aboriginal girls from the nearby camp.