I sometimes get depressed thinking about the slow pace of social change, but then I’m reminded of how things were back then.
When I was young the White Australia Policy was still in force, the stolen generations were still being stolen, men were only allowed by law to beat their wives once a week and to spare the strap was to spoil the child. Caning in schools was regular and brutal and in the home what would today be considered severe cases of ongoing child abuse were considered a normal part of the proper disciplining of children.
The most insidious thing though was RESPECT FOR AUTHORITY, most often expressed to me as, If you can’t respect the man, at least respect the position he holds.
What this meant was that any child who said anything about any adult was more likely to be punished than listened to and anyone of any age could be ostracised for criticising their social superiors. The result was silence. And within that silence anything was possible. The FitzGerald inquiry exposed some of the official corruption but the rampant paedophilia of the time is taking longer. The larger the authority gap between perpetrator and victim, the deeper the silence.
Back in the seventies it was university students who led the push for reform. Now the mantle seems to have been passed to Palm Island. RESPECT FOR AUTHORITY seems to have worn thin with those most often abused by that authority.