Australia is a country that keeps apologising.
We have apologised for the stolen generation.
We are sorry for what happened to child migrants.
We have apologised for stealing the babies from single mothers and having them adopted out.
Authorities are apologising far too often for yet another Aboriginal death in custody.
Many institutions are now apologising (having been dragged kicking and screaming) for the horrific sexual abuse of children in their care.
We are sorry about the way gay people were treated and it looks like we may soon be very sorry the police did not adequately investigate a spate of apparent gay suicides in Sydney a few decades ago.
We are very sorry, our representatives opine earnestly with suitably solemn looks on their faces.
We must root out the wrongdoers, we must examine our systems and processes.
We must make sure that such behaviour never occurs again. Everybody weeps and metaphorically tears at their hair, rends their garments and piles their heads with sackcloth and ashes.
And then, job done, satisfied with what good people we are, we blithely get on with our lives as if absolutely nothing has happened.
And, given last night’s horrific Four Corners program exposing appalling abuse of (mostly) indigenous children in juvenile detention in the NT, it seems nothing has.
Four Corners revealed the brutal treatment of children in youth detention facilities in the Northern Territory. Post continues after video.
A Royal Commission has been called for and, this morning, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has announced that one will be instituted.
Good. The Royal Commission into Institutional Child Sexual Abuse has done excellent work. A Royal Commission is necessary and no doubt will lead to many more serious faced apologies by the great and (supposedly) good.
However, I think we need a Royal Commission into something much broader than juvenile detention centres in the NT, worthy and necessary though that may be.
We need to explore the nexus between racism and abuses of power in Australia; past, present and future.
Because, let’s not forget, we still have a few thousand (mostly darker skinned) people incarcerated on Manus Island and in Nauru, none of whom have been charged with any crime, given their day in court or had any sentence passed upon them.
No doubt we will one day have to apologise for our treatment of them.