Butchulla Elder: Racism is a problem on the Fraser Coast

NOTHING HAS CHANGED: Butchulla Elder Uncle Malcolm "Mackie" Burns says racism still exists on the Fraser Coast.
NOTHING HAS CHANGED: Butchulla Elder Uncle Malcolm "Mackie" Burns says racism still exists on the Fraser Coast. Eliza Wheeler

A BUTCHULLA Elder says discrimination against Indigenous Australians is still a problem on the Fraser Coast.

Uncle Malcolm "Mackie" Burns said racism had been an issue faced by the Butchulla people in the region since he was a kid, and was still endured by his people today.

"It's always been here, don't ever say there's no racism on the Fraser Coast because there is, don't you worry," Uncle Mackie said.

"I just went to an appointment with my eye specialist, and I was sitting there and I got asked what I was doing in there by one of the patients, it's still here don't you worry."

Not only has Uncle Mackie felt victimised by racism, but said he would hear other Indigenous Australians tell him what they have gone through in the area.

"They can be subtle too you know like staring at you, or they come straight out and say something like 'black bastard'," he said.

"There's so much they can do."

The Elder's comments follow an investigation launched by the Department of Education and Training (DETE) into claims made by an Indigenous Australian student from Aldridge State High School that a teacher called him a "black boy."

Uncle Mackie said the reason why being called a "black boy" could be offensive to an Indigenous Australian was because it was a label.

"A teacher's got to learn the names of all of his students," he said.

"That's not the boy's name; he just labelled him that way."

The Elder added that there were also a lot of "good people" in the region.

In June this year, the University of Southern Queensland launched their reconciliation action plan on the Fraser Coast which highlighted the university's plans to further provide equal opportunities for Indigenous Students in tertiary education.

In September, the Fraser Coast Regional Council also launched their own reconciliation action plan which outlined its plans to incorporate more of the area's native history into developments and projects.

A DETE spokesman said because the Aldridge State High School investigation was still continuing, the department was unable to comment at this time.

Topics:  aldridge state high school butchulla elder fraser coast racism

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