Violence And Its Affects On Australian Society

2277 words - 10 pages

Direct violence is a tragic and horrific part of our daily lives. Brutality, a dominant attribute of violence in societies globally, is highly visible, however, less visible, and as a consequence often ignored as having a connection with direct violence, is the structural violence which comes together in various combinations and does give rise to overtly violent behaviour. Maintained for centuries and embedded in omnipresent social structures present today, structural violence is regularized by institutions, including the law and cultural practice, experiences and societal expectations (Leighton; Du Nann Winter 1999). As stated by Galtung (1969), violence is the deprivation of basic human ...view middle of the document...

The denial of equal opportunity, in the form of economic inequality, is a major attribute of structural violence. Globally, poverty is one of structural violence's most damaging forms, although it is not poverty per se that causes conflict but the unequal distribution of wealth in a society, often managed or mismanaged by powerful elites. In Sydney's suburb of Macquarie Fields, the economic inequality is astounding, due to the escalating social inequality arising from successive governments and their decades of free market policies (Australian Socialist Equality Party: 2005). Poverty is now deeply entrenched: with families earning $300-400 less per week than the Sydney- wide average and unemployment running at 47% (Australian Socialist Equality Party: 2005). For years the police response to the unemployed and or working class youth has been non-productive and based on suppressing any behaviour considered by them as unacceptable. On February 25th 2005 the relationship between the disadvantaged and economically oppressed youths hit boiling point over the death of two teenagers as a result of a high speed police chase, considered to be an unnecessary chase by many, not just those who reside in Macquarie Fields. Years of poverty and little prospect for a better life has given rise to a range of petty, and mores serious crimes, and substance abuse providing fertile ground for some of the worst civil unrest seen in recent Australian history. Youths angered over the teenagers' deaths rioted, using petrol bombs and hurling other missiles at police. The structural violence that has shaped the lives of these youths predictably led to their violent response.Similarly to Macquarie Fields, incidents arose in relation to the discrimination and oppression of the Aboriginal people in the inner city Sydney suburb of Redfern and Palm Island, Queensland. Redfern, like Macquarie Fields is characterized by economic inequality, however the issues are more complex as the majority of the population is Aboriginal. Australia's aboriginals bear the added burden of high levels of racial discrimination; alcohol and drug abuse resulting in violence of various forms including domestic violence; high rates crime, including homicide, and the highest rates of incarceration of any group of people in Australia. There is a positive correlation between the discrimination and oppression in the form of economic inequality and homicide rates (Hansmann and Quigley, 1982: Unnithan and Whitt, 1992. From the time of white settlement Aboriginals have been denied basic rights and have been subjected to discrimination perpetrated by the government through the social institutions including the justice system, through education, health, and the denial of land rights, citizenship and the loss of culture and family structure from policies such as the removal of children from their families. The experience of powerlessness of Aboriginal people and their inability to function in a society as equals...

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