Equality. If you’re a straight, middle-class, skilled white guy, you probably think Australia already has it.
And, if your only point of reference for that determination is repeated viewing of A League of Their Own and a vague understanding of what life was like “then,” well, you’re probably fooling yourself. .
While it’s true that modern Australian society offers something closer to equality of opportunity than ever before for people, regardless of gender, sexual preference or skin color, let’s not congratulate ourselves yet.
The most obvious argument against the idea that we have achieved equality is the brutal murder of Perth native boy Cassius Turvey.
The racial undertones of this high-profile case shocked Australia, but the country’s First Nations people are far from surprised.
For them, it is a horrifying manifestation of the discrimination they face on a daily basis.
If you want another example of how inequalities can manifest themselves, consider the experience of Natalie Curtis, a Queensland woman on a Jetstar flight from Singapore to Bangkok recently.
Curtis has been in a wheelchair since high school and one suspect was used to the low-key skill inherent in our society, but was humiliated when Jetstar staff said she would have to pay to use a wheelchair. provided by the company. air to get off the plane.
After rightfully refusing to pay something that everyone believes should be considered a basic right, Curtis was forced to drag herself down the aisle until she was able to access her wheelchair.
Here in WA, we’ve also seen what passes for equality in remote mining sites after a major parliamentary resource industry survey revealed harsh truths about the treatment of FIFO women.
Although the results in each case were very different, the temptation is to see these incidents – the death of Cassius, the humiliation of Curtis and the sexual abuse of the FIFO – as outliers that do not represent our nation’s shared values. .
Indeed, you could easily come to this conclusion based on the ensuing clamor from the general public, the rhetoric of politicians, and years of hard work in education, awareness and action by countless organizations. .
A few rotten apples. A company with governance failures. Wrong place, wrong time.
The fact is that we are ready to make excuses when the most glaring examples of inequality arise in our society, but we are even quicker to fall back into the default position of believing that Australia offers a fair deal for all.
To believe this is to ignore the underlying factors at play in Cassio’s death, or in Curtis’s experience, or what women face in male-dominated settings.
The insidious everyday inequality that too often is buried under our desire to celebrate how far we’ve come.
And, to be honest, we’ve come a long way, but we’ll never achieve true equality until we admit we’re not there yet.