What started as a harmless prank on a local farmer has turned into a huge, controversial controversy in Australia, with the country’s prime minister and a leading religious figure publicly condemning it.
It has also brought the country into the spotlight as one of the first countries to ban the “religious” brooch that has become an icon of modern Australian culture.
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has said the brooch was a “foolish and offensive symbol” and has ordered the Australian Museum to remove it from display.
Mr Abbott said he was “deeply concerned” that the brooches “have become a symbol of the kind of religious bigotry that is endemic in Australia”.
“We have a very strong tradition of tolerance, tolerance, and respect of others and we will not tolerate religious bigotry in this country,” he said.
The brooch originated in northern NSW and was first made in the 1950s by a group of people who thought the brooche was a symbol for the local Aboriginal people, according to a museum website.
“It was made of woven cotton and was given to the people of the region by a local man and given to a number of Aboriginal elders who were interested in using it as a symbol,” the website said.
“The brooched head was worn by Aboriginal people to ward off evil spirits and also to honour and thank them for the protection they gave to them during times of drought and pestilence.”
The head was later replaced with a traditional Australian symbol that has been in use for centuries, but the broookies are now considered an iconic symbol of Australian culture, and have been worn by some of the countrys most prominent politicians.
Aboriginal people in the region have long called for the brockeys to be removed from public display and a community gathering to celebrate the brooners 50th anniversary.
“It’s a symbol that we’ve all been associated with for hundreds of years,” Mr Abbott said.
“We’re not going to let them stand for anything other than their rightful place in our society.”
Mr Abbott’s comments come after a group representing Indigenous Australians on the Australian Government’s Advisory Council said the symbol should be removed because it had been associated in Australia with racism and discrimination.
Dr Richard Smith, a professor of cultural anthropology at the University of Sydney, said the Aboriginal people had been “overwhelmed” by the brocade’s popularity.
“I have seen people in Australia and in other parts of the world say that the symbol is a symbol which is associated with racism, discrimination, homophobia, that it has been used as a political tool,” Dr Smith told ABC News.
“The fact that it’s been made in Australia by a man who is very strongly associated with white supremacist groups and racist groups who are not interested in respecting the views of Aboriginal people is just a very disturbing sign of what’s going on here.”
Mr Smith said he hoped the Australian people would take the issue seriously, but added that the Brooches would be removed and that it was important to understand the broader context.
“When we look at the history of this symbol, it’s not just a symbol.
It’s a cultural and political artefact that’s been part of the Aboriginal peoples’ life for hundreds and thousands of years, Mr Smith said.
Topics:religious-beliefs,federal—state-issues,government-and-politics,april-25,canberra-2600,act,canadaFirst posted March 20, 2021 17:54:24Contact Ashley D’ArcyMore stories from New South Wales