dailyO
Politics

Twitter calls Australian minister Mark McGowan sick for getting speech translated to Aboriginal-English

Akshata Kamath
Akshata KamathJan 13, 2022 | 17:52

Twitter calls Australian minister Mark McGowan sick for getting speech translated to Aboriginal-English

As Mark McGowan shares a Covid message with a translator for Aboriginal communities having low vaccination rates, the video gets brutally trolled.

Mark McGowan, the State Premier of Western Australia, has a big role to play in preventing the Covid spread in Australia. His job involves taking measures to prevent misinformation around vaccination, especially in areas where vaccine rates are low.

One such measure is getting brutally trolled because it has come off as a supremely racist initiative.

Why?

Because it seems that the minister looks at the Aborginals as some "uneducated folk who cannot understand plain Australian English". 

Mark McGowan with his Kriol translator. Photo: TwitterMark McGowan with his Kriol translator. Photo: Twitter

SO, WHAT'S HAPPENING? 

A video of Mark McGowan is going viral where Mark talks about his Covid message and how Coronavirus is a deadly virus and can kill and harm people. His 2-minute-long video also has line-by-line translations by an indigenous elder translator, who is literally interpreting each line in 'Aboriginal English', or the language used by the specific tribe that it is addressed to. 

This fourth video out of a series of videos, is particularly being seen as offensive and insulting because it shows Aboriginal people as equivalent to being children who need spoon-feeding of the 'Australian English' language. Here's the video:   

TWITTER IS FURIOUS, OF COURSE, AS YOU CAN SEE FROM THE REACTIONS 

1. WHEN VIEWED BY ITSELF, IT COMES OFF AS INSULTING 

2. AND CONDESCENDING 

3. BUT THERE WERE PEOPLE WHO SUPPORTED THIS TOO 

4. AS ALL ABORIGINAL LANGUAGES NEED NOT RESEMBLE ENGLISH 

BUT WAIT, WHY IS HE DOING THIS?

Western Australia followed a Zero-Covid policy and kept its borders closed until the vaccination status was 90% for people over the age of 12. But the vaccination rate for indigenious communities in September 21 was less than 7%, which was the lowest vaccine rates in the country. 

Many indigeneous communities hesitated getting vaccinated on account of their religious beliefs and because of rampant fear and mistrust.

McGowan had heard from one Aboriginal person that white supremists were sending information to Aboriginal folks, over mails, that they shoudn't get vaccinated. 

As indigenious communities held strong anti-vaccine beliefs and preferred to die than get vaccinated, this was troublesome for the people in the states, as borders would not open if the vaccine rate was not high enough. Seems like some communities are being forced to take the vaccines. 

SO, WHAT IS THE GOVERNMENT DOING?

To prevent this stagnant low vaccine rate in the indigenous communities, the government funded a ''Vax the Outback" campaign to promote vaccination in remote areas. 

As Australia has about 500 aboriginal communities, The Aboriginal Health Council of Western Australia also launched a campaign to connect over Covid with the communities in their own language, and has posted videos on their Facebook page. Here are the four videos that have been published as on date:

1. Video published on December 21, 2021 was translated into Ngaanyatjarra, for the aboriginal people in the Ngaanyatjarra Lands safe.    

 3. Video published on December 24, 2021 was translated to Walmajarri, for the aboriginal folk. 

 

WHY IS THE FOURTH VIDEO RECEIVING SUCH STRONG REACTIONS?

The first three videos show how aboriginal languages are completely different from English, and have a few common English words. But when a person sees the fourth video (which is the only video going viral) in isolation for the first time, it obviously gives the impression that line-by-line translation is really not necessary. It looks as if English is being translated to accented English, and it seems that Mark and his team is taking a very demeaning stand to assume that this particular tribe is uneducated or cannot understand English.

Assuming aboriginal folks to be uneducated when their language highly resembles Australian English can be a genuine problem. 

Maybe he shouldn't have got the translation in this language, but that wouldn't have solved his problem anyway. But when we look at the intent and efforts behind the same, maybe there is a different story which should be acknowledged? Maybe he chose to do this as a precautionary measure only? 

What do you think?

Last updated: January 13, 2022 | 17:52
IN THIS STORY
Please log in
I agree with DailyO's privacy policy