Aussie psychologists apologize to Indigenous population for mistreatment

Source:Xinhua Published: 2016/9/16 15:07:27

Australia's leading psychological body has apologized to the nation's Indigenous population for decades of mistreatment.

Director of the Australian Psychological Society's (APS) board Tim Carey acknowledged on Friday the "inappropriate use of assessment techniques and procedures that have conveyed misleading and inaccurate messages about the abilities and capacities of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people".

In the apology made at the society's headquarters in Melbourne, Carey said the APS "sincerely and formally" apologized for its silence in the face of policies such as the forced removal of up to 50,000 Indigenous children from their parents between 1910 and 1970.

"We as psychologists have not always listened carefully enough to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people," Carey said in comments published by the ABC on Friday.

Caey said the society had been too caught up in conducting studies that would benefit researchers rather than the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island population.

The society committed to create "a future where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people control what is important to them rather than having this controlled by others."

"Ultimately, through our combined efforts, this will be a future where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people enjoy the same social and emotional wellbeing as other Australians," Carey said .

Australia's first Indigenous psychologist Pat Dudgeon said the apology was a landmark moment.

"It was beautifully done," Dudgeon told the ABC. "Had you asked me back then in the 80s and 90s, I would never have dreamt that the Australian Psychological Society would have done this."

Early psychological assessments of Indigenous Australians often used Social Darwinism to describe Indigenous people as a primitive race, a practice Dudgeon called "a psychological determination that has supported a racist agenda."

APS President Mike Kyrios said he hoped the society's reconciliation process, which the apology was a major part of, would encourage more Indigenous people to study psychology.

Posted in: Asia-Pacific

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