When an idealistic young South African human rights lawyer, fresh out of apartheid South Africa, arrives in the relatively tame Antipodes, what does she do with her talents ? Andrea Durbach (defence attorney in the infamous Upington 25 trial in the mid-1980s) found that Down Under there’s still much to do on the human rights front.
“When I come back to South Africa and see how race is discussed – with such a robust understanding and a thrashing out of all the issues – I realise that Australia has a great deal to learn from South Africa.”
What she’s found on her more recent visits – in between witnessing the full range of South African issues: desperate unemployment; inequality; escalating protests; and brutal crimes – “is that at least people are thrashing out the raw issues related to race”.
By comparison, she says, Australia is a country in deep denial about its serious race issues.