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Social Work Field Education


Critical Reflection week

After clearly understanding the case scenario of Warlpiri man Kumanjayi Walker, the initial emotions were literally very emotional. It was painful to hear and read the seniors of the Yapa community requesting the courts for a no-guns verdict and to provide justice to their young fells who was shot by the officer Zachary Rolfe. I have read and worked on similar instances of the aboriginal community discrimination, quite prevalent in Canada as well. Even there, the aboriginal people are convicted on a daily basis and no trials are conducted for serving justice to the families of the victim. Rather just like in case of the Walker family, the victim is made the abuser. The court manipulations and the existent racism is clearly a part of this quite fast verdict to clear off the name of the officer Zachary Rolfe.

Such incidents even in case of the Black Lives Matter movement in which George Floyd also was shot by a white police officer. The repeated occurrences of harassments against the aboriginal countrymen have been a point of concern for all the social workers. Through the various news clips and the emotional testimonial of Kumanjayi Walker, Mr. Hargraves a senior of the Yapa community made me drive through multiple emotions of grief, pain and concern for the families of such victims. After understanding both sides of the coin, it was potentially important to reflect on why the court released Officer Zachary Rolfe without any charges. In such cases, as the senior of Yapa community quoted, the official system is more or less biased with the conventional methods and the govenremnt trained police officers, which being true in this reiterated the same fact. The officer Zachary Rolfe was stabbed by the scissor, and he shot three bullets in self-defense. Shooting around three bullets for self-defense is like crossing the boundary and I am sure there has to be a limit to ways of self-defense. Even in the last seconds, the family was not allowed to see their child, which again breaks my heart.

In the whole scenario, it was the victim who was portrayed as being dangerous and wild, whereas his family testimonials suggest something else. Just to reflect I wonder, how can a 19 year old young adult be so infuriating and dangerous for two skilled police professionals that around three bullets were required for self-defense? As confusing this is, a greater picture is that how was the officer Zachary Rolfe cleared from all the murder charges just by defending that his actions were in lieu of the training practice for the police services. These verdicts sound familiar wherein even if the social system and the racial system are acting against each other, the aboriginal and remote communities are left with no option but to suffer. The suffering is not only from the aspect of grief, it is the pain to believe that the cause of racism is their rituals and culture which they have so much respect for. These instances initiate the feelings of anger and aggression in the other children of the community, setting the grounds for negative feelings which may lead to a criminal offense in future.

Even though the family of Kumanjayi Walker was given a trail, but the results were basically futile. Another youngster of the community expressed her anger and concern by stating that Walker was a kind individual, who just loved the animals and humans around and had a lot of respect for his own community. This description does not fit in the molds created in the courtroom. It makes me feel so helpless and devastated knowing the fact that even in that excruciating pain and condition of extreme terror, the deceased neither could see his family members for the last time nor was he taken for medical help. As Officer Zachary Rolfe expressed, the injuries received by Kumanjayi Walker were first degree injuries which required serious help, why weren’t serious actions taken to necessitate the same. It is quite disappointing to know that even in such a small and remote community, the officers use dangerous weapons like guns for self-defense. As has been demanded fairly by Mr.Hargraves, the use of guns should be stopped in Yapa community or for that matter in any community where medical and professional help is not present. Kumanjayi Walker was a 19 year old young adult, whose demise must be so hurtful for the parents and the community. This occurrence has reiterated that racism exists in Australian society as these incidents do not tend to stop. Every other day, there are instances in which the aboriginal and remote communities were tortured or someone from a remote community was killed in manslaughter. It is quite infuriating as well as heart wrenching to understand the condition of the family but one thing which a senior from the Walker family stated, I completely agree with is that police forces and any other governmental force behaves differently in an aboriginal community. The observation is not just on the grounds of this particular incident, but the various other catastrophic and disastrous incidents which have struck only the households of aboriginals. The works of Mr.Hargraves, the senior of the community made me so vulnerable and emotional when he stated that he doesn’t want anybody else to die be it a young fella or a girl. Even just on the basis of humanitarian grounds, this is so heartbreaking that people are discriminated and rather convicted based on their caste, color, race and community. Through all the resource list provided, my emotions were all over the place but consolidating them into one place provide a curiosity to understand the ways in which we as social workers can make a difference in the proceedings of this whole matter. If any of my efforts or anyone from the social worker community can make a difference to resolve such cases of social discrimination, it will be a deed well done and a profession well worked for.

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