When the people of the tiny Cocos Islands voted in 1984 to become part of Australia, the Cocos Malay residents were promised that they would be able to determine their destiny and control their land. But nearly 30 years on, rather than a united and prosperous community, the locals say they’re being denied a future on their own islands.
Brian Thomson meets some of the white Australians now controlling the Cocos, and the Cocos Malays struggling to find jobs and forge any kind of career. With him is Dick Whittington, on his first visit since he advised on the changeover. He’s shocked by the cultural gap and animosity that have opened up between what’s become the white West Island and Cocos Malay Home Island. So why are the islands drifting so far apart? And how can the tide be turned on what should be a paradise in the Indian Ocean?