Tag Archives: culture

Don’t be too quick to ‘Recognise’

So-called “indigenous recognition” is just another political ploy—a route to assimilation and equalising of the cultures and minimising any chance of acknowledgement of Sovereignty of the Aboriginals of Australia … and of course putting the matter of the illegality of the Colonial take-over in the 1st place to rest, without consultative Treaties being in place. Aboriginal rights and legitimacy will be “dead in the water”— finally “white-washed” and watered-down, as are many so-called “Aboriginals” these days.

anti-recognise

Also for further reading see/read here…

Cultural Respect, maybe

“The term ‘cultural respect’ refers to the recognition, protection and continued advancement of the inherent rights, cultures and traditions of Aboriginal people. Cultural respect is achieved when cultural differences are respected.”

Source: Australian Health Ministers’ Advisory Council (2004): Cultural Respect Framework for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health 2004-2009 p. 7

IMO: It’s a pity that many in the Aboriginal affairs arena, know the talk, but rarely, if at all put it into practise!

Govt to Shutdown Aboriginal Settlements

This is an earlier news story that I’ve rescued for the record. Much of this has already transpired since the time it was written:

Australia: Labor moves to shut down remote Aboriginal settlements

By Susan Allan, 27 June 2009

The federal and Northern Territory (NT) Labor governments last month unveiled a series of free-market measures that will deepen the poverty and suffering in indigenous communities.

Working Future [another economic driven ploy to disintegrate Aboriginal spiritual culture] announced by the NT government on May 20, seeks, under the auspices of the federal government’s NT intervention, to force the estimated 10,000 Aboriginal people living in some 580 remote “homeland” settlements into 20 special settlements or so-called “economic hubs”. The homeland communities have been defined as “non-viable”.

Echoing both the former Howard government, and the current Labor government, which has adopted Howard’s 2007 police-military intervention as its own, NT chief minister Paul Henderson claimed that his government would end “indigenous disadvantage” by creating “reservoirs of opportunity” in the 20 hub towns.

In reality, Working Future is aimed at clearing the way for mining, pastoral and tourism interests at the direct expense of Aboriginal [culture and way of life] communities. The policy flows directly from the Rudd government’s earlier decision to prioritise 26 indigenous communities across the country for new housing and infrastructure, marking a drive to shut down many settlements.

The homeland or “outstations” movement emerged in the 1970s when small groups of Aboriginal people began establishing settlements on traditional lands in an attempt to escape the social dysfunction, alcoholism and substance abuse prevalent in many camps on the fringes of larger towns. Recognising that this movement could be utilised to ease social tensions and isolate indigenous people from the working class, federal governments granted the settlements minimal funding for basic dwellings.

The NT government will now freeze funding for existing settlements at $36 million and axe grants to homelands not occupied for more than eight months of the year. Homeland residents requiring regular access to health, education and other basic social services will have little option but to leave [and not just their homes].

While the NT government claims it will provide transport to pre-school, primary and secondary schools in the hub towns, scores of remote homeland schools are expected to close. Students who live further away from the hubs will be sent to boarding schools or hostels. The already overcrowded and grossly under-resourced settlements defined as “hubs” will be funded by a miniscule $160 million grant over the next five years. This represents just over $1.5 million per year for each community, nowhere near enough to provide the social facilities required for the anticipated influx of people.

Henderson declared that the hubs would be successful only “if private businesses can get secure tenure on Aboriginal land” [another ploy and condition to over-ride custodial & traditional rights to land]. Private investors, he said, would be given security of land tenure and generous tax incentives. All of the hubs are located on traditional Aboriginal lands and government funding is conditional [economic blackmail, no less] on traditional owners and land councils signing long-term leases in favour of the territory government. The hubs will be run by business managers previously installed under the Howard government’s intervention.

Federal indigenous affairs minister Jenny Macklin [yeh right!] congratulated the NT government for driving “fundamental reform” and then announced that the Rudd government would compulsorily acquire 15 town camps on the fringes of the central Australian city of Alice Springs . Currently managed by Tangentyere Council, a local Aboriginal body, the camps are home to about 2,000 indigenous residents. The camps’ average home occupancy rate is 10 people.

Macklin ordered the acquisition because Tangentyere Council refused to sign over a 40-year lease to the government in exchange for federal funds for new houses, repair and maintenance of existing dwellings, road upgrades and some infrastructure. Decades of government under-funding have ensured that basic social services are largely non-existent in the town camps.

Labor’s acquisition of the camps sends a clear message to Aboriginal communities, including those in the “economic hubs”, that they will receive similar treatment unless they conform to government dictates. [is this another example of Reconciliation on the dominant cultures terms?] Macklin declared the acquisition was not temporary or under a 40-year lease, but “forever”.

Tangentyere rejected similar lease demands from the Howard government in 2006, when residents feared their rents would be raised beyond their capacity to pay and they could face eviction. These concerns increased in February this year when Macklin directed state and territory housing ministers not to spend federal funds on public housing in remote Aboriginal communities until “tenancy management reforms” were implemented.

Major mining, agribusiness and tourist corporations have long demanded unrestricted access to Aboriginal land, an end to communal ownership and a ready supply of cheap labour.

The move to disperse homeland settlements replicates proposals elaborated in 2007 by Helen Hughes from the Centre for Independent Studies, a right-wing free-market think tank. Hughes’s book Lands of Shame called for drastic cuts to Aboriginal social welfare and an end to all government funding of so-called unviable homelands.

Announcing Working Future last month, NT indigenous affairs minister Alison Anderson told the media the government could not “put infrastructure in every community” and previous attempts to “fill gaps with money” had “failed and will continue to fail”. Homeland residents would be taken “out of the welfare cycle” and would “have to get used to it”.

The fraud of the Rudd government’s 2008 parliamentary apology to Aboriginal people for past injustices could not be clearer. Just over a year after officially expressing regret for the removal of previous generations of indigenous children from their families, the Labor government and its NT counterpart are embarking on a program of herding entire communities off their traditional lands.

Working Future has encountered opposition from NT Aboriginal communities, legal rights organisations and medical academics. Many fear that dislocation from the remote homelands will produce more homelessness, petrol sniffing, alcoholism and other social problems.

The Laynhapuy Homelands Association, which manages outstations in Arnhem Land, denounced Working Future as another crime against Australia ’s indigenous population [Aboriginals will do, thanks]. Association official Waturr Gumana told ABC radio: “The stolen generations—this is happening again. People are going to be taken out of their homes and we know what they are doing. The government only wants the dollars from our land. And our kids, our people who will be taken back to the main communities … history is going to repeat itself.”

The Barkly Shire Council, which is directly responsible for maintaining 26 of the 89 small communities within its area, said it could not provide basic services to outstations with capped funding. The council’s chief executive officer Jeff Sowiak told the media: “The council’s belief is that the categorisation of some communities as outstations is just a means of denying people who live there access to basic levels of services, or a lesser standard of service.”

In the face of this anger, sections of the Aboriginal leadership have begun criticising Working Future, including ex-NT deputy chief minister Marion Scrymgour and former federal government commissioner Patrick Dodson, who both earlier participated in its drafting. Scrymgour was in charge of drawing up the plans and commissioned Dodson to hold consultations with homeland residents.

On June 4, Scrymgour resigned from the Labor Party in protest, ending the NT government’s one-seat majority. She told ABC television that the policy was “insulting” and that Labor had “lied to Aboriginal people”. Dodson told the media that Working Future was “not just brutal but a ‘die on the vine’ policy” aimed at “forcing people into the major towns against their wishes”.

The record shows, however, that Dodson and Scrymgour [so-called Aboriginal leaders! hmmm…] have no fundamental differences with Labor’s measures. Dodson has proposed that homelands with more than 100 residents should be designated as communities and serviced to the same level as other similar NT communities. This would still force the closure of many smaller settlements and merely perpetuate the existing under-funding for the remainder. While medical surveys suggest that homeland residents have better health results and lower mortality rates than those living in town camps and urban centres, social conditions remain desperately inadequate for all Aboriginal people.

… If the homeland settlements [and similar cultural enclaves] are finally shut down, this will constitute yet another chapter in the shameful history of dispossession and dispersal [and disease] of Australia ’s indigenous population [Aboriginals]—carried out to clear the land for capitalist [monetary] exploitation.

Source: World Socialist Web Site

Acknowledging Traditional Owners Sign of Respect

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner Mick Gooda has rejected the idea that acknowledging traditional owners is tokenistic, saying it is an accepted mark of respect.

Responding to references by the Federal Opposition leader Tony Abbott, on the weekend that the practice was tokenistic and paternalistic, Commissioner Gooda said such acknowledgements were a statement of fact and critical to the nation’s ongoing reconciliation process.

“The High Court of Australia in the Mabo decision recognised the fact that Australia was occupied when the British came here and that the land (and the seas) continued to be cared for, occupied, utilised and identified as the land of different tribal groups, operating in accordance with their customary laws and traditions,” Commissioner Gooda said.

“It was more than 200 years before the courts finally recognised this fact in 1992 and it, along with the National Apology to the Stolen Generations, has steered us along the reconciliation path that we are still travelling on.

“Acknowledging Traditional Owners is a contemporary and practical way of enshrining the High Court decision in Mabo,” Commissioner Gooda said. “As a nation, we have now moved beyond debating what is a self-evident truth about our history. Acknowledging Traditional Owners is a matter of respect,” Commissioner Gooda said.

Media contact: Louise McDermott on 0419 258 597 02 9284 9851

Australian Human Rights Commission, Media Release, 15 March 2010

Source: Australian Human Rights Commission, Media Release

Aunty Lilla Watson Says

Rock of Ages

“Aboriginal people believe that the spirit child comes from the earth … I haven’t seen this belief about the spirit child in any other culture, even Indigenous ones. We come from this earth; we are born from the earth. We believe that the whole of life is a spiritual experience and that we as Aboriginal people are actually more spirit than matter …

“I really believe that emotions can create chemical reactions in the body. If we don’t face those emotions, it can create sicknesses… So for Aboriginal people, the whole of life is a spiritual experience, and so the whole of sickness is a spiritual process. The spirit can not be in balance if it is out of balance with the body.

If you’re spiritually unwell, you can’t help but affect the whole of your being …See, the impact of colonialism has been huge … we Aboriginal people are spiritual people and we are still recovering because of colonialism …

There’s not a lot of understanding about the part of white Australia because they have this misguided belief that colonialism doesn’t affect them. Of course it does! It’s made them into the people they are today, which mean they cannot hear what Aboriginal people are telling them … Many are trying to run away from their own history … As they get older and more mature , hopefully they’ll have a better understanding … You see, that mouth of the snake… our people has retreated into the belly of the snake. It’s our consolidation of our Aboriginality, a renewing of our identity. Only recently have we begun emerging from the mouth of the snake with renewal and consolidation of who we are …

You see, it’s the white [non-Aboriginal] terms of reference, it’s their misinterpretations that have given definition to Aboriginal illnesses.”

~ Aunty Lilla Watson (acknowledged Aboriginal Elder, Brisbane Qld)

Talk To The Hand !

Was working with a traditional Aboriginal woman the other week. Went to p/u to take home from a “women’s business” program in our local district.

She had her young grandson with her, visiting from the Central Lands area. His English was somewhat better than hers, so I asked if he’d interpret for me where needed as I discussed a few matters with his Grandmother.

He was more interested in listening to the rap music on the car stereo, and when I persisted in asking him what his Grandmother had said, he turned to me, in his american mannerisms and hip-hop speak and said, “Talk to the hand” !

Oh yes, how far we haven’t come, and somewhat saddening to see and hear. (At least for me.)