I often find it shamefully amusing, whenever I hear non-Aboriginals tell others of different ethnicity/race to “go back to where they come from” or “if you don’t like it, you can leave!” … hmm … and where do they actually originate from, how did they come to be in Australia? Again, that so-called convenient memory-loss they seem to suffer when it suits them or their motives.
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.
Before folks start jumping-up-n-down about religious bias or racial preferences and generalised prejudices [note I did not say culture], they should be clear about their own heritage and ancestry.
Generalised and recycled discriminatory & racist points of views without personal analysis, research and substantiation, are far too common here in dear ol’ Aussie-land, unfortunately, in my opinion.
Aussies with mixed-genetic ancestry—mixed-breed mongrels, like myself—cannot [and should not] just jump into one-camp, and then start slamming-all-others, as readily or easily as someone who has less multi-racial genetics running in their “family trees”.
One should be careful not to be seen [or known] as a (racial) hypocrite, whilst slamming those they see as unworthy or lesser—based on racial differences—whilst disregarding their own racial heritage (genetics).
July 1, 2013, my response to this article “What do these blacks want? An education? Send them back to the bush where they belong.” @ The Stringer
…I got to the part where I feel the need to say something … we cannot exclude the role of the acculturated Aboriginals themselves who have all the trappings views and beliefs, aspirations and goals of capitalistic-competitiveness as of the average mr & ms citizen, same goals, same world-view, the assimilated, who play a vital role in the game of status quo, deriding and ignorant of the “ways” they are supposed to be “guardians” of, and are either willing or subconsciously colluding participants in the deconstruction of the essence of Aboriginal society and culture, its spirituality, its “spirit” the Tjukurrpa It-Self … nowhere in the current, contemporary “leadership” is the core of the culture itself “Aboriginality is Spirituality” being spoken of or “protected”
… the rhetoric and vision is not an Aboriginal world-view … “education” is now just preparation for living in the main, it is mainstream, Anglo-Australian values, USA-corporate values, eco/ego-centred … ask them, and see what comes out of their mouths … there can be no compromise between the 2 totally opposite paradigms, world-view and way of life… a spirit-centred culture and “Way” is not an “economic centred way” one is materialism, the physical, the other sees and experiences all life in a totally different manner, a “way” of existence in cooperation with the earth and “all” that is rapidly fading from living memory …
what we have now are the remnants, the bits & pieces, the ill, the corrupted, the dis-eased, and a few left amongst us who truly know and hold dear to their essence, what the majority have lost … a dispirited, de-spirited, and dis-eased body of people and descendants … rolling down the highway of beliefs that we are supposedly creating opportunity for all …
and, as an aside… as a child and as a teenager, I lived with those people in those camps you mention, and I will never forget, ever… how much my ancestors and that side of my family and identity have been belittled and bludgeoned into no choice except join the mob, the sheeple, or die in abject poverty, the poverty of spirit … the disease of the mind and body … let’s not exempt nor excuse or overlook the “saboteurs” within our own camps, the “trustees” of the Prison Warden, the re-presenters of mainstream modern ideology and beliefs amongst Aboriginal rank & file… as the Yanks keep saying, “our way of life” meaning “their way of life” or nothing …
“This white-Australia is a savage nation where it concerns Aborigines, and it won’t change simply because some of our people (Aboriginals) assimilate.” ~ Jim Everett, Koori Mail, 29 June 2011
“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!
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
Chris Graham, 19 July 2009
In late June, the federal government helped launch a paper entitled Bridges and Barriers: Addressing Indigenous Incarceration and Health.
It was prepared by the National Indigenous Drug and Alcohol Committee (NIDAC) and called for new efforts to improve Indigenous health, and thereby reduce Indigenous incarceration.
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, Indigenous affairs minister Jenny Macklin, health minister Nicola Roxon and Attorney-General Robert McClelland all gave the event a wide berth. Which is not all that surprising when you consider it was the Rudd government that this year (and last) slashed Aboriginal legal aid funding despite promising prior to the election to “strengthen funding to Aboriginal Legal Aid agencies”.
And of course it has been predominantly state Labor governments locking up Aboriginal people at record rates since the 1991 Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, a four-year, $40 million exercise that was supposed to reduce incarceration rates. But in the decade immediately after its release, the Aboriginal prison population rose by 107%.
So it’s perhaps logical Labor wheeled out Warren Snowdon, the new Indigenous health minister, and his colleague Brendan O’Connor (home affairs minister) to launch the report.
But Labor’s failings aren’t the only story here. The report had some startling findings, and in the context of the ongoing Mulrunji Doomadgee outrage, and the horrendous death in custody in Western Australia of Mr Ward, I had hoped the media might get at least half as “excited” about the issue as they do when reports emerge of Aboriginal children being sexually abused.
How naive. For whatever reason, black men and women being jailed at astronomical rates apparently doesn’t pique their interest.
The story got a sparing run across the nation, and was restricted in most cases to a breaking news story on websites, courtesy of an AAP yarn.
It included some startling statistics, such as: “One in four prisoners in Australia is Indigenous and their over-representation in the jail system is only getting worse”.
One in four is no mean feat given that in the general population, Indigenous Australians make up one in 40.
And there was this:
”The situation is worst in the Northern Territory , where 83 percent of the prison population is Indigenous.” That’s 83% in a jurisdiction where Aboriginal people constitute less than 30% of the total population.
”In Western Australia , the figure is 41 percent. Victoria has the lowest proportion of Aboriginal prisoners — 6 percent of that state’s inmates are black.” All pretty alarming stuff, but apparently not enough to really capture our attention.
So I thought I should try and “sex” it all up a bit and put the figures in some sort of context that might resonate a little more, which of course required me to read more than the government press release handout.
The following figures come from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
In the first half of 2008, there were 8411 Indigenous people enrolled in tertiary education. At the same time, there were 6605 Indigenous people in prison.
By comparison, for the same period there were about 696,279 non-Indigenous Australians enrolled in tertiary education, while there were 20,072 non-Indigenous Australians in prison. You can do the math … or I can do it for you.
If you applied the same principle to white Australia — that is, the number of people in jail is only about 22% lower than the number at university – our total national prison population would expand to over 546,000 people. That’s a population larger than Newcastle , Australia ‘s seventh-largest city.
Nowhere else on Earth would you see figures where the Indigenous population in jail almost matches the Indigenous population at university.
Indeed, Australia ‘s Indigenous jailing rate is the highest on Earth. But that’s not the most startling “figure in context”.
This one is. The jailing rate of black males in South Africa at the end of the Apartheid era (1993) was 851 per 100,000 population. In Australia today, we jail black (Aboriginal) males at a national rate of 4364 per 100,000. That’s over five times higher. In the Northern Territory , the rate is almost six times higher.
In fact, no state or territory of Australia — not even the ACT — jails black males at a rate less than South Africa under apartheid.
The closest is Tasmania , at 1169 per 100,000 population.
So Australia ‘s “best performer” is still almost 30% worse than the regime considered one of the most racist on Earth.
Our worst performer — Western Australia — jails black males at more than eight times the rate of South Africa during apartheid. With figures like that, maybe it’s not really all surprising Rudd, Macklin, Roxon, McClelland and the media found something else to report.
- Chris Graham is the editor of the National Indigenous Times
- This article was the NIT editorial published on July 9
“… when the ‘mainstream’ majority fails to consider the real needs of a powerless minority, the entire system is weakened. A socio-political system that claims to be a democracy must expect to be judged not by the brightness of its sporting stars but by the wellbeing of its most powerless citizens. … the specific position in which Aboriginal people find themselves is not of their own making. It is the result of two centuries of policies formed in exactly the same myopic way that we are exhibiting today. Non-indigenous Australia makes outcasts of the indigenous peoples and then compounds the disadvantage when they do not comply with our norms. If we really do have good will towards Aboriginal people, we must accept the necessity of their protests …” ~ Tony Smith, The University of Sydney (Sept 2000)