Me? Sit down

I am a Gamileraay woman who wants to leave this world better than it was when I arrived but we are going backwards which makes me angry and the result is I have a lot to say and sometime, the truth makes me unpopular.

I am also a suffering optimist, I try to see positivity in things but find that is generally only my family that provides the positivity in an otherwise politically depressing world.

Stick around and nod your head, join the discussion and give me a piece of your mind.

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Sunday, 24 January 2016

Massacres were the tip of the iceberg...

At the outset of invasion of Australia - one intent was clear - that the British were expanding their empire and the Indigenous were merely obstacles. Not people who loved and walked this land since time immemorial.

By 1920 two thirds of the Indigenous population had been eradicated by murder, massacre and targeting them with poison and disease. Thereafter, government policy continued the work of the callous murderers - by removing children, placing them in Catholic camps where they were forced to relinquish their old ways and learn that white is right or face torture.

As you can see the number of massacres highlighted above only scratch the surface but I think the overall message is one of devastation.

A devastation that has only partially been acknowledged, only partially apologised for and none of it has been recompensed in any way.

To celebrate the day that kicked off the attempted eradication of a race says more about you than it does about the race you continue to oppress. 

Always was and always will be....

Friday, 8 January 2016

Why Invasion day?

Consider this; what would we think of Germany if it celebrated a nationalistic celebratory day on the same day each year as the opening of Auschwitz?

Australia - January 26 - the land where we celebrate with nationalistic buffoonery with complete disregard to the Indigenous Australians mourning. Even worse, it is the land where such mourning is not only an inconvenience but is downright offensive to the true blue Aussies who have made this "the lucky country."

It is important for the non-Indigenous readers to note that even under British law, this land was never ceded and therefore, this land was and remains to be stolen in the true sense of the legal definition. The invasion of this land and the events that followed were and are the most devastating in the history of not only the original peoples of this land but the land itself.

There is a tremendous divide between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians despite 228 years of inhabiting this land together and it is never more obvious than on January 26 annually.

This is the date that the Government has declared Australia Day and it has been a nationalistic date of celebration for all things "Aussie" and if you don't like it, you can "go back to where you come from."

But what if you come from here and your ancestors are of this land and there is nowhere else to go because this land holds your cultural identity?

Then, you are expected to be quiet and not make a fuss because this day is not about you - this day is about STRAYA!!

Look, it is clear this day holds tremendous emotion for Indigenous Australians and I am no exception, but I also prescribe by the rule that you can't unscramble an egg. We cannot manipulate time and change what has come to be but that does not mean that Indigenous people ought to be expected to bite their tongues and sit on their hands.

I don't have the power to effect change, I know this. My words are paltry in comparison to those of my ancestors and elders leading the contemporary fight for Indigenous rights but I will write anyway because, even if I only reach one person, that one person makes it worth it.

I know that there is no other day of the year that would make sense for Australians to hold this day. Anyone who knows my campaign for Treaty knows that I have preached that if we were to sign a Treaty, that was ratified with the approval of all Indigenous nations, the date of signing this Treaty would be a momentous occasion in Australia's national identity and THIS day would be a more appropriate day of national pride. I feel that this will be the iconic moment of change that our ancestors have agitated for and it will be a key moment where the national identity changes and becomes more inclusive and respectful. Moreover, it will be an occasion that has come from something positive not as is the case currently where Indigenous people mourn the loss of land, culture and countrymen to the invasion of the British.

The intent of these posts is to reach, to educate and to - hopefully - have some people empathise and understand why this day is so problematic for Indigenous Australians.

Here is the thing; you don't have to hate your country to be empathetic and an ally to your Indigenous brothers and sisters. You don't have to fester in white guilt (for the record I HATE that emotion, guilt is the most useless emotion - turn that shit off and do something useful to address an injustice or wrong rather than having a pity party). You don't have to hate your white ancestors.

You know what you have to do?

After you turn off the commercial television and eliminate all whitesplaining from your mind, you have to do something really complicated;

You simply have to listen and learn and take our lead.

That is all.

We can speak for ourselves, we are actually quite a mouthy bunch with rad ideas but because we don't run with the Packers and Murdochs - you don't really get access to an easy platform where you get to hear what we have to say, but we do have a lot to say.

First, I want to explain WHY January 26 is a day of mourning.

Put simply, it is the day that life as it was known was destroyed. It represents the end of the Aboriginal harmonious co-existence with the land. It represents the onslaught of disease, massacres, murders, rapes, slavery and attempted genocide of our people.

Throughout my posts in the lead up to January 26, I will highlight some of the events in our history that exemplify why Indigenous Australians do not celebrate as non-Indigenous people do. I will start with the Botany Bay murders.

Botany Bay Murders
In 1790, Governor Arthur Phillip ordered the capture and killing of 6 Aboriginal people who resided at Botany Bay. This is the first documented sanctioned killing of Aboriginal people in Australia, however, one year prior there was an outbreak of smallpox that lead to many deaths following the gifting of blankets (a practice mirrored in America when the British gave smallpox infected blankets to the Native American people with similar results).

It was not simply decimation of the people that had commenced, the delicate balance of the environment that was maintained since time immemorial was being utterly destroyed also. Within 6 months of the First Fleet arriving, they had fished to such an extent that there was a shortage and a major shortage of kangaroos and the water was being polluted by their 'civilised' practices of cutting down and demolishing beautiful flora to make way for concrete and gravel.

From this introduction to relations between our peoples there have been over 70 documented massacres of Indigenous people, there has been disease, there has been slavery, there has been the removal and attempted genocide through assimilation of the Indigenous people and there has been little to no attempt by the Government to acknowledge and redress these reprehensible wrongs.

Indigenous Australia has been gravely hurt by the actions of the numerous preceding governments but that hurt is not history, it is being felt now and is ongoing because the wrongs committed aren't history either, they continue.

In the lead up to Invasion Day / Australia Day, I hope you will open your hearts and minds and truly empathise with what this day represents for Indigenous Australia. I will be sharing snippets of history on my Twitter feed which will collectively speak to the atrocious history we have and why this day is, in fact, a day of mourning.

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Racism: perpetrated by assholes but it is everyone's problem....

I am hoping that if you have found yourself to my blog, you're a lefty that detests prejudice and will likely nod along and may even learn something from what I write which will in turn help in your arguments with RWNJ's. If you are a RWNJ that enjoys partaking in racial vilification and hatred, feel free to write a scathing denigration of my views that will be thoroughly ignored and/or mocked.
I digress.
I am writing this post because I have so much emotion stewing through me because of the NUMEROUS racist posts I have seen on social media and it has enraged me, not only that racists exist and consider their views acceptable - but because they are so flagrantly out of touch about the true history of this country and what racism actually is.
Australia has a long history with racism and the racism that has pervaded this land since 1788 has been particularly targeted towards Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from the very first act of racism - the declaration of terra nullius – a lie predicated upon British ethnocentrism.

Terra nullius was a deliberate social construct that was intended to facilitate settlement without regard to prior ownership – theft without redress because the British classed themselves as superior based on their own notions of what constitutes ‘society,’ otherwise known as ethnocentric racism. Some of the white settlers as far back as 1832 questioned the legality of the British invasion of Australia. George Robinson, Chief Protector of Aborigines, wrote;

“I am at a loss to conceive by what tenure we hold this country, for it does not appear that we hold it by conquest or right of purchase.”

James Cook referred to the Natives of New Holland as “some of the most wretched people on earth” in his journal – an ethnocentric viewpoint if there was ever one.

The crux of the racist attitudes in this country are rooted in the long relationship between government and Church notwithstanding the theoretical separation of powers. Australian societal attitudes and behaviour towards Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is borne of the corrupt relationship between Government and Church and their inherent ethnocentrism.

The two together were a force of complete annihilation of that which was culturally and societally deemed inferior, specifically, that the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were savages without the social standards deemed acceptable by the Government or the Church and the two, notwithstanding their false notions of commitment to human rights, waged war upon the Indigenous population, committed massacres, enslaved, introduced illnesses, poisoned and forced segregation of the Indigenous population.

There are many that, when faced with the historical facts of the atrocities against Australia’s Indigenous population, diminish the reality and the trans-generational consequences for the Indigenous population and simply say “it’s the past, get over it.”

But racism in Australia is not a dark (pun intended) history in which we can look back upon with the safe knowledge of having learned from the mistakes of the past; it is alive and well in Australia.

One of the most glaring aspects of racism in Australia is how we deal with questions surrounding what is racism and what is not and, invariably, we have some white commentator on right wing media franchises telling us that a racist comment or action isn’t racist, that it was humour or tongue in cheek and that we are all getting a little carried away with political correctness.
Nothing like having Asshole Blot or Madam Deville telling a black person that they don't have a right to be offended, because "free speech" or "get a sense of humour." Because lets face it, who knows better how to be black than a pair of white people that continue to propagate racial stereotypes from their platforms on the media provided by the very organisations that seek to gain from the denigration of Indigenous people?

Let me make one thing clear; the only people who think it is acceptable to diminish racism to a joke are those who either don’t understand the concept, have colonised minds or are, frankly racist.

By continuing to denigrate race and culture into casually accepted racism, we are missing the point and widening the divide within Australia.

In Australia, there are numerous aspects of our society that are responsible for the continuation of the racism that has been endemic for over 200 years; the media, the government and justice system and families.

The media is obvious. The reporting in the media is so overtly racist that it is obvious we certainly don’t have any standards. A young man does from a coward punch and this is a horrendous reality that amasses a tremendous outpouring of shock and horror and rightly so. But only a few weeks prior, an Indigenous man died in exactly the same way and the mainstream media was conspicuously silent.

Think about the things you see reported about Indigenous people in the media; you will see variations of the following themes:

  • Alcoholism.
  • Substance abuse.
  • Violence.
  • Unemployment.

If you dig a little deeper you will be able to note the stories that AREN’T reported:

  • Indigenous people dying at the hands of authorities.
  • Indigenous people being targeted by police, spending lengthy periods incarcerated awaiting a hearing and then when they are finally acquitted for something that they should never have been incarcerated for – they never have that time back nor is there any redress.
  • Indigenous people incarcerated for things as little as fines, while non-Indigenous counterparts receive NON-CUSTODIAL sentences for killing black children.
  • Police officers going without any repercussions for brutally murdering Indigenous people in custody.
  • How about Indigenous people successfully completing school, university, running a business, representing their people with dignity and pride and keeping their culture alive?

Don’t see those stories on the mainstream media do we? Why?

Because it does not serve the agenda of the powers that be that seek to divide and continue the practice of ethnocentrism that was borne from the church controlling our government (and continues to today).

The government and the justice system are also culpable in the continuation of the racist attitudes that thrive within our society. The government will placate the Indigenous population with token and symbolic gestures but will fail to address the truth of the past, the illegality of the purported settlement and will certainly make no moves to repair the damage of which it is responsible.

Before anyone gets into a flap about the past being the past and the current government not being responsible for past governments, have a think about our tort law system. In our legal system, if someone wrongs another, not only do they receive damages for their loss, but they receive interest on their damages. That is our law and yet, Indigenous people have been overlooked on the issue of damages. In fact, the government has been so consistent in their denials of liability – that they have not even attempted to quantify their responsibility.

The thing is, most people think that the Indigenous people want money, money, money. In truth? Indigenous people want to maintain their connection to land and culture and this cannot be done if the government continues to behave in an underhanded manner, united with mining companies to destroy for profit. This land is not for profit – it is for sustenance of life.

The government is also responsible for the school curriculum which is alarmingly lacking in anything with objectivity when it comes to the Indigenous history of this land and the post-1788 experience for Indigenous Australians. This is something that needs urgent redress and appointing racist curriculum reviewers is the Liberal party’s idea of a review.

The legal system? This is something that enrages me. We have an imperfect system that unfairly targets. We have people within the police force that are intellectually inappropriate and target certain people based on their race, so much so, that racial profiling is an accepted problem within the force. Then we also have those that take their prejudices further by acting upon their racism in the form of racist violence and rather than responding to a CRIME, our system investigates and sweeps such acts of racial violence by authority figures under the rug – thus creating a culture where such behaviour is accepted.

This is not only a problem for the Indigenous population that then intrinsically fears this authority, but it lays waste to the reputation of the law enforcement officers that are genuinely in the job because of their desire to keep ALL of the community safe and treat all with respect and equality.

The legal system? One need only look at the sentencing practices of certain Magistrates to know that personal prejudices play a hefty role in how sentences are handed down. There are also factors such as access to legal representation, quality of that representation and ability of the legal system to address issues of mental health and other physical issues.

Families, particularly parents and grandparents, play a huge role in shaping the society in which we live. The amount of racists walking around spouting their venom? That was learned somewhere and, statistically speaking, it is almost always in the home. Parents and Grandparents that teach children to hate are then unleashing those mongrels onto the world for the rest of us to deal with.

There are many contributing factors for the endemic racism in Australia but the government and legal system, media and families are the most culpable and capable of changing the landscape.

Until they get their shit together, it is going to be up to each and every person that detests prejudice in all forms. Each and every person has a responsibility to call racism out when you see it. To recognise bullshit stereotypes and educate yourselves on the truth and think about what is not being reported on mainstream media because often what is not reported on these pathetic programs is the real news.

Ultimately, we all have a responsibility to not be assholes. It is quite easy:

  • Form a view of a person based only on the content of their individual character and actions.
  • Realise you are one person with a set of experiences, learning and values that shape who you are and you will never approach an issue the same as another, and that is okay. Our differences are an opportunity to learn, not to perpetuate ethnocentric ideals.
  • If someone makes a racist or otherwise prejudiced comment – CALL THEM OUT ON IT. People make these comments because we live in a society where they feel safe to do so because they are the majority – it is time to educate and eradicate these notions of hatred and fear.

Australia’s racism is allowed to flourish because we as a society have elected a government that is fundamentally racist. We as a society have not stamped out racism, we have ignored or denied it to such an extent that it is now eating away at the fabric of decency (however little) that remained in our society.

We do not have a society in Australia, we have an economy. We are expected to be hamsters on a wheel and then consume and then run on the wheel and then consume in the constant cycle without regard to any of the true questions of our lives.

This is why the government, the media and in turn society view Indigenous people as a problem for money to be thrown at and then whinged about when the root problems remain. Fundamentally, Indigenous people are unwanted guests in their own home and that demoralising hurt cannot be cured without understanding, empathy and true understanding of the reparations required to bring about healing; self-determination, treaty and land.
Racism plagues Australia because Australia likes to pretend the past is in the past and that Indigenous people are the 'problem.' Nope - hate to break it to you - the problem lies within the ignorance of the population that sits on their hands and does not demand action from the government to redress the past.
The problem is that there are thousands of people that educate themselves on the history of the country from the likes of Pauline Pantsdown and those Reclaim Australia dickwads and then shout it as gospel.
The problem is that there are people who will rally against mining ONLY when it stands to destroy farmland, but were conspicuously absent from protests when it was destroying Aboriginal land and sites.
The problem is that the past is so vehemently denied that there is no possibility that there will be a bridging of the divide of our peoples.
Racism is not something that us black people have to "ignore," "get over" or "rise above." Nope. It is something that assholes need to be responsible for and need to have consequences befitting a society of 2015.
Until our government pulls its head out of its ass and stops treating citizens like stupid hamsters (and lets face it - a significant portion of the population do a fine impersonation of the government's 'good little consumerist hamsters') - it is up to you and I.
When you see a racist - make it known to them and those in the vicinity that it isn't acceptable. On social media where they are rife, screen shot and go public so people can be made to suffer consequences for their racist comments and rants.
Every little act not only diminishes their platform of hate, but it gives hope to my brothers and sisters in Australia that cop this shit daily. To know that the number of people that have our backs outnumber those that seek to stab us in the back provides us with hope and power that the Australia we are fighting for is already taking shape.
Peace out x


Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Chronic illness and its crippling clutch....and loving through it.

You've seen the memes shared around about chronic illnesses and invisible diseases, maybe you know someone who has one, maybe you suffer from one yourself, maybe you have no idea what it is but you empathise so you'll like or share the sentiment.

The memes? They're true - but how can they capture the essence of what chronic illness is like? How can they encapsulate the numerous types and symptoms? They can't.

Neither can I.

What I can tell you is I have a sister. She is the baby of the family and from birth she has been the cutest kid with limitless life spark and a mischievous side that never resulted in discipline because her cuteness and grin wiped her record clean. 

I remember when she started primary school, my brother and I fought over who got to play with her and integrate her into our friend group because she was just that rad.

All throughout high school we were close, we would hang out in each others' bedrooms and roll our eyes behind our parent's backs together. We would strategise together to ensure we got the takeaway we wanted on lazy nights, con Mum into calling in for a DVD and we would cause MAYHEM in the grocery store. If she's reading this - she will be nodding and laughing right about now.

Things were tough when, at the age of 18 I moved to Sydney for University. My parents were emotional at the big step but I really felt like I was leaving her behind which was the hardest part about pursuing my dreams. I felt like she was my baby because we spent so much time together and I was her confidant. Whenever they visited me at University my sister would stay with me in my little single bed while Mum and Dad stayed in a motel and we would relish in our special bond and talk all night.

Everything changed though.

I was home on uni break 12 years ago and my sister had recently returned from a New Zealand ski trip. She was tired, sore and unable to get out of bed. Most noticeably she was not herself - not my bubbly sister chomping at the bit to spend every waking moment talking my ear off.

I insisted on the doctors when the excuse of travel tired didn't sit well and Mum said she was glad because she knew something wasn't quite right either. When the doctor initially said it was Ross river fever and she needed rest I was an arrogant jerk and disagreed and after more testing - she got the news of being diagnosed with Lupus.

We had no damn idea what it was. No idea what was to follow.

I won't detail the last 12 years of treatments but I will say that she has had chemotherapy numerous times, is on anti-rejection drugs, steroids, high level pain relief. She is in kidney failure and early stages heart failure. Her hair is gone most of the time from chemotherapy and her skin is inflamed and painful. Her joints are that of a 90 year old with rheumatoid arthritis. Of a morning she can barely move and most days she cannot keep her medicine down due to CONSTANT vomiting. Years and years of vomiting. 

Her life is pain - literally and metaphorically. When her friends were paving their paths in life and partying and finding out who they are - she was confined to her home just fighting to be able to continue existing. She wasn't able to study, work, travel or experience the night life many of us take for granted.

The hardest part for all of us that love her is her struggle to keep smiling - after 12 years of fighting and now enduring more chemotherapy - her exhaustion and emotional pitfalls are understandable. Things that may seem trivial like the ability to simply go outside and enjoy a little sun in Summer is out of reach for her because the last time she was out in the sun her body shut down and she went into arrest twice on her helicopter ride to RPA in Sydney. Being able to style her ear length hair that has only started growing back after the last chemotherapy only to feel it coming out in chunks once again.

It would break me, anyone really, but she continues to amaze and inspire me. I love this beautiful human for all of her heart despite the struggles. She is incredible and I am both proud and awed by the fact that she's MY sister. 

A few weeks ago I felt that something was off and prodded until I cracked through her exterior strength and she told me she wasn't sure if she could get through much more. My baby sister was struggling so bad and the thought of this made me physically ache. My partner (who is a god among men) pushed me to get up there and just hold her, and so I did.

My baby sister smiled again and selfishly, I relished in the knowledge that I could bring out her smiles. I didn't do anything special but I was able to hold her, kiss her, massage her and laugh with her. Distract her from the battle and get her on track for more chemotherapy.

It was confronting to see someone so dear so sick but when I saw my Mum and her strength and love that radiates to my sister I about broke. I have no doubt in my mind that my Mum would pull the illness out of my sister and accept it into her own body with a smile if she knew my sister would have some relief.

I never really 'got' it before but as a mother who sleeps beside her own daughter when she has the flu in full blown neurosis - I cannot fathom how my Mum and Dad have hurt for the last 12 years seeing their beautiful baby struggle so.

When I was there I saw the quiet and solid support of my Dad who can sense when my sister needs distraction or a laugh. His comfort and safety is instant - I felt it the moment I sat in his car when he picked me up - the ultimate protector of the family - unable to protect his baby from this dreadful disease. Imagine the pain he has to endure because of this helplessness - it's not his fault but there is nothing he can do to help her medically and that is a struggle for such a strong Dad to ensure. I saw the warrior woman that my Mum is; she cares for my sister so diligently and lovingly that I stared in wonder. She had to inject my sister a few times during my visit to ease her vomiting and even though I could see in her eyes how badly it pained her to stick a needle into her daughter, she struggled through it to provide relief.

I can see how deep and consuming Mum's love for my sister is. It is tough, she will never ever admit the toll it's has taken on her nerves and psyche to see her chronically ill daughter battle for the last 12 years but those who know her closely can see. There is a fragility in my Mum now that I can only see in the smallest windows of time because she bravely hides her own feelings to protect others and care for others but when I see it - it strikes me in the gut.

These two women who I have laughed with, laughed at, fought with and screamed at, cooked with, cleaned with, danced with and smiled with are powerhouses.

Their lives have irreversibly been altered by a disease so insidious that it kills everything healthy slowly and painfully and removes joy from the lives of the sufferers who simply dream of a day, hour or even a minute without pain.

Chronic illness changes people - it changes families.

Chronic illness is not understood by those who aren't in the trenches with it.

Chronic illness is a lifetime on the sidelines, battling for moments. A life not lived but endured.

The sufferers and their families are fucking warriors and I want to use these words to tell you of my love for you all, my respect for your fight and my wish that more people learn about chronic illness and urge our government to re-invigorate medical research funding so it is not so heavily reliant on private donations.

To my Mum, Dad and Sister - I love you more than I am ever say and wish I had one drop of your strength xxxx

Sunday, 2 August 2015

Indigenous Advisors? Maybe. Indigenous leaders? No.

An Indigenous Affairs advisor to Tony Abbott recently had to issue an apology following his poor taste costume to an American themed event – his choice – a Confederate flag shirt.

Unless you have been living under a rock or are a culturally sheltered white affluent right wing Australian, you would know that the Confederate flag is used by white supremacist hate groups in America in much the same way the Southern Cross flag was used by those in the race riots at Cronulla in 2005. Put simply, to wear this flag as a shirt at all, let alone in the cultural climate post black massacre in the U.S., you are either at the zenith of human stupidity or a blatant racist; either way, you certainly should not hold a senior position advising the government on matters of race.

This begs the question: what qualifies a person to be an Indigenous Adviser in Australia under the Abbott Government? Is there a criteria?

The Indigenous Affairs Minister, Nigel Scullion, was born in England, arrived in Australia in his teens and only just prior to becoming elected to the Australian Senate in 2001 did he relinquish his dual citizenship. A white Englishman entrusted with a portfolio of responsibility affecting the most marginalised population in Australia for 227 years. The Indigenous population marginalised by his mother country. Appropriate? Apparently so.

Perhaps I am being unfair? Surely there are some Indigenous people that get to have a say? Isn't there?

Of course there is.

Tony Abbott announced the formation of the Indigenous Advisory Council in September 2013 when he appointed – yes, you guessed it – Warren Mundine as chairman.
Warren Mundine’s appointment in this capacity sets the tone of how this government approaches Indigenous affairs in this country — a continuation of patriarchal colonialism.
Tony Abbott appointed someone who he knew would tell him what he wanted to hear in order to invoke policies that he intended to all along. Warren Mundine has been heavily criticised by the Indigenous community, particularly by his own family and community. Yet he was still appointed because he fits the mould of what Tony Abbott wants in an Indigenous advisor – he is a right wing Christian who has the same economic ideologies and a most colonial mindset on the topic of Indigenous communities, given his support of funding cuts and a push for policies that continue to demonise Indigenous people as bad parents and welfare dependents.

Even when Tony Abbott said the most vile and racially offensive things, his pal Warren could be counted on to smooth things over and make it look to mainstream media subscribers (Indigenous and left wing community knew better) that Tony Abbott was just a clumsily worded larrikin whose heart is in the right place. But when those who dare speak in support of Tony Abbott keeping his promise to Indigenous people call him out on it, he turns on the charm and calls them racist.

Warren Mundine personifies what is wrong with Indigenous Affairs in this country. The Indigenous community, by and large, do not support him or his ideas and he is aware of this. Yet, he still goes against the needs and wants of his community to speak on issues that he has no authority to, which is a continuation of patriarchal condescension of the Englishman at the helm.

The board that Warren Mundine chairs comprises Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians who advise Tony Abbott on Indigenous issues but they were careful in stating that the Council is not representative of anyone.

That is correct – an Indigenous Advisory Council (IAC) that does not represent anyone – but advises the prime minister on Indigenous issues. The IAC is able to shape policy with its advice but the agenda of the members of the IAC have been called into question given that there have been funding cuts of over $600 million to grass roots service providers of essential health and justice services, but funding provided under the Indigenous Advancement Strategy (IAS) has been generously provided to the Australian Indigenous Education Foundation (AIEF) of which Warren Mundine and Andrew Penfold, both IAC members, are on the board.

The funding direction taken by the IAC and decisions made under the IAS are self-evident – less justice and welfare – more school and jobs programs, all of which is well in keeping with the assimilation agenda.
We live in a country that is so co
ntrolled by corporate greed and individual short-sighted advancement that a suspected dual citizen, who would “do anything to get the job”, receives the honour of being prime minister on the back of a grubby media waging war against a female prime minister and then uses the said honour as a platform to progress his white supremacist agenda.

The Abbott Government and his so called advisors are completely disconnected from the Indigenous community.

The fundamental problem they cannot seem to grasp is that, we – the Indigenous community – decide who our elders in our own communities are and who speak for us. It is those people the government needs to listen to, not the token, quisling representatives they select that spout party policies and nod along with decisions made to the detriment of the community. Each Indigenous community in Australia has a unique set of issues and relationships, kinships and lores that the government – after 227 years – still does not grasp.

While Tony Abbott loves to continue to propagate the colonial rhetoric of Indigenous people being primitive people, the Indigenous people had and continue to have a sophisticated social and familial structure, understanding of biodiversity and ecological sustainability, and we know how to survive despite the 227 years of oppressive and racially targeted policies. We also know that for the last 227 years, the presence of the colonial oppressors has been an illegal presence and, whilst we know that an egg cannot be unscrambled, we do know that governments (particularly a right wing government) cannot be trusted, which is why we will continue to resist government-selected Indigenous advisors and advocate for our own affairs to be protected and self-determined in a Treaty.

With the prime minister whitesplaining history, Indigenous advisors complicit in racially targeted policies and engaging in racially inappropriate conduct – little explanation is needed about why Indigenous Australia is so damned angry.

If only more members of white Australia were willing to put down their Daily Telegraph and switch off the commercial channels to get angry with us, maybe then we would see some change?

Friday, 17 July 2015

Abbott Governent: Incompetent, Sinister, Immoral.

I DON'T know anyone that voted for the current government – perhaps I do and they’re too ashamed to admit it – but in any event, it feels as though every person I speak to is either in a haze of confusion or in a state of irate contempt. One thing is for sure, there is consensus among those I speak with that this government is not fit to represent us.

At best, it is the most incompetent and intellectually void example of elected government and at worst (and perhaps more accurately), it is the most sinister and immoral group of individuals banded together in a common goal of individual wealth accumulation (theirs) at the expense of the Australian people (us).

Read more here.

Monday, 13 July 2015

A Brighter Tomorrow?

Amnesty International released their report, ‘A Brighter Tomorrow’ (the Report) on 3 June 2015 at the National Press Club in Canberra.

The Report details the glaring statistics including the fact that youth incarceration is at its highest rate since the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody some 20 years ago.

The report was launched by Amnesty International’s Secretary-General Salil Shetty who said:

Australia locks up Indigenous children, from as young as 10 years old, at one of the highest rates in the world. Overrepresentation is rising, with Indigenous children making up less than 6% of the population of 10–17 year-olds yet more than half (58 per cent) of young people in detention.”

The Report commended the numerous programs that are being initiated by Aboriginal communities, including the Justice Reinvestment Program which is part of the Maranguka initiative which is a grass-roots justice reinvestment project that aims to empower the Aboriginal community in Bourke and means ‘care for others.’

This strategy is a community led strategy where the money spent on incarceration is redirected to rehabilitation and education, in addition to, community programs which determine why the crimes occurred in the first place and addressing the individual and community issues which lead to crime. This multi-disciplinary approach not only addresses the issue of crime but it improves outcomes of the families of those assisted and the community at large because the educational opportunities undoubtedly assist in achieving a higher standard of living which flows through.

The intent is to stop youths from offending before they become part of the justice system and to find more appropriate ways to rehabilitate and educate to avoid reoffending. It may be that a youth involved in theft would be given an opportunity for further education or employment; a driving offender given assistance to obtain a legal license with safe driver training or perhaps a realistic plan for bail reoffenders from breaching their conditions.

Mr Shetty experienced this work in Bourke first hand when he visited and said:

I’m inspired by the innovative work Indigenous communities are doing across Australia to bring up a new generation of young people, but the Australian Government needs to catch up, and fund the programs that have been shown to work in keeping Indigenous kids out of prison, and making communities safer - it’s a win/win for all Australians.”

The Indigenous communities that are trailblazing in this new area of community based justice reinvestment are doing so for the benefit of their communities, however, there is the additional benefit that education and rehabilitation ultimately costs less than incarcerating.

Mr Shetty confirmed that:

In Australia it costs $440,000 per year to detain each child, meaning the cost of just one year of detention could instead put a young Indigenous person through an entire undergraduate medical degree.”

Mr Shetty confirmed that the Report makes a number of recommendations to the Commonwealth and state governments, including:

·                To conform with the Convention on the Rights of the Child, for any person up to the age of 17 detention must be a measure of last resort

·                Any state of territory laws that treat persons below the age of 12 as criminally responsible should be declared invalid

·                Australia should ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture, and allow inspections of youth detention facilities to ensure standards are being met

·                Australia should recognise Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders as a disability under the National Disability Insurance Scheme

Mr Shetty reiterated the criticism Australia has received international with respect to its breaches of international obligations with respect to children, particularly Indigenous children, and affirmed a further recommendation of the adoption of the Indigenous Justice Reinvestment strategies:

Australia must seize this once-in-a-generation chance to keep Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children out of prison and make communities safer.

The Sydney launch of the campaign took place in the Redfern Community Centre on 12 June 2015 where a number of speakers were empanelled to discuss the vast work ahead in combatting the numerous issues facing the Indigenous community, particularly the overrepresentation of Indigenous youth in our justice system.

Shane Phillips, a Bunjalung, Wonnarua and Bidjigal man and CEO of Tribal Warrior and Program Coordinator of Clean Slate Without Prejudice spoke of his experience with the criminal justice system and the fact that there is a need for community driven change.

Mr Phillips having the experience of an uneasy relationship with police, following contact with the police to come to solution, set out to effect change to the lives of the Indigenous youth of Redfern who were mentored and provided with guidance to achieve success by using their time productively which has seen a reduction of criminal activity and success for the youths involved in the program.

Mr Phillips is proud of the Indigenous youth that he has mentored over the years and considers the positive change of one Indigenous child to be a success. Mr Phillips said:

“the success is plain to see, all you need to do is come down to the gym before school one morning to see the kids and how they are making healthy decisions.”

Mr Phillips said that his formula is not complicated:

“all you need to do is help them with setting up a routine from reasonable bed times to ensuring attendance at school and healthy physical outlets and their pride follows when they can see the results for themselves.”

Mr Phillips says that it is rewarding to see the sense of self and pride in them as they succeed in their goals.

Kerry Graham, a social justice advocate with Just Reinvest NSW, spoke of her experience in children’s justice and how the situation is complex but the answer to addressing this injustice is so simple. Ms Graham says, “the answer lies within the communities, the elders and the cultural teachings are what will make a fundamental shift.”

Elizabeth Wymarra, an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander from the Wakaith people from Badu Island in the western Torres Strait region of far north Queensland and the Gudang Aboriginal people from Injinoo and Mapoon community in Cape York; is a writer, performing artist and youth worker who was most passionate in her discussion during the launch.

Ms Wymarra spoke of the importance of speaking about the reasons why there are such atrocious statistics; racism. Racism is at the heart of every policy and governmental decision which has subverted Indigenous people over the last 227 years and Ms Wymarra is passionate about the education system getting a shake up to ensure future generations of Australians don’t continue the racist policies.

While Amnesty International is committed and passionate to contributing to a brighter future for Indigenous people, at the heart of the problem is the fact that change will always fail where the community is not consulted and/or the drivers of change.