Aurukun explodes under pressure

For those readers from outside Australia who may have heard news of a riot in the Aurukun Aboriginal community, it is a small community near the top of Cape York in Queensland.

Much of the political direction of the aftermath of the Palm Island riot has centred around whether or not The cop who killed Mulrunji would be charged or not.  It is clear that the outrage in the general community has been focused on this very limited issue of the circumstances of this one man’s death in 2004.

Meanwhile Aboriginal communities continue to be policed by men and women in uniform very much inline with the long British tradition of policing natives including the routine use of violence such as has been alleged in the incident that sparked the Aurukun riot.

The Palm Island death in custody has come onto out TV and computor screens and is now a part of the “Queensland story”.  However the day to day mundane process of repression and overpolicing continues in Aboriginal communities who are reaching breaking point, and have done so in Redfern, Palm Island  Wadaye and now Aurukun.

All the political gains of the 20th century for Aboriginal Australia such as the development of ATSIC, Native title law and the Royal commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody have been undone, which means there is no longer a political direction for Aboriginal Australia – neither a forum to develop an agenda nor a point of interface with the colonial authorities of Her Majesty’s state and federal governments.

But the day to day desperation of Aboriginal communities, especially those whose sociology and collective psychology has evolved from the colonial missions has had more pressure than is humanly possible – through police harrassment, housing overcrowding, family violence and all the other day to day realities that Aboriginal communities suffer under with no relevent programs of assistance or community development offered by governments.

As long as state and federal governments insist on demolishing Aboriginal cultural process then the clashes between police and Aboriginal communities will continue as surely as police officers continue to police Aboriginal communities through intimidation.

If government authorities saw Aboriginal cultural processes as assetts to be protected and developed in order to tackle the many issues that cause anti social behaviour and chronic addiction – such as housing, education, employment and cultural programs as prescribed by the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody all those years ago – then advancements could occur in both Aboriginal lifestyles as well as good relationships with police authorities.

But as long as the police rule through violence and the fear of violence then they are simply increasing pressure on people who have simply had too much.

Unfortunately I do not believe Aurukun is the last Aboriginal community to riot before some of these ingrained opressions are removed.



Filed under justice

3 responses to “Aurukun explodes under pressure

  1. Derek Hanks

    Well, written like a true arm chair journalist. Have you ever been to a Cape York Community? Linking the Aurukun riots to the Death in custody on Palm Island which occurred over 12 months ago, on the other side of Cape York and around 1000klms away is just sensationalism. As for stating that “police rule through violence and the fear of violence” you obviously have no idea on what policing is about. Do you know what “traditional justice” is like in a community? If you think that payback, public spearing, and the like are appropriate you are a fool.

    As for the riots of Aurukun, unfortunately I honestly believe that the media will not report on the outcome, as it will not be a newsworthy story. Why? Because reporting that the person at the centre of the allegations lied about being beaten. Yes, I am sure he did. All police watchhouses have video cameras, and I am sure that the whole of his stay was capture on camera, and that the tape had not been edited or tampered with in anyway. If it had the CMC would have been all over it.

    As for the riot being because the community don’t trust police, why did after there failed attempt to break into the police station (and I believe kill all those inside) did they continue on to smash their way into the local store loot and destroy it, and do the same to the local Canteen destroy that and steal thousands of can of beer and spirits?

    I believe over a large number of years the so called “do gooders” have done nothing but damage relationships between Caucasian and indigenous Australians. “You don’t have to tell the police you name; you don’t have to admit to doing that….” Giving someone extra because they were here first is primary school stuff. Yes there have been atrocities committed in the past, but it is time to move on.

    People who live in these communities need to learn respect for themselves, respect for each other, and respect for people who come to there community to assist them. Teachers, Heath workers, builders and other have to live there also, not just Police. Ask some of these people what community life is like. Throwing money at a community does not help them; they need education in numerous issues, health, finance, domestic situations and alcohol abuse.

    No I am not a racist, I am a realist. I have plenty of friends and work colleagues who are indigenous, and whom I have the greatest of respect for. As they are, I am sure there are many other indigenous people out there that know what happens at communities are embarrassed about the spin doctoring of this situation.

    Lastly, to all those that believe the police are the oppressors in Communities such as Aurukun, I challenge you to go to a community on a Friday or Saturday night walk the streets for a few hours and see for yourself what it is like.

  2. John Tracey

    Hello Derek,
    Yes I have been to a number of Cape York communities, but not Aurukun.

    The circumstances of the arrest are irrelevent to what I said as I was commenting on the everyday underlying conflict in Aboriginal communities.

    The anger, frustration and desparation that is everyday life in communities such as Aurukun, Palm Island, woorabinda etc can be ignited by a variety of things – from a very specific thing such as the Palm Island riot directly responding to the findings of the first autopsy report, through to things like the Redfern riot or the Woorrabinda youth riot which appear to have been triggered by nothing in particular or by petty incidents that explode.

    I apologise if I have descended into sensationalism. Shooting from the hip with first draft posts could well cause this to happen while I have no computor as at present (writing from internet cafe) and I am forced to rely on personal perspective rather than something with a bit more substance which I look forward to writing when I am back online.
    However, issues of sensatrionalism aside, I believe that mainstream Australia has been so insulated from the reality of Aboriginal oppression and poverty that the collective subconscious seems not to hear the desparate screams that come from these communities and remain ignorant to the reality of the situation and the various government policies which have over time created these situations.

    As things get worse for Aboriginal Australia so will the incidence of violence such as at Aurakun, Palm Island, Redfern, Woorabinda, Wadaye and all those powder kegs who have not yet been sensationalised by the media.

    I agree with a lot of what you said about ignorant do-gooders throwing good money after bad into programs that at best do nothing but more often than not do damage to Aboriginal capacity. Change in these communities will only come through new approaches and strategies based on community capacity, not flavour of the month government policy imposed onto these communities with the much celebrated anouncements (and re-announcements) of funding being thrown into programs that provide no positive outcomes at all.

  3. Luke Robertson

    Well said Derek. Want Want Want, but these communities won’t do anything for themselves.

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