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.