Monthly Archives: September 2007

Michael Noonan controversies continued…..

As many may be aware there have been new complaints about Michael Noonan’s film work.

I have been reluctant to publish them until now but since Noonan has now publically responded to the allegations  I am re-opening the discussion.

Background to the controversy here

Aboriginal Elder Ted Watson, acting on Behalf of May Dunne, the Aboriginal woman in Noonan’s Boulia Pub scene has accused Noonan of not seeking permission to use the footage of May and her husband, of fabricating permission forms and breaching research protocols.

The accusations can be found here – Laughing at Aborigines

Michael Noonan’s response to the allegations are at the end of this post.

As I have said before I do not believe the footage is a negative image of May or Aboriginal women.  I reached this conclusion after talking to my Partner Baganan, a Kalkadoon and Pitta Pitta woman about her perception of it.  She has also offered her perspective on the “An Aboriginal Woman’s perspective”/thread.

However our perceptions of the footage is indeed a different matter to whether May and her husband’s involvement was based on informed consent or not, a question that is now to be played out in various courts and committees it seems. 

There are some very serious issues relating to the representation of Aboriginal people by non-Aboriginal media workers as well as protocols for negotiaiting involvement in film projects, all of them very relevant to this situation.

The academic ethical framework that QUT film research uses, and Noonan is being judged by,  is a template for health and medical research which is generalised in principle but not specifics to other disciplines of research.

There are also protocols produced by indigenous academics that concentrate on anthropological research involving traditional knowledge and intellectual property which, like health protocols, are inadequate to cover issues faced media workers, in particular documentary makers except for when they do represent traditional knowledge.

Part of the problem with this latest controversy, it seems to me, is inappropriate academic research guidelines  for media studies and research. 

Outside of academia there are protocols and guidelines produced by indigenous media workers, for example SBS’s indigenous protocol.

This protocol has the same essential principles as the health and anthropology protocols but has specifics directly relevent to media workers.

 I fear however  that the clarification of these issues  will now be sidelined by the sensation of another high profile QUT scandal.  The focus of the sensation will become the question of whether Noonan’s signed permission forms are real or fabricated.

If Noonan’s documents are authenticated the ambiguities of the present protocols will be exploited by both sides of the dispute in adversarial courts and little will be resolved in anybody’s interest.

 Here is Michael Noonan’s response to the allegations……..

This is Michael Noonan.

The video “Laughing at Aboriginies” contains many errors of fact:

my comments here are to set the record straight about the most significant – in particular, the allegations that the research approval regimes I implemented were flawed and corrupt. My study was approved by the QUT Ethics Committee before any filming was undertaken.

Subsequently, and in response to the concerns raised by John Hookham and Gary MacLennan, my study was subjected to a full ethics audit by a committee of review, which included one expert member external to QUT.

That committee found I had not breached the relevant ethics guidelines.

All documentation was shared with the audit committee, including the appropriate consent and release forms. I have this documentation for all 33 people who participated in the film production. The accusations that appropriate consent was not gathered or was gathered under duress or fabricated after the event are not true and will not stand informed scrutiny.

There are many other errors of fact in this video – my film crew was not even in Boulia 18 months ago as claimed and there was no hostility to us at any time from Boulia residents.

Reluctantly but proudly, I made my film rushes available for public review to counter the innuendoes and untruths maliciously propagated over the depiction of disability in my film and also to set the record straight about the scene in the hotel at Boulia.

It had been obnoxiously misrepresented from the beginning and was hysterically reported in The London Times that James had been ‘severely beaten’ by an aboriginal woman – a vile and unsubstantiated slur.

I hoped that releasing my footage would destroy the negative stereotypes invoked by so many uninformed commentators. I am distressed to hear of the claim that May feels ‘hurt and shamed’ by that footage. Acknowledging this may be the case, and out of respect for her, I have written to the media outlets hosting my film rushes and asked them to remove those rushes from their websites.

I am happy to be held to account for my actions and my study in any properly-constituted space but I do not recognise Youtube, which has no means of testing gossip, innuendo and lies, as the forum in which to deal with these serious matters. I am prepared to discuss my study and its impact in any properly-constituted place and with any person of good faith – if this applies to you and you have genuine concerns, please send me an email.



Filed under Aboriginal, australia, film, justice

The Carers Alliance – A new party contesting the senate election.

“Our purpose is represent, raise and monitor issues affecting unpaid family Carers through the representative participation of Carers as candidates in Federal and State parliaments. The Carers Alliance will represent the rights of unpaid Carers of people with disabilities, mental illness, chronic illness or issues of frail age who need assistance at differing times in their lives.”          – from the   Carers Alliance website.

The Carers Alliance has recently been registered as a political party and is in the process of putting together it’s national senate team for the upcoming federal election.

I have had the privilege of meeting their Queensland lead senate candidate, Felicity Maddison at the recent picket against the Queensland Adult Guardian.

Like all the Carers Alliance candidates, Felicity is herself a carer, looking after a family member with high support needs.

The Alliance states its task as follows…….

“We will be the watchdogs for the Australian people, ensuring the issues that affect families have political representation and caring families are not missed in the process”.

As I see it, the Carers Alliance is essentially an exercise in visibility. On so many fronts the needs of disabled, frail, the elderly and their carers are neglected and misrepresented by politicians and public servants.

Federal and State governments appear to dismiss the urgency and crisis that exists in so many Australian families who survive (and sometimes they don’t) without adequate or appropriate support services.

Disability is still a hidden issue in Australia even though it effects us all at some stage.

Issues of funding for disability support agencies  as well as  the financial security of carer’s including pension, taxation and superannuation justice, are not amongst the nation’s political  debate and rarely in any debate at all, except within the families at the front-line of these issues.

Thousands of families suffer terribly in isolation but their suffering has not yet been acknowledged as a significant political issues.

News of the Carers Alliance registration as a party and its senate campaign has been widely publicised amongst disability, aged and carer’s networks around Australia. This network may well generate a significant vote for the new party.

Although the single issue of disability and carer support is amongst many important issues in the election,  and it hasn’t the sex appeal or sensational profile that some other issues do,  those families who suffer because of inadequate and inappropriate services will no doubt have the issues on their minds on election day, as they do every other day of their life.

Family first won a Victorian senate seat in the last federal election despite being a new minority party. The weird and wonderful process of senate preference distribution could also see the Carers Alliance fluke a seat somewhere. Unlike Family first which campaigns on vague and ideological notions of family, the Carers Alliance is campaigning on real, concrete issues that hundreds of thousands of real families experience.

In the probable event that the Carers Alliance does not win a seat, their preferences will be crucial in determining who actually does win in some states. In this sense they cannot fail in their goal of raising the profile of disability and carer’s issues.

They are now a force to be reckoned with, whoever forms a government after the election.

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Filed under australia, disability, justice, politics, society

Laughing at Aborigines now – An Aboriginal woman’s perspective

UPDATE – This post has suddenly become very popular.  New visitors to Paradigm Oz should be aware that this was posted before the new allegations against Noonan were put on youtube (post on that issue here ).  It was not written as a response to the youtube allegations. The complaint refered to was a complaint to the QUT Vice Chancellor relating to the representation of Aboriginal women in the footage.

Paradigm Oz regulars will know that I have been following the controversy over Michael Noonans movies and his Phd thesis “Laughing at/with the disabled”.

This is a link to my most recent article on the controversy which contains links to the other articles on the issue.  “Michael Noonan exposes his naughty bits”

Since  Noonan has released his controversial footage to the public it has been widely applauded and the criticism against it in the name of “the disabled”  has dissolved. 

However Noonan is still being criticised, this time for inappropriate representation of Aboriginal people in one of the released clips.

So Paradigm Oz asked Baganan Kurityityin Theresa Creed , a Kalkadoon and Pitta Pitta woman what her impressions were of the controversial Boulia Pub scene.

Baganan is not related to May, the Aboriginal woman in the footage, and cannot speak on her behalf.   She is however a traditional owner of Boulia.

This is what Baganan says………

(note Baganan is refering to James, one of the two stars of the clips when she speaks of “him” and “he”)

That was liable to happen because that was their intent to get a girlfriend for him. When he asked all the town folks and most of the girls up there had children so there wasn’t many to pick from who didnt have children.

It looked like a good mood where they were happy and cheerful and looking content with their interactions, content with each other.

Playful to the point of playfullness and a good time.

Aboriginal woman was very cautious with him, very careful with him, picked up straight away that he had disabilities and was able to give him that attention that he needed.

She was very careful with him and encouraging.

She was a very thoughtful person who was able to read where he was coming from and make sure that he felt accepted.

It was funny because this guy finally found someone after all this time, after looking everywhere, his heart was content then when he finally found someone.

The issue was to find out about a girlfriend, the issue was to go on a trip and find a girlfriend that can be good for him. Someone that was acceptable to him and acceptible to her.

Aboriginal women role in this movie was very powerful, she chose to be with him and understood the unspoken words of mental disability. She was woman affectionate as well as strong and straight, she wanted to be with him and she was sure of that, sure that she was with him, she made it happen.

She directed the playfulness and was able to get what she wanted which was his attention and they both got lost in each others joyfulness and had a playful time.

Racism could block the gap and peoples minds and make them get offended by this beautiful phenomenon. Once upon a time out west it was forbidden for black and white to be together and people who still suffer from that racism would have been very wild upset at seeing this happen.


Filed under Aboriginal, australia, disability, film, reconciliation, Uncategorized

Terra Nullius and Ecology

I have been promising for a while to write something about colonial perspectives and the environment movement. However I got caught up in critiques of socialism and the APEC demonstrations and didn’t get around to it. Then I realised that I have never put the following article on Paradigm Oz. It is an old one that has been published elsewhere but it is relevent to many of my recent posts here.   So here it is…..

Terra Nullius and Ecology


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Filed under Aboriginal, australia, ecology, history, politics, reconciliation, society, sustainability

UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Media release from the National Aboriginal Controlled Community Health Organisation – NACCHO


Last night the UN General Assembly adopted the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Indigenous peoples around the world are celebrating but not in Australia said Mr Councillor, Chair of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation which represents over 140 community controlled health services.

The vote in the 192-member assembly was 143 in favour, four against and 11 abstentions. The four against were Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the US. Once again this government has shown its true racist colours.

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Filed under Aboriginal, australia, history, justice, politics, reconciliation

Central Land Council (N.T.) -Fact sheets on the Australian Government Intervention in the Northern Territory

From the Central Land Council

The short and easy guide to the Commonwealth intervention

*alcohol,* five year leases, *bail, *buildings, *business management, *town camps, *welfare, *community stores, *permits, *publicly funded computers, *pornography

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Filed under Aboriginal, australia, justice, politics, reconciliation, society, Uncategorized

How do you stop child abuse in Aboriginal communities?

1/ Better, more appropriate and just more housing so that children have their own room with a door. At least a girls room and a boys room.

It should be noted that many perpetraters of child abuse are children themselves, often family. My guess this is more the case than adult predation.

The drunken people should be sleeping well away from where the children are sleeping, preferably a different building.

2/ Take the focus of funding and program design in areas of domestic violence and child abuse away from the women and empower the men to deal with it.

Most perpetrators are men, it is mens business. The women cannot change the behaviours and value systems of the men, only men can.  The best women can do is provide emergency  institutional protection such as shelters which are bandaids after the fact. The violence needs to stop, not be compensated for or accomodated.  Only the perpetrators of violence have the capacity to stop violence.

3/ Acknowledge and empower customary law so that communities can deal with their own problems rather than going the police and courts path which takes years, is traumatic for the victim and convictions are very hard to achieve. Families are torn asunder when the experience could actually strengthen and unite them if done properly.

1,2,3 is obviously simplistic and incomplete, but unless there is a major change of direction of the present failing strategies and paradigms, nothing will change. A Boosting of status-quo paradigms such as the NT intervention only reinforces the structural dysfunction.

It should be noted that child abuse exists in mainstream Australian communities at aproximately the same rate as in Aboriginal communities. If there is even a grain of truth in my above prescription it is also relevant to mainstream Australia, perhaps with the exception of housing issues.


Filed under Aboriginal, australia, justice, politics, reconciliation, society