Monthly Archives: December 2007

N.T. Aboriginal Intervention extended to Qld’s Cape York

“The Federal Government has thrown its support behind a plan to quarantine the
welfare payments of families in some Queensland Indigenous communities.”  
From ABC news Govt backs Indigenous welfare quarantine

PRESS RELEASE
from Queensland Aboriginal leaders Les Malezer, Terry O’Shane, Bob Weatherall, Jacqui Katona, Victor Hart

ABORIGINALS TO FIGHT QUEENSLAND INVASION
21 December 2007

We will join with other Aboriginal leaders in Queensland to fight the
introduction of forced income control over Aboriginal families in
Queenland. This is no less than an extension of the Northern Territory
invasion into Queensland, as designed by Noel Pearson in conjunction
with Mal Brough of the former national government. We will fight for
the human rights of our people in Queensland, especially in Aurukun,
Hopevale, Coen and Mossman Gorge.

The Queensland Premier, Anna Bligh, the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, and
federal Minister, Jenny Macklin, have imposed their first big deception
on the Aboriginal people of Australia by disguising their support for
the Noel Pearson welfare plan and secretly planning its implementation
without due regard for human rights.

This racist action will be subject to legal challenge in the Queensland
and Australian courts and, if the government defies our rights by
suspending the Racial Discrimination Act, we will take it to the United
Nations. Our opposition will not be armchair opposition because we
will protest on the streets to oppose the spread of racism by the Labor
Party of Australia.

This is clearly a case of where one law should apply in Australia. If
welfare payments are going to be withheld by a Families
Responsibilities Commission from the most needy families then let it
apply under federal law to everyone in Australia without discrimination
on the basis of race. There should not be a race divide in Queensland
on the promotion and exercise of universal and fundamental human
rights. We know that will never happen because unions and political
parties will not let innocent people be punished for the guilt of
others. Somehow Aboriginal people, according to governments, are
judged to be guilty by race alone.

Any and all problems with substance abuse and anti-social behaviour in
Aboriginal communities is not our fault but the problem associated with
continued alien domination in our lands, sustained poverty and failure
to remedy injustices. Increased control by alien government and
bureaucrats will only exacerbate the situation.

We are very disappointed with Premier Bligh because of the deceptive
way in which this announcement has been masked and kept from community
discussion, especially after clear indication the Alcohol Management
Plans (AMPs) in communities have failed.

The Aboriginal people in this State virtually guaranteed the Labor
Party a victory in the federal elections in a clear vote against the
Brough racism. In the voting for the federal elections they rallied
against the Pearson plan for control of incomes. Now Bligh and Rudd
betray the trust of these people. It seems that governments change but
Australia’s racism against Aboriginal people does not.

The federal government can overnight commit the nation to climate
change reforms, can overnight commit to gay reforms but cannot bring
itself to face to face honesty with Aboriginals.

We demand the Queensland Government publicly disclose its secret
negotiations with Noel Pearson and the government’s AMP outcomes and
achievements in Aboriginal communities. We also call upon Noel Pearson
to present himself face to face with the Aboriginal communities to
explain why he should be cutting payments to needy families while he is
on a government payroll of $200,000 per year.

(Contact:Les Malezer: 0419 710720; )

SIGNED: Les Malezer, Terry O’Shane, Bob Weatherall, Jacqui Katona,
Victor Hart,

4 Comments

Filed under Aboriginal, australia, justice, politics, reconciliation

Aurukun rape, gaol and customary law

It saddens me greatly to see the chorus of Aboriginal people calling for the Aurukun rape perpetrators to be sent to gaol.  Some of those same spokespeople were calling for Aboriginal people to stay out of gaol in the 90s.  The dominant colonial paradigm has only offered gaol or total neglect as the options to deal with such things as child rape or anything else in Aboriginal communities, despite the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody such as the strengthening of customary law,  non custodial corrections options and Aboriginal corrections facilities.

Sending perpetrators to gaol will not heal them but make them worse through their gaol experience, which is a key source of the consciousness of rape and predatory sexuality.  The prison sex ethic is reinforced and then sent back to the community upon release, eventually.  This is not a new phenomenon, prison sexuality has been a big factor in Aboriginal communities for a long time, it is taking its toll today.  Sending perpetrators to gaol is just perpetuating the cycle of violence.  Increased sentences such as Rudd, Bligh and the Aboriginal leadership are calling for is no solution at all.

  The youths involved in the Aurukun rape should be subjected to customary law men’s business and resolution, not gaol.  Current law makes elders liable to charges of kidnap   and child abuse if this were to occur.

All the focus is on the perpetrators and the poor little victim is offered little except counselling and detachment from family, community and culture.  She needs to go through customary law womens business for her healing too, as a much greater priority than punishing or healing the perpetrators.

But in our continued denial of the history of the country we have outlawed customary law.  We continue to insist that more police, prisons and the army- the colonial mode –  intervening into Aboriginal lives will somehow deliver justice.  But it makes things worse, it will just perpetuate the cycles of violence.

4 Comments

Filed under Aboriginal, australia, justice

It is still O.K. for Australian police to kill Aborigines

The 2004 Palm Island death in custody, where an Aboriginal man was unlawfully arrested and died of massive internal injuries inflicted while in police custody, remains unresolved. The arresting officer and the person who delivered the fatal blow was aquitted on charges of manslaughter but the deceased’s family is still pursuing civil charges and compensation for the death.

The charges against the police officer were not laid by the Queensland Director of Public prosecutions as a result of the coroners inquest into the death, which put responsibility for the death with the police officer. The charges were only laid after a huge public outcry for justice.

However, it is not just Queensland’s criminal (in)justice system that tolerates the killing of Aborigines by police.

In the Northern Territory  

“Policeman who shot Wadeye teen won’t face charges”
N.I.T. Tuesday, 4 December 2007

“Constable Robert Whittington was “in a blind panic” when he “made a fatal error of judgment” and killed Robert Jongmin on October 23, 2002, Northern Territory coroner Greg Cavanagh said yesterday.”

“Senior Const Whittington was originally charged with committing a dangerous act, but the charge was dismissed last year because the prosecution had not been brought within the required two-month period for police.”

In Western Australia

“Coroner clears police of death in custody”  West Australia 28th November 2007  (cultural caution! This article contains a photo of the deceased)

In this case a man died of a heart attack while being arrested. The police claim they did not assault him

Dead prisoner ‘bruised all over’ West Australian 18th October 2007

“An autopsy on the body of Carl Woods, who died minutes after being arrested, showed that he had bruises and abrasions all over his body, from head to toe.

And some linear bruises detected on the small of Mr Woods’ back and on the back of his legs were consistent with blows from a police baton or torch, forensic pathologist Gerard Cadden told a Coroner’s Court inquest yesterday.”

“But evidence has been given by all four of the officers who took several minutes to overpower and handcuff 35-year-old Mr Woods inside a house in Parmelia in April last year that no one used a baton or torch during the struggle. Two police torches were found in the house after the arrest.”

“Dr Cadden then went through a detailed report on the injuries he found on Mr Woods’ body.

He had lacerations to his lips, two lower front teeth — with jaw bone still attached — had been knocked out and a third tooth was also missing. An upper tooth had been jammed into his upper jaw and three other teeth were fractured. Dr Cadden said he understood Mr Woods had been kneed in the face, adding: “It would take considerable force to bring about that degree of dental damage.”

1 Comment

Filed under Aboriginal, australia, justice, Palm Island, reconciliation

Aborigines and Conservationism. Land Rights and Green Activism Not Necessarily Aligned

The following article is written by Tyson Yunkaporta.  (his profile here)

 In it he covers issues that I have raised in previous articles such as “Terra Nullius and Ecology”  and “The Environment movement and Aboriginal Australia”.
 
I have included this article partly because it backs up controversial things that I have said in my own articles, but also because it is an Aboriginal perspective which I hope will be taken more seriously than my own non-indigenous reflections on the relationship between Aboriginal and non Aboriginal notions of the natural environment.

More articles by Tyson Yunkaporta – here 

Aborigines and Conservationism
Land Rights and Green Activism Not Necessarily Aligned
By Tyson Yunkaporta

Aborigines and Greens both have a strong environmental focus in activism. But are conservationists in reality serving a colonial agenda when it comes to land rights?
Often conservationists will integrate Indigenous groups and issues into their causes. However, while well intended, this often carries racist agendas that actually support the colonial paradigm. This undercurrent becomes viciously clear in situations like the Makah whale hunting controversy in Washington, which saw greens chanting anti-Indian slogans alongside neo-Nazis, and sporting bumper stickers like, “Save a whale – kill a Makah!”

The Wilderness Myth
The most damaging aspect of conservationist ideology is the wilderness myth, which is basically a green version of Terra Nullius. The concept of “untouched” or “unspoiled” Edens that need to be protected from people always seems to leave Native Title out of the picture. The romantic natural paradise ideal effectively removes Aboriginal people from the landscape. Our land management techniques are silenced at best, or at worst criticised as being primitive and unscientific. In green circles, you will often hear Aboriginal land management cited as a reason for species extinction. Traditional practices are only valid when they are limited to cultural exotica, and when they serve to categorise us as part of the fauna. Hunting is problematic in green politics.

Conservation As Colonisation
When “wilderness” conservation became law, this resulted in countless Aboriginal people being jailed for hunting in “protected” areas on their traditional lands. Many of these people died (and are still dying) in prison. “No camping” rules have resulted in further dispossession, as traditional owners have found themselves driven off the land by a new form of pastoralism called wilderness preservation. And when Indigenous groups or individuals have scraped together enough money to buy back their own land, the government has been able to block the purchase by declaring the areas National Parks. Thus conservationism has become yet another weapon against Aboriginal people.

Aboriginal Portrayal In Green Texts and Research
Reductionism is also a problem in green circles. Because of the monocultural use of western scientific or psuedo-scientific inquiry in conservation, many well-meaning activists fail to develop the holistic knowledge base necessary for understanding traditional land management. This prevents them from seeing the importance of an Indigenous hand in the maintenance of ecosystems. As a result traditional owners are framed as relics of the past. This can be seen in conservationist texts, which generally use the past tense when describing Indigenous knowledge or practices.

Often Indigenous “wisdom” will be used to give a bit of weight and poignancy to green texts. Other times land knowledge is stripped from Indigenous communities by green messiahs and charming researchers who come to save the land and the people (often with a patent in the back pocket for local plant knowledge). If we’re lucky, we get to be their assistants, or consultants.

Apologies to the many conservationists out there who are the exception to this rule.

This article is copyright. Thanx to Tyson  for permission to publish it.

3 Comments

Filed under Aboriginal, australia, ecology, philosophy, politics, reconciliation