Monthly Archives: March 2008

Book Launch – “The Secret War: A True History of Queensland’s Native Police”

by Jonathan Richards

 “The Secret War” will be launched by Henry Reynolds at the Avid Reader bookshop, Boundary St. West End (Bris) on Wednesday 19th March 2008 at 6.00 pm.

 From the publisher, University of Queensland Press….……

  Henry Reynolds describes Jonathan Richards’ controversial book, The Secret War: A True History of Queensland’s Native Police, as ‘a major contribution to Queensland and Australian historiography, and to the history of relations between colonists and indigenous people on a global scale’.

The health, housing and employment crisis facing Indigenous people today are a direct result of our white settlement history.

How did Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, from all over Queensland, end up being violently forced to leave their homelands and live in these communities?

Why were Indigenous people so terrified of the police, they allowed themselves to be herded into ‘prisons without walls’?

The release of The Secret War is timely given the new Labor Government’s official apology to the Aboriginal people.

The Secret War tells the story of organised racial violence and lawful mass murder on the Queensland frontier.

For many Indigenous people, white colonisation arrived with the armed men of the Native Police: a brutal force that operated on the 19th-century frontier, killing large numbers of Indigenous men, women and children.

Historian Jonathan Richards has spent ten years researching this contentious subject, picking his way through secrecy, misinformation and supposed ‘lost files’ to uncover and publish the truth.

In this first full-length comprehensive study of the Native Police in Queensland, he argues that they were a key part of a ‘divide and rule’ colonising tactic and that the force’s actions were given the implicit approval of the government and public servants, and that their killings were covered up.

The Queensland government, which so far has avoided blame due to an absence of direct orders to kill Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, stands responsible for the force’s deployment, techniques and ultimately for its genocidal activities.

The Secret War is an authoritative and groundbreaking contribution to our country’s white settlement history.

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Intervention hysteria, truckie prostitution and a defence of Noel Pearson

The ABC Lateline program has exposed child prostitution in some Aboriginal communities catering to passing truckies. The federal opposition leader, Brendan Nelson has called for an extension of the Northern Territory intervention into these communities.

“The Intervention” has come to mean nothing. John Howard and Mal Brough’s plan is being dismantled, although much slower that N.T. Aboriginal people would like.

“The Intervention” has come to mean an ideological, non-specific plan for urgent action. It seems the Howard/Brough plan was never much more than this, but now that a new regime is redesigning policy and programs, “the Intervention” is just an illusion of recent history, not a real policy framework.

Brendan Nelson has called for “the Intervention” in W.A. and Qld. as well as communities on trucking routes.

There is still a strong backlash, including protests, to the N.T. intervention, which has no doubt strengthened people in N.T. communities in their negotiations with the new government. However there has also been opposition to extending “the intervention” into W.A. and Qld.

I don’t know anything of the W.A. situation but I have been following Cape York politics. Brendan Nelson has called for a Cape York Intervention. Protestors have protested against the Cape York Intervention. But the trial of welfare Quarantining in Cape York has nothing to do with “the intervention”. The Cape York Institute for Policy and Leadership, in particular Noel Pearson has been lobbying for a range of reforms including welfare reform for a decade, a long time before Mal Brough dreamed up the N.T. Intervention.

The Cape York trial is an Aboriginal initiative, which has been developed over a decade. It does not impose a blanket welfare quarantine as the N.T. intervention did; it is only for people who are referred to a “Family responsibilities commission” by community agencies for such things as child neglect. The communities have volunteered to be part of the trial.

The trial is certainly not unanimously embraced in the Cape, but a particular leadership, including traditional elders, has done the black business over the last ten years and now managed to get some government support for their program.

Most importantly, unlike the N.T, intervention, welfare quarantining and the Family Responsibilities commission in Cape York is part of a broader program of housing, education and economic development.

Just as John Howard, Mal Brough and now Brendan Nelson see “the intervention” as a one size fits all program for all Aboriginal communities, there has been a one size fits all opposition to “the intervention” including opposition to local Aboriginal initiatives such as the Cape York welfare quarantine trial.

Brendon Nelson’s call for “the intervention” to deal with child prostitution on trucking routes is a clear example of blaming the victim. The child prostitutes have broken no law; it is the truckies who have committed the crime, yet Nelson sees Aboriginal communities as the focus for action.

Noel Pearson and others from the Cape York Institute for Policy and Leadership have also been accused of blaming the victim in calling for such things as welfare quarantining. However I believe such accusations do not take into account the desperation in communities such as those in the trial and the willingness to take drastic action, anything to change the way things are. In the news today elders from Aurukun are calling for their children to be taken off the community to go to boarding school because they are not safe in the community.

There is a big difference between blaming the victim and people, especially the victims of history, deciding there is something that they must do, a change that they must make happen on their own, by any means necessary.

Pearson is not blaming the victim. He, like the radical black power movement, proclaims that the white man will give you fuck-all, its no use appealing to them for salvation. This is not blaming the victim.

Even if there is a police intervention into the trucking industry to stop child prostitution, the communities on the trucking routes still must deal with questions of drugs, women’s business, poverty etc. as a community response to child/truckie prostitution, this includes changing the consciousness and behaviour of the victims. This is not blaming the victim, only a recognition that the forces of oppression still exist and the only people who can really do anything about it are the oppressed victims themselves, not the vigilance of the police or the repentance of the truckies for both will never occur.

I disagree with Noel Pearson’s plan but I am not a traditional owner of cape York. I believe there is indeed a one size fits all policy for indigenous issues – self-determination.

Self-determination relies on the capacity of local leaderships to lead. It is the process of growing leadership that is the priority for Aboriginal Australia and that will take on many different and conflicting forms in different communities. The essential issue is the social cohesion and functionality of a particular community or family to govern itself. Questions of the ideological correctness of this or that particular government policy are irrelevant.

Policy illusions of the white government such as “the intervention” or the new one “close the gap” have nothing to do with hope in Aboriginal communities. Only the re-emergence of a cohesive social order and leadership can provide hope.

Malcolm X’s notion of “by any means necessary” should be considered in weighing up the ideological correctness of such things as welfare quarantining Cape York style.

The success of failure of the Cape York trial will depend on who is in charge. What is the entrenched authority of the process? The Devil is always in the detail.

If Cape York elders, men and women are empowered, including by the power of the local police, school and hospital to enact their will in their community, then the trial will succeed. If bureaucrats and police are in charge, by way of “consultation” the whole process will fail.

Keeping control of the process, keeping it out of the control of the government, will be the test of the leadership for Noel Pearson and his associates in Cape York.

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Guest post – International Womens Day 2008 by Fiona Noble

INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY MARCH 8, 2008

To Everything, Turn, Turn, Turn…
There Is A Season, Turn, Turn, Turn…
There Is A Time For Peace, Turn, Turn, Turn.

My name is Fiona Noble. I do Treaty under the Sacred Treaty Circles of Oodgeroo of the Tribe, Nunuccal, I am a mother of four children, two of which have non-Indigenous fathers and two of which have an Indigenous father.

Oodgeroo advocated “Don’t hate, educate”, and she maintained that the only healing that could come about in this country was through Treaty. Her family continue to do her law in the face of ongoing genocidal practices.

I would like to begin here with a poem Oodgeroo Nunuccal (Kath Walker) wrote for her son Denis, and which I would like to read for all my children, but especially to my son, Djindu, whom I hope will grow to be a fine warrior for peace, as are and have been his fathers.

Son of Mine (To Denis)
oodgeroo_noonuccal-bandw.jpg Oodgeroo of the tribe Noonuccal, Custodian of the land Minjerriba. 

My son, your troubled eyes search mine,
Puzzled and hurt by colour line.
Your black skin soft as velvet shine;
What can I tell you, son of mine?
I could tell you of heartbreak, hatred blind,
I could tell of crimes that shame mankind,
Of brutal wrong and deeds malign,
Of rape and murder, son of mine;
But I’ll tell instead of brave and fine
When lives of black and white entwine,
And men in brotherhood combine –
This would I tell you, son of mine.

I am writing this letter because I am deeply disturbed with where women are at in this country, not only with the continuing difficulties all women world wide experience but more importantly with the role of the western mind set white women especially continue to uphold, continue to be in denial about, and which is essentially the root of the problems western women would consider to be universal to all women.

The society we see around us, the matrix in which we exist and often feel oppressed by, that which stems back to the Roman Empire, is based on a culture of man-made law as opposed to natural /God’s law, greed, self engrandisment, false idols, violence, and a lack of respect and understanding for spirit and country.

I am writing today to urge non-Indigenous women in this country to get real about who they are in this country, to be responsible for what has happened and what is continuing to happen. I urge all non-indigenous women who want to stop the Northern Territory Intervention, who want to see the social and economic conditions of Indigenous people improve, I urge you, to stop seeing your selves as saviours – you aren’t.

You are in fact the ones who need saving. Non-Indigenous people in this country are ‘rubbish people’ – no law, no dreaming. The only way this can be rectified is to acknowledge Aboriginal sovereignty, and to do Treaty, and I mean ‘do’ Treaty, not wait for it to come and get dropped in your lap. “Faith without action is blasphemy”!

I would like to express to you briefly my own experiences. I grew up on military bases around Australia and when I became an adult, I chose to put all my energy into ‘fighting for peace’ but as yet I have been unsuccessful in tearing down the military industrial complex. Then through my peace activities I became involved with women’s rights and issues. I worked in women’s refuges for many years, did anti-military actions with Women for Survival, helped set up Women Behind Bars ( Bris.) etc, etc .

The problem was, unfortunately I mistook feminism for women’s business which I have only in recent years come to fully appreciate. Through my activities with the peace and women’s movements I also became acutely aware of the prison industry. My reason for being then became to ‘raze the prisons’ to the ground – another unsuccessful mission I set for myself.

After many years of feeling like I was hitting my head against a brick wall, where nothing seemed to have changed and in fact, where things had even gotten worse – in my ego state – I became disillusioned. There didn’t seem to be any sisterhood in the sisterhood, the anarchists, with whom I ran with, either went turn- cote or became manic depressives, etc. etc. The point is – what I had been doing, was exactly that – hitting my head against a brick wall and then wondering why it hurt. We can all have ‘issues’ dear to us, things we want to change, but they will remain just that -‘ issues’- until we address the root problem, and that is our lack of spirit and connectedness to country.

Once you do acknowledge who’s land you are on, once you acknowledge you know nothing about this country, once you bow down, chuck away everything you think you know and realise that most of what you think you know is utter crap, then you can begin to learn.

I have heard comments from white fella’s who say they know about spirit and country because they can ‘intuit’ it, they can go into someone else’s country sit under a tree or whatever and ‘intuit’ Baiame and the rainbow serpent moving – just like that! We are all spirit and we all seek spirit but it doesn’t mean we know it, own it, control it. One woman said to me about such individuals – People like that are like leaves blowing in the wind, blowing around and around, eventually blowing right away. She said she’d rather be connected to the tree.

In 1998 through my prison activities, I met the father of my two youngest children. He was stolen from his Pitjanjatjara family in S.A. when he was three and grew up in institutions. I was on a huge learning curve. He used to say to me “Chuck away my political ism-schisms” or, similarly, as my other husband says “You have to come to this like a child”. And so I am passing on to you what I see is essential for non-indigenous people to do before they can effect any real change – whether it be for the environment, the military, domestic violence, whatever. We need to get the proper authorities and disciplines right firstly, with the restoration of elders in council – blood lines back to territory. We truly need to seek truth and spiritual oneness.

Australia has the highest youth suicide rate in the world, and that’s white fella’s. “Why is this so?” you might ask.The lack of spirit, respect, the ongoing lies and thievery, and the belief in white superiority, which everybody seems to want to deny, is taking its effect. You can’t commit genocide, and expect no consequences.

My family is currently in a state of total chaos at the moment because of the factors I have just mentioned. The two fathers of my non- Indigenous children, in their arrogance and ignorance, are committing genocide on my family as we speak.

Knowing full well the failure of the white police and judicial systems to address anything, knowing full well that police kill blackfellas in jail – they have decided to use the police and the state and my two daughters to ‘divide and conquer’ once again. They may say they are against the invasion of the Northern Territory but fail to see that their own actions give testimony to such genocidal practices. What they are doing is as the rest of white Australia is doing – pointing the finger at blackfella’s to divert attention away from their own insidious behaviour. They like the rest of white Australia don’t seem to want peace.

They do not seek healing but ego gratification. They as white, wealthy, academics see them selves as superior to me and my family because they are white and they think they are men, and they think they know better. Like the Government is doing – they say sorry, and kick you in the guts again. And it’s not good enough.

The military invasion of the N.T. is in no ones interest except white Autsralia. I didn’t see activists running to the N.T. to stop the invasion. I saw people run to Shoalwater Bay for the military exercises – everywhere but the N.T.

. I was in Canberra for the convergence to ‘stop the N.T. Intervention . People from the N.T. weren’t there to hear “sorry, now off you go back home”. They want it stopped. This intervention is extending into other states. Whitefellas are now starting to experience some of the tactics of the oppressive regime. As James Baldwin said “if they come for me at night, they’ll be coming for you in the morning”.

So finally, I would just like to reiterate the need for non-Indigenous women to stop focusing on how right they are, to stop blaming everyone else for their problems, to stop being so self righteous and judgemental.

Put your right to be an individual aside for five minutes, and start listening to the Indigenous women and men in the communities.

There are those who do things for mammon and ego and there are those who do things for spirit. Who are you? There are those who will judge others and accuse others. Ask yourself, what are their motivations and what are your own?

Please prioritise in your lives redressing the ongoing genocide. Support the move for Sovereignty; support a Treaty process; support international condemnation of this Australian govt. and the culture of genocide.

If you are interested in doing Treaty and supporting the move toward Sovereignty, you can obtain further information by contacting me on 0402541548

email – moongalba1@yahoo.com.au.

Or you can support the Aboriginal Embassy in Canberra, which is desperately seeking support to drive Sovereignty, Treaty, and “Stop the Intervention”.

Peace, prosperity and healing,

Fiona Noble (Sacred Treaty Circles of Oodgeroo, Custodian of the Land Minjerribah)

Useful Readings….

Oodgeroo’s works

Germaine Greer – White Fella Jump Up,

Henry Reynolds – Law of the Land

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