Category Archives: politics

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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Reflections on indigenous issues by a non-indigenous person for the consideration of non-indigenous people.

This is a post I have written for the blog “Public Polity” which is Run by Sam Clifford who is an active member of the Queensland Greens.  http://publicpolity.wordpress.com/   I will be writing regularly for Public Polity. 

 Firstly a note on vocabulary.  When I use the word “white” I am speaking of culture and worldview, I am not talking about skin colour.  White is a psychological, sociological and legal structure which dark skinned people can also be agents of, in fact this is the premise of our immigration policy and citizenship test.

 “Aboriginal” is not a matter of skin colour but of bloodline – a matter of family and that particular family’s connection to particular country.  There were no Aboriginal or Indian or native people in Australia before Captain Cook. There was just families, communities and nations connected to this land.   On this continent today there does indeed exist a colonial and an “Aboriginal” society. The Late Oodgeroo Noonucal coined the term “non-Aboriginal” to turn the colonial perspective around and  define migrant experience by its difference to sovereign Aboriginal Australian reality rather than define Aboriginality by its difference to “normal” colonial society.

The psychological, sociological and legal structure inherent in Aboriginal families and the Australian landscape is not exclusive of non-Aboriginal people.  It is in fact white Australia’s refusal to relate to Aboriginal Australia within the frameworks of Aboriginal society that has caused all the problems.

The history of invasion, genocide and colonisation is not just an Aboriginal story.  Aboriginal people have been the victims of this history but it is predominantly a history of what white people and governments have done.  The smallpox, massacres and poisonings, the missions and reserves, the slave labour, the stolen wages and the stolen generation are all part of mainstream Australia’s history every bit as much as Gallipoli, the Eureka stockade or Donald bloody Bradman.

It is important to understand the history to explain why Aboriginal Australia today is like it is.  But the history of war and colonisation also explains why white Australia today is like it is, how the forces of history built the new nation and our contemporary culture and structures.

Unfortunately, Prime Minister Rudd’s apology and acknowledgement that we got it wrong in the past is overshadowed by his government’s indigenous policy and programs, or at least those that we have had a glimpse of so far.  They are a continuance of 20th century Aboriginal policy paradigms and I am sad to say so are the Greens indigenous policy frameworks.

The radical departure from colonial bandaids that began with Whitlam and continued through the Fraser, Hawke and Keating years and is embodied in the U.N. declaration on indigenous rights appears to have been forgotten in the 21stcentury policy framework of the ALP and the Greens.

Notions such as land rights and self determination have been sidelined as secondary considerations to the urgent priority of “Closing the Gap”, an inherently assimilationist campaign/policy that identifies the cause of Aboriginal problems to be inherent in Aboriginal society itself – ill health, not in the white society including government policy. 

  “Close the Gap” applies a bandaid to the symptoms that white society sees (usually on TV) but fails in any way to address the structural factors that cause and perpetuate illness and disadvantage.

The causal factors of Aboriginal suffering today  are inherent in white colonial society and are invisible to white colonial society, it is the background normality.

The problem lies in such things as institutional modes of health care, paramilitary (police) and prison deterrence modes of maintaining law and order, exclusive legal title to our own back yard, mining and European modes of farming, welfare programs etc.  All these things that are the front line of the continued impoverishment, ill health and deaths in custody in Aboriginal society are taken for granted by the colonial society.  They are the morally righteous agencies of democracy and market economy.  These things that bring death, disease and dispossession to Aboriginal Australia bring health and prosperity to colonial society.  It is not easy to identify our own sociology as a causal factor in Aboriginal trauma and crisis.

The common Australian notion of reconciliation is a white myth.  Inherent in this myth is the assumption that white and black Australia must find some middle ground, shake hands and begin negotiations.  A simple formula but one that is no more likely to succeed than Palestinian Muslims finding a common ground with Israeli Jews while the state of Israel exists.  All Middle East so-called peace negotiations are not good willed, open-minded exchanges; they are power games where the dominant military and economic power – The U.S. – determines the framework and parameters of negotiations and raw power is played against raw power in the process. 

The whole “peace” process and the management of conflict in negotiations is tightly controlled by the vested interests of the U.S. who designed and maintains the state of Israel in accordance with U.S. interests.

So too with Australia’s reconciliation movement.  It has been designed and managed within the worldview of white Australia, the illegally imposed British state and its entrenched colonial society.   The meetings, petitions and bridge walks of the last 2 decades have been predominantly manifestations of white Australia.  Apart from the Aboriginal spokespeople and committee members, Aboriginal Australia has largely not joined this movement.  The reconciliation process has been a white commentary on black Australia, perhaps easing some of White Australia’s anxieties but it has not connected in any meaningful way to Aboriginal Australia.

The reconciliation movement has achieved no positive change in Aboriginal Australia, except of course for the Apology, which while spiritually significant, does nothing to address issues of Aboriginal poverty, disadvantage and ill health. 

This is a stark contrast with the land rights and self-determination movements of the 60s. 70s and in particular the 80s leading up to the 88 bicentennial protest. This movement was lead exclusively by Aboriginal people and the meetings, marches and other events were well attended by Aboriginal people including tens of thousands from Around Australia gathering in Sydney in 1988.

The early land rights movement of the 60s and 70s, while consistently promoting land rights as the primary agenda, built independent, self managed Aboriginal medical centres, legal services, housing services and childcare services to tackle the exact same issues that we are faced with today. 

As well as struggling for funding for these welfare crisis responses the movement forced on structural reform such as the native title act and ATSIC and the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody.  However, despite the existence of the reconciliation movement, all the gains of the 20th century s have been deconstructed. 

 The mode for engaging in indigenous affairs that the reconciliation movement and presently the Greens and ALP operate in defines both the problem and a prescription for a solution totally within white notions and frameworks.  The essential task of facilitating and empowering the agencies of Aboriginal perspective has been reduced to allowing Aboriginal input into the decisions, policies and programs owned by the white government.

 At present Aboriginal people are only allowed to be part of white programs and policies, there is no funding or support for anything else.  The dominant mode of engagement with Aboriginal people is  “consultation” where Aboriginal people are told what the white policy and program is and are given advice and assistance as to how to conform to it.  The new ALP government and the Green’s policies do not suggest any change to this mode.

The challenge for us non-Aboriginal people, whether we are policy writers or grass roots activists is not to try and develop solutions to Aboriginal problems.

We non-Aboriginal folk should try and solve the problems of white Australia that cause the problems in Aboriginal Australia.

The challenge for indigenous policy and action is to allow and resource Aboriginal people to deal with their own problems within their own cultural frameworks and authorities and in accordance with their own priorities.  – self-determination.

The challenge for the Greens and the ALP, who both enthusiastically endorse the signing of the U.N. declaration on indigenous rights, is to develop policy in accordance with the core principles of the U.N. declaration – land rights and self determination.

Real reconciliation is about the colonial invader society paying reparations for the damage it has done and continues to do, when somehow and somewhere some land, wealth and power is transferred back to the people it was  stolen from.

Bandaids such as “Close the Gap” just won’t stick.

 

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Kevin Rudd’s Sorry statement has to say why the government is sorry – press release from Michael Anderson

Press release:  Michael Anderson, Goodooga, NSW, 29 January 2008

In a statement from Goodooga in NW NSW, Michael Anderson said today:

“In our family’s experience, my grandmother taken from Angledool, NW NSW in 1914 and had to find her own way home. She always wanted recognition of the government’s cruel judgement to breed out the colour and culture of Aboriginal people.”

“For an apology to be meaningful, there is a lot of history that PM Kevin Rudd has to admit to. He has to say why the Prime Minister and government is sorry and the public has to accept that the sorry statement is necessary for Australia to move forward.”

“In 1937, State and Federal governments convened aconference in Canberra to decide on a policy of what to do with ‘the Aborigines’ – the resulting policy objective was for the complete annihilation of a race of Peoples. The principle method to achieve this was to remove Aboriginal children from their parents and from the influence of customs, traditions and Law/Lore. The primary objectives were to de-Aboriginalise these children and to expunge their colour, because Australia was working towards an Aryan race.”

“It is important to remember that, in 1901, the first Federal Prime Minister, Edmund Barton, argued for a continent that could be free of ‘contamination’ by foreign and unwanted racial impurities. When he led the debate in the House of Representatives on the Immigration Restriction Bill 7 August 1901, he quoted Professor Pearson a noted social commentator of the time by saying: ‘The fear of Chinese immigration which the Australian democracy cherishes … is in fact, the instinct of self-preservation, quickened by experience … We are guarding the last part of the world in which the higher races can live and increase freely for the higher civilisation .… The day will come …when the European observers will look around the globe girdled with a continuous zone of the yellow and black races. It is idle to say that if all this should come to pass our pride and place will not be humiliated. We are struggling among ourselves for supremacy in a world which we thought of as destined to belong to the Aryan race; and to the Christian faith; to the letters and arts and charms which we have inherited from the best of times.”

“Many in mainstream cannot plead ignorance as it was a common agreement between State and Federal governments with the policy finalised in 1937 in Canberra. There are many Australians still alive today, who voted and trusted the governments to do right thing, but never questioned what was going on. The policy was genocidal in intent and practice – to create a white Australia without colour.”

“In almost every other country in the world, where colonisation has taken place, reparations in various forms have enabled survivors of gross violations of human rights to locate their niche in society. Reparation funds have made it possible for those indigenous groups to maintain identity, restore dignity, develop strategies and an economic base.”

“Reparation programs have to ensure there is not a white bureaucracy having control over us. We have to get away from mission managers. We do not want to be treated as children. We have never been given opportunity to manage our own affairs without a white bureaucratic ceiling of control and an expectation of assimilation.”

“Aboriginal Peoples can do without the welfare handouts. Our nations have to restore their territorial integrity and Australians have no reason to fear this.”“We must set our own objectives. We have a right to do this. The recent UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples affirms our rights and responsibilities. In Australia, Greeks, Italians, Macedonians have own clubs, churches, languages,schools while integrating into Australian society. Why is it different for us as Aboriginal Nations and Peoples in our own land?”

“If Rudd and his labour government are serious, the detail of a sorry statement must include the true horror of the genocide that was planned against Aboriginal Peoples and what was carried out.”

“To alleviate the Australian governments’ fears of separate development through reparation, they only have to look at US and Canadian models, where the sovereign identity of individual nations is maintained. In the Mabo case, the High Court alluded to the fact that sovereignty can continue to exist among Aboriginal Peoples and we assert that it does. We only ask that this be respected and that we can have co- existing sovereignties.”

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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,

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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.

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The Greens and indigenous issues in the 2007 election

The following is a couple of comments I posted (amongst others) on Greensblog in response to what has been the Greens only indigenous policy platform for this election, their indigenous health policy. See - “Australia’s Duty of Care”.  

The policy was released on the same day as the A.L.P.’s official campaign launch and failed to get coverage in the media.

I have criticised the Greens before for neglecting indigenous issues in their campaigns, this was my open letter to the Greens following the 2006 Qld. state election – here and now I have criticised them again.

Here are the comments -  

1/ 

I just got a Greens leaflet in my letterbox at home in Brisbane. It is titled “Greens commitments to peace, justice and human rights”.

Absolutely nothing about Aboriginal Australia.

Today is the 3rd anniversary of the Palm Island death in custody.

The leaflet says the Greens “will oppose the death penalty, torture and mistreatment” What about opposing these things in Australia?

It says “The illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq is a disaster built on a lie” What about the illegal invasion and occupation of Australia?

This Terra Nullius consciousness allows the Greens to whinge about human rights abuses overseas while ignoring the reality before their white noses here in Australia.

2/

For those people who do not know me, I am not an Aboriginal person, my grandfathers country is Tipperary, Ireland.

I am not taking cheap shots at the Greens in support of some other party. I have indeed endorsed Andrew Bartlett in Queensland on my blog because he has done the hard yards in Aboriginal affairs, especially stolen wages and he has made indigenous affairs his prime policy for his election platform.

However much of my above critique of the health policy can be (and has been) equally aimed at the Democrats policy. Bartlett has a much more comprehensive policy platform than the Greens but it is all still just tinkering around the edges of something that needs a radical change of direction.

The Greens have played a brilliant role on climate change. They have provided real leadership in the nation. The Greens started on this issue over 10 years ago when it was a marginalised fruitloop idea and not taken seriously. But the Greens did not back off, they pushed and pushed and pushed. They had education campaigns – active outreach to the community. They consistently included carbon reduction as a key policy platform. Today the Greens can not only say “we told you so!” but have credibility to demand the next obvious step, enforcible reduction targets and the rejection of coal and nuclear, even though it is still unpopular and requires radical social change.

Only the Greens can play such a role on indigenous issues.

Even if the Democrats were to survive this election they couldn’t do it. They can only tinker with the status-quo as they did on the original native title legislation which, even in its original form, was a mechanism for extinguishing, not enforcing Aboriginal rights and interests.

The ALP must entrench the interests of both international capital and a racist and conservative population, they cannot head in the right direction.

ANTAR play an important education role – Their Close the Gap campaign has informed Green, Democrat and Labour health policy this election.

However the real task is self determination – for Aboriginal Australia to be calling the shots. Not just being consulted or giving input into policy frameworks but to be actively managing land, economy, public services and all aspects of Aboriginal life. This will require a change in land law, public service design and delivery and a whole range of social structural re-engineering.

The Greens need a policy for this re-engineering.

A Treaty, self determination, land rights, alternatives to prison, compensation, etc. These are all things that will not flow naturally out of the present indigenous debate. They will require leadership, a leadership that must be willing to, at first, adopt a radical, marginalised, controversial policy framework that is holistic, intellegent and in essence true.
Then push and push and push.

Just like what the Greens did on climate change.

If the Greens do not take this leadership on indigenous issues in parliament and in community education, like they did on climate change, where will this leadership come from?

The Aboriginal leadership – the family and tribal elders, the community councils, the intelectuals and statespeople are all in place ready to go right now but they have no resources to do anything. Where is the point of engagement with white Australia that can bring about the necessary changes?

If not the Greens, who? If not now, when?

It is simply a matter of priorities.

Too late now, but maybe a indigenous issues could be included amongst the core platform at the next federal election? I am bitterly dissapointed that it was not this time, again.

JT

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The Carers Alliance – election message

The following message is from Robert Gow, Qld Campaign Manager of the Carers Alliance. The Carers Alliance are running candidates for the senate around Australia
more info – http://www.qld.carers.org.au/

Hello all,
Many thanks for the support you have all given, the election draws near
 and we are getting many contacts from carers who are desperately
 seeking a better deal.

Carers are asking questions, like:
Why will Indonesian Orang-utans receive several thousand dollars each
 over 4 years when Australian Carers will only receive an average of
 $15.38 each per annum for the next 5 years according to the government’s
 promises.

Carers days are numbered at the rate of interest that governments are
 showing. Will they join the ranks of endangered species though sheer
 neglect by government?

Have you seen our You Tube Video?
http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=6ZHkrgNlk9w

When you visit it please click on the favorite’s link. This will
 promote the clip and therefore the issue onto the political agenda and may
 gain us some more much needed press before Saturday.

Over the last two weeks we have published stories of difficulties that
 Carers are having with Centrelink. Many other carers have contacted us
 regarding their problems with the same body. There have been three
 overriding themes emerge:
• The officiousness and inflexibility of Centrelink staff
• The rudeness and flippancy of Ministerial staffers, and
• The non-responsiveness to issues raised by carers with Ministers,
 Shadow Ministers and local Federal members (not even the courtesy of a
 reply)

It has become clear that carers are a home grown endangered species.
  We are a finite resource – we will not live forever. We cannot continue
 to be exploited as a perceived cost effective alternative to a
 properly funded community support system. Governments are consigning carers
 and our sons, daughters, family members who require support and
 assistance, to the scrap heap.

Many of the 2.6 million Australian Carers and the other people that
 they influence (estimated to exceed 6.5 million) will ask “How do I make
 my vote ensure a future for our carers if neither party is serious about
 the issue?”

There is only one option; send a carer to Canberra and force government
 to take notice. A vote for the Carers Alliance Party is the only
 course of action for voters that want to influence the next government to
 make critical changes before carers are extinct in our population.

Without support Carers will become an extinct sub-species of the
 Australian community. Most are at breaking point and many are desperately
 beyond. At current rates of neglect many of the 2.6 million carers will
 join the ranks of those who need care. It will become a vicious circle
 and where does that leave the country?

Once again, please forward this to your mailing list and request that
 they do the same.
Don’t forget to visit the web site, http://www.qld.carers.org.au. We
 have had over 80,000 hits this month alone.

so many thanks,
Robert Gow,
Qld Campaign Manager
Carers Alliance

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Political addiction and the 2007 election ( Revenge of the Pseph)

“Well may you say God Save the Queen, but nothing will save the governor General”

gough-on-steps.jpg

I just had to say that on remembrance day. Every time I visit Canberra I have to stand at the front of the old parliament house and recite this mantra. Today is a holy day for political junkies.

I find election night television coverage to be a highlight of my viewing year. Every now and then I like to sit in the TAB and make a few bets, there is something mesmerizing about studying the numbers on the screen and trying to make sense of them followed by an exhilarating or disappointing climax as the race is called. I get the same petty buzz on election nights.

My name is John and I am a political junkie.

My craving for more and more is profoundly dissatisfied by this Federal election. I feel I am being subjected to involuntary cold turkey and being denied access to any solid political hits.

I am bored silly with the present election campaign. I agree with Mark Latham’s analysis that this election is a Seinfeld election – all about nothing. Senator Andrew Bartlett makes similar observations on his blog “Empty vessels and hollow men”.  

Kevin Rudd and the ALP have been running fast in all directions to avoid any argument with John Howard and the incumbent government and the substance of all media coverage has been meaningless visits to shopping centres, workplaces, schools and old peoples homes. The media hunts for bloopers and mishaps. When they get such a spontaneous distraction they feature that as the lead story.

When John Howard and Kevin Rudd met for a televised debate the headlines were not interested in any political issues but focused on the sensation of “The Worm”, the perception of the audience. The only exciting news presented about the election to date has been the almost daily release of opinion polls and the endless speculation about the size of the swing to the ALP.

Unfortunately much of the election commentary on the blogosphere has been similarly shallow, often just commenting on the media pulp but more and more  engaging in the esoteric art of psephology (the statistical study of elections).  

Independent psephylitics have been raised to a higher pedestal than political commentators.   The ABC’s Antony Green, the unchallenged Lord of the Psephs, has emerged as the most authoritative election analyst on the web and on the T.V. Journalists of the ilk of Laurie Oakes or Paul Bongiorno who have dominated past election coverage with their inside leaks, policy juxtapositions and eagerness to find or create political conflicts have been sidelined by Lord Antony’s speculative number crunching.

Politics has been reduced to the level of a cricket match. We, the people, sit in the grandstands cheering for one side or the other and watching the scoreboard.  However we will be quickly evicted if we wander on to the pitch. The thing that makes the 2007 election different to other cricket matches is that the ALP is content to bowl under-arm for the whole test. The government is swinging wildly trying to make contact with the ball but it rolls so slow and so low they cant do anything with it.

It is easy to be cynical about politicians detachment from the real world, about their minimal contact with their constituents who have no real power or voice in parliamentary business. Consent is given to these removed politicians once every three (or six) years by way of a cross in a box next to their name on a ballot paper which is the only political engagement required of a “responsible citizen”. It is similarly easy to be cynical about the expansive gulf between policy principles discussed in parliament and the real working (or not working) of government policies and public service delivery in the real lives of real people on the ground.

The only knowledge we have of the exercise of political power comes from a severely refracted, minimalised and biased mass media, not necessarily biased within the parliamentary spectrum but intensely biased in the construction of notions of society, citizenship and politics. The mass media, as our only common cultural experience as a nation defines our notions of “normal”, “reasonable” and “desirable”. The media is biased in favour of a growth/consumerist economy and sociology. Alternative perspectives of the world and the perspectives from on the ground in real peoples lives are simply not represented in the cultural parameters of mass media product.

So, through a combination of detached and alienating parliamentary political process and a one dimensional mass media, mainstream political discussion and activity is simply engagement in this clumsy illusion.

This mass adherence to illusion is a matter of consciousness. It is what we flawed humans do, we adopt or create illusions and then cling to them as if it was absolute reality.

The shallow, mechanical nature of the 2007 election is actively dumbing down the Australian population – and our consciousness, our understandings of what politics is and what is our role in it. We are more and more accepting our position as a passive market rather than an active body-politic.

Public opinion, as expressed through surveys, petitions, political campaigns and focus group research is not used as a basis for democratic policy development but as data that influences the advertising campaigns for undemocratic, unrepresentative policies devised by small elites detached from any public control or even input.

Politics and ideas have been reduced to conversation and “public opinion” (whatever that is). The concept of an idea metamorphosing into action and history is a notion that is not even considered by us ordinary people except within our privatised existence at work or within the fence lines of our home.

It does not matter if our politics is Green, revolutionary socialist, christian, feminist, libertarian or anything else if we engage in politics as simply conversation, ideas detached from existential reality and material history, then our politics is an illusion with no connection to the exercise of power. The adoption of alternative political illusions is not alternative to political illusion itself which, as I mentioned, is a matter of consciousness not ideology.

On matters of consciousness, Jiddu Krishnamerti had something to say on the matter…. “The core of the teachings”

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QUT controversy resolved but patronising attitudes to disability continue.

The long running QUT dispute over the sacking of two academics seems to be over with an out of court settlement. Courier Mail article  “QUT academic brawl ended by settlement”

It seems to me however that there are 3 issues that marked this affair which remain unresolved. These are…

 1/ attitudes towards disability,

 2/ attitudes towards free speech and

3/ The allegations that Michael Noonan forged signatures on release forms for Aboriginal people he filmed.

1/ Attitudes to disability.
 The original flashpoint of this controversy was the criticism of Michael Noonan’s film work with people with intellectual disabilities. This criticism has continued and none of the critics have changed their tune. However Noonan’s film “Unlikely Travellers” has now been widely praised for its representation of people with disability since it was released. Similarly the footage presented to Noonan’s QUT PhD confirmation hearing that was released to the Courier Mail has received almost unanimous praise, the exception of course is the issues of permission raised about the Aboriginal woman in his footage, which I will get to soon.

Since the release of “Unlikely Travellers” I have personally written several letters to Queensland Advocacy Incorporated asking them to retract their criticism of Noonan’s film but they have not responded to any of my correspondence.

The Australian Catholic Disability Council continues to criticise the film project as recently as last month, indicating that they are incapable of admitting they were wrong or that they hold a totally repressive attitude towards disability and they are offended by “Unlikely Travellers”, but my guess is they still haven’t seen the film or Noonan’s PhD. rushes and are still commenting in ignorance. Australian Catholic Disability Council speaks out against degrading research project

Noonan’s film is now an international landmark in positive representation of people with intellectual disabilities in the media. His work deserves support and praise but instead this whole affair has demonised Noonan and has never, ever, raised any serious and rational discussion about issues of disability. The ignorant, repressive and patronising attitudes of the criticisms have been reinforced and largely unchallenged in this whole episode. The so called “speaking up for the disabled” has created one more brick in the wall that contains people living with disabilities.

2/ Free speech issues.
The academics and their supporters called for Michael Noonan’s film project to be stopped, for the screening of his movie “Unlikely Travellers” at the Brisbane International Film festival to be stopped and for the issue of what universities ought and ought not to teach to be determined by the federal court, a course of action that has been thankfully aborted through the out of court settlement – all in the name of free speech.

Nothing is black and white, even the most ardent anti-censorship libertarian realises that there are times to censor. The extreme case is snuff movies but there are less dramatic compromises such as racist or sexist vilification and exploitation of the vulnerable. Many libertarians accept the need for moderation and control of the media in some areas.
However any call for a film or any other project to be censored needs to have a good reason, a rational explanation of why its production or broadcast directly exploits or oppresses somebody. The calls to censor Michael Noonan’s work was not based on any such explanation. The criticism was based on false information about the capacity of the on screen performers and an academic critique that it was an example of post modernist ammoralism.

It seems absurd to me that such a campaign of censorship could have existed under the banner of a free speech campaign.
  This campaign was perhaps the most significant parochial left wing campaign that Brisbane has seen for decades, it defined the evolution ( or slowed the devolution) of that strange phenomenon known as “the left”. Yet this campaign went from start to finish with absolutely no discussion or exploration of any of the core issues of the campaign. The powerful force of solidarity was corrupted and transformed to a mindless witch hunt and gang mentality relying on personal slur and gossip rather than any intellectual reflection and learning. It was this ignorant gang mentality that justified the call for censorship, not a concern for people with disabilities or the principle of free speech.

3/ Allegations of fraud and issues of filming Aboriginal people.
Firstly, I was at a meeting with Ted Watson (representing the Aboriginal woman in Noonan’s rushes), Michael Noonan and John Hart (The producer of “Unlikely Travellers”). At this meeting Noonan produced to Ted (and myself) signed releases from The Aboriginal woman and her husband. The signatures on Noonan’s release forms were the same as those on Ted’s documents of authorisation and complaint (in my opinion with no expertise in forensic handwriting analysis). I have never doubted Noonan’s honesty on this matter. At this meeting the issues of dealing with Aboriginal people and protocols was discussed at length and Noonan was genuinely disturbed by May’s concerns and has apologised to her.

However it seems that the issues of representation of Aboriginal people in the media were always only secondary to the legal defense of the two academics in their struggle with QUT. The complaints and allegations were administered as an addendum to the other legal actions. Now that the QUT issues are resolved what will happen to the the conflicts and controversy that has been stirred up about Aboriginal representation, in particular the interests of Aboriginal individuals at the centre of this? Will the issues of Aboriginality now conveniently disappear along with the issues of disability?

In conclusion I will recount my own involvement in this. As a long term proponent of free speech and as a person who has many connections to disability I was particularly interested in this issue. Initially I supported the academics but had not even read their criticism of the movie, I just assumed it to be valid. The fact that academics could be punished for being critical was an obvious attack on free speech.
However, somewhat belatedly, I read the critical article “Philistines at the gate” and was very disturbed by the patronising, moralising Roman Catholic attitude to disability expressed by the two authors. I had seen nothing of Noonan’s work but I knew the criticism was very wrong. This debate between humanisation vs. protection of people with intellectual disabilities was, and still is, an important debate to be had by the mainstream society – as it is the mainstream that embodies the attitudes of repression and exclusion.   I wrote the following critique of “Philistines at the Gate”“Laughing at the disabled, power perception and prejudice

As I surfed the net looking for more information I discovered that complaints had been made to the Adult Guardian, asking them to investigate Noonan’s “exploitation” of people with impaired capacity. I was outraged at this point. Regular Paradigm Oz readers will know that my family has been at war with the Adult Guardian who are a secret totalitarian agency that has complete power of peoples lives and can intervene and smash families with no accountability structure at all.  Background on the Adult Guardian

I was absolutely disgusted that people who mouthed rhetoric of freedom and human rights could be appealing to a fascist institution to intervene in the lives of people who are perfectly happy and supported.

Somewhere along the line I made contact with Michael Noonan and he gave me a copy of Unlikely Travellers. I was very impressed by his treatment of disability issues and realised that not only was the criticism of him based on a repressive ideological framework, but his work was extremely significant to changing mainstream attitudes about disability.  I wrote this review of “Unlikely Travellers” 

The campaign to support the suspended academics continued throughout to demonise Noonan, they never gave up attacking him for being an exploitative scum. This has disillusioned me terribly for I now have absolutely no respect for the Brisbane “left”. I was arrested at a land rights protest at the age of 16 – The concerned Christians arrests in Queens Park. I was arrested countless times marching, speaking and leafleting against Joh. From that time until very recently I identified as part of the “left” movement. But no more! What that movement has become is nothing more than a nest of malicious gossips, a petty and ignorant social clique that has nothing to offer the crises and issues of the modern world.

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John Howard’s referendum on assimilation

cook.jpg

Yesterday John Howard announced that he will, if re-elected, hold a referendum to amend the preamble of the Australian constitution to include a “statement of reconciliation” and to “recognise indigenous Australians”

The first thing to note about the proposed change to the constitution is that it is legally meaningless. The preamble of the constitution contains no specifics and is not a basis for any legal framework. It is just a – preamble. It cannot be referred to to make or amend laws as the rest of the constitution can.

The key legal issues of land rights, customary law and sovereignty will not be included in Howard’s (or copy-cat Rudd’s) “acknowledgement”.

Howard’s media comments today included recognising Aboriginal people as the first “inhabitants” of Australia, which even James Cook and Joseph Banks “acknowledged” on the Endeavor voyage. But like Cook and Banks, Howard is incapable of acknowledging indigenous sovereignty or customary law, not even considering the possibility of “prior” sovereignty.

John Howard says constitutional change would include indigenous Australia’s “special, but not separate place within a reconciled and indivisible nation.”

Since the 1967 referendum allowing Aboriginal people to be recorded in the census and empowering the federal government to make laws about Aboriginal people, white Australia has been prepared to accept Aboriginal people as equal citizens; equal to white people, equal subjects of the crown. The racial discrimination laws of the 1970s gave full rights of white Australia to people of all cultures, and outlawed the removal of these “equal” rights, but they did not acknowledge any indigenous rights such as Aboriginal land rights or Aboriginal customary law which are not rights enjoyed by all Australians. The anti discrimination laws are also Terra Nullius assimilation laws.

When Eddie Mabo proved to the High Court that his family owned their block of land since before Captain Cook the court accommodated this in terms of English common law. It refused to acknowledge any legal rights or interests inherent in Torres Strait customary land law and how it connects to all other areas of life. White land law gave white notion of land rights (native title) and black law remained invisible and repressed.

The Howard government has thwarted any possibility of land rights by wrecking native title law, has essentially outlawed customary law and has very recently opposed the U.N. declaration on indigenous rights. What is left for Howard to “recognise”?

Having smashed all legal acknowledgement of indigenous rights this constitutional amendment will be a celebration of the victory of white supremacy, an arrogant assertion that indigenous people now have nowhere to go except into the white mainstream. This is certainly not reconciliation.

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Hearts and minds

As readers may know I am an occaisional writer for the greenish leaning “Dead Roo” blog. I have also begun writing for  “Leftrights”, a leftish leaning blog.

My first post on Leftwrites is entitled “The Eurocentrism of Australian Socialism”

Here is my most recent comment on that discussion……

The point of real connection with Aboriginal Australia is spirituality, not ideology. It is about the heart not the head.

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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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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

ghost-gums.jpg

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UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

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

A TIME TO CELEBRATE?

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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