What Is Sacred?
Max “Duramunmun” Harrison, an elder of the Yuin Nation of Southeast Australia, explains why Aboriginal understandings of the land have no credibility in wider Australian society. Developers refuse to respect sacred land when they cannot see what is sacred about it. But Max asks, is sacredness something to be seen with the eyes or something to be felt and lived?
For more see:- http://www.globalonenessproject.org
For Aboriginal Elder Dr Berryl Carmichael the Darling River is her Livelihood.
For Dr Berryl Carmichael, the Darling River is her livelihood.
Berryl remembers a time when the river water was as clear as the ocean, a place where she played and learned the traditions of her people.
“We used to have great fun going down and pumping the yabbies out,” she said.
“We used to put our foot in the hole instead of setting traps and the yabbies would back out the other hole.
“We grabbed the yabbies and put them in the bucket so we had a feed.”
Over the years, Berryl has noticed different species come and go from the system, like the catfish.
“We used to always catch catfish and they were a beautiful food,” she said.
“Especially if it was your totem, you needed that catfish, a bit of your spirit food to feed your spiritual self.
“Now today you can hardly get a catfish in the river.
“Things like that connected the people to the water.
“It is fast disappearing, it’s very sad.”
On the longer term health of the Murray-Darling Basin, Beryl says he is concerned for the next generation.
“What about the fish dreaming?” she asked.
“This is when the Aboriginal people need to come together again and let our voices be heard loud and clear.
“It’s the life vein of our people.”
Policeman Shot at Car? No, People!
After a great deal of coverage from most of the mainstream media comes news that a WA police officer has been charged in relation to a “Shooting”.
Sen-Const Niko Westergerling, 39, was charged on Wednesday with two counts of discharging a firearm in a manner likely to endanger life over the November 14 shooting. AAP
From news reports and statements given to a WA court it can be generally agreed that the officer pulled over a vehicle when he observed one of the occupants not wearing a seat belt. The car occupants were 3 adult women (including a pregnant woman) and 2 children, one of whom was just three years of age. After a brief disagreement over the identity of the driver the car took off.
Channel Seven reported that it was then that Constable Westergerling produced his police-issue Glock pistol and tried to smash a window with it, then fired the weapon twice as the car sped away. SMH
This is clearly not acceptable from any officer of the law and the serious charges laid show just how serious a criminal matter this is. How does a traffic incident so minor escalate into a potentially fatal police shooting. The officer was accompanied by colleagues, he was pulling over a car with women and children and although there was a disagreement surely he could not argue his life was in danger. Police Officers for the large part are just like you and I, they do a bloody tough job for not a great deal of pay. But could there have been any insight into this officer that could predict such an incident might occur?
Earlier this year…. Senior Constable Niko Westergerling, 38, who also worked as a male model, was fined $2000 by a Perth Magistrate after admitting to kicking and punching his wife in their Innaloo home during a heated argument. Constable Westergerling “snapped” and punched his wife, causing her a black eye, and threw her to the ground where he repeatedly kicked her to the body. SMH
Although confined to desk duties during the case he was back on operational duties once the matter had been finalised. How on earth he wasn’t in prison is anyones guess… “I want you to consider yourself lucky to be walking out of here today,” Magistrate Heaney said. Maybe it is hindsight that allows us to make the following observation, but is it any wonder that a man who beats and kicks his own wife would be willing to shoot at a car of women and children.
Now facing criminal charges and an internal investigation it is best if the rest of the particulars not reported widely are left to the courts to be dealt with. But it must be raised that while there has been coverage of the story, virtually all of it has referred to the incident as if a policeman shot at a car. Would you, if anyone with a gun shot at your car, look at the damage to your car first or be more concerned about your own safety and your occupants. Bullets do not discriminate when fired, they can puncture steal, glass and find their way very easily into flesh. Nobody knows the intention of the officer, one can only hope that will come out in the court hearings, but people, not a car, was shot at!
It is important that we also consider the fact that the occupants of the car were Aboriginal. Would the media coverage have included far more outrage if the victims of the attempted shooting had been white? And can the victims feel they will get the justice they deserve given the colour of their skin?
It is easy to fob these issues off if you have never faced race based discrimination particularly by the police. But the Western Australian police service came into being as a full time operation after the massacre at Pinjarra in which men, women and children were slaughtered by the newly established force. Nearly 200 years later and having suffered other such massacres, brutality, deaths in custody and all round general poor treatment is it any wonder that Indigenous West Australians are concerned they wont see justice in this matter.
And perhaps, in this context, we must consider why many Aboriginal peoples do not feel safe when an “Intervention” sees police on mass roll into their land. Perhaps what they fear is not a new beginning, but an escalation of persecution!
Indigenous elders condemn intervention extension (ABC)
A group of Aboriginal leaders say they are furious about the Federal Government’s plan to extend the Northern Territory intervention next year. ABC News
The intervention was meant to wrap up next year but last month Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin announced that measures including alcohol bans and welfare quarantining in remote communities will continue.
Ms Macklin has signalled legislation will be introduced into Parliament before Christmas.
Rosalie Kunoth-Monks from Utopia in Central Australia says communities around the Territory are angry the Government is extending the intervention.
“After almost five years of the oppression of the intervention we demand that the Government hand back to us control over our communities,” she said.
“We reject the Stronger Futures document. We reject it absolutely.
“We will not support an extension of the intervention legislation, we did not ask for it, in fact, we call for a genuine apology.”
Barbara Shaw from Alice Springs says the intervention is discriminatory and the Government has ignored the concerns of many people.
“We know what we want and the arrogance of the Australian Government as well as the Northern Territory Government, they just don’t want to listen to the views of the people like us,” she said.
The elders say the intervention is causing shame and embarrassment in Aboriginal communities.
To call on Minister Macklin to end the Intervention please use the contact form provided at the link below
Aboriginal health standards ‘third world’
© AAP 2011
Urgent changes are needed to improve the third world health standards among indigenous communities, the West Australian opposition says. Health Minister Kim Hames said in February that he would introduce a bill to amend the Public Health Act by the end of the year. But he told parliament on Tuesday that it was not urgent and may not be introduced until next year.
Opposition Health spokesman Roger Cook said improving Aboriginal public health should be a focus for the government. “The Health Department’s website said the current legislation, which is more than 100 years old, was ineffective at addressing Aboriginal environmental health issues and the exposure of indigenous people to disparate conditions affecting health,” he said. “Remote Aboriginal communities continue to be subject to poor community sewerage, lack of rubbish collection and problems with water supply, which contribute to poor health in these communities. “These loopholes that have allowed environmental health standards to remain at third world levels must be fixed as a matter of urgency.”
Mr Cook said there was no excuse for not introducing the bill, because it was already drafted and had been subject to extensive community consultation. The legislation would protect communities from diseases and other public health risks, encourage communities to maintain a healthy environment, provide for the prevention or early detection of diseases, and reduce health inequalities in the public health of disadvantaged communities.
Amnesty slams indigenous policy – Action required
The head of Amnesty International has strongly criticised the federal government’s efforts to improve living standards of Aboriginal Australians, saying it could learn from New Zealand’s dealings with its Maori people.
The human rights agency’s secretary-general, Salil Shetty, said the government’s “top-down externally driven” efforts to close the gap on Aboriginal socio-economic disadvantage were instead having the opposite effect.
Mr Shetty, who is the middle of a tour of Australia after a visit to New Zealand, said Amnesty was appalled that current policies had effectively “forced evictions from their traditional homelands”.
“They’re stripping funds for essentials services from these communities, effectively driving people away,” he told AAP in an interview.
Mr Shetty was to spend Saturday at the homeland communities of Utopia, 260 kilometres north-east of Alice Springs, before heading to Canberra next week to meet with Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin.
Far from what the name suggests, most Utopia communities are more like Third World slums.
An Amnesty report, released in August, profiled Utopia and claimed Aborigines were being driven off their homelands and herded into “hub towns” where the federal and Northern Territory governments were splashing out cash for resources and services.
Mr Shetty said there was strong evidence that indigenous people had “better health and a better state of mind” when they lived on their own lands.
The Amnesty chief praised New Zealand for its treatment of Maoris, saying the government there had done a “much better job than Australia”.
“There’s a lot to be learned from them, given the way they have given Maoris a voice in the political process and in decision-making,” he said.
“Aboriginal people need to be empowered to make their own choices.”
Mr Shetty said part of the problem was mainstream Australia’s lack of understanding about the extent of the disadvantage gap between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians.
“There’s a lack of political will,” he said.
Mr Shetty said Australia was one of the richest countries and should be able to find solutions “unless deep down we’re dealing with a lot of prejudice and discrimination”.
He is also concerned that the benefits of Australia’s mining boom are bypassing struggling indigenous communities.
“Where the benefits and revenue are going to is disproportionately in favour of large corporations, at the cost to Aboriginal communities,” Mr Shetty said.
In Canberra next week, Mr Shetty will urge Ms Macklin to end discrimination of homeland indigenous people and call on the government to ensure money is distributed equitably to include the homelands and address an under-investment in housing.
Amnesty has been a staunch critic of the Howard government’s Northern Territory Intervention plan, which has continued under Labor but is now under review.
Mr Shetty said the government should be looking at the recommendations of the Little Children are Sacred Report and its obligations under the United Nations declaration for indigenous people when planning its next move.
However, he applauded moves to recognise indigenous people in Australia’s constitution.
“There’s nothing wrong with symbolism as long as it doesn’t end there,” he said.
“What we need is accountability and justice, it’s not just a question of words.”
http://www.amnesty.org.au/action/action/26569/ – Take Action Now!
Wave Hill Walk Off back in our minds
For many years the Mainstream media hadn’t given much attention to the annual commemoration of the Wave Hill Walk Off and the years of strike that followed led by Vincent Lingiari and the Gurindji people. This year the efforts of those who organise the anniversary activities and the elders of the Gurindji who made all this possible are receiving the coverage they and this great part of Australian history deserve. Many radio stations and local newspapers carried stories of the strike, ABC’s The Drum published 1DEADLYNation.com’s piece (http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/2855942.html) and SBS television news ran a story from the anniversary ceremony (see below)
In coming years we sincerely hope that more mainstream media is dedicated to this remarkable piece of Australian history and the lessons we can all learn from those events. With the 50th anniversary only five years away Government, media and education bodies have a responsibility to ensure the date is marked by the sort of national celebration the strikers deserve in recognition of their struggle, their commitment to justice and the sacrifices they made for all of us.
From Little Things Big Things Grow
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are warned that this website contains images of deceased people.
Gather round people let me tell you a story
An eight year long story of power and pride
British Lord Vestey and Vincent Lingiari
Were opposite men on opposite sides
You probably know these as the opening lyrics to the 1991 Paul Kelly and Kev Carmody song, From little things big things grow. It is one of Australia’s most important songs and most Aussies will know it if not from its radio play or performances from Paul and Kev around the nation, but also from its use by grass-roots movements around Australia and in advertising campaigns.
Vincent Lingiari, I solemnly hand to you these deeds as proof, in Australian law, that these lands belong to the Gurindji people and I put into your hands part of the earth itself as a sign that this land will be the possession of you and your children forever.
Now please take a few minutes to listen to the song and ponder the lessons we can learn from this tale of the Gurindji, from all Aboriginal people and from the legacy of one of our true Nation hero’s to both Black and White, Vincent Lingiari.
This year celebrates the 45th anniversary of the Walk Off. For more information please visit:- http://www.gurindjifreedomday.com
And for an interview with Brenda Croft – a Gurindji woman and one of the organisers of the event http://www.abc.net.au/local/audio/2011/08/24/3300918.htm?site=darwin