NACCHO Press Release : Aboriginal Health #18C and #Racism : Proposed changes to #18C will throw Reconciliation out the window

It is so disappointing that after all the talk in Canberra in February and the goodwill that was generated, the Government is sending such a poor message to Aboriginal people about acceptance in our own country,

“Racism and discrimination have well documented negative impacts on mental health. If we fail to deal with the alarming rates of poor Mental Health in Aboriginal people, it will have ongoing detrimental impacts in preventing and managing chronic disease

 Young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people take their own lives at a rate five times that of other Australians and infant mortality rates are going backwards “

NACCHO Chair Matthew Cooke said just a month after the Prime Minister committed to a new partnership with Aboriginal people through the Redfern Statement, he has put forward measures that would have potentially devastating impacts on the health and well-being of Aboriginal people.

Download a copy of the NACCHO Press Release or read in full below

NACCHO Press Release response to 18c amendments

Download NACCHO full submission to #RDA #18c enquiry here

submission-to-inquiry-into-freedom-of-speech-and-rda-draft

The Kenbi land claim was a hard-fought land rights battle, but it represents so much more than a battle over land. It was a story that epitomised the survival and the resilience of the first Australians, the survival and resilience of the Larakia people“.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull

Great photo opportunity above for the PM during the 2016 election campaign , but what would be the #healthyfutures for these children with increased racial hate speech ?  

 ” In question time today, I asked Senator Brandis about the watering down of section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act.

What insulting, offensive or humiliating comments does the Prime Minister think people should be able to say to me?

It’s sad that on Harmony Day, a day that celebrates Australia’s cultural diversity, inclusiveness and builds a sense of belonging for everyone, the Government wants to give permission for more racial hate speech

  Being the target of racist, hurtful comments is deeply distressing and causes deep harm “

Senator Malarndirri McCarthy addressing the Senate see video and text below

Along with powerful videos of MPs Linda Burney and Tony Burke addressing Parliament over 18C

“The challenging thing with regard to proposals to change the act is that they are being put forward by those who have never felt vulnerable. These are the people who have never been on the receiving end of racist comments or attacks.

“Our first Australians hold a special place in the Australian community. Our government should be taking action to empower, rather than to disempower them. To be serious about ‘Closing the Gap’, the evidence is clear around racism and all Australian governments should be doing everything in their power to address these issues .”

Members of the Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA) were shocked by the Government’s announcement being made on World Harmony Day the intention to change Section18c of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975, according to PHAA CEO Michael Moore.

”  The government’s reforms should, as the Inquiry recommended, address that problem specifically, and not be distracted with an abstract ideological debate, divorced from the social realities.

Section 18C is not needed to protect members of minority groups who are popular in the wider community. It is needed to protect members of unpopular minorities, and also vulnerable minorities, especially our First Peoples, Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islanders.

We support the idea of improving the process for handling section 18C complaints, so that trivial or spurious complaints are terminated quickly.”

Rod Little and Dr Jackie Huggins, Co-chairs, National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples

As leaders of 10 organisations representing a wide range of culturally diverse communities in Australia, we are profoundly disappointed at today’s announcement by the Federal government of its intention to amend section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act.

The Government’s planned changes to the Racial Discrimination Act and the Human Rights Commission will weaken the protection of Aboriginal Australians from racial abuse in this country at a time when suicide rates in Indigenous communities are among the worst in the world, the peak body for Aboriginal medical services said today.

NACCHO Chair Matthew Cooke said just a month after the Prime Minister committed to a new partnership with Aboriginal people through the Redfern Statement, he has put forward measures that would have potentially devastating impacts on the health and well-being of Aboriginal people.

Mr. Cooke said all Senators must carefully consider the issues and rise above petty point scoring politics to defeat these amendments – which are based on an hysterical media campaign about the merits of the legislation due to a single court case and a recently published cartoon.

“Any changes to section 18C will alienate the very Aboriginal people the government says it is trying to support, and create even deeper divisions in our community,” he said.

“I urge all Senators to respect the voice of the first Australian peoples in this debate, listen to Aboriginal people about what needs to be done to close the gap, and vote down changes to laws that are likely to make it even wider.”

Mr Cooke said it was outrageous that watering down racial hate laws is a priority for the Government when the latest Closing the Gap report showed just one of seven targets are on track, and the Don Dale Royal Commission is shining a light on the treatment of Aboriginal children in detention.

Young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people take their own lives at a rate five times that of other Australians and infant mortality rates are going backwards.

“It is so disappointing that after all the talk in Canberra in February and the goodwill that was generated, the Government is sending such a poor message to Aboriginal people about acceptance in our own country,” Mr Cooke said.

“Racism and discrimination have well documented negative impacts on mental health. If we fail to deal with the alarming rates of poor Mental Health in Aboriginal people, it will have ongoing detrimental impacts in preventing and managing chronic disease.

“The Government’s priorities should be on positive measures like the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan, which recognises the impacts of racism and discrimination inherent in the health system, and supporting the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health sector to fix the national crisis in Aboriginal health.”

PHAA urges all MPs and Senators to leave 18c alone

“Members of the Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA) were shocked by the Government’s announcement being made on World Harmony Day the intention to change Section18c of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975,” according to PHAA CEO Michael Moore.

Earlier this week Mr Moore attended a meeting on Aboriginal and Torres Islander Health where the issue of impact of racial discrimination on health was discussed at length. “The challenging thing with regard to proposals to change the act is that they are being put forward by those who have never felt vulnerable. These are the people who have never been on the receiving end of racist comments or attacks”.

“Our first Australians hold a special place in the Australian community. Our government should be taking action to empower, rather than to disempower them. To be serious about ‘Closing the Gap’, the evidence is clear around racism and all Australian governments should be doing everything in their power to address these issues”.

“A similar impact on health will be experienced by anyone who is discriminated against on the grounds of their racial or ethnic background,” said Mr Moore.

“It really is those who are vulnerable, and those who have been subjected to hateful jibes and vilification, who should be the ones making suggestions for change rather than those who are in the dominant group,” added Mr Moore.

“The PHAA calls on all MPs and Senators to leave the Act as it is”.

“People who already feel exposed to inappropriate comments do not need to be made even more vulnerable,” Mr Moore added.

The Report of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights “Freedom of Speech in Australia” set the tone. Over ten thousand submissions were made and the Committee did not recommend changes. Of the twenty two recommendations, there was no consensus about a change to Section 18c.

Mr Moore concluded that “MPs and Senators should be taking guidance from the Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights that examined the issue rather than kowtowing to a small hump of ultraconservatives who have played political games in order to get the numbers for a proposal that will undermine the health of the most vulnerable groups in Australia”.

Harmony Day 21 March 2017

As leaders of organisations representing a wide range of culturally diverse communities in Australia, we are profoundly disappointed at today’s announcement by the Federal government of its intention to amend section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act.

If implemented, these proposals will weaken, perhaps emasculate, existing legal protections against racist hate speech. They will give a free pass to ugly and damaging forms of racial vilification which do not satisfy the stringent legal criteria of harassment and intimidation. The publication of virtually any derogatory generalisation about an entire community group would, of itself, be permissible.

To offend, insult or humiliate a person or group because of their race or ethnic background necessarily sends a message that such people, by virtue of who they are, and regardless of how they behave or what they believe, are not members of society in good standing.

This cannot but vitiate the sense of belonging of members of the group and their sense of assurance and security as citizens, and constitutes an assault upon their human dignity. This has nothing to do with a contest of ideas or free speech – which is in any event protected under section 18D – and falls far short of the mutual respect about which we have heard.

Under the government’s proposals vulnerable community groups will now have no peaceful, legal means of redress against these kinds of attacks against their dignity. This would send a signal from government of a more lenient attitude to racism and would damage social cohesion. It is especially ironic that the government has put forward these proposals on Harmony Day.

The proposal to insert a generic “reasonable person” standard into the legislation has superficial appeal, but is unfair and unworkable. The proverbial person in the pub or on the “Bondi tram” does not have the background knowledge and insight into the particularities of a minority group that would be needed to make a fair and informed assessment of what is reasonably likely to “harass or intimidate” members of that group.

Under the existing law, the assessment is made by a reasonable member of the targeted community, that is, by a member of that community who is neither overly sensitive nor overly thick-skinned. This is both more logical and more just.

A generic reasonable person test would also create the possibility that members of a group that happens to be unpopular at any time for any reason would be unfairly treated. Section 18C is not needed to protect members of minority groups who are popular in the wider community. It is needed to protect members of unpopular minorities, and also vulnerable minorities, especially our First Peoples, Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islanders.

We support the idea of improving the process for handling section 18C complaints, so that trivial or spurious complaints are terminated quickly.

We note that the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights was unable to reach a consensus, or even a majority opinion, in favour of any of the government’s proposals to amend the substantive law. Its recommendations were all limited to suggested reforms to the complaints-handling process.

This is the sensible way forward. The problems identified by the QUT case and the Bill Leak complaint all related to deficiencies of process. The government’s reforms should, as the Inquiry recommended, address that problem specifically, and not be distracted with an abstract ideological debate, divorced from the social realities.

Rod Little and Dr Jackie Huggins, Co-chairs, National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples

John Kennedy, President, United Indian Association

George Vellis, Co-ordinator, and George Vardas, Secretary, Australian Hellenic Council NSW

Peter Wertheim AM, Executive Director, Executive Council of Australian Jewry

Patrick Voon, Immediate Past President, Chinese Australian Forum

Tony Pang, Deputy Chair/Secretary, Chinese Australian Services Society

Randa Kattan, CEO, Arab Council Australia

Vache Executive Director, Armenian National Committee of Australia

 

Senator McCarthy:  My question is to the Minister representing the Prime Minister, Senator Brandis. The Prime Minister has on at least 16 occasions ruled out his government amending section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act. Today, on Harmony Day, we learned that the Turnbull government is proposing the removal of the words ‘insult’, ‘offend’ and ‘humiliate’ from section 18C. What insulting, offensive or humiliating comments does the Prime Minister think people should be able to say to me?

Senator Brandis: Might I begin by correcting the premise of your question: the Prime Minister has never, not on 16 occasions and not once, said that the government would never reform section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act. He did say, as was the case at the time, that it was not a priority for the government.

Nevertheless, I think we all know that events have happened in this country in the recent past, in particular, the treatment of the QUT students, which was disgraceful, and the treatment of the late Bill Leak, which was disgraceful. The report of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights, to which Labor senators and members of the House of Representatives continue, proposed beneficial law reform. What the Prime Minister and I announced a short while ago was a strengthening of the antivilification provisions of the Racial Discrimination Act.

What you did not mention in your question, which I think is a very important consideration, is the insertion, into section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, of a prohibition against racial harassment. Did you know that in 1991, when the then—

Senator Brandis: If your leader, Senator Wong, would just control herself, I might be able to address your question. You may or may not know that in 1991 the then Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission—

Senator Cameron: On relevance. The question was: ‘What insulting, offensive or humiliating comments does the Prime Minister think that people should be able to say to the senator?’ That was the question, and he has not gone near it. He should actually take off that Harmony Day badge. It is absolutely crazy that he has that on.

The PRESIDENT: On the point of order, the Attorney-General has been giving a detailed response to a detailed question. He is aware of the question.

Senator BRANDIS: In 1991, when the current part IIA of the Racial Discrimination Act was recommended, the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission actually recommended to the parliament that one of the grounds of racial vilification should be harassment. That was one of the grounds recommended by the predecessor body of the Human Rights Commission. For some unaccountable reason that was not done by the then Labor government.

The PRESIDENT: Senator McCarthy, a supplementary question.

Senator McCarthy:  Minister Wyatt has twice indicated he would cross the floor to vote against changes to section 18C. What consequences will there be for members of the coalition who vote against the Turnbull government’s attempt to water down protections against racism?

Senator Brandis: I am absolutely certain that every member of the coalition will be voting for these changes to strengthen section 18C, every last one of them.

The PRESIDENT:  Senator McCarthy, a final supplementary question.

Senator McCarthy:  When asked why the government had no plans to amend section 18C, the Prime Minister said, ‘We did not take an 18C amendment proposal to the election.’ Why is Prime Minister Turnbull willing to cave in to the Right of his party room on section 18C, while he continues to refuse a free vote on marriage equality, despite the defeat of his proposed plebiscite?

Senator Brandis: Although I am a little loath to dwell on internal politics, may I say that strengthening protections against racial vilification and vindicating freedom of speech are causes that are embraced by all elements of the Liberal Party and the coalition. You may say that section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act and the complaint-handling procedures of the Australian Human Rights Commission Act are perfect and incapable of reform. You may say that, but if you do you would be alone because there is no serious person in this country who has followed human rights debate who says that section 18C in its current form, which actually omits to prohibit racial harassment, or the complaint-handling procedures of the Human Rights Commission cannot be improved. Certainly, that is what Professor Gillian Triggs has said, and I agree with her. (Time expired)

 

QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE: TAKE NOTE OF ANSWERS

Racial Discrimination Act 1975

Senator McCarthy:  The answer was incredibly disappointing, in particular on this day, Harmony Day. As we reflect on Harmony Day, I want to go to some of the answers to me and my questions by Senator Brandis. I want to begin with Senator Brandis’s response in terms of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. I asked, first up, about the fact that Mr Turnbull has said on at least 16 occasions that he had ruled out his government amending section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act. Senator Brandis said that he had not said that—certainly not that many times. I just want to point out some very important media coverage of the moments when Mr Turnbull denied that it was a distraction for his government. In news.com, on 31 August 2016: ‘The government has no plans to make changes to section 18C’. He said it again on 30 August in The Australian:

It’s filled the op-ed pages of newspapers for years and years but the government has no plans to make any changes to section 18C. We have other more pressing, much more pressing priorities to address.

Then again on 14 November 2016, on ABC 7.30, Mr Turnbull said:

18(C) is talked about constantly on the ABC. It’s talked about constantly in what’s often called the ‘elite media’. I’ve focused overwhelmingly on the economy.

It appears that Prime Minister Turnbull has changed tack. Today is one of the most significant days in Australia and across the world. The purpose behind Harmony Day is to reflect on the diversity of culture across this country, something that unfortunately has been really stained by the Prime Minister’s move to change the Racial Discrimination Act on this day in particular. It is incredibly sad. It really is a watering down of protections against racial vilifications. The irony of it being done on this day! The Attorney-General says he does not believe the Australian people are racist.

Senator Brandis: No, I do not.

Senator McCarthy:  As a white man growing up in Petersham, attending private schools, I am sure you have never been denied access or service in a shop. You have never had taxis drive past, pretending not to see you. You have never received hateful letters and emails because of your race or the colour of your skin. I really wish I could believe there are not any racists in Australia. But certainly my personal experience, and my family’s experience, informs me of the reality that I live in this country. It is deeply unfortunate.

I asked you in my question: what else do you need to say to me and to many other people of different races in this country that you cannot say now? What is it that you are so determined to say that you cannot say to people now?

My predecessor, Senator Nova Peris, had a disgraceful time in this Senate, standing here, being called all sorts of things—in fact, even on her Twitter account today—in terms of what racism she received from the general public. Just to clarify, in case you were thinking I meant it occurred in the Senate; I meant this is where she raised the issue about the racism that was displayed against her by the general public across Australia. It is really important to put this on the record. She stood courageously here to point out from her own personal experiences that racism is very much alive and strong in this country. We as parliamentarians in both the Senate and the House of Representatives must show leadership about the importance of harmony, diversity and cultural respect. That is something that is not happening now today in the Turnbull government.

Being the target of racist, hurtful comments is deeply distressing and causes deep harm. expired)

 

NACCHO #AboriginalHealth #Referendum #Treaty : Indigenous leaders play hardball on #recognition

 

“People are being clear-eyed here, we don’t want to forgo history by just taking whatever is on offer, we’re part of a struggle that goes back to the 19th century.

We owe it to past leaders like Sir Doug Nichols, William Cooper and so many others, to not accept reform that is no improvement on 1967 and just a bit of editing.

We want constitutional reform but why go to all the expense of having a referendum just to put poetry in?’’

 Referendum Council co-chair Pat Anderson and former NACCHO chair 2002-2003

In interview todays Australian Artice 1 Below

“Aboriginal people will not accept a feel-good, symbolic stamp on a fundamentally unfair system,

The system needs to be improved. We need to change the way we do business in Aboriginal affairs. Constitutional recognition must mean real reform. It must create a genuine paradigm shift, or Aboriginal people will reject it,”

Jeremy Clark and Jill Gallagher CEO VACCHO the co-convenors of the latest dialogue, held in Melbourne over three days. Read full report Article 2 below

 ” The question of guaranteed Indigenous parliamentary representation is especially timely as Australia considers the argument that treaties, rather than a constitutional statement, might provide more substantive political recognition.

However, treaties require that Indigenous people acknowledge the legitimacy of the state. Indigenous people need to determine the conditions under which they might provide that acknowledgement. They may, for example, want a more inclusive state; one that recognises a substantive and meaningful citizenship.

Guaranteed parliamentary representation responds to colonialism’s present as well as its past. Colonisation was not a single event “done” to Indigenous peoples.

Dominic O’Sullivan  Associate Professor, Charles Sturt University Article 3 below

Aboriginal leaders have warned they will campaign against a constitutional recognition referendum if all that is on offer is a so-called minimalist “politicians’ model”, which avoids a treaty and indigenous representation in parliament.

Meeting in Melbourne as part of a national series of community discussions, about 100 Aboriginal leaders and community members agreed there was a view in Canberra that the minimalist model — deleting a reference to race, adjusting another section on race and adding a statement of recognition — was a “done deal”.

They said recent statements by indigenous Liberal minister Ken Wyatt that they should temper­ expectations of what a referendum would produce, and by West Australian Liberal senat­or Dean Smith that treaties needed to be “off the table” for constitutional recognition to occur, had caused great concern.

The boilover came at the seventh­ of 12 meetings to be held ­nationwide, in a process climaxing with a constitutional convention at Uluru in May marking the 50th anniversary of the successful 1967 referendum on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s rights.

Participants were in agreement that they were prepared to support a “no” case against the referendum, and politicians should not assume they would eventually capitulate and accept minimalism.

However, they insisted they were not talking about shooting down a successful outcome, merely an unsatisfactory one, and said their views were not radical and were broadly representative of indigenous Australia.

Lengthy discussion was had around the fact the delegates, who included traditional owners, elders, chief executives of community organisations, and other “mainstream” indigenous representatives, were ambitious about a positive result but would not be accepting, as one put it, “beads and trinkets”.

“People are being clear-eyed here, we don’t want to forgo history by just taking whatever is on offer, we’re part of a struggle that goes back to the 19th century,” Referendum Council co-chair Pat Anderson told The Australian. “We owe it to past leaders like Sir Doug Nichols, William Cooper and so many others, to not accept reform that is no improvement on 1967 and just a bit of editing.

“We want constitutional reform but why go to all the expense of having a referendum just to put poetry in?’’

A July 2015 gathering of 40 indigenous leaders at Kirribilli House with Tony Abbott and Bill Shorten resolved that “a minimalist approach … does not go far enough and would not be acceptable to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples”.

“We’ve been saying since the 1840s that we wanted substantive change and we said it again at Kirribilli,” Ms Anderson said. “It’s this generation’s turn but it’s got to be for all Australians, not just for us. We need to win the hearts and minds of the Australian public on this because we can’t just pass on a legacy of nothingness — why would we support that?”

The Melbourne gathering was also sharply critical of a perception that the four indigenous federal MPs — Mr Wyatt and Labor’s lower-house MP Linda Burney, and senators Patrick Dodson and Malarndirri McCarthy — were token representatives of indigenous people. However, the meeting felt that rather than speaking for indigenous people they spoke for their electorates and the four of them in turn supported a minimalist outcome.

Overwhelming support has emerged at all seven meetings for an indigenous parliamentary “body”, or what Cape York leader Noel Pearson describes as a “hook” that could be inserted in the Constitution, and off which other legislative solutions could be hung. This body would likely be elected, with responsibility for giving parliament input on laws affecting indigenous Australians — input parliament would then be required to consider but which would be non-binding.

It is a solution supported by constitutional conservatives because it is viewed as being possible to create this body without endangering the sovereignty of parliament and without the threat of constant litigation over its powers — for example, whether the laws on which it was consulted were deemed constitutionally safe.

There could also be a statutory Declaration of Recognition drafted outside the Constitution.

A more far-reaching proposal would see the insertion of a prohibition against racial discrimination into the Constitution — a proposal thought unlikely to win wide support.

Treaties, or agreement-making, were backed at the Melbourne meeting, as was expected given the Victorian government is in treaty talks. They were also supported at Hobart, Dubbo, Broome, Darwin, Perth and Sydney.

Following the Uluru meeting the 16-member referendum council is required to report within a month on next steps.

Participants at all the gatherings have addressed the need for the post-Uluru discussion, including whether to hold a referendum at all or whether the desired outcomes can better be achieved through legislative change.

Article 2  :Indigenous Australia’s ‘line in sand’ on recognition: substantial change or nothing

Indigenous Australians have rejected a referendum that offers only minimal recognition in the constitution, insisting they will walk away unless more meaningful change is offered.

They have challenged political leaders to discuss what is emerging as their key proposal, an Indigenous body being recognised in the constitution, or be prepared to leave the recognition challenge to the next generation.

After seven of 12 planned Indigenous-only dialogues, it is clear that a statement recognising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in the nation’s founding document and some “tinkering” with the race power will not win Indigenous support.

“[People] clearly understand they are part of a struggle that goes back to the 19th century – and we owe it to past leaders like Sir Doug Nicholls, William Cooper and so many others, to not accept reform that is no improvement on 1967 and just a bit of editing. There has to be substantial change,” Ms Anderson said.

A 1967 referendum ended the practice of not counting Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders in the population and gave the Commonwealth the power to make laws for Indigenous people.

Ms Anderson conceded that Indigenous leaders faced a “hard sell” to win the support of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and other politicians, but added: “Our brief under our terms of reference was to go out and ask Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people what they want – and this is what’s emerging.”

The nation’s most senior Aboriginal politician, Aged Care and Indigenous Health Minister Ken Wyatt, recently urged those attending the dialogues to think big but be prepared to accept a judgment by political leaders on what is likely to secure passage of the referendum.

The emphatic view to emerge from the dialogues is that Aboriginal people will oppose anything they consider inadequate and could even mount their own “no” case to minimalist recognition.

Ms Anderson said an Indigenous body recognised in the constitution was emerging as the preferred vehicle to deliver substantial reforms. The Referendum Council has commissioned work on what such a body would look like and this would be produced in coming weeks, she said.

“At the moment it’s just a framework, but people are definitely sold on the idea that we must have some input, locked into the constitution, where we can talk directly to Parliament as equal partners.”

There are five more Indigenous dialogues before an Indigenous constitutional convention at Uluru on the weekend leading up to the 50th anniversary of the 1967 referendum in May.

Mr Clark and Ms Gallagher said the Melbourne dialogue saw healthy debate about sovereignty and treaties, “but one basic fact was clear: our people want real change, not minimalism”.

The concern of many delegates at the dialogues is that politicians have already agreed on a “minimalist model” they consider capable of winning support at a referendum. This would involve removing section 25 of the constitution, which says the states can ban people from voting based on their race; minor change to the race power and the addition of some symbolic words of recognition.

The co-convenors of the Melbourne dialogue said a voice to Parliament, in the form of an Aboriginal body embedded in the constitution, emerged as a strong priority in the discussions.

“This body could consult on laws and policies about our people, to help hold government to account. It could work under and incorporate the principles of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which could be articulated in statement of acknowledgement or a legislated declaration,” they said.

“The body could help drive reforms to enable agreement-making, so that a truth and reconciliation process can be pursued. As delegates pointed out: we can’t have reconciliation without having some truth.”

Mr Wyatt, the first Indigenous person to be elected to the House of Representatives and the first to be appointed to the executive of the Commonwealth government, recently said he was opposed to having an Indigenous body enshrined in the constitution, and did not believe it would be supported by the broader population.

Article 3 : Why guaranteed Indigenous seats in parliament could ease inequality

Dominic O’Sullivan  Associate Professor, Charles Sturt University

Indigenous Labor MP Linda Burney says her party is trying to identify and remove structural obstacles to preselection. AAP/Mick Tsikas from the Conversation

New South Wales Greens MP Dawn Walker used her inaugural speech this month to argue for guaranteed Indigenous parliamentary representation. The argument for designated seats is not a new one. It was considered and rejected by the Carr state government in 1998; Indigenous people would continue to compete for democratic voice like other minority groups.

Walker’s concern is for a secure and “direct [Indigenous] voice in our democracy”. New Zealand’s Indigenous population has had this voice since 1867.

In 2017, New Zealand’s unicameral parliament has seven designated Maori seats. From 1867 to 2017, Maori have almost always had cabinet membership and a recognised capacity to influence policymaking.

In Fiji, guaranteed representation of various kinds occurred between independence in 1970 and the most recent coup in 2006. It is true that it sometimes contributed to political unrest. However, the present regime’s extreme of no guaranteed Indigenous representation at all is among the variables helping to create Fiji’s seemingly irresolvable political instability.

In Norway, there is a distinctive Sami parliament. Its consultation agreement with the national parliament recognises the particular character of indigenous people’s citizenship. It does not eliminate political differences with the state, but it does provide a path to agreement on most of the 40 to 50 legislative measures on which it facilitates consultation each year.

The question of guaranteed Indigenous parliamentary representation is especially timely as Australia considers the argument that treaties, rather than a constitutional statement, might provide more substantive political recognition.

However, treaties require that Indigenous people acknowledge the legitimacy of the state. Indigenous people need to determine the conditions under which they might provide that acknowledgement. They may, for example, want a more inclusive state; one that recognises a substantive and meaningful citizenship.

Guaranteed parliamentary representation responds to colonialism’s present as well as its past. Colonisation was not a single event “done” to Indigenous peoples. It is a political system under which justice cannot occur and its essential rationale is exclusive. Designated seats in parliament are a step towards inclusivity.

Treaties look to a post-colonial future. They require societies to describe in real terms, not just in the abstract, what a fair and reasonable political community would entail. They presume Indigenous voice. They require recognition that colonialism gives Indigenous peoples a shared and distinctive political history; a voice that cannot always be effectively expressed by other people.

The mining lobby’s call for restrictions on native title is a contemporary example. It is a point that concerns Indigenous peoples only because their relationships with the state are uniquely colonial. These are relationships that do not concern other citizens for the same reasons or in the same ways.

Recognising difference allows liberal political communities to extend their concern for individual rights to Indigenous people as much as they extend them to anyone else. Individual identity is shaped by culture and communal relationships.

Governments are increasingly recognising that Indigenous exclusion from the policy process is among the reasons for sustained policy failure. Guaranteed representation reduces the distance between policymakers and the people for whom policy is made.

The argument remains even as Australian political parties are exploring ways of increasing the number of Indigenous people preselected as party candidates. For example, federal Labor MP Linda Burney, who is Indigenous, explains that her party is trying to identify and remove structural obstacles to preselection.

It is a concession to the possibility that racism exists within the party itself. However, parties would also need to set aside the fact that they have no electoral incentive to court Indigenous votes. There are simply not enough of them. Designated seats would create an incentive to compete for Indigenous support.

Australia’s democracy is not well equipped to consider the implications of prior occupancy, culture or colonial legacy. Democratic structure determines whether public decisions are the outcome of an inclusive political process. It determines whether people have had equal opportunities to contribute to decision-making, and it is reasonable to expect Indigenous people to require some benefit in return for recognising the legitimacy of the state.

Guaranteed parliamentary representation is not the only mechanism for ensuring Indigenous political voice. It may not, ultimately, be one that Indigenous Australians choose to pursue. However, it is one that has served New Zealand Maori well for 150 years, and is worth considering in response to John Rawls’ argument that:

The unity of society and the allegiance of its citizens to their common institutions rest not on their espousing one rational conception of the good, but on an agreement as to what is just for free and equal moral persons with different and opposing conceptions of the good

NACCHO #IWD2017 Aboriginal Women’s #justjustice :Indigenous, disabled, imprisoned – the forgotten women of #IWD2017

 

” Merri’s story is not uncommon. Studies show that women with physical, sensory, intellectual, or psychosocial disabilities (mental health conditions) experience higher rates of domestic and sexual violence and abuse than other women.

More than 70 per cent of women with disabilities in Australia have experienced sexual violence, and they are 40 per cent more likely to face domestic violence than other women.

Indigenous women are 35 times more likely to be hospitalised as a result of domestic violence than non-Indigenous women. Indigenous women who have a disability face intersecting forms of discrimination because of their gender, disability, and ethnicity that leave them at even greater risk of experiencing violence — and of being involved in violence and imprisoned

Kriti Sharma is a disability rights researcher for Human Rights Watch

This is our last NACCHO post supporting  International Women’s Day

Further NACCHO reading

Women’s Health ( 275 articles )  or Just Justice  See campaign details below

” In-prison programs fail to address the disadvantage that many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander prisoners face, such as addiction, intergenerational and historical traumas, grief and loss. Programs have long waiting lists, and exclude those who spend many months on remand or serve short sentences – as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people often do.

Instead, evidence shows that prison worsens mental health and wellbeing, damages relationships and families, and generates stigma which reduces employment and housing opportunities .

To prevent post-release deaths, diversion from prison to alcohol and drug rehabilitation is recommended, which has proven more cost-effective and beneficial than prison , International evidence also recommends preparing families for the post-prison release phase. ‘

Dying to be free: Where is the focus on the deaths occurring post-prison release? Article 1 Below

Article from Page 17 NACCHO Aboriginal Health Newspaper out Wednesday 16 November , 24 Page lift out Koori Mail : or download

naccho-newspaper-nov-2016 PDF file size 9 MB

As the world celebrates International Women’s Day, this week  I think of ‘Merri’, one of the most formidable and resilient women I have ever met.

A 50-year-old Aboriginal woman with a mental health condition, Merri grew up in a remote community in the Kimberley region of Western Australia. When I met her, Merri was in pre-trial detention in an Australian prison.

It was the first time she had been to prison and it was clear she was still reeling from trauma. But she was also defiant.

“Six months ago, I got sick of being bashed so I killed him,” she said. “I spent five years with him [my partner], being bashed. He gave me a freaking [sexually transmitted] disease. Now I have to suffer [in prison].”

I recently traveled through Western Australia, visiting prisons, and I heard story after story of Indigenous women with disabilities whose lives had been cycles of abuse and imprisonment, without effective help.

For many women who need help, support services are simply not available. They may be too far away, hard to find, or not culturally sensitive or accessible to women.

The result is that Australia’s prisons are disproportionately full of Indigenous women with disabilities, who are also more likely to be incarcerated for minor offenses.

For numerous women like Merri in many parts of the country, prisons have become a default accommodation and support option due to a dearth of appropriate community-based services. As with countless women with disabilities, Merri’s disability was not identified until she reached prison. She had not received any support services in the community.

Merri has single-handedly raised her children as well as her grandchildren, but without any support or access to mental health services, life in the community has been a struggle for her.

Strangely — and tragically — prison represented a respite for Merri. With eyes glistening with tears, she told me: “[Prison] is very stressful. But I’m finding it a break from a lot of stress outside.”

Today, on International Women’s Day, the Australian government should commit to making it a priority to meet the needs of women with disabilities who are at risk of violence and abuse.

In 2015, a Senate inquiry into the abuse people with disabilities face in institutional and residential settings revealed the extensive and diverse forms of abuse they face both in institutions and the community. The inquiry recommended that the government set up a Royal Commission to conduct a more comprehensive investigation into the neglect, violence, and abuse faced by people with disabilities across Australia.

The government has been unwilling to do so, citing the new National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) Quality and Safeguard Framework as adequate.

While the framework is an important step forward, it would only reach people who are enrolled under the NDIS. Its complaints mechanism would not provide a comprehensive look at the diversity and scale of the violence people with disabilities experience, let alone at the ways in which various intersecting forms of discrimination affect people with disabilities.

The creation of a Royal Commission, on the other hand, could give voice to survivors of violence inside and outside the NDIS. It could direct a commission’s resources at a thorough investigation into the violence people with disabilities face in institutional and residential settings, as well as in the community.

The government urgently needs to hear directly from women like Merri about the challenges they face, and how the government can do better at helping them. Whether or not there is a Royal Commission, the government should consult women with disabilities, including Indigenous women, and their representative organizations to learn how to strengthen support services.

Government services that are gender and culturally appropriate, and accessible to women across the country, can curtail abuse and allow women with disabilities to live safe, independent lives in the community.

Kriti Sharma is a disability rights researcher for Human Rights Watch

 

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How you can support #JustJustice

• Download, read and share the 2nd edition – HERE.

Buy a hard copy from Gleebooks in Sydney (ask them to order more copies if they run out of stock).

• Send copies of the book to politicians, policy makers and other opinion leaders.

• Encourage journals and other relevant publications to review #JustJustice.

• Encourage your local library to order a copy, whether the free e-version or a hard copy from Gleebooks.

• Follow Guardian Australia’s project, Breaking the Cycle.

Readers may also be interested in these articles:

NACCHO #Aboriginal Health and #Racism #justjustice : The importance of teaching doctors and nurses about unconscious bias

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 “Australian universities, medical schools and health systems grappling with how to include Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in their institutions as participants and staff – and how to produce equality of outcomes – need to deal with both overt and systemic factors of racism.

In Australia, the inability to deal with unconscious bias and racism has serious health effects on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. These include increased stress, mental ill-health and suicide, systemic racism in education, sports, justice and the public sector.

In a national survey of Aboriginal patients, 32.4% reported racial discrimination in medical settings most or all of the time. “

Gregory Phillips, Associate Professor and Research Fellow in Aboriginal Health at the Baker IDI Heart & Diabetes Institute, considers the coroner’s recommendations in light of Australia’s “inability to deal with unconscious bias and racism”, in and out of the health system. He says our responses must go far beyond cultural awareness training and its implicit judgements:

Image above : Equality can only work if everyone starts from the same place, whereas equity is about making sure people get access to the same opportunities. Interaction Institute for Social Change | Artist: Angus Maguire/madewithangus.com, CC BY

NACCHO Resources

Cultural awareness isn’t enough

 ” Teaching health professionals about Indigenous health will effectively require teaching about unconscious bias and racism; one’s own culture, values and motivations. It requires training in “unlearning” preconceptions, regular reflections on one’s own practices; as well as education about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures.”  See Below

” The National Cultural Respect Framework for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health 2016–2026 (the Framework) was recently launched by the Australian Health Ministers’ Advisory Council .

This ten year framework seeks to guide delivery of culturally safe, responsive, and quality health care to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities.

Download the COAG Cultural Respect Framework here :

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Ms Dhu coronial findings show importance of teaching doctors and nurses about unconscious bias

Originally published at The Conversation and then Croakey /JustJustice

In delivering her findings of the coronial inquest into the death of 22-year-old Ms Dhu during time spent in a Western Australian jail cell, state coroner Ros Fogliani was highly critical of some actions of police and medical staff.

She reportedly said Ms Dhu’s medical care in one instance was “deficient” and both police and hospital staff were influenced by preconceived notions about Aboriginal people.

Ms Dhu died on 4 August 2014 from staphylococcal septicaemia – a severe bacterial infection – and pneumonia, which were complicated by a previously obtained rib fracture. Released CCTV footage showed Ms Dhu moaning from pain, saying it was ten out of ten.

It was reported an emergency doctor considered her pain real but exaggerated for “behavioural gain”. Another doctor also noted Ms Dhu suffered from “behavioural issues” while a constable thought she was “faking” her suffering.

Ms Dhu’s case is not the first instance of mistreatment of an Aboriginal person in custody or a medical setting, nor is it likely the last. And while coroner Fogliani’s recommendations included mandatory, ongoing cultural competency training for police officers, to assist with health issues and other dealings with Aboriginal people, this isn’t enough.

For thirty years, Australian institutions have implemented cultural awareness programs. The thinking was if they taught staff about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, it would result in better lecturers, clinicians and policy-makers – and magically produce equity.

But this assumes Aboriginal culture is the problem. Like a deaf student in an all-hearing classroom, it is not the deaf student or their needs that are the problem, but a system that thinks an all-verbal and all-hearing teaching style is equal. The idea of equality itself entrenches systemic discrimination.

Unconscious bias

Singer Gurrumul Yunupingu has been suffering from chronic Hepatitis B since he was a child. ALAN PORRITT/AAP Image

 

 

 

In April, Darwin Hospital staff were under fire for allegedly leaving Aboriginal singer Gurrumul Yunupingu to bleed internally for eight hours. Media reported hospital staff noted Gurrumul’s liver damage was self-inflicted (a result of repeated heavy alcohol use) rather than being due to his chronic hepatitis B infection he had since he was a child.

We don’t know whether these allegations are true, but we do know unconscious bias exists in Australia. It refers to the instant judgements we make about other people and situations based on our own values, experiences and cultural and gender beliefs.

These judgements impact significantly on hiring and promotion decisions, how medical students make decisions, and in public discourse.

Regardless of merit or facts, research shows black or Indigenous people are more likely to be seen as less trustworthy; women to be risky prospects, and overweight people as irresponsible. Those with power and privilege judge those with less power for their inability to compete on terms set by the powerful.

So how is unconscious bias different to racism? Like an iceberg, unconscious bias is said to represent the beliefs, values and experiences (below water) that give rise to overt expressions of discrimination (above water).

There are two problems with these definitions, however. They don’t reveal how beliefs, values and experiences got into the subconscious in the first place. They may also imply it is not the responsibility of those with unconscious bias to change their implicit beliefs and explicit actions.

In Australia, the inability to deal with unconscious bias and racism has serious health effects on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. These include increased stress, mental ill-health and suicide, systemic racism in education, sports, justice and the public sector.

In a national survey of Aboriginal patients, 32.4% reported racial discrimination in medical settings most or all of the time. These people felt they had been treated unfairly (which included being treated rudely or with disrespect; being ignored, insulted, harassed, stereotyped or discriminated against) because they were Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.

Equality vs Equity

Public discussion about racism in Australia is often met with denial, discomfort and fragility. Some blame AFL player Adam Goodes for calling out racism – shooting the messenger is a common reaction.

Some stand with whistle blowers and defend their right to speak truth to power. Others completely deny racism’s existence, wishing it would go away because “we treat everyone the same”.

But the impulse to treat everyone the same confuses equality of inputs with equality of outcomes. As the below diagram shows, treating everyone with equal inputs (the same boxes) produces an inequality of outcomes (not everyone can access the game).

Alternatively, treating everyone differently, according to their needs and humanity is more likely to produce equality of outcomes where everyone can access the game. Equity deals not only with overt discrimination but the systemic factors that give rise to it.

Australian universities, medical schools and health systems grappling with how to include Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in their institutions as participants and staff – and how to produce equality of outcomes – need to deal with both overt and systemic factors of racism.

Cultural awareness isn’t enough

Teaching health professionals about Indigenous health will effectively require teaching about unconscious bias and racism; one’s own culture, values and motivations. It requires training in “unlearning” preconceptions, regular reflections on one’s own practices; as well as education about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures.

Most importantly, if the clinician cannot see themselves, their privilege and power as a potential problem, this will inadvertently re-establish racism and unconscious bias.

People had mixed reactions when Adam Goodes spoke out on racism in Australia. DEAN LEWINS/AAP Image

Educators have found patiently moving Australian medical students who were initially hostile to Aboriginal health curricula through their discomfort to reach the “a-ha” moment, is a key teaching strategy in producing better prepared doctors.

Further, cultural awareness training assumes that even if we could train every individual staff member in a hospital to be perfectly culturally competent, they would then go on to magically produce better health outcomes.

But the systemic factors – workplace culture, policies, power, funding and criteria on which decisions are made – are critical if we want a culturally equitable society.

Improving outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people includes moving from a goal of equality to equity; teaching about racism and unconscious bias, not just culture; and making explicit the deeper transformational work of institutional decolonisation. We need to ask: how can power be shared? On whose terms are decisions made? Who owns institutions and services? Whose criteria are used to judge effectiveness?

The answer is that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander definitions and measurement tools of success are more likely to contribute to producing better outcomes than those where unconscious bias and racism is implicit. The work of admitting and addressing institutional racism remains.

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How you can support #JustJustice

• Download, read and share the 2nd edition – HERE.

Buy a hard copy from Gleebooks in Sydney (ask them to order more copies if they run out of stock).

• Send copies of the book to politicians, policy makers and other opinion leaders.

• Encourage journals and other relevant publications to review #JustJustice.

• Encourage your local library to order a copy, whether the free e-version or a hard copy from Gleebooks.

• Follow Guardian Australia’s project, Breaking the Cycle.

Readers may also be interested in these articles:

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #prisons #JustJustice : Terms of references released Over-representation of Aboriginal peoples in our prisons

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 ” It is acknowledged that while laws and legal frameworks are an important factor contributing to over‑representation, there are many other social, economic, and historic factors that also contribute.

It is also acknowledged that while the rate of imprisonment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and their contact with the criminal justice system – both as offenders and as victims – significantly exceeds that of non‑Indigenous Australians, the majority of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people never commit criminal offences.”

Senator the Hon George Brandis QC, Attorney-General of Australia,

Refering to the Australian Law Reform Commission, an inquiry into the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in our prisons:

Senator Siewert Greens Senator moved the following motion in the Senate

(a) notes that the adult incarceration rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples increased by 77.4 per cent from 2000 to 2015;

(b) acknowledges the growing incarceration rates of our First Peoples is shameful;

(c) notes the Redfern Statement, which was released in 2016 by over 55 Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal organisations and peak bodies, sets out a plan for addressing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ disadvantage;

(d) notes that the Redfern Statement calls for justice targets to help focus the effort to reduce Aboriginal incarceration; and

(e) calls on the Government to listen to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community and adopt justice targets as a matter of urgency.

NACCHO NOTE :

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull will tomorrow deliver the ninth Closing the Gap address to Parliament.

The annual report card tracks progress against targets in a range of areas, such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employment and life expectancy.

But it does not include any targets around incarceration rates — despite Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people making up a quarter of Australia’s prison population

ALRC inquiry into the incarceration rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples

The Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) welcomes the appointment by Attorney-General, Senator the Hon George Brandis QC, of His Honour Judge Matthew Myers AM as an ALRC Commissioner.

Judge Myers will lead the new ALRC Inquiry into the high incarceration rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, announced by the Attorney-General in October 2016.

Judge Myers was appointed to the Federal Circuit Court of Australia in 2012. He is a member of the Board of Family and Relationship Services Australia, the CatholicCare Advisory Council (Broken Bay Dioceses), Law Society of New South Wales Indigenous Issues Committee, Federal Circuit Court of Australia Indigenous Access to Justice Committee, Co-Chair of the Aboriginal Family Law Pathways Network, member of the Central Coast Family Law Pathways Network Steering Committee, member of the Darkinjung Local Aboriginal Land Council, member of the New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council,  member of the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples and member of the Honoured Friends of the Salvation Army.

Judge Myers said “I am honoured by this appointment and the opportunity to build on the valuable work of past Commissions, Inquiries and successful community initiatives. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men, women and children are significantly over represented in the Australian criminal justice system. This is something that cannot and should not be acceptable to any Australian. I look forward to undertaking a broad consultation across the country, working closely with stakeholders and the community to develop meaningful and practical solutions through law reform.”

ALRC President Professor Rosalind Croucher AM said, “We are delighted by this appointment and welcome Judge Myers to lead this very important Inquiry. To echo the Attorney-General, the over representation of Indigenous Australians in our prison system is a national tragedy. This Inquiry, with the expertise and leadership of Judge Myers, is an important step in developing much needed law reform in this area.”

The Attorney-General’s Department released draft Terms of Reference for Inquiry into the incarceration rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples for community consultation, in December 2016.

The consultation included Indigenous communities and organisations and state and territory governments.

Scope of the reference

  1. In developing its law reform recommendations, the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) should have regard to:
    1. Laws and legal frameworks including legal institutions and law enforcement (police, courts, legal assistance services and prisons), that contribute to the incarceration rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and inform decisions to hold or keep Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in custody, specifically in relation to:
      1. the nature of offences resulting in incarceration,
      2. cautioning,
      3. protective custody,
      4. arrest,
      5. remand and bail,
      6. diversion,
      7. sentencing, including mandatory sentencing, and
      8. parole, parole conditions and community reintegration.
    2. Factors that decision-makers take into account when considering (1)(a)(i-viii), including:
      1. community safety,
      2. availability of alternatives to incarceration,
      3. the degree of discretion available to decision-makers,
      4. incarceration as a last resort, and
      5. incarceration as a deterrent and as a punishment.
    3. Laws that may contribute to the rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples offending and including, for example, laws that regulate the availability of alcohol, driving offences and unpaid fines.
    4. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and their rate of incarceration.
    5. Differences in the application of laws across states and territories.
    6. Other access to justice issues including the remoteness of communities, the availability of and access to legal assistance and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander language and sign interpreters.
  2.  In conducting its Inquiry, the ALRC should have regard to existing data and research[1] in relation to:
    1. best practice laws, legal frameworks that reduce the rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander incarceration,
    2. pathways of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples through the criminal justice system, including most frequent offences, relative rates of bail and diversion and progression from juvenile to adult offending,
    3. alternatives to custody in reducing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander incarceration and/or offending, including rehabilitation, therapeutic alternatives and culturally appropriate community led solutions,
    4. the impacts of incarceration on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, including in relation to employment, housing, health, education and families, and
    5. the broader contextual factors contributing to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander incarceration including:
      1. the characteristics of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander prison population,
      2. the relationships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander offending and incarceration and inter‑generational trauma, loss of culture, poverty, discrimination, alcohol and drug use, experience of violence, including family violence, child abuse and neglect, contact with child protection and welfare systems, educational access and performance, cognitive and psychological factors, housing circumstances and employment, and
      3. the availability and effectiveness of culturally appropriate programs that intend to reduce Aboriginal; and Torres Strait Islander offending and incarceration.
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  3. In undertaking this Inquiry, the ALRC should identify and consider other reports, inquiries and action plans including but not limited to:
    1. the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody,
    2. the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory (due to report 1 August 2017),
    3. Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Public Administration’s Inquiry into Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Experience of Law Enforcement and Justice Services,
    4. Senate Standing Committee on Community Affairs’ inquiry into Indefinite Detention of People with Cognitive and Psychiatric impairment in Australia,
    5. Senate Standing Committee on Indigenous Affairs inquiry into Harmful Use of Alcohol in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities,
    6. reports of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner,
    7. the ALRC’s inquiries into Family violence and Family violence and Commonwealth laws, and
    8. the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010-2022.

The ALRC should also consider the gaps in available data on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander incarceration and consider recommendations that might improve data collection.

  1. In conducting its inquiry the ALRC should also have regard to relevant international human rights standards and instruments.

Consultation

  1. In undertaking this inquiry, the ALRC should identify and consult with relevant stakeholders including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their organisations, state and territory governments, relevant policy and research organisations, law enforcement agencies, legal assistance service providers and the broader legal profession, community service providers and the Australian Human Rights Commission.

Timeframe

  1. The ALRC should provide its report to the Attorney-General by 22 December 2017.

[1] It is not the intention that the Australian Law Reform Commission will undertake independent research or evaluation of existing programs, noting that this falls outside its legislative responsibilities and expertise.

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NACCHO Aboriginal Health and Human Rights : Nomination open 2017 National Indigenous #HumanRights Awards

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 ” The National Indigenous Human Rights Awards recognises Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons who have made significant contribution to the advancement of human rights and social justice for their people.”

The awards were established in 2014, and will held annually. The inaugural awards were held at NSW Parliament House, and were welcomed by the Hon Linda Burney, MP and included key note speakers Dr Yalmay Yunupingu, Ms Gail Mabo, and Mr Anthony Mundine. A number of other distinguished guests such as political representatives, indigenous leaders and others in the fields of human rights and social justice also attended.

The Awards were presented by leading Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander elders, and leading Indigenous figures in Indigenous Social Justice and Human Rights. All recipients of the National Human Rights Award will be persons of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander heritage.

To nominate someone for one of the three awards, please go to https://shaoquett.wufoo.com/forms/z4qw7zc1i3yvw6/
 
For further information, please also check out the Awards Guide at https://www.scribd.com/document/336434563/2017-National-Indigenous-Human-Rights-Awards-Guide

AWARD CATEGORIES:

 

DR YUNUPINGU AWARD – FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
 
To an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander person who has made a significant contribution to the advancement of Human Rights for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples. Dr Yunupingu is the first Aboriginal from Arnhem Land to achieve a university degree. In 1986 Dr Yunupingu formed Yothu Yindi in 1986, combining Aboriginal (Yolngu) and non-Aboriginal (balanda) musicians and instrumentation.

In 1990 was appointed as Principal of Yirrkala Community School, Australia’s first Aboriginal Principal. Also in that year he established the Yothu Yindi Foundation to promote Yolngu cultural development, including Garma Festival of Traditional Cultures Dr Yumupingu was named 1992 Australian of the Year for his work in building bridges between Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities across Australia.

THE EDDIE MABO AWARD FOR ACHIEVEMENTS IN SOCIAL JUSTICE

In memory of Eddie Koiki Mabo (1936-1992), this award recognises an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander person who has made a significant contribution to the advancement of Social Justice for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Eddie Koiki Mabo was a Torres Straits Islander, most notable in Australian history for his role in campaigning for indigenous land rights.

From 1982 to 1991 Eddie campaigned for the rights of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders to have their land rights recognised. Sadly, he died of cancer at the age of 56, five months before the High Court handed down its landmark land rights decision overturning Terra Nullius. He was 56 when he passed away.

THE ANTHONY MUNDINE AWARD FOR COURAGE

 

To an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander person who has made a significant contribution to the advancement of sports among Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Anthony Mundine is an Australian professional boxer and former rugby league player. He is a former, two-time WBA Super Middleweight Champion, a IBO Middleweight Champion, and an interim WBA Light Middleweight Champion boxer and a New South Wales State of Origin representative footballer. Before his move to boxing he was the highest paid player in the NRL.

In 2000 Anthony was named the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Person of the Year in 2000. He has also won the Deadly Award as Male Sportsperson of the Year in 2003, 2006 and 2007 amongst others.

He has a proud history of standing up for Indigenous peoples, telling a journalist from the Canberra Times: “I’m an Aboriginal man that speaks out and if I see something, I speak the truth.”

NACCHO Aboriginal Health debate #changethedate #australiaday : #InvasionDay, #SurvivalDay, or Day of Mourning?

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“Many of our people call it Invasion Day … to many Indigenous Australians, in fact, most Indigenous Australians, it really reflects the day in which our world came crashing down,” the prominent Indigenous leader and academic said.

The idea that it’s not appropriate to hold a national celebration on the date the first fleet arrived in Sydney cove in 1788 to begin the process of Indigenous dispossession wasn’t new. It wasn’t even the first time an Australian of the Year had said so. Lowitja O’Donoghue pleaded for a date change after she was honoured in 1984. It’s even more widespread now.

Mick Dodson explained succinctly why he thought Australia’s national day is celebrated on the wrong date after accepting his Australian of the Year award in 2009. See article 3 below from the Guardian

“It is critical that more Australians understand why Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples often feel that 26 January is an inappropriate day for celebration.

Australia Day has diverse meaning to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians; some see it as a day of invasion, a day of mourning and of assertion of sovereignty; some see it as a day of survival.

Considering these meanings, it must be recognised that holding Australia Day on 26 January does not make for inclusion and celebration of our nation and all its peoples possible.”

Reconciliation Australia believes Australia Day must be inclusive, unifying, and be supported by all Australians. It should be a day when we come together as a unified people – a day when all Australian’s rights, histories and cultures are valued as part of a shared national identity

Justin Mohamed, CEO of Reconciliation Australia (former Chair of NACCHO ) Article 2 below

 ” Every year on the 26th of January I wonder a bit about how I am going to refer to the day, Invasion Day, Survival Day or Day of Mourning? Over the years I have referred to it as all of these, and I think the choice I make reflects a bit about the mood I am in at that time, where I am at in life, and where Australia is in general.

Photo above NITV : Each of the names captures an important part of what this date represents.

Invasion Day, for me, reflects an honest truth that needs to be expressed. It speaks of the power of protest. It speaks of a history that has never been reconciled, of justice denied. It reminds how one simple word, ‘invasion’, seems to bewilderingly upset those connected to the invaders more than those who descend from the invaded. It comes largely from the 1988 protests which also brought the slogan “White Australia Has A Black History” to our national consciousness. At the same time, there is a part of me that felt it gives too much energy away and not enough to ourselves. I often think about whether or not we spend too much responding to the moves of others rather than making our own, but at the same time the power of the above slogan always resonates with me and speaks to a battle that is still underway about how we relate to Australian history. I believe we still need to speak these words, and we still need people to attend these events.

 White Australia Has A Black History

Survival.

It speaks to me of celebration and commemoration. It speaks of amazing resilience and resistance of cultures, communities, families and individuals. At the same time, it feels too comforting for white Australia. It does not feel ‘in their face’ enough. Perhaps this is more to do with how the name has been coopted than what it was originally intended for, I don’t know, but it has never quite sat right with me. So many lives have been needlessly lost in our history, and every day; those who didn’t survive. I am not comfortable about a day that can so easily be misrepresented to gloss over this tragic reality. Still, I believe we still need to speak these words, and we still need people to attend these events.

Mourning.

It speaks to commemorating and acknowledging all we have to mourn since invasion took place. Not just the loss of life, but for all of the loss of culture, loss of land, loss of language. It is one of the oldest names we have for this day, and the significance of the 1938 protests should always be remembered and commemorated. Like the other two days though I have at times felt this lacked the fire of Invasion Day, and the positive outlook of Survival Day. But I know the power and the importance of grieving for people and things lost, and I believe we still need to speak these words, and we still need people to attend these events.

 Aborigines day of mourning, Sydney, 26 January 1938

Aborigines day of mourning, Sydney, 26 January 1938 (State Library of NSW)

It is only in recent years that I have stopped the internal debate each year about which camp I should sit in and come to realise that all three days are important, all three are still needed for different people at different times in their life. All three come are essential pieces of the whole that are needed to fully recognise the significance of this date.

There are times we need to protest. Other times we need to breathe, and to celebrate that we are still here despite the obstacles we have overcome and those we still face. And at other times we just need to mourn, and to heal.

Like many debates in our communities this is one where I believe we do not need to debate but instead we need to support each other regardless of the camp we need to sit in, and respect the reasons why we need to be there. We should be able to freely move between each and let others do the same.

There are times we need to protest. Other times we need to breathe, and to celebrate that we are still here despite the obstacles we have overcome and those we still face. And at other times we just need to mourn, and to heal. I know many people who plan to attend an Invasion Day march in the morning, attend a Survival Day concert in the morning, and then spend a reflective evening commemorating the Day of Mourning.

I have at times heard people opposed to changing the date of Australia Day argue that doing so would be to ignore or try to erase the history of this date. I disagree. January the 26th will always be an important date in our national calendar. It will always be Invasion Day. It will always be Survival Day. It will always be a Day of Mourning. We will never forget what this day represents. The only name I think the 26th of January should not have is ‘Australia Day’. It is not a day that was ever intended for Aboriginal people to celebrate. Even as far back as 1888, when Henry Parkes was the Premier of NSW and was preparing to celebrate the 100 year anniversary, he was asked if he was planning anything for Aboriginal people on this day, to which he replied, “And remind them that we have robbed them?”.

Australia Day, for me, is a day that was only ever intended to be a day for white Australians to come together to celebrate white Australia, and the recent attempts to make it a more inclusive day just feel like an effort to make it a day where all Australians regardless of their race, colour, or religion can come together to celebrate white Australia.

I am not necessarily opposed to the idea of an Australia Day that would allow us all to celebrate together, on the condition that we eventually learn to see the difference between inclusion and assimilation, but I am not entirely sure if there is a date in Australian history that could adequately encapsulate that ideal. That, to me, is the most interesting element about the whole ‘change the date’ conversation. Not the push to see that date changed, but the conversation about what day, if any, best encapsulates the Australia the Australia that we would like to imagine ourselves as.

Is our national identity best commemorated on the day that NSW became a British colony, or the date that Australians stopped being British subjects? Is it the day that the White Australia Policy was enacted, or is it the day it was repealed? Is it perhaps the day, if it ever comes, that we become a republic? Or is it some future day that we can’t even imagine at the moment, some future event that could serve to help ‘bring us together to celebrate all that is great about being Australians’?

But whether the date of Australia Day ever changes or not, the 26th of January will always be an important day. It will always be Invasion Day. It will always be Survival Day. It will always be a Day of Mourning.

So whatever you call it, whatever events you choose to go to or whether you just do your own thing, we do not need to debate what we should call this day so long as we can agree on one simple thing – Australia always was, and always will be Aboriginal land.

#AlwaysWillBe

Article 2 : Australia Day should be a source of unity, pride and celebration that reflects the identities, histories and cultures of all Australians.

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Justin Mohamed, CEO of Reconciliation Australia said today at a breakfast honouring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australia Day finalists,

“We must find a day on which we can all participate equally, and can celebrate with pride our common Australian identity. I believe that it is critical to reconciliation for all Australians to acknowledge and understand different views around the date of Australia Day. And to ask the critical question: can our national day be truly inclusive if it is celebrated on a day that represents the beginning of physical and cultural dispossession for First Australians?”

Reconciliation Australia  hosted a celebratory breakfast for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australian of the Year Awards finalists, and finalists who work with Indigenous communities.
The work of the finalists champions #reconciliation and brings Australia closer to becoming a just, equitable and reconciled nation.

Finalists Andrew Forrest, Arthur Alla, Andrea Mason, Tejinder pal Singh, Sister Anne Gardiner AM and Lois Peeler AM, Reconciliation Australia Co-Chair Professor Tom Calma AO, finalists June Oscar AO and Patricia Buckskin PSM, and Reconciliation Australia CEO Justin Mohamed

Article 3 Editorial the Guardian Australia agrees.

This is not a date that unifies Australians.

In fact it’s hard to think of a worse date for a party that is supposed to include us all.

The National Australia Day Council itself acknowledges the problem.

“We recognise that some Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and some non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians may have mixed feelings about celebrating this day. January 26 has multiple meanings: it is Australia Day and it is also, for some, Survival Day or Invasion Day. The NADC acknowledges that the date brings a mixture of celebration and mourning and we believe that the programs presented by the NADC should play a powerful and positive role in advancing reconciliation.”

The national strategy that followed the initial decade-long process to achieve reconciliation recommended the date be changed.

“Governments, organisations and communities negotiate to establish and promote symbols of reconciliation,” it said. “This would include changing the date of Australia Day to a date that includes all Australians.”

But, despite the obvious historical arguments and the growing acknowledgement the date is a problem, there is still deep resistance to the idea that 26 January is inappropriate.

Fremantle council tried to hold this year’s main citizenship ceremony at a more inclusive 28 January event, but eventually bowed to pressure from the federal government. The prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, insisted Australia would be “sticking with” 26 January.

Back in 2009 the then prime minister Kevin Rudd’s reply to Mick Dodson’s suggestion was even more brusque. “To our Indigenous leaders, and those who call for a change to our national day, let me say a simple, respectful, but straightforward no,” he said.

Some – like the Indigenous leader Noel Pearson – have suggested changing our understanding of exactly what we are celebrating on 26 January.

He sees three defining moments in Australia’s history: “Firstly, 53,000-plus years ago, when the first Australians crossed the Torres Strait land bridge to this continent; secondly, the landing of the first fleet in 1788; thirdly, the abolition of the White Australia policy between 1973 and 1975.”

“I believe the celebration of Australia Day will always be equivocal as long as it is about only one of these three parts,” he said at the National Press Club last year. “If we brought these three parts of the nation together and the day defining Australia spoke to these three parts then less offence and hurt would attach to 26 January. It can’t just be about what was destroyed. It must also be about what we have built.”

When he became Australian of the Year in 2014, the footballer Adam Goodes also suggested broadening what Australia Day is about. “There was a lot of anger, a lot of sorrow, for this day and very much the feeling of Invasion Day,” he said.

“But in the last five years, I’ve really changed my perception of what is Australia Day, of what it is to be Australian and for me, it’s about celebrating the positives, that we are still here as Indigenous people, our culture is one of the longest surviving cultures in the world, over 40,000 years.

“That is something we need to celebrate and all Australians need to celebrate … It’s a day we celebrate over 225 years of European settlement and right now, that’s who we are as a nation but we also need to acknowledge our fantastic Aboriginal history of over 40,000 years and just know that some Aboriginal people out there today are feeling a little bit angry, a little bit soft in the heart today because of that, and that’s OK as well.”

Even these measured comments prompted wild attacks by conservative commentators and were later cited as one of the reasons fans from opposing teams booed Goodes the following year.

But for many Australians, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, the only viable solution remains to #changethedate and public discussion of a new date is growing. The national youth broadcaster, Triple J, declined to shift its much-loved Hottest 100 this year, but given the public pressure the ABC says the date remains “under review”. Indigenous musicians A.B. Original and Dan Sultan released a track advocating for a date change last year, and this week a collection of hip hop artists released another.

The Saturday Paper has argued that boycotting Australia Day celebrations is the best way to try to force a shift.

Guardian Australia also argues for change but we will be covering 26 January.

We’ll reflect the deep concerns about the date in our live blog – which will cover the Invasion Day marches and Indigenous cultural celebrations such as Sydney’s Yabun festival and also the events on 26 January that reflect the best of us, the wonderful citizenship ceremonies around the country, as well as concerts and the Hottest 100.

There are many reasons for Australians to feel proud. We agree 26 January is the wrong day for national festivities, but we think respectful debate – about changing the date or the meaning of the celebration – is the best way to a solution that will allow all Australians to join the party.

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NACCHO Aboriginal Health : A call to acknowledge the harmful history of nursing for Aboriginal people

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 ” While we ourselves did not work there, the societal beliefs interwoven with the professional theories practised at that time are a legacy we have inherited. Those attitudes and practices remain present within our professional space.

Have we done sufficient work to decolonise ourselves?

Decolonising is a conscious practice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nurses. It involves recognising the impact of the beliefs and practices of the coloniser on ourselves at a personal and professional level, then disavowing ourselves from them.

We talk about this in CATSINaM with our Members. We invite our non-Indigenous colleagues to engage in this self-reflective conversation through many aspects of our work.

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Janine Mohamed (right), CEO of the Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives (CATSINaM), argues we should.

Is it time for the nursing and midwifery professions to reflect on our historical involvement in the subjugation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and consider whether we owe a statement of regret for our failures as part of the wider healthcare system to respond to the needs of Aboriginal Australians?

Do formal apologies mean anything?

We welcome your input on this fundamental issue for Australians – and especially input from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nurses and midwives.

Editorial Nurse Uncut Conversations

In September 2016, the Australian Psychological Society issued a formal apology to Indigenous Australians for their past failure as a profession to respond to the needs of Aboriginal patients.

In the past, the NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association and the ANMF more broadly have issued statements of apology for our professions’ involvement in the practices associated with the forced adoption of babies from the 1950s to 1980s.

In doing so we recognised that while those nurses and midwives were working under direction, it was often they who took the babies away from mothers who had been forced, pressured and coerced into relinquishing their children and we apologised for and acknowledged the pain these mothers, fathers and children had experienced in their lives as a result.

Following the recent commendable move by the Australian Psychological Society, is it now time for the nursing and midwifery professions to reflect on our historical involvement as healthcare providers in the subjugation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and consider whether we owe a similar statement of regret for our failures as part of the wider healthcare system to respond to the needs of Aboriginal Australians?

But firstly, do such apologies mean anything?

Professor Alan Rosen AO (a non-indigenous psychiatrist) makes a cogent argument for an apology by the Australian mental health professions to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples:

The recent apology by the Australian Psychological Society to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is of profound national and international significance.

The APS is believed to be the first mental health professional representative body in the world to endorse and adopt such a specific apology to indigenous peoples for what was done to them by the profession as part of, or in the name of, mental health/psychological assessment, treatment and care.

The APS Board also substantially adopted the recommendation of its Indigenous Psychologists’ Advisory Group (IPAG), whose Indigenous and non-Indigenous members crafted this apology together. This sets a fine precedent.

As some other Australian mental health professional bodies are still considering whether to make such an apology, it is to be hoped that the APS has set a new trend. The APS has provided a robust example of how to do it well and in a way that it is more likely to be considered to be sincere and acceptable by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Historically, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have suffered much more incarceration, inappropriate diagnoses and treatments and more control than care in the hands of mental health professionals, facilities and institutions.

This is also true for all First Nations peoples, globally.

Professor Rosen argues that such apologies demonstrate concern for possible historical wrongs, either deliberate or unwitting, by professionals and institutions and the enduring mental health effects of colonialism. The Croakey.org article goes on to describe the purposes and goals of an apology, why they are worth doing and proposes a template.

So, just as we have recognised and apologised for the role our professions played in forced adoptions, is it now time to examine and take responsibility for our professions’ historical contribution to undermining Indigenous Australians’ social and emotional health and wellbeing?

Janine Mohamed (right), CEO of the Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives (CATSINaM), argues we should.

Between 1908 and 1919, hundreds of Aboriginal patients were incarcerated in the Lock Hospitals off the coast of Carnarvon, with more than 150 people dying there. The West Australian government established the hospitals for the treatment of Aboriginal people with sexually transmitted infections, but there remains considerable doubt as to the accuracy of such diagnoses – many of which were made by police officers.

The Fantome Island Lock Hospital operated in Queensland from 1928-45 under similar arrangements, detaining Aboriginal people with suspected sexually transmitted infections. There was also a lazaret on Fantome Island (1939-73) for segregated treatment of Aboriginal people with Hansen’s disease.

Aboriginal people taken to the hospitals were often forcibly removed from their families and communities and transported in traumatic conditions, in chains and under police guard. There is also evidence of medical experimentation and abuse.
The NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association has embarked on the process of developing a Reconciliation Action Plan. As a first step, over coming months we will be working on developing a more thorough understanding of how historical practices have affected Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in our care.

We welcome feedback, especially from our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander colleagues.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and Invasion Day #changethedate debate : New Australia Day ad has no mention of it? Strewth

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” The latest Meat and Livestock Association’s (MLA) annual Australia Day ad is out. It’s the first not to mention ‘Australia Day’, but it doesn’t need to. It features a “beach party” scene imitating all textbook illustrations of the arrival of European colonization.

The only thing I can hope for when I watch that ad is that this will be the last Australia Day held on the 26th of January, and that any future attempts to profit from patriotism will not need to try so damn hard to make Australian history, or contemporary Australian society, appear much more inclusive than it actually is. “

By Luke Pearson  Source:  NITV

” An Australia Day ad without actually mentioning Australia Day? Strewth, that’s un-Australian!

But that’s exactly what Meat & Livestock Australia has done, with its annual Australia Day ad failing to actually name the national celebration.

Labelled the MLA’s “January campaign”, the ad instead focuses on the controversy surrounding the negative meaning on Australia Day for indigenous Australians.

Referred to by many as “Invasion Day”, January 26th is the anniversary of the arrival of the First Fleet from Great Britain “

Australia Day ad has no mention of it? Strewth! The Australian

The ad perhaps is a fitting theme for Australia Day: forget about or completely misrepresent Australian history and contemporary society, and buy stuff instead.

Enjoy your paid day off, buy a flag cape, buy some alcohol and get drunk, buy some lamb and have a BBQ, and complain about whoever you think isn’t ‘Australian enough’ or about those who choose not to celebrate ‘Australia Day’ and call the day Survival Day, Invasion Day, or a Day of Mourning.

Apart from a brief reference to Aboriginal people having been here “since forever”, the ad crams tens of thousands of years into a quick sound bite. The ad revels in the last 200 years, because apparently, that’s when pretty much anything worth talking about happened.

The attempt to include ‘boat people’ at the end, with the response: “aren’t we all boat people?”, does nothing to redeem the caricatures we’ve just witnessed.

 2017 lamb ad features a beach party hosted by Indigenous Australians.

Using sarcasm to say “we’re not racist” is probably the point.

An ad like this can’t lose from a marketing perspective. People who love it will share it and sing its praises, people who hate it will share it and point out its flaws, commentators like myself will comment on it guaranteeing that anyone who reads this and hasn’t seen the ad will watch it, if only so they can make sense of what I am saying. I’m okay with that thought because, for my part at least, I’m not trying to get anyone to boycott lamb or trying to stop anyone from watching the ad.

Love it or hate it, it is still worth a watch.

My goal is trying to get the date of Australia Day changed, and the blind patriotism that goes along with it reduced, not merely extended so that everyone else can be just as blindly patriotic to the notion of ‘Australianity’, or mateship, or ‘One Nation’ or whatever we are calling it these days.

I do however appreciate that all ads are trying to sell something, that is what they’re meant to do, but I think the MLA are trying too hard to tack on their newly discovered ‘sense of inclusivity’ to their core desire to sell more meat.

The idea of a group of marketing executives sitting a room thinking, “Hmmm, how can we make the controversy over Australia Day equal more profits for us?”, just turns me off my lunch.

I can picture the creative team patting each other on the back after coming up with the line, “we’re all boat people” and feeling particularly clever about co-opting a concept that many people have used for years now, albeit for more altruistic motives, namely to combat the term being used to denigrate asylum seekers.

The construct of ‘Australia Day’ is problematic enough for the Australia Day Council given the date that Australia chooses to hold its national day, but to take it one step further to try to sanitise the history of migration to Australian shores is outright impossible.

Justifying the existence of Australia Day being on the 26th of January in order to sell lamb to a more diverse customer base is just too convoluted a plan for my taste.

The only thing I can hope for when I watch that ad is that this will be the last Australia Day held on the 26th of January, and that any future attempts to profit from patriotism will not need to try so damn hard to make Australian history, or contemporary Australian society, appear much more inclusive than it actually is.

I’m sure many people will consider this ad to be a great step forward for representation in Australian media, but personally, I still remember their racist ads of recent years, and I am not buying that this attempted shift of focus has anything other to do with trying to sell more lamb, which I am also not buying.

Maybe I’d have been a bit kinder to this latest attempt if it was a standalone, and not just the next chapter of a series I already don’t like, written for an company I already don’t like, tied to a day that I do not like…

Just change the damn date already.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health #history : Cabinet papers 1992-93: Aboriginal deaths in custody inquiry prompted $400m package

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“ The trend will ­inevitably continue unless there is decisive intervention now” and it considered measures costing $570 million across five years to ­address “the underlying causes, ­including lack of employment ­opportunity, a low level of economic development, inadequate education, welfare dependency, appalling health and cultural deprivation”.

Too many face a bleak future as a result of poor living conditions, locational disadvantage and discrimination, substance abuse and lack of ­opportunity for constructive ­activity as major causes of Aboriginal young people’s conflict with the law and justice systems”.

From the report of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, delivered in 1991 after four years of work, was described in a March 1992 cabinet briefing as “the most searching analysis of Aboriginal society ever undertaken and one of the most significant social documents of con­temporary Australia”.

Image above  : See Background facts and timeline

Article originally published 2 Jan 2017 The Australian

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Chairman of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation Patrick Dodson, centre, with Prime Minister Paul Keating and Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs Robert Tickner, February 1992. Picture: National Archives of Australia
2 of 17 see article 2 below

The commission inquired into 99 deaths, the circumstances that gave rise to them and their underlying causes, and came back with 339 recommendations, two-thirds about changes needed across the criminal justice system.

The urgency was underscored by the 25 deaths since the report was concluded, and a 25 per cent increase in indigenous imprisonment rates over four years.

The centrepiece was an expansion of the federal Community Development Employment Projects scheme, which “provides not only employment but a basis for communities’ economic and social development. Its emphasis on self- management and self-reliance provides hope and boosts morale for communities that have little or no access to the labour market”.

The government’s comprehensive response to the commission was to be tailored to youth, with more than 40 per cent of all indigenous Australians aged under 15, and 50 per cent younger than 20.

“Too many face a bleak future as a result of poor living conditions, locational disadvantage and discrimination,” cabinet was told, with the commission identifying “substance abuse and lack of ­opportunity for constructive ­activity as major causes of Aboriginal young people’s conflict with the law and justice systems”.

Indigenous affairs minister Robert Tickner — also then minister assisting the prime minister for Aboriginal reconciliation — and Brian Howe, assistant social justice minister, also sought funding for land acquisition.

This was the hardest element of the package to sell and was eventually ruled out in the $400m deal that was struck — although Mr Tickner says now that it was not the key element and came to fruition in a different way with the passage the following year of the Native Title Act.

The Departments of Finance and Treasury objected to the ­proposal.

Robert Tickner calls on PM to take control of relationship with Indigenous people

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Article 2

Australia’s longest-serving indigenous affairs minister has called for Malcolm Turnbull to seize control of a moribund relationship with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, describing the state of indigenous disadvantage as “truly a national embarrassment of successive governments”.

Robert Tickner, who held the portfolio for six years in the Hawke and Keating governments and was instrumental in both the 1992 response to the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody and the 1993 native title legislation following the High Court’s Mabo ruling, said the matter was “not a job for an indigenous affairs minister”.

Instead it must be tackled, he said, by “a prime minister who can command the authority of the

nation and his own agencies to engender a whole-of- government response”.

Mr Tickner called on the Prime Minister to establish an immediate audit of any progress on the royal commission’s 339 recommendations, which he said “overwhelmingly … have not been implemented, either by the national government or by successive state and territory governments; worse still, governments of all political persuasions (have) covered up that failure”.

He said Mr Turnbull should use the 50th anniversary of the referendum which gave the Commonwealth power in indigenous affairs, on May 27, to “capture the moment … to announce major policy commitments to address these issues”.

“I desperately hope he seizes the moment on this … but he needs to do so in a way that enjoys strong support from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as well as the opposition, as the

referendum did almost 50 years ago,” he said, in remarks unveiling select cabinet papers from the 1992-93 Keating government.

“Keating did it on Mabo, someone’s got to do it now,” he said, describing indigenous affairs policy as “ineffectual, half-hearted and (without) the full resources of the Commonwealth behind it, which was envisaged by the ’67 referendum”.

He called for bipartisan support, saying he believed Mr Turnbull was “a good and decent person who wants to do the right thing in Aboriginal affairs — but good intentions are not enough without the necessary leadership to generate real change” and said the issue was “above party politics, and one where Mr Turnbull and (Bill) Shorten could stand together”.

A key shift, he said had to be moving away from “the old paternalistic way” of dealing with indigenous people and organisations, with the royal commission noting in 1991 that “unless those underlying issues were addressed there would be no change; it’s about the marginalisation of Aboriginal people which contributed to that incarceration”.

He said Mr Keating had “showed great political courage to deliver a just outcome for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people after 204 years of the legal system denying their rights with that pernicious doctrine of terra nullius”. The former prime minister’s “diligence and dedication” over the 18 months following the High Court’s 1992 Mabo ruling establishing native title in the face of “the non-stop, torrid and at times vitriolic public attacks” had defined a critical time in Australian history, he said.

“It’s fair to say the reconciliation process has helped shape modern Australia,” Mr Tickner said. “Most important, Keating was the one who put meat on the bones of the reconciliation process through the Mabo response.”

GALLERY: 1992-93 cabinet papers

He said the Keating government had welcomed the High Court’s decision because it “removed a great barrier to reconciliation,” but that it knew from the outset “the huge challenge that lay ahead, with state and territory governments having traditional responsibility for and management of (the) issues, and an Australian community which did not yet understand the implications of the high court decision”.

Six months on from Mabo, he said, Mr Keating’s famous Redfern Park speech acknowledging responsibility for the dispossession of indigenous Australians “set the bar very high for the government to respond in a principled way to the judgment, and to meet the expectations of the reconciliation process”.

The cabinet papers reveal details of the complexity introduced with the Wik claim in June 1993, with the cabinet by then having considered nine distinct approaches to legislation. “We considered but rejected options relating to extinguishment of native title (it would lead to deep domestic divisions and strong international condemnation) and entrenchment (amending the constitution to put land under native title beyond the control of parliament raises very major issues,” they reveal.

In the end the decision was made to “feel the way forward” but Mr Tickner said many younger Australians now “would have no real appreciation of the vitriol, intolerance and scaremongering that was perpetuated in the debate”, some of which “makes Donald trump’s election campaign look like the free-flowing milk of human kindness”.

He said that during the cabinet process it “very often … got very lonely for an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Minister, as some of my other colleagues were fierce advocates either for the interests represented in their portfolios or in some cases for a state Labor government. I frequently clashed both with those ministers and public servants who held similar views. They were wrong on both history and principles”.

He said Mr Keating had “cemented his place in history” by seeking to reach “a negotiated outcome with Aboriginal leadership” rather than pushing for a deal with the states that failed to meet Aboriginal aspirations.

“This was the first time since 1788 when the Aboriginal people of the land were in face-to-face, genuine negotiation with a leader of a state or territory government,” he said, singling out then-

ATSIC chair Lowitja O’Donoghue for being “magnificent as a leader” who “set a cracking pace for the younger members of the negotiating team”.

The result, he said, was an outcome “that both respected the high court decision and gave important additional rights and interests, while making sure that the rights of non-indigenous Australians were protected”, before finally being “painstakingly negotiated through the senate” as the Native Title Act on December 21, 1993.

However it came at considerable personal cost, he said, including being sent a dead rat in the mail, having his electorate office partly destroyed in an arson attack and receiving repeated death threats.

He also revealed a tightly guarded secret: during the tumult of negotiations in early 1993 he was for the first time “reunited with my birth mother on the steps of the Sydney Opera House, and began a journey as transformative for me as the public journey was as Australia travelled the Mabo response”.

He described John Howard’s 1998 amendments to the native title act, in response to the Wik

decision and which put restrictions on claims, as “regrettable”, saying he was “sorry for John because I think he did some other important things, like gun control, but I don’t think Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander affairs was where he left a mark politically, and I’m sad about that”.