NACCHO Deadly Good Members News : Aboriginal Health #InternationalWomensDay #IWD2019 : #MorePowerfulTogether  Our tribute to our 10 Women NACCHO Board of Directors and 71 #ACCHO CEO’s of our majority female workforce

1.National : Donnella Mills – Chair NACCHO and Wuchopperen Health Service   

2.NT: Donna Ah Chee Central Australian Aboriginal Congress

3.NSW: LaVerne Bellear Redfern Aboriginal Medical Service

4.TAS: Raylene Foster Tasmanian Aboriginal Corporation

5.NT: Olga Havnen Danila Dilba Health Service

6.VIC: Karen Heap Ballarat & District Aboriginal Co-operative

7.SA: Vicki Holmes Nunkuwarrin Yunti of South Australia

8.WA: Lesley Nelson South West Aboriginal Medical Service

9.ACT: Julie Tongs Winnunga Nimmityjah Health and Community Service

10. QLD: Gail Wason Mulungu Primary Health Care Service

Aboriginal women are the best advocates and leaders for health and wellbeing in their own families and in the broader community.

They are proving to be effective role models, mentors and influencers for the next generation of Aboriginal female leaders.

Recently NACCHO CEO Pat Turner told a women’s leadership summit

As mothers, aunts, grandmothers, sisters and daughters, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women have culturally and historically always played a pivotal role in supporting and caring for families in our communities so working in the health sector was a natural progression.

For over 47 years Indigenous health activists like Dr Naomi Mayers, Coleen Shirley (Mum Shirl) Smith AM MBE, Jill Gallagher AO, Vicki O’Donnell, Pamela Mam, and the late Mary Buckskin have been just some of our leaders who have successfully advocated for community controlled, culturally respectful, needs based approach to improving the health and wellbeing outcomes of our people.

See previous NACCHO #IWD Tribute HERE 

As a result of their leadership and years of commitment as role models they have now paved the way for 10 women to be on the NACCHO board, 71 Indigenous women promoted to CEO’s out of 145 Organisations who employ over 6,000 staff with a majority being Indigenous woman

Our ACCHO network has successfully provided a critical and practical pathway for the education, training and employment for many Indigenous women.But much more needs to be done to develop viable career pathways to graduate more Indigenous women doctors, nurses and allied health professionals.

Last year NACCHO, RANZCOG and other medical college Presidents met with the Minister for Indigenous Health and other ministers in Canberra who are all determined to do everything possible to Close the Gap in health outcomes.

Creating career pathways for Indigenous women in our workforce will be a good starting point to continue supporting the theme ” More powerful together ”

1.National : Donnella Mills – Chair NACCHO and Wuchopperen Health Service QLD 

Donnella is a Torres Strait Islander woman with ancestral and family links to Masig and Nagir in the Torres Strait.

She is a Cairns–based lawyer with LawRight, a Community Legal Centre which coordinates the provision of pro-bono civil legal services to disadvantaged and vulnerable members of the community. Donnella is currently the project lawyer for the Wuchopperen Health Justice Partnership through a partnership with LawRight. This innovative Health Justice Partnership is an exciting model of providing access to justice, where lawyers and health professionals collaborate to provide better health outcomes and access to justice for patients with legal issues.

Donnella said she was “very excited about the opportunity to contribute to working the new Chairperson, the new board and the NACCHO Executive to drive the national health debate, develop community led solution, and to champion why Community-Controlled is the pinnacle model in achieving greater autonomy and self-determination for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Utilising a legal lens in which to view health, social justice, human rights, and access to justice, my commitment is to deliver expanded and enhanced innovative health services that are community driven and community led, addressing core systemic social determinant issues that have a direct impact on our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”

2.NT: Donna Ah Chee CEO Central Australian Aboriginal Congress

Ms Ah Chee is the Chief Executive Officer of the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress Aboriginal Corporation, the Aboriginal community controlled primary health care service in Alice Springs.

Ms Ah Chee is a Bundgalung woman from the far north coast of New South Wales and has lived in Alice Springs for over 25 years.

She has been actively involved in Aboriginal affairs for many years, especially in the area of Aboriginal adult education and Aboriginal health. In June 2011, Ms Ah Chee moved to Canberra to take up the position of Chief Executive Officer of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation before returning to Congress in July 2012.

Ms Ah Chee convened the Workforce Working Party under the Northern Territory Aboriginal Health Forum, was Chairperson of the Central Australian Regional Indigenous Health Planning Committee, a member of the Northern Territory Child Protection External Monitoring Committee and jointly headed up the Northern Territory Government’s Alcohol Framework Project Team.

She currently sits on the National Drug and Alcohol Committee and at a local level, represents the Congress on the People’s Alcohol Action Coalition.

3.NSW: LaVerne Bellear CEO Redfern Aboriginal Medical Service

LaVerne Bellear a descendant from the Nunukle Tribe of south-eastern Queensland, grew up in the northern part of the Bundjalung Nation (north coast New South Wales).

LaVerne strongly believes that empowering Aboriginal people will create opportunity to make better informed decisions and choices regarding personal management of health care, ultimately resulting in better health outcomes. LaVerne has extensive experience in Aboriginal health, having worked in community health, Aboriginal controlled health services and as the Director, Aboriginal Health, Northern Sydney Local Health District.

Recently, LaVerne has taken up the position of CEO, Aboriginal Medical Service Cooperative at Redfern, New South Wales.

She has been a state representative on a number of working parties and committees concerning Aboriginal health. LaVerne has a Bachelor of Business, a Professional Certificate in Indigenous Research in Training and Practices and is studying a Master of Public Health at The University of New South Wales.

4.TAS: Raylene Foster Tasmanian Aboriginal Corporation

Raylene Foster is a palawa women from the Cygnet area. She commenced her career in hospitality, becoming a chef, and then moved into adult teaching within the TAFE institute.

Raylene took on a six-month secondment to Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre in 1995 and stayed; she has now been with the TAC for over 20 years

She’s had varying roles within the TAC, including the Director of the Aboriginal Community School, Workforce Development Officer, Emotional and Social Wellbeing Coordinator and over the past 15 years the Manager of the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre in the South, which includes the Aboriginal Health Service.

Raylene has a Graduate Certificate in Administration and an Advanced Diploma in Human Resources, as well as Diploma of Alcohol and Other Drugs and Mental Health and a facilitator in the SMART Recovery program. Raylene is passionate about children’s wellbeing and keeping families connected to break the cycle of institutionalisation, separations and trauma-related illnesses.

Raylene’s Abstract For This Months Rural Health Conference in Hobart 

See Website 

The Aboriginal cultural camp was an initiative that commenced in 2016 for Tasmanian registrars, GPs and members of the Tasmanian Aboriginal community. We wanted to go beyond the basic requirements of attendance at cultural training, to offer an immersion in to Aboriginal culture, on Aboriginal country, with mutual benefit for the Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities.

The camp is held annually at trawtha makuminya, Aboriginal-owned land in the Central Highlands of Tasmania, from a Friday afternoon until a Sunday afternoon. Registrars, General Practitioners, Practice Staff and General Practice Training Tasmania staff and family members attend, in addition to the TAC staff Camp Organisers and Caterers, Cultural and Land Educators, Elders and community members.

The weekend involves an official welcome speech, dance and music, yarning around the campfire, guided walks with discussion about Aboriginal history, the land and stone tools, kayaking, basket weaving, hand stencilling, clap stick making, and a session of “You Can’t Ask That”. There is a medical education session and participants hear from an Aboriginal Health Worker and Aboriginal Enrolled Nurse about the services offered by the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre.

There is a lot of informal discussion about culture and life stories shared by both the adults and the children.

The feedback given to date, both informally and through the evaluation forms, is overwhelmingly positive. Participants value the beautiful location, the opportunity to spend time with community members outside the clinical setting, the obvious connection to country displayed by the Aboriginal community and the sharing of stories in a cultural exchange.

5.NT: Olga Havnen CEO Danila Dilba Health Service Darwin 

Olga is of Western Arrente descent and grew up in Tennant Creek. Her great-grandfather was Ah Hong, a Chinese cook who worked on the Overland Telegraph Line[2] whose partner was an Aboriginal woman in Alice Springs.

Their daughter Gloria, Havnen’s grandmother, was the first Aboriginal woman to own a house in Alice Springs. Havnen’s father was a Norwegian sailor who jumped ship in Adelaide and her mother, Pegg lived in Tennant Creek. Havnen went to boarding school in TownsvilleQueensland.[3]

Olga Havnen has held positions as the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Programs Co-ordinator for the Australian Red Cross, Senior Policy Officer in the Northern Territory Government’s Indigenous Policy Unit, Indigenous Programs Director with the Fred Hollows Foundation, and Executive Officer with the National Indigenous Working Group.

And was the Coordinator General of Remote Service Provision from 2011 until October 2012, when the Northern Territory Government controversially abolished the position.[4]

She released one report which detailed deficiencies in Northern Territory and Commonwealth Government’s service provision to remote communities in the Northern Territory.[5]

She is currently the Chief Executive Officer of the Danila Dilba Health Service in Darwin, an Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service.[1]

Havnen gave evidence at the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory critical of the outcomes and delivery of the Northern Territory National Emergency Response, commonly referred to as the Intervention stating “the experience of the Intervention was such a debacle you’d never want that repeated, but I do think that there is a role for the federal government in here in the Northern Territory”,

6.VIC: Karen Heap Ballarat & District Aboriginal Co-operative : Chair VACCHO 

Karen Heap, a Yorta Yorta woman, has been the CEO of Ballarat and District Aboriginal Cooperative for 12 years and brings with her a vast amount of knowledge and skillsets procured from extensive experience within the Aboriginal Service Sector.

Karen Heap was recently the winner of the Walda Blow Award ( pictured above )

This award was established by DHHS in partnership with the Victorian Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young People, in memory of Aunty Walda Blow – a proud Yorta

Yorta and Wemba Wemba Elder who lived her life in the pursuit of equality.

Aunty Walda was an early founder of the Dandenong and District Aboriginal Cooperative and worked for over 40 years improving the lives of the Aboriginal community. This award recognises contributions of an Aboriginal person in Victoria to the safety and wellbeing of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander children and young people.

Karen ensures the safety and wellbeing of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander children and young people are always front and centre.

Karen has personally committed her support to the Ballarat Community through establishing and continuously advocating for innovative prevention, intervention and reunification programs.

As the inaugural Chairperson of the Alliance, Karen contributions to establishing the identity and achieving multiple outcomes in the Alliance Strategic Plan is celebrated by her peers and recognised by the community service sector and DHHS.

Karen’s leadership in community but particularly for BADAC, has seen new ways of delivering cultural models of care to Aboriginal children, carers and their families, ensuring a holistic service is provided to best meet the needs of each individual and in turn benefit the community.

7.SA: Vicki Holmes Nunkuwarrin Yunti of South Australia

Vicki Holmes is an Aboriginal woman descended from the Tanganekald and Western Aranda clan. Vicki has been with Nunkuwarrin Yunti for 32 years where she has had many roles; her first position was the medical receptionist but she also did whatever was needed including home visits, transport and hospital visits.

In 1986, Vicki became the Health Coordinator and while in this role programs such as women’s health, HIV, diabetes, mental health and social/welfare support expanded and developed. In 2010, Vicki became the CEO of Nunkuwarrin Yunti of South Australia. As CEO of Nunkuwarrin Yunti, she holds positions on the Boards of NACCHO, the Aboriginal Health Council of South Australia, Research Excellence in Aboriginal Community Controlled Health (REACCH), and First Peoples National Congress.

Her vision for Nunkuwarrin Yunti is around what she calls the four Cs: Community, Communication, Caring, Consistency. Vicki has always been passionate about the social and emotional wellbeing of the Aboriginal community.

8.WA: Lesley Nelson CEO South West Aboriginal Medical Service

SWAMS are united by the drive and passion to provide culturally safe, accessible and holistic health care to the Aboriginal people of the South West. WA

As an organisation, they continue to attract and employ culturally appropriate and professional staff members. SWAMS employs over 70 staff members including specialist Aboriginal Health Practitioners, Dietitians, Nurses, Midwives, Mental Health workers and Social Workers and because of this, we are able to provide a large and diverse range of services to the community.

In addition to this, they strive to create Aboriginal career pathways and opportunities across the sector and maintain a positive percentage of ATSI employees

Last year as preparations got underway for the South West Aboriginal Medical Service’s 20th anniversary, centre chief executive officer Lesley Nelson has reflected on how far indigenous health has advanced in the South West in that time.

Ms Nelson said the centre started small with a handful of staff and a desire to improve Aboriginal health outcomes in the region.

Over the next 20 years, it expanded with clinics in Bunbury, Busselton, Manjimup, Collie and Brunswick.

“We started after local elders held discussions with a number of key groups about developing a culturally appropriate service to address the health-related issues of the South West’s Indigenous population,” she said.

“Since then we’ve gone from strength-to-strength, offering a number of employment opportunities in the sector, training programs and improved health outcomes.”

Ms Nelson said the local service played an important role in the community.

“Being based in a number of country towns ensured locals can access our services conveniently, especially if they lack transport options to the bigger cities,” she said.

“We offer an important service because we intervene and manage issues early on and slowly we are improving the health of the South West Noongar people.

“We are also standing out nationally when it comes to maternal and child health.”

Moving forward, SWAMS are keen to continue growing, participating in more research studies and working collaboratively with other similar services to offer a whole of community approach to improved health.

9.ACT: Julie Tongs Winnunga Nimmityjah Health and Community Service

Julie Tongs OAM has been the Chief Executive Officer of Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services since 1998.  Julie has more than 30 years experience working in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander affairs and in particular has extensive experience in advising, formulating, implementing and evaluating public health initiatives, programs and policy at a local, regional and national level.

Julie has been a national leader and strong advocate of quality improvement initiatives within the Aboriginal Community Controlled sector.

Julie is the recipient of a number of awards, including the ACT Governor General’s Centenary Medal and the ACT Indigenous Person of the Year. In 2011 Julie received the ACT Local Hero Award within the Australian of the Year Awards 2012, and in 2012 Julie was honoured with the Medal of the Order of Australia.

Julie’s vision is that Winnunga continues to build on its reputation as a national leader in the provision of holistic primary health care services delivered in a culturally appropriate environment that achieves improved health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Julie is committed to ensuring that Winnunga offers services that are delivered consistent with best practice standards.

10 .QLD: Gail Wason Mulungu Primary Health Care Service

We see the best way to build capacity and capability within our corporation is by encouraging strong leaders, maintaining effective governance, ensuring strong systems, and keeping focused on accountable performance management.

Mulungu help our clients to make informed decisions. We work in health but we also work across education and job opportunities. Our model supports individuals who want to do the best for themselves, their family and their community.’

CEO Gail Wason.

Gail is the Chief Executive Officer of Mulungu Primary Health Care Service in Mareeba. She has over 25 years’ experience in Aboriginal affairs and health, and an unwavering commitment to improving the health and wellbeing of her community.

Gail strives to ensure that the community has access to the full range of high quality, culturally appropriate primary health care services that empowers clients to fully participate in the management of their own health.

She has served as QAIHC’s Far North Queensland Director and Chairperson of QAIHC’s Finance Committee and has worked closely with the Board for many years.

Mulungu Aboriginal Corporation Medical Centre is an Aboriginal community-controlled health organisation working to improve the lives of Indigenous people in and around Mareeba.

The centre was established in 1991 and incorporated under the CATSI Act in 1993.

The rural town of Mareeba—a word from local Aboriginal language meaning ‘meeting of the waters’—is located on the Atherton Tablelands where the Barron River meets Granite Creek. Traditionally Muluridji people inhabited this land.

‘Although the bright lights of Cairns are only 65 kilometres away we feel like a stand-alone, small country town,’ says chair of the Mulungu board of directors (and valued volunteer) Alan Wason. ‘We have a population of 10,000 and our own identity separate from Cairns.’

The town of Mareeba may be a little tucked away but it has much to offer, including Mulungu Aboriginal Corporation Medical Centre—a bright, open, modern building—which employs a large professional staff who work as a team and support each other. Everyone is passionate about providing top quality holistic health care to the community through Mulungu’s programs and services.

Mulungu’s mission is to provide comprehensive primary health care to the community in culturally, socially and emotionally appropriate ways. It’s about handing back power to the people to manage their own health, wellbeing and spiritual needs. So as well as providing clinical health care services Mulungu ‘auspices’ other important primary health care programs, including the Mareeba Children and Families Centre (CFC), Mareeba Parent and Community Engagement (PaCE) Program, and the Mareeba Young and Awesome Project (MY&A).

The MY&A Project tackles the problem of binge drinking in the community. Its aim is to motivate young people (aged 12 to 25) to get involved in constructive activities that they might enjoy—and to get them away from drinking alcohol. This two-year project is funded by the Australian Government.

‘We help our clients to make informed decisions,’ says Gail Wason. ‘We work in health but we also work across education and job opportunities. Our model supports individuals who want to do the best for themselves, their family and their community.’

It’s all about changing and improving lives.

To learn more about Mulungu Aboriginal Corporation Medical Service visit




NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #Referendum #Ulurustatement : Indigenous campaigners awarded Australia Day honours for role in 1967 referendum Ruth Hennings, Diana Travis, Alfred Neal and Dulcie Flower honoured for service to their communities

 ” Ruth Henning, Diana Travis, and Alfred Neal were awarded the medal of the order of Australia (OAM) on Saturday for their service to their communities and work on the 1967 referendum.

Aunty Dulcie Flower, who was granted the OAM in 1992, was made a member of the order of Australia (AM) for her work on the referendum, her role in the establishment of the Aboriginal Medical Service in Redfern, and her work as a nurse.

From the Guardian 26 January 2019

Alfie Neal and Ruth Wallace Hennings – brave the tropical rain at Yarrabah where they sat and planned the vote for Australia’s indigenous population. Picture: Brian Cassey

 ” More than 50 years ago, Ruth Hennings sat with Alfred Neal day after day under the “Tree of Knowledge” in Yarrabah, near Cairns, plotting the protest movement across Queensland’s conservative north that helped bring the beginnings of equality for ­Aboriginal Australians.

It was from there that the mission-raised pair led the local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advancement League, in its struggle to win support for the successful 1967 referendum, enabling laws for indigenous people and including them in the census.

The only survivors of the league, Ms Hennings, 85, and Mr Neal, 94, reunited yesterday on the beach near where the tree stood after learning they — had been awarded Order of Australia Medals for services to the indigenous community.”

From the Australian 26 January 2019

Campaigners mark the 50th anniversary of the 1967 referendum on 24 May 2017, including Alfred Neal, left, and Dulcie Flower, second right, who have both been recognised in the 2019 Australia Day honours. Photograph: Mike Bowers for the Guardian

On the day of the 1967 referendum, Ruth Hennings was handing out “vote yes” flyers at a local school in Cairns.

It was the first sign she had that the campaign to ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were included in the census, and to give the federal government power to make laws specifically for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, had won the support of a majority of Australian citizens.

“Nearly everyone who was there, they all said good luck and hoped everything would turn out good,” Hennings said. “So they gave me a good feeling of ‘it will change’.”

When the votes were counted, that feeling was confirmed: 91% of Australians voted yes.

The next step, Hennings said, was a plan to ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples were recognised in the constitution as the First Peoples of Australia.

See Ruths story Brisbane Times

Fifty-two years later that still has not happened and the Uluru Statement, which sets out a path forward, was rejected by the federal government.

Hennings is 85 now, a celebrated elder. On Saturday she was one of four Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people honoured for their role in the 1967 referendum, and for a lifetime of other community work.

She was a founding member of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advancement League in Cairns, which began in 1958, and attended meetings while working as a cleaner around the town for 15 shillings a day.

She told Guardian Australia constitutional recognition was still badly needed.

“We really need to get a body together where we can talk in one voice,” she said. “All of these things have been happening, money is being thrown around, and there’s no result … the main thing is getting that constitution right and making sure that we are all one people, we are all one Australia.”

Travis was just 19 when her grandfather Sir Douglas Nicholls, one of the most revered figures in Victoria, drove her to Canberra to take part in the referendum alongside her heroes: Charlie Perkins, Chicka Dixon, Oodgeroo Noonuccal, and Faith Bandler.

“They were all wonderful leaders, wonderful workers, focused and aware, so I was just in my joy being there, mingling and being amongst them all in Canberra,” she said.

Travis is now involved in native title work as a Dja Dja Wurrung claimant and a member of the Dhuudora native title group, and is an active participant in the Victorian treaty process.

“It may be a different time now but I still believe that there’s good people out there,” Travis said. “Some of them may not understand, but I just say: listen please, listen to us, talk to us. We’re not targeting you, it’s all about the government.”

She said she was in “two or three minds” about accepting the Australia Day honour, both because she does not support the celebration of Australia Day on 26 January – she will spend the morning in protest in Melbourne, as she does every year – and because she was not sure she had done enough to earn it.

Both Hennings and Travis said the singular focus and united purpose behind the 1967 referendum campaign was absent from modern reform debates.

“At that time we all had that one goal,” Henning said. “We all knew what we wanted, we were focused and willing and happy and we had FCAATSI (Federal Council for the Advancement of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders) … But today there’s nothing.”


NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #AustraliaDay2019 or #InvasionDay1788 Debate : With Editorial from PM @ScottMorrisonMP, Jeff Kennett and Marion Scrymgour : On #SurvivalDay 2019 we recognise the strength and resilience of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

” Yesterday 25 January my family and I spent time with the Ngunnawal people — the first inhabitants of the Canberra region. We attended a smoking ceremony, an ancient cleansing ritual, in what I believe should become a prime ministerial tradition on the eve of Australia Day.

The timing, ahead of our national day, is entirely appropriate because the sacred custodianship of our indigenous people marked the first chapter in the story of our country.

Our First Australians walked here long before anyone else, loving and caring for these lands and waters. They still do. We honour their resilience and stewardship across 60,000 years. We pay respect to the world’s oldest continuous culture.

A culture that is alive; a culture that has survived. A culture that speaks to us no matter what our background as Australians because it is part of the living, breathing soul of our land.

Scott Morrison is the Prime Minister of Australia see full Text Published 26 January 2019 The Australian see Part 1 Below 

Watch video

 Minnie Tompkins ochreing the PM’s two Daughters at the event : Copyright Billy T.Tompkins

” We cannot celebrate 26 January when our children still face the devastating impacts of colonisation. Instead, on Survival Day we recognise the strength and resilience of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and the survival of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.

If we are to celebrate the many great things about our nation, we need a new date that is inclusive of all Australians and ensures we can all participate in celebrations together.

For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people 26 January and the colonisation of Australia is a reflection of the ongoing discrimination and violation of human rights that many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children face today.”

SNAICC Press Release 26 January 2019 

It was with profound sadness that I read two stories in The Australian this week: first was the front-page piece “Conservative MPs push to protect January 26”, published on Thursday, and then yesterday, “Dutton puts pressure on PM with support for Australia Day law”. This second story was accompanied by a report on an “invasion day” rally planned for the steps of Parliament House today.

In my column in Melbourne’s Herald Sun this week, I presented the case for changing the date from January 26.

I am the first to admit the issue of the date on which we celebrate Australia Day is not the top priority for Australians. Nor is the recalibration of the way in which Australia recognises its First Peoples. But changing the date is a start in building the recognition and trust I believe is necessary in an educated country

Stop this insult to our First Peoples in the Australian 26 January 2019

Jeff Kennett was the Liberal premier of Victoria, 1992-99 see Part 2 Below

” How can Australia possibly persist in celebrating as its national day the colonial acts of a foreign country? Without even touching on the sensitivities of Indigenous people, where does that leave the majority of Australians who came to or are descended from people who came to this country since Federation (including exponentially increasing numbers of Asian Australians)?

And finally, just to return to the issue of the stake of Indigenous people in this nation. Some have suggested that because there are pressing and immediate issues which are undermining our prospects for progress and wellbeing, it is inappropriate to spend time and energy participating in the debate about our national day.

Like many others who are committed to tackling domestic violence, drug and alcohol abuse, and unemployment amongst our people, I believe we can walk and chew gum at the same time.” 

Marion Scrymgour is currently the Chief Executive Officer of the Tiwi Islands Regional Council. Prior to this she was the Chief Executive Officer of the Wurli-Wurliinjang Health Service and was Chair of the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance of the Northern Territory.

Part 4 Invasion Day rally 2019: where to find marches and protests across Australia

Part 1 January 26, 1788 marked the birth of today’s modern Australia Scott Morrison

Today we also remember the second chapter of our country’s history that began on January 26, 1788, with the arrival of the First Fleet.

Wooden convict ships came carrying men and women who were sick, poor and destitute. Those men and women, who included my own ancestors, persevered, endured and won their freedom. They braved hardship and built lives and families. Indeed, the wonder of our country is that out of such hardship would emerge a nation as decent, as fair and as prosperous as ours.

For along with the cruelties of empire came the ideas of the Enlightenment, and Australia was the great project. Notions of liberty, enterprise and human dignity became the foundation for modern Australia.

And we embrace, too, all those who’ve come since — to make us the happy, thriving, multicultural democracy that we are. That’s the third chapter of our story: the one we’re still writing.

Across Australia, 16,212 men, women and children will become citizens today in more than 365 ceremonies. They will be endowed with the same rights, opportunities and responsibilities as every other Australian. Australia’s great bounty is that she is now made up of people from every nation on earth. Together, all these chapters make us who we are.

They’re not unblemished. We don’t have a perfect history. We’ve made mistakes, but no nation is perfect. But we have so much to be grateful for and so much to be proud of.

We’re a free nation, with an elected parliament, an independent judiciary and a free press. We believe in the equality of men and women — of all citizens no matter their creed, race, sexuality or gender. We’ve worked to create a nation that is harmonious, prosperous and safe — one where every individual matters.

That’s what today is about. Gratitude for all we have. Pride in who we’ve become together.

Australia Day is the day we come together. It’s the day we celebrate all Australians, all their stories, all their journeys. And we do this on January 26 because this is the day that Australia changed — forever — and set us on the course of the modern Australia we are today.

Our nation’s story is of a good-hearted and fair people always striving to be better. We have a go. We take risks. Occasionally we fall flat on our faces. But we get up. We always get up. After all, we know how to have a laugh. And we know how to help how mates when they’re down. Today we remember our history, we celebrate our achievements and we re-dedicate ourselves to the land and the people we love.

Happy Australia Day.

Scott Morrison is the Prime Minister of Australia.

Part 2  Stop this insult to our First Peoples

It was with profound sadness that I read two stories in The Australian this week: first was the front-page piece “Conservative MPs push to protect January 26”, published on Thursday, and then yesterday, “Dutton puts pressure on PM with support for Australia Day law”. This second story was accompanied by a report on an “invasion day” rally planned for the steps of Parliament House today.

In my column in Melbourne’s Herald Sun this week, I presented the case for changing the date from January 26.

I am the first to admit the issue of the date on which we celebrate Australia Day is not the top priority for Australians. Nor is the recalibration of the way in which Australia recognises its First Peoples. But changing the date is a start in building the recognition and trust I believe is necessary in an educated country.

Let me start with the claims of “invasion day”. This is a term used by some in the indigenous community and by activists. It has gathered some mileage because its use has not been challenged regularly.

Australia was not invaded in 1788, it was settled. The country was occupied by a people from a different community and race to those who were already here, spread in tribes throughout the land.

As those settlers spread from Sydney Cove, the First Peoples were dispossessed of their lands and, yes, as that happened atrocities were committed.

Commodore Arthur Phillip did not arrive with a military force when he settled Port Jackson in 1788. There was no intent to wage a war against the local inhabitants. In fact, the opposite was true. Phillip was commissioned to work with the inhabitants of the country. Although that did not occur, nor did an invasion.

Let me turn to those so-called conservatives mentioned earlier. Probably the closest political grouping we have in Australia that claims to be conservative is the Nationals. Members of the Liberal Party are part of a broader church that I had always taken to mean economically conservative and socially generous.

Together in government the parties and their members discuss and find consensus on issues through policy development.

It is inconceivable to me that these so-called conservatives cannot see how celebrating Australia Day on January 26 every year reinforces a sense of loss among our First Peoples.

How can they not understand that passing legislation to enshrine January 26 as Australia Day would insult our First Peoples and defer any real hope of building the recognition they deserve?

Their action in pursuing such legislation indicates yet again how out of touch and inflexible some members of parliament have become. This is in the face of the demonstrated generosity of the community on social issues such as same-sex marriage and recognition of the challenges facing our disabled and their carers.

Why can’t they see that the same social generosity should be extended to our First Peoples?

Why do they argue that we should continue to discriminate against an important section of our community who are offended by January 26 as the date of national celebration?

The only reason these so-called conservatives are doing so is because some polls suggested that 75 per cent of Australians support January 26 as the day for the celebration.

This reasoning simply continues the cowardice of so many of our federal politicians over the past two decades.

They are elected to lead. Make bold decisions. Correct areas that cause pain to the community when bold action can easily resolve such pain.

Some in the community argue the government is not conservative enough. I disagree. The issues that were relevant in the 1960s and 70s have evolved through education and extraordinary advances in technology. There is a growing recognition of individual rights.

While I respect the right of all individuals in a broad church to hold differing views, I reserve the right to disagree with them, as I do on this issue. It is in my opinion a myopic view, outdated and based on wrong motives.

I will be interested in see which conservatives put their names to any motion to put back any real advance in the recognition of our First Peoples.

As for Peter Dutton. Leader of the band? Jumping on the so-called conservative bandwagon? He has already done considerable damage to his political reputation and must accept much of the blame for the position of the government, having been instigator of the events that led to the removal of Malcolm Turnbull.

Leadership is what is required, Peter, not weakness. Leadership is what the community respects.

By the way, happy Australia Day to all. I hope today provides an opportunity for people, including politicians, to reconsider their position so that we can continue to build the respect we should be showing to our First Peoples.

Part 3 Let’s park the issues relating to Aboriginal people to one side and look at what the 26th of January represents and symbolises for Australians generally, and at how patently incompatible with our modern national identity it is as a selected national day.

Marion Scrymgour first published 2018

The debate about whether Australia Day should be changed to a date other than the 26th of January has in recent times been focussed on the offensiveness to many Indigenous Australians of using the commemoration of the establishment of an English colony in New South Wales as the foundation narrative of our national identity. The objection articulated by advocates for change is that it ignores, marginalises or diminishes Indigenous history and culture, and fails to acknowledge past injustices (some still unresolved).

Personally I think the objection is valid, but I accept that there are differing views. However, it is not necessary to even get into that argument to be persuaded conclusively that there should be a change of date. Let’s park the issues relating to Aboriginal people to one side and look at what the 26th of January represents and symbolises for Australians generally, and at how patently incompatible with our modern national identity it is as a selected national day.

The 26th of January marks the beginning of what sort of enterprise? What sort of uplifting and inspirational human endeavour? The answer is that it was a penal settlement. A remote punishment farm to warehouse the overflow from Britain’s prisons. A place of brutality and despair conceived out of a desire to keep a problem out of sight and out of mind.

Modern Australia has its flaws. Some may want to argue the toss over Don Dale or Manus Island, but the reality is that we are a civilised, enlightened and fair people. We embrace those values in ourselves and in each other. We all recognise how lucky we are to live in a tolerant society where diversity and difference are accepted and mateship and hard work are encouraged. We cherish our autonomy and freedom. A national day should resonate with and reflect those values. The way it can do that is by reminding us of something in our past which either brought out the best in our national character, or else represented a step along the path to our unique Australian identity.

Potential examples are many, but might include these: Kokoda; the first Snowy River hydro scheme (with its harnessing of migrant workers from all over Europe coming to seek a better life after the second world war); the abolition of the white Australia policy in 1966; the passage of the Australia Act in 1986 (when Australia’s court system finally became fully independent).

One thing I know for sure is that when we look into history’s mirror for some event or occasion that allows us to see ourselves as we aspire to be, the last and most alien screen we would contemplate downloading and sharing as emblematic of ourselves as Australians would be Sydney Cove in 1788. You just have to pause and think about it for a moment to be able to reject the concept as ludicrous. And yet that is the status quo that has become entrenched in our national calendar, through a process which has been more recent and less considered than most would be aware of.

In my view it is a matter of historical logic that Australia’s national day cannot be one which commemorates something which happened before Australia itself was created. That happened in 1901 when the various colonies joined together in a single federation in which each of them was transformed into an entity called a “state”.

The new Australian states were modelling themselves on the American colonies which had joined together to become the United States of America. Many of those colonies already had a long prior history since they had been established by European settlers and in most cases they were much prouder of their origins than those new Australian states which had started off as penal settlements. But if anyone, then or since, had proposed that the national day for the USA should be some day commemorating the early history of some individual colony, they would have been howled down by Americans. The American national day celebrates the independence of the unified whole, not a way-station in the history of a pre-independence colony. It should be the same with us.

If any recent event should have served to underscore the lack of fit between the date on which our national day is currently celebrated and our contemporary political reality it is the disqualifying of Federal Parliamentarians who have belatedly discovered that they are British citizens.

Just think about that for a moment. The colony of New South Wales was established on behalf of the British Crown. Then when the country called Australia was created in 1901, its people were classed as British subjects. Stand-alone citizenship came later and things have been slowly and fundamentally changing. In 2018 Britain is a foreign country and if you are a citizen of that country you are excluded from being elected to our Australian parliament. That is because it is recognised that there are conflicting interests and allegiances.

How can Australia possibly persist in celebrating as its national day the colonial acts of a foreign country? Without even touching on the sensitivities of Indigenous people, where does that leave the majority of Australians who came to or are descended from people who came to this country since Federation (including exponentially increasing numbers of Asian Australians)?

And finally, just to return to the issue of the stake of Indigenous people in this nation. Some have suggested that because there are pressing and immediate issues which are undermining our prospects for progress and wellbeing, it is inappropriate to spend time and energy participating in the debate about our national day. Like many others who are committed to tackling domestic violence, drug and alcohol abuse, and unemployment amongst our people, I believe we can walk and chew gum at the same time.

Marion Scrymgour


NACCHO #AlwaysWillBe #ChangeTheDate Aboriginal Health and #AustraliaDay #InvasionDay #Survival Day : Has the national media generally ignored many of the issues underpinning Invasion Day protests ? Commentary from @ShannanJDodson @EllaMareeAB @SummerMayFinlay

“ Negative reporting is commonplace for Indigenous people.

study of more than 350 articles about Aboriginal health, published over a 12-month period showed that almost 75% of these articles were negative.

Negative portrayals of Aboriginal health frequently included the topics of alcohol, child abuse, petrol sniffing, violence, crime and deaths in custody.

Unfortunately, these are issues that are the everyday reality for our communities, but they are rarely explained in context. There is no explanation of the root of these issues, which is intergenerational trauma caused by colonisation, dispossession, the Stolen Generations, entrenched racism, discriminatory policies and poverty.

Every time the media reinforces negative stereotypes it exacerbates prejudice, racism and misconceptions.

Shannan Dodson is a Yawuru woman and Indigenous Affairs Advisor for Media Diversity Australia and co-authored a handbook for better reporting on Indigenous peoples and issues. Follow Shannan @ShannanJDodson

“It would be really worthwhile if journalists out there came down to our community and tried to talk to our parents, our elders and tried to engage in a meaningful way and tried to find out where Aboriginal people are headed and what we’re trying to achieve.

Media is not interested in what makes our people tick, what our people really want, what our people really need.

They’re only interested if we’re burning down buildings or knuckling on with the coppers out in the middle of the street.

The media, instead of reporting the news of the day, is actually shaping the news of the day by peddling those extremist quick five-second news grabs.”

Veteran political activist Sam Watson has appealed to media to meaningfully engage with Indigenous communities ahead of Invasion Day rallies across Australia.

The Brisbane Elder – who co-founded the Brisbane chapter of the Black Panther Party in the 1970s – said commercial media had generally ignored many of the issues underpinning Invasion Day protests

 ” Why are white people on Sunrise with no experience calling for Indigenous child removals?

OPINION: “Debates facilitated by the wrong people does little more than stir up emotions and reinforce negative stereotypes rather than focus on solutions,”

Summer May Finlay

Part 1 OPINION: New Today host Brooke Boney cannot address every issue affecting our communities, but this week, she has shown she will not shy away from them went prompted, writes Shannan Dodson.

Watch video here

It is 2019, and we are only now seeing the first Indigenous commercial breakfast TV presenter, Gamilaroi Gomeroi woman Brooke Boney.

“Brooke Boney” has been trending on Twitter over the last two days as the new Channel 9 Today host offered a perspective not often given by a commercial TV presenter— discussing the hurt and anger associated with celebrating our national day “Australia Day” on 26 January.

Hopefully, by now we all know that this date is synonymous with colonisation (the anniversary of the British proclaiming the land for the Commonwealth) and the impact is still being felt by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people today. As Brooke says regarding the symbolism of 26 January, “that’s the beginning of what some people would say is the end, that’s the turning point.”

The Nine Network’s new Today Show reporter spoke out about why she won’t be celebrating Australia Day on January 26.

The proud Gamilaroi woman said: “I don’t want to celebrate it.”

This conversation is not a new one, it’s something our communities have protested about and asked for reflection on for decades.

But the fact is that many Australians are not used to seeing this type of commentary on a commercial breakfast show, particularly from an Indigenous person, who is not a guest, but a permanent fixture in the line-up.

Many Australians are not used to seeing this type of commentary on a commercial breakfast show, particularly from an Indigenous person, who is not a guest, but a permanent fixture in the line-up.

I’m sure many of the viewers heard of Brooke’s appointment, they were hoping that she would steer away from these uncomfortable conversations, and would maintain a level of commentary that doesn’t prod or unbalance the status-quo.

While much of the reaction to Brooke’s comment has been positive and supportive, there are of course the people — probably the same people that denigrated Adam Goodes — angry at what she had to say. It is difficult to face up to the truth of our history, and for many people to wrap their heads around the link between 26 January, colonisation and the intergenerational trauma we live.

And of course, once a minority starts to speak out against the comfortable ignorance this country has sat in for eternity, it is confronting and they are no longer playing their desired role of submissive bystander.

Breakfast shows have had ongoing criticism for the lack of diversity in not only the hosts, but guests also. And for not only skirting around Indigenous issues, but being blatantly discriminatory when reporting on them. Brooke is tipping the balance not by just being there, but by speaking her truth.

Are we starting to see a shift in mainstream media? While sceptical, I’m positive.

Brooke is not going anywhere anytime soon, and while we can’t expect her to address every issue affecting our communities, she has shown that she will not shy away from them. Her presence will lead to more Indigenous people being represented in commercial media, and hopefully more diversity in general.

We’ve got to be realistic about the kind of power the media has on public opinion, policy making, politics and social change. Pressure from the media has resulted in Royal Commissions, protests, legislation changes and the list goes on. Media companies, broadcast networks and television programs hold a power we cannot underestimate.

Having an Indigenous voice front and centre having these conversations with an audience that may have largely never heard them (or wanted to hear them) is important to the psyche and growth of the nation.

With this kind of power, surely the media should reflect the country that it serves. Well, unsurprisingly it does not. The recent census shows that the most common countries of birth in Australia are England, NZ, China, India and the Philippines.

But a recent Price Waterhouse Coopers report concluded that 82.7 per cent of the national entertainment and media industry are monolingual, speaking only English at home and on average was a young, white male who lived in Sydney’s eastern suburbs.

This is not an accurate reflection of the diversity of backgrounds, cultures, languages, perspectives, and experiences in Australia.

Australians turn to the mainstream media to get information, scrutiny and context about news and current affairs. And they are often met with a largely Anglo panel discussing issues they have no knowledge about, without any fair representation and balance.

Having Brooke on commercial television — a proud young strong Aboriginal woman —we are giving mainstream audiences, whether they like it a not, a peek into the everyday lives of our communities.

Having Brooke on commercial television — a proud young strong Aboriginal woman —we are giving mainstream audiences, whether they like it a not, a peek into the everyday lives of our communities. It is turning those perpetuated stereotypes on their head and countering negative commentary with factual and open dialogue.

She is generously and vulnerably giving her perspective — her lived experience — to try and open people’s minds to an alternative way of looking at things than what commercial television has served us over the years.

It must only go up from here. Our mob will only continue to infiltrate commercial television stations, and those uncomfortable conversations will hopefully be as commonplace and accepted as the lack of diversity on our screens.

Join NITV for a week of programming which showcases the strength, courage and resilience of our people. #AlwaysWillBe starts Sunday, 20 January on NITV (Ch. 34)

Part 2 The media is only interested in Indigenous protests if they’re “burning down buildings”, says a veteran Aboriginal activist.


Ella Archibald-Binge

Veteran political activist Sam Watson has appealed to media to meaningfully engage with Indigenous communities ahead of Invasion Day rallies across Australia.

“It would be really worthwhile if journalists out there came down to our community and tried to talk to our parents, our elders and tried to engage in a meaningful way and tried to find out where Aboriginal people are headed and what we’re trying to achieve,” he told NITV News.

The Brisbane Elder – who co-founded the Brisbane chapter of the Black Panther Party in the 1970s – said commercial media had generally ignored many of the issues underpinning Invasion Day protests.

“Media is not interested in what makes our people tick, what our people really want, what our people really need,” he said.

“They’re only interested if we’re burning down buildings or knuckling on with the coppers out in the middle of the street.

“The media, instead of reporting the news of the day, is actually shaping the news of the day by peddling those extremist quick five-second news grabs.”

Invasion Day marches are growing each year, attracting supporters from a variety of cultural backgrounds.

The rallies highlight a gaping divide between those who celebrate Australia Day, and those who want to change the date, or abolish it altogether.

They also aim to highlight the disparity between First Nations people and the wider population in areas such as health, incarceration, deaths in custody, child removals and suicide rates.

Mr Watson says it’s important that Australian audiences are getting the full story, in order to better understand Indigenous perspectives.

“Australians, because of the enormous pressures of life that we’re living now [and] having to work long hours, they get very little time to absorb the news of the day,” he said.

“So it’s important that when they do get the opportunity to read the newspapers or look at the TV or listen to the radio, that they’re receiving quality, unbiased, balanced news reporting.”

Tens of thousands of people are expected to attend January 26 rallies at capital cities and regional centres across Australia on Saturday.

NACCHO #AlwaysWillBe #ChangeTheDate Aboriginal Health and #AustraliaDay #InvasionDay #Survival Day A week of programming on @NITV will explore what 26 January means to Indigenous people.

“Australia’s First Nations Peoples are diverse with different perspectives and views, and NITV’s programming surrounding 26 January will reflect this. The day provides an opportunity for all Australians, no matter what their cultural background, to come together to recognise Indigenous history – which is Australia’s history.

“The NITV mob will also be hitting the road and going out into the community to showcase events that are happening around the country, and share Indigenous voices and storytelling exploring what this day means for many.”

NITV Channel Manager, Tanya Orman

Survival Day? Australia Day? Invasion Day? Day of Mourning? Feeling confused yet? We explain the history and meaning behind these different names for January 26

Panel discussions, documentaries, films and news will commence from Sunday 20 January to Saturday 26 January 2019.

NITV invites all Australians to hear stories of our nation’s shared history from an Indigenous perspective, and to explore what 26 January means to Indigenous people, through a curated slate of distinctive programming called #AlwaysWillBe.

#AlwaysWillBe will be presented by Indigenous actor and national treasure, Uncle Jack Charles, and will shine a light on stories of strength, resilience, survival and celebration.

As Australia’s national Indigenous broadcaster, NITV’s dedicated programming and news updates on television (Channel 34), NITV Radio, online and across social media, will share Indigenous voices and Songlines – the complex Aboriginal belief systems that interconnect land, deep spirituality, knowledge and values – helping all Australians deepen their understanding of our nation’s identity.

NITV’s #AlwaysWillBe week of programming begins from Sunday 20 January at 7pm with the Songlines documentary, Yarripiri’s Story.

Kicking off the 26 January programming live from Sydney’s North Head is the Sunrise Ceremonywhich will be hosted by John Paul Janke, with panellists Richard Frankland, Aunty Rosalie Kunoth-Monks, Teela Reid and Bianca Hunt. The ceremony will also feature cultural performances and live entertainment by Shellie Morris, Djakapurra Yunupingu, Dhapanbal Yunupingu, Arian Pearson and Mim Kwanten.

Following the Sunrise Ceremony. NITV will premiere the second season of the landmark series Songlines on Screen, documentaries Ningla-A-Na, 88, Connection to Country, Occupation: Native, Westwind: Djalu’s Legacy and Rabbit Proof Fence, as well as featuring NITV News: Day 26 from Sydney’s annual Yabun festival.

NITV’s flagship news and current affairs program, The Point, hosted by Rachael Hocking and John-Paul Janke, will return for its new season with a special episode called iProtest in its new timeslot of 8.30pm on Wednesdays. The episode takes an in-depth look at historic reactions to Indigenous protests and examines news coverage from the last three years of the ‘Change the Date’ movement. Panellists will include Jack Latimore, David Mar, Lilly Brown, Amy McGuire and Carla McGrath.

Additional programming throughout the week includes documentaries, Wik vs Queensland, We Don’t Need a Map and After Mabo; films Radiance and Samson and Delilah; SBS’ documentary series First Contact, comedy series Black Comedy and the film adaptation of the much loved book, Jasper Jones.

NITV will run Facebook Live streams from the #Always Will Be Sunrise Ceremony and Yabun Festival and live coverage throughout the day from events around the country hosted by NITV correspondents.

Further digital content will include social videos featuring Uncle Jack Charles, comedy skits with Ian Zaro, the premiere of Hunt for the Yidaki – an immersive 360 VR experience of the Yolgnu culture.

NITV online is also encouraging the public to identify the Aboriginal land they’re on and share it on social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) posting a photo of themselves holding a written sign saying, “I am on [identified Aboriginal] land #AlwaysWillBe”.


Originally Published here 

Australia Day ?

Australia Day is Australia’s national day commemorating January 26, 1788, the date on which Captain Arthur Phillip raised the flag of Great Britain and proclaimed a colonial outpost of the British Empire in Port Jackson, later Sydney Cove.

Though the day had been marked formally as ‘Foundation Day’ in the early years of the colony in New South Wales, the collective nation of Australia didn’t formally begin until federation on New Year’s Day, 1901.

Discussions about holding a national day were raised in the early 1900s and by 1935 all Australia states and territories had adopted the term ‘Australia Day’. However it wasn’t until 1994 that the whole country began to celebrate Australia Day on January 26 with a national public holiday.

What do we celebrate?

To many, Australia Day is a day of celebration of the values, freedoms and pastimes of our country. To some, it represents new beginnings and gaining citizenship in a country of relative peace and freedom. To others, it is a day to spend at community events or at a barbeque with family, friends and a game of backyard cricket.

The National Australia Day Council was founded in 1979 and coordinates many of the events that are held including the Australia of the Year Awards. They state that on Australia Day we ‘celebrate what’s great about Australia and being Australia. It’s the day to reflect on what we have achieved and what we can be proud of in our great nation… the day for us to re-commit to making Australia an even better place for the future.’

Invasion Day?

For some Australians, particularly among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, January 26 is not a day of celebration, but is seen as a day which commemorates the invasion by British settlers of lands already owned.

A day of mourning:

In 1938, on the 150th anniversary celebrations, William Cooper, a member of the Aboriginal Progressive Association, and other activists met and held a ‘Day of Mourning and Protest‘.

For many the day involves recognising the history of Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, including the trauma caused by government policies of assimilation and separation that saw many people removed from their traditional lands and culture.

This also includes recognition of the violence of the Frontier Wars, a period of conflict between settlers and Australia’s Indigenous peoples, which lasted from 1788 up until the time around the Coniston massacre in 1928.

Nakkiah Lui, a Gamilaroi and Torres Strait Islander actor and playwright, wrote an opinion piece in the Guardian explaining why she refused to celebrate the day but instead viewed it as a day of mourning.

“We mourn the declaration of Australia as terra nullius (land that belongs to no one) as well as those who have died in massacres, those who were dispossessed of their land and homes, those were denied their humanity, those who were shackled, beaten, sent to prison camps, and made to live in reserves.”

Indigenous sovereignty:

Invasion Day is also seen as an opportunity to assert the sovereignty of Indigenous peoples. Each year, marches are held in cities around Australia protesting the ‘celebration’ of Australia Day and calling for sovereignty and social justice for Indigenous Australians.

In 2013, Tasmanian activist and lawyer Michael Mansell spoke of refusing his nomination as Senior Australian of the Year for Tasmania to the Guardian.

“Australia Day is a celebration of an invasion which resulted in the ethnic cleansing of Aborigines. To participate would be to abandon the continuing struggle of my people.”

Mansell also called for further action in the area of sovereignty: a treaty including land settlement provisions, designated government representation and a separate Indigenous Assembly.

Day of Mourning?

The first Day of Mourning was held in Sydney in 1938, the 150th anniversary of the First Fleet landing in Sydney Cove. Participants marched in silent protest from Town Hall to the Australian Hall in Elizabeth St. After this, a meeting was held with around 100 people attending.

Day of Mourning 1938

At the meeting, President of the Aborigines Progressives Association, Jack Patten read the following resolution.

“We, representing the Aborigines of Australia, assembled in conference at the Australian Hall, Sydney, on the 26th day of January, 1938, this being the 150th Anniversary of the Whiteman’s seizure of our country, hereby make protest against the callous treatment of our people by the whitemen during the past 150 years, and we appeal to the Australian nation of today to make new laws for the education and care of Aborigines, we ask for a new policy which will raise our people to full citizen status and equality within the community.” The resolution was unanimously passed.

Following the meeting, several attendees went to La Parouse, where several memorial wreaths, prepared by Pearl Gibbs, were floated to sea in a gesture symbolising 150 years of loss and oppression.

Change the Date?

The timing of the celebration is seen as of particular concern as it marks the date of colonisation, unlike other countries which celebrate their national day on their day of independence or on another special day. For example New Zealand celebrates Waitangi Day on 6 February, commemorating the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi between the settlers and the local Maori people in 1840.

Lowitja O’Donoghue who was awarded Australian of the Year in 1984 pleaded for dialogue about changing the date of Australia Day.

“Let us find a day on which we can all feel included, in which we can all participate equally, and can celebrate with pride our common Australian identity.”

Survival Day?

For many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, Australia Day is also an opportunity to recognise the survival of our people and our culture. Despite colonisation, discrimination and comprehensive inequalities, we continue to practise our traditions, look after the land and make our voices heard in the public sphere. We survive.

The 1988 Bicentenary of Australia saw a large protest in Sydney in which Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians marched together. Activist Gary Foley described it as black and white Australians coming together in harmony that represented Australia as it could be.

Campaigner for Reconciliation and Australian of the Year in 2000, Gustav Nossal spoke about the potential for Australia Day to celebrate and respect Indigenous people and their history.

‘The great majority of Indigenous people want to live in one Australia; want to share in its destiny; want to participate in and contribute to its progress; but at the same time, want the recognition and respect that their status and millennia old civilisation so clearly warrant.’

In contrast to Australia Day events, which have historically been organised with little or no consultation with local Aboriginal people, the first Survival Day festivals were initiated by Aboriginal communities in Sydney and marked a celebration of our achievements and culture. Today many Survival Day events are held around the country, celebrating our people, culture and survival.

Mick Dodson, law professor and Australian of the Year in 2009, spoke to Koori Mail about the community support behind this recognition of Indigenous people.

‘Ninety per cent of people are saying Australia Day should be inclusive of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures. I firmly believe that some day we will choose a date that is a comprehensive and inclusive date for all Australians.’


NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #Uluru #Voice #Treaty @RecAustralia Reconciliation Australia’s Vision of National Reconciliation is based on five critical dimensions: race relations, equality and equity, institutional integrity, unity and historical acceptance.

‘‘Here in Australia we’re fortunate enough to have one of the richest and oldest continuing cultures in the world,

This is something we should all be proud of and celebrate.’’

As we begin a new year 2019 , it is an appropriate time to pause and reflect on our progress towards a just, equitable and reconciled Australia. Reconciliation Australia co-chair Tom Calma AO highlighted the uniqueness of the history of Australia.

Part 1 : Reconciliation Australia’s Vision of National Reconciliation is based on five critical dimensions: race relations, equality and equity, institutional integrity, unity and historical acceptance.

Originally published here Shepparton Region Reconciliation Group convenor Dierdre Robertson

These five dimensions do not exist in isolation; they are inter-related and Australia can only achieve full reconciliation if there is progress in all five.

Race relations: All Australians understand and value Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous cultures’, rights and experiences, which results in stronger relationships based on trust and respect and that are free of racism.

Equality and equity: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples participate equally in a range of life opportunities and the unique rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are recognised and upheld.

Unity: An Australian society that values and recognises Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and heritage as a proud part of a shared identity.

Institutional integrity: The active support of reconciliation by the nation’s political, business and community structures.

Historical acceptance: All Australians understand and accept the wrongs of the past and the impact of these wrongs. Australia makes amends for the wrongs of the past and ensures these wrongs are never repeated.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have been calling for treaty/ies for many decades.

Negotiation of treaties and agreements by all governments and parliaments were recommendations of the final report of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation in 2000.

Given that Australia is the only Commonwealth country that does not have a treaty with its First National Peoples, the progress towards treaty/treaties in Victoria is an important first step towards true reconciliation.

History was made with the passage through the Victorian Parliament of Australia’s first ever treaty legislation in June 2018.

A number of other jurisdictions are progressing their own treaty and agreement-making processes, and are looking to Victoria with interest.

The South Australian Government had started treaty negotiations with Traditional Owners before a change of government paused negotiations.

Discussions are also under way in the Northern Territory and Queensland.

The First Nations National Constitutional Convention at Uluru in 2017 brought together 250 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and led to the Statement from the Heart, which included the following: ‘‘We seek constitutional reforms to empower our people and take a rightful place in our own country. When we have power over our destiny our children will flourish. They will walk in two worlds and their culture will be a gift to their country.’’

The constitutional convention called for a Voice to Parliament — a national indigenous representative body enshrined in the constitution.

The convention also called for a Makarrata Commission to supervise agreement-making between governments and First Nations and truth-telling about our history.

The Final Report of the Joint Select Committee on Constitutional Recognition relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples was handed down in November 2018.

The key point of this report is that the voice should become a reality and that it will be co-designed with government by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples right across the nation.

After the design process is complete the legal form of the voice can then be worked out.

It will be easier to work out the legal form the voice should take once there is clarity on what the voice looks like.

The commitment to a voice, and the commitment to co-design of that voice are significant steps for the parliament to discuss and consider.

They are significant steps towards a bipartisan and agreed approach to advancing the cause of constitutional recognition.

The Joint Select Committee Final Report also stated ‘‘We believe there is a strong desire among all Australians to know more about the history, traditions and culture of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their contact with other Australians both good and bad. A fuller understanding of our history including the relationship between black and white Australia will lead to a more reconciled nation.’’

With the backdrop of this progress, what can you do to work towards a reconciled Australia?

Become informed about the treaty progress in Victoria and get on board to lobby and advocate for justice and self-determination for Victoria’s First Nations Peoples.


Find out more about the Uluru Statement from the Heart and add your voice to those of other Australians who have supported the reforms in the Uluru Statement, visit

Read the Final Report of the Joint Select Committee on Constitutional Recognition relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples by going to—Business/Committees/Joint/Constitutional—Recognition—2018/ConstRecognition/Final—Report

Part 2 From the Australian Monday 14 January 2019

Bill Shorten’s proposal for a ­republican plebiscite faces an assault from prominent Indigenous figures who are calling on Labor to dump the policy and focus on establishing an indigenous voice to parliament.

Leading Indigenous academics Megan Davis, Marcia Langton and Eddie Synot say the campaign for an indigenous voice should be given clear air.

The Greens are also urging Labor to dump a first-term plebiscite on the republic, along with Maritime Union of Australia Northern Territory branch secretary Thomas Mayor.

At its national conference last month, Labor committed to making the voice a priority for constitutional change but did not commit to a timeline on a referendum.

Professor Davis said Labor should junk its plans for a first-term plebiscite on the republic. “The referendum for a constitutionally enshrined voice is the civic question that has actively occupied the minds of Australians for eight years,” she said. “This referendum requires clear air. We want a just republic, not just a republic.’’

Professor Langton said she had not spoken to a single Indigenous Australian who supported a republican plebiscite being held before a referendum on the voice.

“It kills off the chance of our issues getting clear air,” she said. “It is pretty clear that republicans, while they think they have a handle on our issues, clearly don’t.”

NACCHO Aboriginal Health #Election2019 : A Labor Government will become the first political party to put in place a #RAP #ReconciliationActionPlan – and commits to us having a #voice in the party, in our parliament, and in our society.

 ” A Shorten Labor Government will become the first political party to put in place a Reconciliation Action Plan – committing our party to practical measures to give First Australians a voice in our party, in our parliament, and in our society.

For Labor, reconciliation and recognition is about ensuring that First Nations people have the same rights, opportunities and outcomes as every other Australian. Labor’s Reconciliation Action Plan includes strategies to work to better understand how to improve the current involvement of, and relationships with, First Nations People.”

From Labor Party Press Release in full below : More information on Labor’s Reconciliation Action Plan can be found here DOWNLOAD 

Labor Party reconciliation-action-plan

Bill Shorten Speech 

Download a full copy HERE Bill Shorten Speech

Labor recognizes its role in building a more equitable relationship – one in which the rights and obligations flow both ways. This includes a commitment to establishing a Voice and enshrining it in the Constitution. It is our first priority for Constitutional change.

Labor’s Reconciliation Action Plan is a practical plan with measurable timeframes – ensuring that at every level of our party we are constantly building our understanding of the issues that affect First Nations People’s equality and aspirations, and developing practical ideas for achieving sustainable change.

These goals have eluded us as a nation for more than two centuries. It is time for that to change – and Labor wants to lead this change.

Reconciliation and recognition is about acknowledging – and celebrating – the unique place of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders as the first people and custodians of

Australia and recognising the need for change through real partnerships.

In doing this Labor can continue to lead the way on our nation’s path to Recognition, Reconciliation and Justice.

A fair go for Australia also means a fair go for First Nations People.


NACCHO Aboriginal Women’s Health #SistersInside #imaginingabolition : Our CEO Pat Turner address to @SistersInside 9th International Conference Decolonisation is not a metaphor’: Abolition for First Nations women

NACCHO supports the abolition of prisons for First Nations women. The incarceration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island women should be a last resort measure.

It is time to consider a radical restructuring of the relationship between Aboriginal people and the state.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their communities must be part of the design, decision-making and implementation of government funded policies, programs and services that aim to reduce – or abolish –the imprisonment of our women.

Increased government investment is needed in community-led prevention and early intervention programs designed to reduce violence against women and provide therapeutic services for vulnerable women and girls. Programs and services that are holistic and culturally safe, delivered by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations.

NACCHO calls for a full partnership approach in the Closing the Gap Refresh, so that Aboriginal people are at the centre of decision-making, design and delivery of policies that impact on them.

We are seeking a voice to the Commonwealth Parliament, so we have a say over the laws that affect us. “

Pat Turner NACCHO CEO Speaking at  Sisters Inside 9th International Conference 15 Nov

See Pats full speaking notes below

Theme of the day: ‘Decolonisation is not a metaphor’: Abolition for First Nations women

About Sisters Inside

  • Sisters Inside responds to criminalised women and girls’ needs holistically and justly. We work alongside women and girls to build them up and to give them power over their own lives. We support women and girls to address their priorities and needs. We also advocate on behalf of women with governments and within the legal system to try to achieve fairer outcomes for criminalised women, girls and their children.
  • At Sisters Inside, we call this ‘walking the journey together’. We are a community and we invite you to be part of a brighter future for Queensland’s most disadvantaged and marginalised women and children.

Sisters Inside Website Website 

In Picture above Dr Jackie Huggins, Pat Turner, Jacqui Katona, Dr Chelsea Bond and June Oscar, Aunty Debbie Sandy and chaired by Melissa Lucashenko.

Panel: Why abolition for First Nations Women?

Panel members:

  • Dr Jackie Huggins AM FAHA (Co-Chair, National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples)
  • Pat Turner AM (CEO, National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation)
  • Dr Chelsea Bond (Senior Lecturer, University of Queensland)
  • Jacqui Katona (Activist & Sessional Lecturer (Moondani Balluk), Victoria University)
  1. Imprisonment, colonialism, and statistics
  • The Australian justice system was founded on a white colonial model that consistently fails and seeks to control and supress Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
  • Indigenous peoples are overrepresented in the prison system:
    • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults are 12.5 times more likely to be imprisoned than non-Indigenous Australians.[i]
    • Our women represent the fastest growing group within prison populations and are 21 times more likely to be imprisoned than non-Indigenous women.[ii]
  • Imprisonment is another dimension to the historical and contemporary Aboriginal experience of colonial removal, institutionalisation and punishment.[iii]
  • Our experiences of incarceration are not only dehumanising. They contribute to our ongoing disempowerment, intergenerational trauma, social disadvantage, and burden of disease at an individual as well as community level.
  1. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women’s experiences of imprisonment
  • The Change the Record report found that most Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women who enter prison systems:
    • are survivors of physical and sexual violence, and that these experiences are most likely to have contributed to their imprisonment; and
    • struggle with housing insecurity, poverty, mental illness, disability and the effects of trauma.
  • Family violence must be understood as both a cause and an effect of social disadvantage and intergenerational trauma.
  • Risk factors for family violence include poor housing and overcrowding, substance misuse, financial difficulties and unemployment, poor physical and mental health, and disability.[iv]
  • Imprisoning women affects the whole community. Children are left without their mothers. The whole community suffers.
  1. Kimberley Suicide Prevention Trial
  • The Kimberley Suicide Prevention Trial, of which NACCHO is a member, provides a grim example of the link between trauma, suicide, incarceration and the social determinants of health.
  • The rate of suicide in the Kimberley is seven times that of other Australian regions.
  • Nine out of ten suicides involve Aboriginal people.
  • Risk factors include imprisonment, poverty, homelessness and family violence.
  • Western Australia has the highest rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander imprisonment.
  1. Imprisonment and institutional racism
  • The overrepresentation of Aboriginal peoples in prison systems is not simply a law-and-order issue.[v] The trends of over-policing and imprisoning of Indigenous peoples are examples of institutional racism inherent in the justice system. [vi]
  • Institutional racism affects our everyday encounters with housing, health, employment and justice systems.
  • Institutional racism is not only discriminatory; it entrenches intergenerational trauma and socioeconomic disadvantage.[vii]
  • Exposure to racism is associated with psychological distress, depression, poor quality of life, and substance misuse, all of which contribute significantly to the overall ill-health experienced by Indigenous people. We are twice as likely to die by suicide or be hospitalised for mental health or behavioural reasons.
  1. Ways forward see opening quote Pat Turner 
  2. The role of ACCHSs in supporting Indigenous women

Increasing access to the health care that people need

  • Racism is a key driver of ill-health for Indigenous people, impacting not only on our access to health services but our treatment and outcomes when in the health system.
  • Institutional racism in mainstream services means that Indigenous people do not always receive the care that we need from Australia’s hospital and health system.
  • It has been our experience that many Indigenous people are uncomfortable seeking help from mainstream services for cultural, geographical, and language disparities as well as financial costs associated with accessing services.
  • The combination of these issues with racism means that we are less likely to access services for physical and mental health conditions, and many of our people have undetected health issues like poor hearing, eyesight and chronic conditions.

Early detection of health issues that are risk factors for incarceration

  • The Aboriginal Community Controlled Health model provides answers for addressing the social determinants of health, that is, the causal factors contributing to the overrepresentation of Indigenous women’s experiences of family violence and imprisonment.
  • Aboriginal Community Controlled Health organisations should be funded to undertake comprehensive, regular health check of Aboriginal women so that risk factors are identified and addressed early.

Taking a holistic approach to health needs and social determinants of health and incarceration

  • Overall, the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health model recognises that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people require a greater level of holistic healthcare due to the trauma and dispossession of colonisation which is linked with our poor health outcomes.
  • Aboriginal Community Controlled Health is more sensitive to the needs of the whole individual, spiritually, socially, emotionally and physically.
  • The Aboriginal Community Controlled Model is responsive to the changing health needs of a community because it of its small, localised and agile nature. This is unlike large-scale hospitals or private practices which can become dehumanised, institutionalised and rigid in their systems.
  • Aboriginal Community Controlled Health is scalable to the needs of the community, as it is inextricably linked with the wellbeing and growth of the community.
  • The evidence shows that Aboriginal Community Controlled organisations are best placed to deliver holistic, culturally safe prevention and early intervention services to Indigenous women.
  1. About NACCHO
  • NACCHO is the national peak body representing 145 ACCHOs across the country on Aboriginal health and wellbeing issues. In 1997, the Federal Government funded NACCHO to establish a Secretariat in Canberra, greatly increasing the capacity of Aboriginal peoples involved in ACCHOs to participate in national health policy development.
  • Aboriginal Community Controlled Health first arose in the early 1970s in response to the failure of the mainstream health system to meet the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and the aspirations of Aboriginal peoples for self-determination.
  • An ACCHO is a primary health care service initiated and operated by the local Aboriginal community to deliver holistic, comprehensive, and culturally appropriate health care to the community which controls it, through a locally elected Board of Management. ACCHOs form a critical part of the Indigenous health infrastructure, providing culturally safe care with an emphasis on the importance of a family, community, culture and long-term relationships.
  • Our members provide about three million episodes of care per year for about 350,000 people. In very remote areas, our services provided about one million episodes of care in a twelve-month period. Collectively, we employ about 6,000 staff (most of whom are Indigenous), which makes us the single largest employer of Indigenous people in the country.


[ii] Human Rights Law Centre and Change the Record Coalition, 2017, Over-represented and overlooked: the crisis of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women’s growing over-imprisonment: NB: The foreword is written by Vicki Roach, a presenter in the next session of the Abolition conference

[iii] file://nfs001/Home$/doris.kordes/Downloads/748-Article%20Text-1596-5-10-20180912.pdf – John Rynne and Peter Cassematis, 2015, Crime Justice Journal, Assessing the Prison Experience for Australian First Peoples: A prospective Research Approach, Vol 4, No 1:96-112.

[iv] Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. 2018. Family, domestic and sexual violence in Australia. Canberra.


[vi] ‘A culture of disrespect: Indigenous peoples and Australian public institutions’.


NACCHO Aboriginal Health : Coniston NT massacre 1928 descendants reunite to push for national truth-telling process , a theme of the #UluruStatement from the Heart.

We expect up to 400 people to join us for a chance to share the truth about our colonial past with the families of the victims and the murderers.

We want everyone to know that these massacres didn’t happen during some distant past but 10 years after the end of the First World War.

We remember those who lost their lives in that war every year, in every town around Australia. We have a special public holiday for it and lots of memorials everywhere.

What about our fallen loved ones?

Truth telling, along with agreement making and an Aboriginal voice to parliament, is a theme of the Uluru Statement from the Heart.

Central Land Council chair Francis Kelly.

Download the 12 Page PDF 


Families affected by the Coniston Massacre from around Australia have gathered at a meeting of the Central Land Council outside Yuendumu, getting ready to remember the innocent men, women and children killed during a series of massacres in 1928.

Today they will travel to the remote outstation of Yurrkuru (Brooks Soak), approximately three hours north west of Alice Springs, to commemorate with songs, dances, speeches and prayers the 90th anniversary of the killings.

Yurrkuru is the site of the murder of the dingo trapper Fred Brooks which triggered the revenge parties led by Police Constable George Murray between August and October 1928 that have become known as the Coniston Massacre.

The families of an estimated 100 murder victims are planning to speak at the event, alongside members of Constable Murray’s family and political leaders such as Senator Patrick Dodson and NT Chief Minister Michael Gunner.

Their families unveiled a plaque at Yurrkuru in 2003 and plan to call for annual events commemorating the massacres and for interpretive signs at the many massacre locations.

They also want all school children to be taught about the frontier wars.

Mr Kelly, one of the creators of the documentary Coniston which will be shown at the CLC meeting tonight, said he is particularly pleased to welcome students from surrounding Aboriginal communities to the commemoration.

“Until all Australians know about the crimes committed against our families we can’t move forward as one mob, one country,” he said.

“Other countries with murderous pasts have managed to come together by speaking the truth. If they can do it, why can’t we?”

The Aboriginal man on the 2 dollar coin.His name was Gwoya Jungarai and he was one of the only survivors of one of the last recognised massacres of Aboriginal people, the 1928 Coniston Massacre in Central Australia.

Almost every Australian has seen his face, held his likeness in their hands but how many know his story?

Today Friday the 24th of August 2018 will mark the 90th anniversary of that atrocity. We will remember him as well as those others who did not survive.Lest we forget the Frontier Wars.

Minister for Indigenous Affairs Nigel Scullion Press Release

The anniversary was a solemn commemoration from or the families and descendants of the victims as well as for the entire Central Australian community.

Today community members from Central Australia gathered at Yurrkuru to commemorate 90 years since the Coniston massacre.

The Coniston massacre was a series of killings between August and October 1928, with large numbers of Aboriginal people from the Warlpiri, Anmatyerre and Kaytetye nations killed.

Minister for Indigenous Affairs Nigel Scullion said that the anniversary was a solemn commemoration for the families and descendants of the victims as well as for the entire Central Australian community.

“It is important that we remember the Aboriginal men, women and children who were killed during this dark chapter of Australian history and acknowledge the impact on families and communities that these crimes have on First Nations peoples,” said Minister Scullion.

“Today we also reflect on the resilience of the local Traditional Owners in more recent history. In 2014 I was honoured to join Traditional Owners and deliver a deed of grant to the Yurrkuru Aboriginal Land Trust – handing back land which was central to the Coniston massacre.

The Central Land Council hosted an event to commemorate the massacre at Yurrkuru (Brooks Soak), approximately 60 kilometres from Yuendumu.  The event brought together Aboriginal families from across Central Australia, as well as descendants of those responsible.

“I commend the Central Land Council for this work to ensure that the Coniston massacre is never forgotten.”

NACCHO Aboriginal Health #selfdetermination #International day of the #WorldsIndigenousPeople 9 August : #WeAreIndigenous and we Walk for Makarrata –  One Message, One Goal, Many Voices #ulurustatement

On this annual observance, let us commit to fully realizing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, including the rights to self-determination and to traditional lands, territories and resources.”

UN Secretary-General António Guterres See Part 2 below 

Our desire for Makarrata is about self-determination, genuine partnership and moving beyond survival.  It’s about putting our future into our own hands,

Makarrata was needed because the Apology and successive reforms from both sides of politics have not on their own delivered healing and unity for the nation, or enough progress for Aboriginal people.” 

NSWALC Chairman, Cr Roy Ah-See Part 1 Below 

What is the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples?

A declaration is a statement adopted by governments from around the world. Declarations are not legally binding, but they outline goals for countries to work towards.

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (the Declaration) represents 20 years of negotiation between Indigenous peoples, governments and human rights experts, and argues that Indigenous peoples all around the world are entitled to all human rights, including collective rights.

The rights within the Declaration, which was formally adopted by Australia in 2009, set standards for the survival, dignity and well-being of Indigenous peoples.

Why have a Declaration for Indigenous peoples?

The Declaration is necessary to combat the policies of assimilation and integration employed by colonisers throughout the world that have uprooted, marginalised and dispossessed First Nation peoples. This common history of dispossession created many circumstances that remain unique to Indigenous cultures. These groups bear similar marks of colonisation, while continuing to practice their incredibly diverse cultures and traditions.

The rights of all people are protected through international law mechanisms. However, what these fail to provide to Indigenous peoples are the “specific protection of the distinctive cultural and group identity of indigenous peoples as well as the spatial and political dimension of that identity, their ways of life.”[1] Prior to the Declaration there was a lack of a legal guarantee of Indigenous communities to their collective rights, such as ownership of traditional lands, the return of sacred remains, artefacts and sites, and the guarantee of governments to honour treaty obligations.

What does the Declaration mean for Australia?

The Declaration sets out rights both for individuals and collective groups. This reflects the tendency of Indigenous groups around the world, to organise societies as a group (a clan, nation, family or community). An example of these group rights is the acknowledgment that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities have the right to own country, hold cultural knowledge as a group and the right to define their groups.

Some other rights secured in the document include, the right to equality, freedom from discrimination, self-determination and self-government. Many of these rights are already secured through Commonwealth and State legislation. However, the Declaration is Australia’s promise that mechanisms will be put in place to ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples will be able to benefit from these rights.

The significant disadvantages currently faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia only serve to highlight the ongoing relevance and importance of the Declaration.

What is self-determination and why is it important?

Self-determination is a key part of the Declaration, and is a right unique to Indigenous communities around the world. Self-determination can only be achieved through the consultation and participation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in the formation of all policies and legislation that impacts upon them. Self-determination is characterised by three key elements that require Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to have:
 Choice to determine how their lives are governed and the paths to development
 Participation in decisions that affect the lives of First Nation peoples.
 Control over their lives and futures, including economic, social and cultural development.

A campaign for Makarrata launches in Sydney today Thursday August 9, when Aboriginal people and their supporters will walk from Hyde Park to the NSW Parliament.

Led by the NSW Aboriginal Land Council (NSWALC) and Coalition of Aboriginal Peak Organisations (CAPO), the walk will call on Parliamentarians to join a movement for a better future for Aboriginal people, and all Australians.

NSWALC Chairman, Cr Roy Ah-See said that the walk will promote a positive alternative agenda for Aboriginal affairs in the state. .

Makarrata is gift from the Yolngu language. It means coming together after a struggle. It has been used nationally since the National Aboriginal Conference in the late 1970’s and featured prominently in the historic Uluru Statement from the Heart.


“What we have seen to date are disconnected stepping stones towards a vague future focused on survival. What we need is a clear pathway for Aboriginal people to thrive, and for all Australians to walk with us on this journey.

“Our successes have been many, but we still face significant challenges.  We want to see increased prosperity for Aboriginal families across the state, with more of our people going to university and getting better jobs.

“We want to see our children flourishing; walking proudly and successfully in two worlds. Taking part in the economy and enriching the country with their culture.

“By walking with us we are asking all political parties to commit to genuine partnership, to face our challenges together, and grow and support our successes.

“NSW is where the struggle started, and it is right that the largest state, with the largest population of Aboriginal people in the country takes genuine steps towards Makarrata,

“We are looking for all Australians to join us on our journey towards Makarrata,” Cr Ah-See said.

Walk with us, join us at


Part 2

There are an estimated 370 million indigenous people in the world, living across 90 countries. They make up less than 5 per cent of the world’s population, but account for 15 per cent of the poorest. They speak an overwhelming majority of the world’s estimated 7,000 languages and represent 5,000 different cultures.

Indigenous peoples are inheritors and practitioners of unique cultures and ways of relating to people and the environment. They have retained social, cultural, economic and political characteristics that are distinct from those of the dominant societies in which they live. Despite their cultural differences, indigenous peoples from around the world share common problems related to the protection of their rights as distinct peoples.

Indigenous peoples have sought recognition of their identities, way of life and their right to traditional lands, territories and natural resources for years, yet throughout history their rights have always been violated. Indigenous peoples today, are arguably among the most disadvantaged and vulnerable groups of people in the world. The international community now recognizes that special measures are required to protect their rights and maintain their distinct cultures and way of life.

2018 Theme: Indigenous peoples’ migration and movement

As a result of loss of their lands, territories and resources due to development and other pressures, many indigenous peoples migrate to urban areas in search of better prospects of life, education and employment.

They also migrate between countries to escape conflict, persecution and climate change impacts. Despite the widespread assumption that indigenous peoples live overwhelmingly in rural territories, urban areas are now home to a significant proportion of indigenous populations. In Latin America, around 40 per cent of all indigenous peoples live in urban areas — even 80 per cent in some countries of the region. In most cases, indigenous peoples who migrate find better employment opportunities and improve their economic situation but alienate themselves from their traditional lands and customs. Additionally, indigenous migrants face a myriad of challenges, including lack of access to public services and additional layers of discrimination.

The 2018 theme will focus on the current situation of indigenous territories, the root causes of migration, trans-border movement and displacement, with a specific focus on indigenous peoples living in urban areas and across international borders. The observance will explore the challenges and ways forward to revitalize indigenous peoples’ identities and encourage the protection of their rights in or outside their traditional territories.

The observance of the International Day will take place on Thursday 9 August 2018 from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm in the ECOSOC Chamber at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. The programme can be found in Events. More information in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) page.

International Year of Indigenous Languages

View above interactive map HERE

Languages play a crucially important role in the daily lives of all peoples, are pivotal in the areas of human rights protection, peace building and sustainable development, through ensuring cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue. However, despite their immense value, languages around the world continue to disappear at an alarming rate due to a variety of factors. Many of them are indigenous languages.

Indigenous languages in particular are a significant factor in a wide range of other indigenous issues, notably education, scientific and technological development, biosphere and the environment, freedom of expression, employment and social inclusion.

In response to these threats, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) adopted a Resolution (A/RES/71/178) on ‘Rights of Indigenous Peoples’, proclaiming 2019 as the International Year of Indigenous Languages.

On Twitter, follow #WeAreIndigenous#IndigenousDay#IndigenousPeoplesDay, and #UNDRIP