NACCHO #ANZACday2018 tribute : Our black history: #LestWeForget Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander veterans

 

” Over 1000 Indigenous Australians fought in the First World War. They came from a section of society with few rights, low wages, and poor living conditions. Most Indigenous Australians could not vote and none were counted in the census. But once in the AIF, they were treated as equals. They were paid the same as other soldiers and generally accepted without prejudice.”

From the Australian War Memorial Indigenous Defence Service Website

Private Miller Mack served in World War I from 1916-17 alongside fellow Australian troops among the 7th Reinforcements in France.

 ” Private Miller Mack’s image is iconic – frequently used as a symbol of Indigenous Australians’ important contribution to the ANZAC war effort. Yet for nearly a century, the soldier himself has lain forgotten, in an unmarked pauper’s grave. Now, says his grand-niece Michelle Lovegrove, he has finally been given the burial he deserves, as his body has been re-interred on Ngarrindjeri land. ”

Read full story here

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have served in every conflict and commitment involving Australian defence contingents since Federation, including both world wars and the intervals of peace since the Second World War.

Artwork via Lee Anthony Hampton from Koori Kicks Art.

Researching Indigenous service

Little was known publicly about the presence of Indigenous men and women in Australia’s armed forces prior to the 1970s. Subsequent research has established a record of Indigenous service dating back to the start of the Commonwealth era in 1901, and even a small number of individual enlistments in the colonial defence forces before that.

It is impossible to determine the exact number of Indigenous individuals who participated in each conflict, and this research is ongoing. New names are constantly emerging, while some have been removed after research identified them as non-Indigenous.

Before 1980, individuals enlisting in the defence forces were not asked whether or not they were of an Indigenous background. While service records sometimes contain information which may suggest Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander heritage, many servicemen have been identified as Indigenous by their descendants.

Here you can find a list of known indigenous service people: https://www.awm.gov.au/indigenous-service

First World War

Over 1000 Indigenous Australians fought in the First World War. They came from a section of society with few rights, low wages, and poor living conditions. Most Indigenous Australians could not vote and none were counted in the census. But once in the AIF, they were treated as equals. They were paid the same as other soldiers and generally accepted without prejudice.

When war broke out in 1914, many Indigenous Australians who tried to enlist were rejected on the grounds of race; others slipped through the net. By October 1917, when recruits were harder to find and one conscription referendum had already been lost, restrictions were cautiously eased. A new Military Order stated: “Half-castes may be enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force provided that the examining Medical Officers are satisfied that one of the parents is of European origin.”

This was as far as Australia – officially – would go.

Why did they fight?

Loyalty and patriotism may have encouraged Indigenous Australians to enlist. Some saw it as a chance to prove themselves the equal of Europeans or to push for better treatment after the war.

For many Australians in 1914 the offer of 6 shillings a day for a trip overseas was simply too good to miss.

Indigenous Australians in the First World War served on equal terms but after the war, in areas such as education, employment, and civil liberties, Aboriginal ex-servicemen and women found that discrimination remained or, indeed, had worsened during the war period.

The post First World War Period

Only one Indigenous Australian is known to have received land in New South Wales under a “soldier settlement” scheme, despite the fact that much of the best farming land in Aboriginal reserves was confiscated for soldier settlement blocks.

The repression of Indigenous Australians increased between the wars, as protection acts gave government officials greater control over Indigenous Australians. As late as 1928 Indigenous Australians were being massacred in reprisal raids. A considerable Aboriginal political movement in the 1930s achieved little improvement in civil rights.

Second World War

Lieutenant (Lt) T.C. Derrick, VC DCM (right) with Lt R. W. Saunders

Hundreds of Indigenous Australians served in the 2nd AIF and the militia. Many were killed fighting and at least a dozen died as prisoners of war. As in the First World War, Indigenous Australians served under the same conditions as whites and, in most cases, with the promise of full citizenship rights after the war. Generally, there seems to have been little racism between soldiers.

In 1939 Indigenous Australians were divided over the issue of military service. Some Aboriginal organisations believed war service would help the push for full citizenship rights and proposed the formation of special Aboriginal battalions to maximise public visibility.

Others, such as William Cooper, the Secretary of the Australian Indigenous Australians’ League, argued that Indigenous Australians should not fight for white Australia. Cooper had lost his son in the First World War and was bitter that Aboriginal sacrifice had not brought any improvement in rights and conditions. He likened conditions in white-administered Aboriginal settlements to those suffered by Jews under Hitler. Cooper demanded improvements at home before taking up “the privilege of defending the land which was taken from him by the White race without compensation or even kindness”.

Enlistment Second World War

At the start of the Second World War Indigenous Australians and Torres Strait Islanders were allowed to enlist and many did so. But in 1940 the Defence Committee decided the enlistment of Indigenous Australians was “neither necessary not desirable”, partly because white Australians would object to serving with them. However, when Japan entered the war increased need for manpower forced the loosening of restrictions. Torres Strait Islanders were recruited in large numbers and Indigenous Australians increasingly enlisted as soldiers and were recruited or conscripted into labour corps.

In the front line

With the Japanese advance in 1942, Indigenous Australians and Torres Strait Islanders in the north found themselves in the front line against the attackers. There were fears that Aboriginal contact with Japanese pearlers before the war might lead to their giving assistance to the enemy. Like the peoples of South-East Asia under colonial regimes, Indigenous Australians might easily have seen the Japanese as liberators from white rule. Many did express bitterness at their treatment, but, overwhelmingly, Indigenous Australians supported the country’s defence.

The post Second World War period

Returned soldiers

Wartime service gave many Indigenous Australians pride and confidence in demanding their rights. Moreover, the army in northern Australia had been a benevolent employer compared to pre-war pastoralists and helped to change attitudes to Indigenous Australians as employees.

Nevertheless, Indigenous Australians who fought for their country came back to much the same discrimination as before. For example, many were barred from Returned and Services League clubs, except on Anzac Day. Many of them were not given the right to vote for another 17 years.

Enlistment after the war

Once the intense demands of the war were gone, the army re-imposed its restrictions on enlistment. But attitudes had changed and restrictions based on race were abandoned in 1949. Since then Indigenous Australians and Torres Strait Islanders have served in all conflicts in which Australia has participated.

Other services

Little is known about how many Indigenous Australians have served in the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) and the Royal Australian Navy (RAN). The numbers are likely lower than for the army but future research may tell a different story.

RAAF

Throughout the Second World War the RAAF, with its huge need for manpower, was less restrictive in its recruiting than the army. However, little is known about Aboriginal aircrew. Indigenous Australians were employed for surveillance in northern Australia and to rescue downed pilots.

Leonard Waters

Leonard Waters, a childhood admirer of Charles Kingsford-Smith and Amy Johnson, joined the RAAF in 1942. After lengthy and highly competitve training he was selected as a pilot and assigned to 78 Squadron, stationed in Dutch New Guinea and later in Borneo. The squadron flew Kittyhawk fighters like the one on display inthe Memorial’s Aircraft Hall.

Waters named his Kittyhawk “Black Magic” and flew 95 operational sorties. After the war he hoped to find a career in civilian flying but bureaucratic delays and lack of financial backing forced him to go back to shearing. Like many others, he found civilian life did not allow him to use the skills that he had gained during the war.

RAN

As well as an unknown number of formally enlisted Indigenous Australians and Islanders, the RAN also employed some informal units. For example, John Gribble, a coastwatcher on Melville Island, formed a unit of 36 Indigenous Australians which patrolled a large area of coast and islands. The men were never formally enlisted and remained unpaid throughout the war, despite the promise of otherwise.

Kamuel Abednego

The United States Army recruited about 20 Torres Strait Islanders as crewmen on its small ships operating in the Torres Strait and around Papua New Guinea. Kamuel Abednego was given the rank of lieutenant, at a time when no Indigenous Australian or Islander had served as a commissioned officer with the Australian forces.

Life on the home front

The war brought greater contact than ever before between the whites of southern Australia and the Indigenous Australians and Torres Strait Islanders of the north. For the whites it was a chance to learn about Aboriginal culture and see the poor conditions imposed on Indigenous Australians. For the Indigenous Australians the war accelerated the process of cultural change and, in the long term, ensured a position of greater equality in Australian society.

Labour units

During the Second World War the army and RAAF depended heavily on Aboriginal labour in northern Australia. Indigenous Australians worked on construction sites, in army butcheries, and on army farms. They also drove trucks, handled cargo, and provided general labour around camps. The RAAF sited airfields and radar stations near missions that could provide Aboriginal labour. At a time when Australia was drawing on all its reserves of men and women to support the war effort, the contribution of Indigenous Australians was vital.

The army began to employ Indigenous Australians in the Northern Territory in 1933, on conditions similar to those endured by Aboriginal workers on pastoral stations: long hours, poor housing and diet, and low pay. But as the army took over control of settlements from the Native Affairs Branch during the war conditions improved greatly. For the first time Indigenous Australians were given adequate housing and sanitation, fixed working hours, proper rations, and access to medical treatment in army hospitals.

Pay rates remained low. The army tried to increase pay above the standard five shillings a week and at one stage the RAAF was paying Indigenous Australians five shillings a day. But pressure from the civilian administration and pastoralists forced pay back to the standard rate.

In some areas the war caused great hardship. In the islands of Torres Strait, the pearling luggers that provided most of the local income were confiscated in case they fell into Japanese hands. The Islanders enlisted in units such as the Torres Strait Light Infantry, in which their pay was much lower than whites and often not enough to send home to feed their families

Women

Aboriginal women also played an important role. Many enlisted in the women’s services or worked in war industries. In northern Australia Aboriginal and Islander women worked hard to support isolated RAAF outposts and even helped to salvage crashed aircraft.

Oodgeroo Noonuccal (Kath Walker)

Oodgeroo Noonuccal joined the Australian Women’s Army Service in 1942, after her two brothers were captured by the Japanese at the fall of Singapore. Serving as a signaller in Brisbane she met many black American soldiers, as well as European Australians. These contacts helped to lay the foundations for her later advocacy of Aboriginal rights.

Torres Strait Islander units

Since early the early twentieth century proposals were made to train the Indigenous Australians of northern Australia as a defence force. In the Second World War these ideas were tried out.

In 1941 the Torres Strait Light Infantry Battalion was formed to defend the strategically-important Torres Strait area. Other Islander units were also created, especially for water transport and as coastal artillery. The battalion never had the chance to engage the enemy but some were sent on patrol into Japanese-controlled Dutch New Guinea.

By 1944 almost every able-bodied male Torres Strait Islander had enlisted. However, they never received the same rates of pay or conditions as white soldiers. At first their pay was one-third that of regular soldiers. After a two-day “mutiny” in December 1943 this was raised to two-thirds.

In proportion to population, no community in Australia contributed more to the war effort in the Second World War than the Torres Strait Islanders.

Donald Thomson and the Northern Territory Special Reconnaissance Unit

Donald Thomson was an anthropologist from Melbourne who had lived with the East Arnhem Land Indigenous Australians for two years in the 1930s. In 1941 he set up and led the Northern Territory Special Reconnaissance Unit, an irregular army unit consisting of 51 Indigenous Australians, five whites, and a number of Pacific and Torres Strait Islanders. Three of the men had been to gaol for killing the crews of two Japanese pearling luggers in 1932. Now they were told that it was their duty to kill Japanese.

The members of the unit were to use their traditional bushcraft and fighting skills to patrol the coastal area, establish coastwatchers, and fight a guerilla war against any Japanese who landed. Living off the country and using traditional weapons, they were mobile and had no supply line to protect. Thomson shared the group’s hardships and used his knowledge of Aboriginal custom to help deal with traditional rivalries. The unit was eventually disbanded, once the fear of a Japanese landing had disappeared.

The Indigenous Australians in the unit received no monetary pay until back pay and medals were finally awarded in 1992.

Kapiu Masai Gagai

Kapiu Gagai was a Torres Strait Islander from Badu Island. He was a skilled boatman and carpenter and was working on pearling luggers when he joined Donald Thomson in Arnhem Land during the 1930s. In 1941 he again joined Thomson, this time in the Northern Territory Special Reconnaissance Unit. As bosun of Thomson’s vessel, the Aroetta, he patrolled the coast to prevent Japanese infiltration. Later he accompanied Thomson on patrol into Japanese-held Dutch New Guinea, where he was badly wounded. Gagai never received equivalent pay to white soldiers, which was also difficult for his family during and after the war.

Indigenous personnel are known to have served in later conflicts and operations (including in Somalia, East Timor, Afghanistan, Iraq, and on peacekeeping operations) but no numbers are available.

In the 1980s the Department of Defence began collecting information about Indigenous heritage, and these figures show that the number of Indigenous men and women serving in the Australian Defence Force has been increasing since the 1990s. The department claimed that in early 2014 there were 1,054 Indigenous service personnel (on both permanent and active reserve) in the Australian Defence Force, representing about 1.4 per cent of the ADF’s uniformed workforce.

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@NACCHOChair Aboriginal Health Press Release #Apology10 #StolenGeneration Reflections from national Aboriginal community controlled health organisations

The Apology Excerpt  – 13 February, 2008

 ” The time has now come for the nation to turn a new page in Australia’s history by righting the wrongs of the past and so moving forward with confidence to the future.

We apologise for the laws and policies of successive Parliaments and governments that have inflicted profound grief, suffering and loss on these our fellow Australians.

We apologise especially for the removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families, their communities and their country.

For the pain, suffering and hurt of these Stolen Generations, their descendants and for their families left behind, we say sorry.

To the mothers and the fathers, the brothers and the sisters, for the breaking up of families and communities, we say sorry.

And for the indignity and degradation thus inflicted on a proud people and a proud culture, we say sorry.”

1.1 National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) Mr John Singer reflects on the momentous day

2.1 Vic: Ten years ago, VACCHO CEO  Ian Hamm welcomed words he had been waiting a lifetime to hear

2.2 Vic Ballarat and District Aboriginal Cooperative (BADAC) commemorates Apology – Ten Years anniversary

2.3 VIC : VAHS community commemorates the 10th Anniversary of the National Apology of the Stolen Generation 

3.NSW:  AHMRC reflects on progress that has been made since the National Apology was delivered by the Prime Minister in 2008

4. WA : Treasurer and Aboriginal Affairs Minister Ben Wyatt, says his father never recovered from being a Stolen Generations child

5. ACT : For a community to make any kind of good, strong progress, the solutions need to come says Harry Williams

6. NT : Danila Dilba ACCHO staff Darwin came out in force to attend the 10th Anniversary of the Apology Day

7. QLD : Apunipima ACCHO : Coen Well Being Centre FNQ hold their annual acknowledgement of Sorry Day/ Apology Day

7.2 QLD Wuchopperen ACCHO Cairns Helping to Close the Gap

8.Tas : A decade on from the national apology to the Stolen Generations, Aboriginal children in Tasmania continue to be removed at unacceptable rates.

Warning Intro Picture above and The ‘Stolen Generations’ Testimonies’ project website

The ‘Stolen Generations’ Testimonies’ project is an initiative to record on film the personal testimonies of Australia’s Stolen Generations Survivors and share them online.

The Stolen Generations’ Testimonies Foundation hopes the online museum will become a national treasure and a unique and sacred keeping place for Stolen Generations’ Survivors’ Testimonies.

By allowing Australians to listen to the Survivors’ stories with open hearts and without judgment, the foundation hopes more people will be engaged in the healing process.

View HERE

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers should exercise caution when viewing this website as it contains images of deceased persons.The people speaking in this website describe being removed from family and community. They regard themselves as belonging to the Stolen Generations.

1.1 National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) Mr John Singer reflects on the momentous day.

“2008 was a time that the Government seriously committed to doing better by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people into the future, where we committed to Closing the Gap in life expectancy between Indigenous peoples and non-Indigenous Australians.

Today we commemorate this significant milestone whilst reflecting on the work that still needs to be done – the truth that still needs to be told and the work that still needs to happen to Close the Gap,”

We also welcome a commitment to convene a national summit on First Nation’s Children to address the very high rates of Indigenous children in out-of-home care, and prevent the emergence of another generation of children living away from family, community and culture,”

Marking the tenth anniversary of the Apology, the Chair of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) Mr John Singer reflected on the momentous day.

Download the full NACCHO Press Release

NACCHO media release apology – 13 Feb 18 – FINAL

Still more needs to be done to ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples live strong, proud and healthy lives, ten years after Prime Minister Kevin Rudd issued the Apology to the Stolen Generations and more than 20 years after the Bringing Them Home report.

NACCHO knows that closing the gap depends on putting Aboriginal Health in Aboriginal hands so they can guide dealing with the trauma and pain of the past.

“We know that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples need to be in charge of their own development, health and wellbeing. And that is why Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) are so important.”

ACCHOs put Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the driving seat of their own health. They consistently demonstrate better health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples than mainstream health services, at better value for money.

“Forty years on from the first community controlled service in Redfern, there are still regions where there is low access to health services and elevated levels of disease experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Government needs to fund what is working in improving Aboriginal health and provide funding for new ACCHOs in these regions.

“We could also do better if more funding for disease specific initiatives was provided by Government.

“We need to get serious about Closing the Gap and that means Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their organisations co-designing policies and service delivery,” Mr Singer said.

NACCHO acknowledges the streamlined funding from the Australian Government, signed on 1 July 2017 and mentioned by the Prime Minister in his recent Closing the Gap Statement to Parliament. The new funding arrangement streamlines the provision of our health service support funding so that we can better represent the needs of ACCHOs in our policy development and advice.

The anniversary of the apology is a day to reflect on the past but also to recommit to a brighter future for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

2.1 Vic: Ten years ago, VACCHO CEO  Ian Hamm welcomed words he had been waiting a lifetime to hear.

“For the pain, suffering and hurt of these Stolen Generations, their descendants and for their families left behind, we say sorry,” Kevin Rudd, then prime minister, said in parliament.

The apology on 13 February, 2008, referred to a shameful national chapter in which indigenous children were forcibly removed from their families.

Mr Hamm was among them.

As a three-week-old baby in 1964, he was taken from his Aboriginal family by government officers and adopted into a white community.

Tens of thousands of other indigenous children were removed over successive generations until 1970, under policies aimed at assimilation.

Mr Hamm said Mr Rudd’s historic apology helped changed his own sense of identity.

“My country doesn’t argue about me any more – it gave me peace that my story, like so many others, wasn’t a matter of debate,” he told the BBC.

“I remember writing out my feelings the day after the speech and I called it: ‘Today is the day I wake up.'”

An estimated 20,000 members of the Stolen Generations are alive today. Many have described the apology as a watershed moment.

“It was a day I will never, ever forget in my life because we were being acknowledged as a group of people,” Aunty Lorraine Peeters told the Special Broadcasting Service.

Michael Welsh told the Australian Broadcasting Corp: “It’s made a big difference to me in my life, through my life, where I’ve journeyed.”

A woman watches the Australian government’s apology to indigenous peopleImage copyright Getty Images

A landmark 1997 report, titled, Bringing Them Home, estimated that as many as one in three indigenous children were taken and placed in institutions and foster care, where many suffered abuse and neglect.

A government-funded survivors group, the Healing Foundation, said it had a “profoundly destructive” impact on those removed and their families, many of whom had carried lifelong trauma.

‘Keep going’

Indigenous Australians, who comprise about 3% of the population, continue to to experience high levels of disadvantage.

On Monday, the government released an annual report showing that Australia is failing four of seven measures aimed at improving indigenous lives.

Mr Hamm said that much optimism about addressing inequality had not been fulfilled since the apology. However, he urged Australians not to give up.

“It’s easy to give in to despair and say it’s too hard, but for us, remembering a moment like [the apology] is a boost,” he said.

“It’s a breath of air into our lungs to revive you and keep you going.”

2.2 Vic Ballarat and District Aboriginal Cooperative (BADAC) commemorates Apology – Ten Years anniversary

February 13 2018 marks ten years since the Apology to Australia’s Indigenous Peoples.

Ballarat and District Aboriginal Cooperative (BADAC) attended a ceremony this morning to mark the occasion at Child and Family Services (CAFS) in Ballarat.

BADAC CEO Karen Heap acknowledged the deep significance of the day for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community in the broader Ballarat area.

‘This is such an important occasion. There are many current members of the regional Ballarat Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community who were either members of the Stolen Generations themselves, or have family members who were affected.

‘The broader community may not be aware that many of the Stolen children who were removed from families all around Victoria and even interstate, were brought here to the Ballarat orphanage.

‘These Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have grown up without knowing their families, their culture, their language or where they belong.’

Ms Heap said that BADAC currently runs programs which help to support members of the Stolen Generations.

‘Many have stayed in Ballarat, and brought up their own families here. The Stolen Generations people are here and part of our community.

‘So thank you CAFS for hosting the event this morning, and thank you to everyone who came to commemorate this occasion. It was so heartening to see so many present, and to stand together, both Aboriginal and Non-Aboriginal people of Ballarat and district.’

2.3 VIC : VAHS community commemorates the 10th Anniversary of the National Apology of the Stolen Generation 

Today we gathered as a community to commemorate the 10th Anniversary of the National Apology of the Stolen Generation Event. We had some amazing guest speakers. Thank you to everyone who shared their journeys, it truly showed great strength.

3.NSW:  AHMRC reflects on progress that has been made since the National Apology was delivered by the Prime Minister in 2008.

On the 10th anniversary of the National Apology, we take time to reflect on progress that has been made since the National Apology was delivered by the Prime Minister in 2008.

The National Apology was a public acknowledgement of the pain and suffering caused by the Australian Government with the effort to build new relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians with the aim of addressing social injustice. This had a profound effect on many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as it was the first public commitment to engaging and working together with Australia’s Indigenous communities.

The Apology was a step in the right direction and since then we have seen the Redfern Statement launched during the 2016 Federal Election, where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and services came together to call for better resources and real reconciliation. It was an inspiring display of self-determination and strength for these organisations and services to demand for a say on how the Government’s decisions affect their lives.

“We still have work to do. The Government must ensure the social determinants of health for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples is a priority.” said Stephen Blunden, Acting CEO at the Aboriginal Health & Medical Research Council (AHMRC) of NSW.

In reviewing the Closing the Gap initiative, with only one of the seven national targets being on track, we need to do better. We must do better.

As the former Prime Minister mentioned in the National Apology: “A future where we harness the determination of all Australians, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, to close the gap that lies between us in life expectancy, educational achievement and economic opportunity.”

If we are to make any real and lasting change, we must accept our history, put aside our differences and come together and really listen to the needs of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

4. WA : Treasurer and Aboriginal Affairs Minister Ben Wyatt, says his father never recovered from being a Stolen Generations child

West Australian Treasurer and Aboriginal Affairs Minister Ben Wyatt, who says his father never recovered from being a Stolen Generations child, has warned that well-meaning policy will fail if indigenous Australians are excluded from its design and implementation.

In a speech to mark the 10th anniversary of Kevin Rudd’s apology to the Stolen Generations, Mr Wyatt said the historic moment in federal parliament was still cause for celebration because it put to bed “that vexed, sometimes cruel, debate about the legitimacy of the Stolen Generations”.

Mr Wyatt — a former army lawyer, graduate of the London School of Economics and cousin of federal Aged Care and Indigenous Health Minister Ken Wyatt — said young indigenous leaders now had opportunities his late father Cedric could only have dreamt of.

“(But) the reality is that when you have policies … designed to remove their identity, designed to disconnect them from family and culture … those impacts will be felt for generations and we are seeing that,” Mr Wyatt said.

He said efforts towards Closing the Gap could not succeed unless Aboriginal people were part of the change.

“Without Aboriginal involvement … we will continue to have the infuriating and frustrating figures that we’ve seen in our jails and children in care,” he said.

Mr Wyatt’s father was born at the Moore River Native Settlement, which gained international notoriety in Phillip Noyce’s 2002 film Rabbit Proof Fence.

“It was a journey that defined him because of what happened to him and his mother, a journey that he was never able to recover from,” Mr Wyatt said yesterday.

“He was a determined guy but he also had a fundamental weakness as a result of that disconnection with his own mother and his own family.”

5. ACT : For a community to make any kind of good, strong progress, the solutions need to come says Harry Williams

Ten years may be a lifetime in politics, but for many indigenous Australians, 2008’s national apology to the stolen generations feels like yesterday.

Harry Williams was just 15 when he stood in the hall of Parliament House in Canberra, and watched then prime minister Kevin Rudd deliver the country’s apology as emotions ran high all around him.

“It was overwhelming”:.

“People were crying, some people were angry – it was overwhelming at the time,” he said.

“I didn’t really understand exactly what was going on, but I did really.”

Now 25, Mr Williams is passionate about educating Australians about indigenous history, and says change in the country’s relationship with its first peoples had to come from within.

“For a community to make any kind of good, strong progress, the solutions need to come

6. NT : Danila Dilba ACCHO staff Darwin came out in force to attend the 10th Anniversary of the Apology Day .

A great day organised by the NT Stolen Generations Aboriginal Corporation and held at Larrakia Nation.

It was a great turnout to remember a great moment in our history

7. QLD : Apunipima ACCHO : Coen Well Being Centre FNQ hold their annual acknowledgement of Sorry Day/ Apology Day .

The day was held at the centre with other community organisations sharing their acknowledgements of this special event with Elders and community members

7.2 QLD Wuchopperen ACCHO Cairns Helping to Close the Gap

Wuchopperen Health Service Limited Chairperson Donnella Mills said the 2018 Close the Gap statement demonstrates much more needs to be done to achieve health, education and employment parity between Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous Australians.

Ms Mills said it was time that the government seriously committed to doing better by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, now and into the future, through real partnerships which are community driven and community led.

‘It is very good news that a range of targets, including child mortality, early childhood education and year 12 attainment are on track. The challenge is that other targets, life expectancy, literacy and numeracy, and employment, remain out of reach,’ Ms Mills said.

‘Wuchopperen echoes the call of our peak body, the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation, for dedicated disease specific funding to be made available to Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation where populations are particularly vulnerable.’

‘In this, the tenth year since the Apology, it is timely to recognise that historical trauma, dispossession, government control and loss of culture, are just some of the social determinants which impact on people’s health, and the ability for people to manage their own health. Wuchopperen recognises the complexity of peoples’ lives and the range of factors which impact health, and provide a comprehensive suite of services to address these.’

‘Wuchopperen is looking forward to being part of the conversation regarding the Close the Gap targets which cease in 2018, and contributing our experience and expertise to formulating new, national goals in real partnership with government

‘These goals must be underpinned by the principles of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander self – determination, freedom to plan our lives; control, a voice and decision making powers over our own affairs; and finding solutions to the issues that affect us.’

Closing the Gap: What Wuchopperen Health Service Limited Is Doing

TARGET: Close the gap in life expectancy within a generation (by 2031)

Wuchopperen’s health team consists of a multi-disciplinary team of health workers, doctors, registered nurses, allied health professionals, counsellors, psychologists, wellbeing workers indigenous liaison officers, and visiting specialists.

TARGET: Halve the gap in mortality rates for Indigenous children under five within a decade (by 2018)

Wuchopperen’s Child Health service provides health education and support to families to make healthy lifestyles choices for their children by keeping immunisations up to date, scheduling appointments for continuity of care health checks, and 100% implementation of care plans for all our patients to ensure they receive the best possible care.

This allows us to:

  • Identify risk factors through the increased uptake of Child Health Checks and develop appropriate intervention strategies in conjunction with parents and/or carers;
  • Reduce the adverse intermediate health outcomes in relation to children with chronic diseases; and
  • Improve and enhance education and awareness of the importance of immunisation to families.

Wuchopperen also provides a dedicated program for mum’s having their first Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander baby. The Australian Nursing Family Partnership Program is available to first-time mothers of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander children who are under 26 weeks in their pregnancy. The Program runs from pregnancy until the child is two. The focus is to provide home visiting program to mothers, babies and significant family members to ensure that the child has the best possible start to life.

Staff support:

  • Safe sleeping using PEPI pods;
  • Implementation of the Circle of Security;
  • Parent group meetings; and
  • Support for fathers to become involved in their child’s life.

TARGET: 95 percent of all Indigenous four-year-olds enrolled in early childhood education (by 2025) – renewed target

TARGET: Close the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous school attendance within five years (by 2018)

TARGET: Halve the gap for Indigenous children in reading, writing and numeracy achievements within a decade (by 2018)

Wuchopperen’s Children and Family Centre is an early intervention and prevention program providing a holistic approach to bringing together education, health and family support. The programs are tailored to suit our community to best support our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families with children from birth to nine years of age and include:

  • Delivery of play based early childhood activities to nurture developmental pathways and life trajectory of children;
  • Capacity and resiliency support to enable families to support their children and access early childhood education and care; and
  • Delivery of parenting programs and family support services to enable connections and strengthen linkages of families to appropriate support services.

Program in focus

Wuchopperen supports early education in a range of ways including running the HIPPY (Home Interaction Program for Parents and Youngsters) Program, a free, family friendly, two year program which helps children achieve at school.

HIPPY benefits pre-Prep children by:

  • Encouraging a love of learning
  • Maximising their chance of enjoying and doing well at school
  • Promoting language and listening skills and developing concentration
  • Building self-esteem and confidence in learning
  • Improving relationships between parents and children.

TARGET: Halve the gap in employment outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians within a decade (by 2018).

Wuchopperen currently has 68% staff identifying from Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander descent. Only 31% of Wuchopperen roles are Identified, reflecting the fact that many non-Identified positions are being filled by applicants identifying as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander.

Placements

Wuchopperen values its relationship with the community and the opportunity for students to gain experience in the workplace is an element of this commitment.

During the 2016-17 financial year Wuchopperen supported eight students to participate in a work placement in a variety of disciplines, including health workers, and fifth year medical students.

8.Tas : A decade on from the national apology to the Stolen Generations, Aboriginal children in Tasmania continue to be removed at unacceptable rates.

Commenting on the most recent statistics about the removal of Aboriginal children from their families, Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre Manager Ms Lisa Coulson said in Launceston today,

“Aboriginal children in Tasmania are over 3 times more likely than other children to be the subject of child protection orders, to be removed from their families, and to be placed in out of home care (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Child Protection Australia 2015-16, Tables 4.4 and 5.2). The 1997 Report of the Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal Children from Their Families, the Bringing Them Home report, made 54 recommendations about how to stop that unacceptable situation.

Many of those recommendations found further support in our own Tasmanian study of child protection issues but Tasmanian authorities have ignored all our efforts to stop the trend of removals.

Minister Jacquie Petrusma most recently has ignored our calls for greater Aboriginal community involvement in child protection decisions, flying in the face of changes made in most other Australian States.”

Ms Coulson said that closing the gap in social outcomes and avoiding a repetition of the stolen generations “must have Aboriginal community decision making at its core, but that is exactly what is still lacking in Tasmania. Consistently with the most recent calls for a “refresh” of the COAG targets to close the gap by ensuring greater Aboriginal decision making in governmental processes, we are calling on the Tasmanian government to restore jurisdiction for child safety to the Aboriginal community.

Having destroyed our community structures and taken our children away, governments need to fund these new processes to ensure both a healthier future for our children and more empowered Aboriginal community structures for the future. We are up to the challenge”.

Lisa Coulson
Northern Regional Manager and Children and Families Spokesperson
Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre

NACCHO Aboriginal Health #Saveadate and The #Apology10 :The fact is that most of the social and health problems we see in communities today are linked to Intergenerational Trauma says Richard Weston CEO @HealingOurWay

 ”  The fact is that most of the social and health problems we see in communities today, from family violence and suicide to high rates of incarceration and child protection, can be linked to Intergenerational Trauma

So if we want to create a different future and close the gaps that still exist between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians, we need to stop putting Intergenerational Trauma in the too-hard basket.

The National Apology to the Stolen Generations in 2008 was a landmark event. It was a moment of truth telling which is critical when you’re trying to heal from trauma. But it was a starting point not a solution. The latest progress report on Closing the Gap shows that efforts to address appalling levels of disadvantage have made marginal improvements, in spite of billions of dollars in government funding.

Closing the Gap is complicated, but it’s not impossible. We just need to invest in strategies that have been proven to work and be prepared to invest beyond political cycles and social fads.

We also need to listen to what Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities tell us will work.”

Richard Weston, a Meriam man who was born on Gadigal country and grew up on Noongar Boodja and is now on Ngunnawal Country, is this week’s host on the @IndigenousX Twitter account and is tweeting with the #Apology10 hashtag. See Full Croakey article below

Communities across Australia, from Kununurra to Mildura, Casuarina to Logan, the Mornington Peninsula to Cherbourg and Muswellbrook to Adelaide, will come together this month to commemorate todays 10th anniversary of the National Apology to the Stolen Generations on 13 February 2008.

See this list of events.

In this anniversary article for Croakey, The Healing Foundation CEO Richard Weston says Australia must understand that the impacts of the Stolen Generations policies, and other brutal acts of colonisation, are not consigned to the past, but “very much part of the here and now”. He says we need a serious commitment to tackle unresolved and intergenerational trauma in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities

#Apology10 is also hosting a free community concert in Canberra to mark #Apology10, featuring Archie Roach, Shellie Morris, The Preatures, Busby Marou and Electric Fields, hosted by Myf Warhurst and Steven Oliver.

See also this video series marking the National Apology being published by IndigenousX – featuring Uncle Jack Charles, Amnesty Australia’s Roxanne Moore, and Gavan Moor and Chris Dunk.

 Download the 6 Page 2018 Aboriginal / Health  days and events calendar updated 6 February  HERE

NACCHO Aboriginal Health 2018 Save a date Feb 6

National Apology was starting point, not solution: Stolen Generations trauma continues

Anniversaries are a good time for reflection and as we commemorate the 10th anniversary of the National Apology today, I hope we can use the momentum to achieve something we’ve never managed to realise before—a serious commitment to tackle unresolved and Intergenerational Trauma in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Ten years on from the Apology, and 20 years on from the tabling of the Bringing Them Home report that recommended that apology in the first place, there are still thousands of our people held back by the impact of trauma. Almost every Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander family is affected in some way.

To give you an idea of what I mean, more than 12 per cent of the people who gave evidence of abuse to the recent Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Sexual Abuse were Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander. But we’re not just talking about events of the past. A study in Western Australia found that one in five Aboriginal children were living in families now, where between seven to 14 major life stress events had occurred in 12 months.

Most Australians prefer to think about the Stolen Generations—and other brutal episodes in 230 years of colonisation—as a phenomenon of the past. But the impacts are very much part of the here and now.

Trauma affects the way people think and act and overwhelms their ability to cope and engage. If people don’t have the opportunity to heal from trauma, it’s likely that their experiences and negative behaviours will start to impact on others, particularly children who are susceptible to significant developmental damage when they experience trauma at a young age.

This has created a cycle of trauma, where the impact is passed from one generation to the next, creating a snowball effect of cumulative damage. Research backs this up. The Stolen Generations and their children and grandchildren are twice as likely to be arrested by police and a third less likely to be in good health, compared to other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are already at a disadvantage.

 

The Healing Foundation is finalising the first full analysis of current needs for the Stolen Generations, particularly as they enter the aged care sector, and to address issues like national reparations. When we talk to members of the Stolen Generations, they tell us over and over again that re-building families through culture and healing is a key priority.

Why? Because a traumatised person can’t benefit from programs around education and training.  Healing strategies must be implemented alongside enablers like employment, education and economic empowerment, otherwise we will keep wasting taxpayer dollars focusing on symptoms alone.

The Healing Foundation has shown that investment in the right programs will create long term change and reduce the burden on public funds.  Over the last eight years we’ve seen reductions in violence, juvenile justice rates and out-of-home care for children where healing programs have been implemented.  For example, our men’s healing programs have led to a 50% reduction in contact with Corrective Services and a drop in family violence, while programs for young people have potentially reduced contact with the protection system by 18.5% and the juvenile justice system by nearly 14%.

To replicate these successes across Australia, we need to scale-up our healing efforts and focus on families and communities, rather than individuals.

Today will be a day of celebration to mark a major step forward in the process of healing and reconciliation.  But it’s also a day when we need to take stock of what’s working and what’s not. Over the past few weeks I’ve been reminded by young people in our communities that the future holds a great deal of hope. Despite the wrongs of the past, many of them are optimistic and motivated to create change. This gives me hope that we will have something more positive to report after the next decade—and a different future, built on a foundation of healing.

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health #InvasionDay #ChangetheDate #AustraliaDay2018 80th anniversary of the #DayofMourning and protest : Where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural events and protests will be held across Australia

 ” As long as Australia Day continues to be held on January 26, we will continue the process of truth-telling about our history on this day. Australia needs to awaken to a truth: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders have always been here and always will be. Australia’s national consciousness needs to mature, if we are to unite and form a new inclusive national identity

 National Congress of Australia’s First People is supporting marches around Australia to commemorate Survival Day, to call for Treaty and to remind all Australians that many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders consider January 26 a Day of Mourning; a day that marks the invasion of our lands. ”

National Congress of Australia’s First People see full Press Release Part 1 Below

Invasion Day rally: where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural events across Australia and protests will be held across Australia

More info here

 ” The Victorian Aboriginal Health Service Cooperative Limited (VAHS) strongly supports the Change the Date of Australia Day campaign as we see on a daily basis the impacts it has on the lives of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients and our community members.

The VAHS suggests the new date for Australia Day should be 18th of May as a symbolic gesture signifying the birth of modern multicultural Australian Democracy.

The rationale behind the 18th of May, is that is represents the anniversary of the first time all Australians got to express their democratic rights together.

The 1967 Referendum recognized the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and the 1973 legislative changes to allow all migrants to be citizens regardless of country of origin, the election of 1974 signified the beginning of the modern Australian era.”

Michael Graham – Chief Executive Officer see full press release Part 2 Below

One of our Aboriginal researchers has got data to show that even young kids, Aboriginal kids, their self-esteem is partly due to how they perceive the dominant culture perceives them.

So if the dominant culture says, ‘We want to say sorry to Aboriginal people for what happened to them’, or, ‘We want to change the date’, then they are likely to say, ‘Oh gosh, they understand, they care so I’m not going to feel so depressed, I’m not going to feel so angry, I’m not going to drink, I’m going to be better’.”

Former Australian of the Year Fiona Stanley says changing the date of Australia Day would have an “almost direct”, positive impact on Aboriginal health. see Part 3 below or Part 6 for Help

“It’s not just about the First Fleet, it’s about the stealing of the land, the misplacement of the stolen generation and the injustices that were done over the years, I think people need to be educated on why they don’t feel included on this day.” I do not have a date in mind at all, but yeah I think we certainly need to have a chat about Australia Day,” .

Johnathan Thurston believes Australians need to be more informed about why the date of Australia Day is hurtful to Indigenous people. See Part 4 below

Thurston, 36, who is set to retire from rugby league as one of the sport’s greats after the upcoming season, also urged governments to make Indigenous affairs a priority after an “alarming” failure to meet Close The Gap targets over the past decade.

“The Day of Mourning is an important day and I encourage Local Aboriginal Land Council members and community to support this event,”.

Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council Chief Executive Officer Nathan Moran said a re-enactment of the Day of Mourning would be held at Australia Hall in Elizabeth Street, Sydney from 10am and conclude with a silent protest march to Redfern Oval.

Aboriginal people have great respect for our leaders who fought for the human rights of First Peoples in Australia. That fight isn’t over and we need more of our young people follow the lead of Lyn Onus, Pearl Gibbs, Jack Patten, William Ferguson and William Cooper to achieve justice and equality for our people.

NSW Aboriginal Land Council see Part 5 Below

 ” Asking Indigenous people to celebrate on January 26 is like asking them to dance on their ancestors’ graves … Changing the date is a relatively simple task that can have an immense symbolic impact in demonstrating to Indigenous Australians that the broader community wants a national day where all Australians can celebrate together.

The chief executive of Reconciliation Australia, Karen Mundine, said 26 January could not serve as a unifying national day of celebration

 “In the broader context of this debate I believe that Aboriginal people are still more concerned about real solutions for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s housing, education, health, employment and cultural maintenance, including our lands.

For our people, the arrival of Captain Cook and then British Settlement of Australia is a day of dispossession, death and disease. We require a new day of significance to include and celebrate our cultural survival, connection to country, family and kinship.

We call on all Community leaders across the states and territories to lead a national inclusive discussion and debate on why we need to change and nominate a new day for modern Australia to truly celebrate our diversity.”

Mr John Singer Chairperson of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO).

Download Press Release HERE

NACCHO-Press-Release-A-call-to-Community-leaders

 

Part 1 National Congress

January 26, 2018 marks the 80th anniversary of the Day of Mourning. On this day in 1938 a group of courageous Aboriginal men and women gathered at Australia Hall in Sydney.

Their statement said in part: “this being the 150th Anniversary of the Whiteman’s seizure of our country, [we] HEREBY MAKE PROTEST against the callous treatment of our people by the whitemen during the past 150 years.”

January 26, 2018 also marks the 30th anniversary of The 1988 Long March for Peace Justice and Hope, where 40,000 people showed their support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander rights. Let’s also not forget that now iconic image of 250,000 marchers crossing the Sydney Harbor bridge in support of reconciliation back in 2000.

On Friday January 26, 2018 National Congress will be supporting the Justice Through Treaty March from Redfern Park to Hyde Park. We encourage all Australians to reflect on this day and what it means for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and then consider joining similar marches around Australia.

In preparation for January 26 discussions, National Congress has been conducting an “Australia Day – January 26” online survey on Facebook. Running now for over a week, we have captured the views of over 2000 members and non-members.

The results are clear. The call is for National Congress to support Changing The Date. In fact, the majority of our members (75%) and non-member (56%) are telling us that changing the date is “very important” for the reconciliation process. This issue, however, is not our sole-focus. National Congress is charged with advancing the interests of First Nations People across multiple portfolios.

As long as Australia Day continues to be held on January 26, we will continue the process of truth-telling about our history on this day. Australia needs to awaken to a truth: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders have always been here and always will be. Australia’s national consciousness needs to mature, if we are to unite and form a new inclusive national identity.


Part 2 VAHS CEO CEO Statement: Change The Date Of Australia Day

Victorian Aboriginal Health Service·

The Victorian Aboriginal Health Service Cooperative Limited (VAHS) strongly supports the Change the Date of Australia Day campaign as we see on a daily basis the impacts it has on the lives of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients and our community members.

The VAHS suggests the new date for Australia Day should be 18th of May as a symbolic gesture signifying the birth of modern multicultural Australian Democracy.

The rationale behind the 18th of May, is that is represents the anniversary of the first time all Australians got to express their democratic rights together.

The 1967 Referendum recognized the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and the 1973 legislative changes to allow all migrants to be citizens regardless of country of origin, the election of 1974 signified the beginning of the modern Australian era.

It also signifies the progressive bipartisan support demonstrated by the Whitlam government and Opposition leader Malcolm Frazer MP in their time to remove the ‘White Australia Policy’ and embracing cultural diversity for Australia providing social cohesion for Australian Citizens and our nation (Australian Citizen’s Act[1]).

The Australian government reaffirmed its commitment to ‘Racial Respect’[2] in 1996 in Parliament House stating:

‘That this House:

  • reaffirms its commitment to the right of all Australians to enjoy equal rights and be treated with equal respect regardless of race, colour, creed or origin
  • reaffirms its commitment to maintaining an immigration policy wholly non-discriminatory on grounds of race, colour creed or origin
  • reaffirms its commitment to the process of reconciliation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, in the context of redressing their profound social and economic disadvantage
  • reaffirms its commitment to maintain Australia as a culturally diverse, tolerant and open society, united by an overriding commitment to our nation, and its democratic institutions and values and
  • denounces racial intolerance in any form as incompatible with the kind of society we are and want to be.’

The statement was supported by the Opposition Leader and carried unanimously.

Australia Day should be a day of national celebration and appreciation of our shared Australian values, our diversity as a multi-cultural society and our way of life. The date 26th of January symbolises and celebrates the anniversary of the 1788 Arrival of the First Fleet of British Ships a constant reminder of the many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander of lives lost reliving the trauma loss and grief (National Day of Mourning).

A “Day of Mourning”

In 1938, The Day of Mourning was led by William Ferguson and Jack Patten representing the Aborigines Progressive Association describing 26 January 1938 as the “150th Anniversary of the whiteman’s seizure of our country”. The protest march bringing to the forefront of the callous treatment of our people by the whiteman and called for education, new laws and citizenship for Aboriginal Australians (http://indigenous rights.net.au/timeline).

It is important for other Australians to understand the intergenerational trauma felt by Aboriginal people caused by dispossession which is strongly linked to the ‘lack of control of over physical environment, of dignity, of community self-esteem and of justice’.

Three local Governments have led the campaign to Change the Date with City of Fremantle, City of Yarra and City of Darebin all taking steps which has now a national campaign led by the Leader of the Greens Senator Richard Di Natale MP to Change the Date of Australia Day[3] ( https://greens.org.au/change-the-date).

Pat Cash, a proud Australian, and an Australian tennis Great who ‘inspired’ Australian Tennis Teams to 2 Davis Cup Victories, recently made public statement that he would not be celebrating Australia Day as a result of his work with Aboriginal children in the Northern Territory.

In a recent national survey conducted by The Australia Institute results reported that 56% of Australians don’t mind when Australia Day is held and 49% believed that Australia Day should not be held on a day that is offensive to Indigenous Australians[4].

VAHS agrees with the Australian public surveyed that Australia Day should not be held on a day that is offensive to Indigenous Australian.

This year marks the tenth anniversary for two historical watershed moments, the National Apology and the bi-partisan signing of the Close the Gap Statement of Intent delivered and signed by the former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd MP. These significant historic moments pave the way for other opportunities that brings Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians together.

VAHS’s suggested date of 18th of May can signify social inclusiveness of all Australians and a date to celebrate and recognize the Australia Day Citizens of the Year Awards for their contribution as Australian citizens.

The Australian government should recognize the community will to strengthen our nation by developing and shifting policies that create a strong sense of national identity. VAHS is calling upon the Australian government to take the steps to Change the Date of Australia Day and consider the 18th of May so we can strengthen and continue our Healing Journey.

In a year that will celebrate the anniversaries of political historical moments it now time to Change the Date of Australia Day.

Michael Graham – Chief Executive Officer

Part 3 Former Australian of the Year Fiona Stanley urges Australia Day date change to boost health

Former Australian of the Year Fiona Stanley says changing the date of Australia Day would have an “almost direct”, positive impact on Aboriginal health.

Joining the push to shift the national holiday from January 26, the Telethon Kids Institute patron acknowledged public opinion was split, but said she felt strongly the date was “unacceptable” and must be changed.

While changing the date would not do much to improve services, she expected the effect it would have on the mental health of Aboriginal people would be “quite profound”.

She said much of their trauma was linked to mental health issues, which led to substance abuse and problems associated with it such as domestic violence and maltreatment of children.

And while she was “all for” having an Australia Day, she did not want it to be January 26 because it was divisive.

He says the day we become a republic should be our national day instead.

“What these symbolic acts do is actually create a pathway to reduce that mental health anguish,” Professor Stanley told The Weekend West.

“One of our Aboriginal researchers has got data to show that even young kids, Aboriginal kids, their self-esteem is partly due to how they perceive the dominant culture perceives them.

“So if the dominant culture says, ‘We want to say sorry to Aboriginal people for what happened to them’, or, ‘We want to change the date’, then they are likely to say, ‘Oh gosh, they understand, they care so I’m not going to feel so depressed, I’m not going to feel so angry, I’m not going to drink, I’m going to be better’.”

 

Part 4 Johnathan Thurston backs calls for conversation on changing Australia Day date

Johnathan Thurston believes Australians need to be more informed about why the date of Australia Day is hurtful to Indigenous people.

Thurston, 36, who is set to retire from rugby league as one of the sport’s greats after the upcoming season, also urged governments to make Indigenous affairs a priority after an “alarming” failure to meet Close The Gap targets over the past decade.

Thurston said the country needs to “have a chat” about Australia Day.

On the anniversary of the First Fleet of British ships arriving at Port Jackson in 1788, Australians get a public holiday to celebrate the country’s national day.

There are calls to change the date of Australia Day to make it a celebration that is inclusive of the people who lived here before those ships arrived.

For some Indigenous Australians, January 26 marks the day when their land was no longer only theirs and in the years since there have been several calls to stop marking the day with celebration but with “mourning and protest”.

“It’s not just about the First Fleet, it’s about the stealing of the land, the misplacement of the stolen generation and the injustices that were done over the years,” Thurston said.

“I think people need to be educated on why they don’t feel included on this day.”

He said he didn’t have an alternative in mind.

“I do not have a date in mind at all, but yeah I think we certainly need to have a chat about Australia Day,” he said.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said Johnathan Thurston was pointing out that some people don’t feel the date is inclusive of all Australians.

“I think Australia Day does need to be inclusive of all Australians, and it is a conversation that people will need to have and it is good that he is raising that issue,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

“Tomorrow I’m going to be here in Townsville for the Australia Day flag raising ceremony.

“As part of that ceremony there is an Indigenous welcome to country that is acknowledging our history.

The NRL superstar is Queensland’s Australian of the Year and one of eight finalists in the running for the national award to be announced in Canberra on Thursday.

Thurston said sport had given him a platform to pursue his passion of mentoring the next generation of Indigenous Australians.

“Our culture has been around for thousands of years and the way we’re going it’s not going to be around for thousands more,” Thurston said.

“We need to be making sure the Government is putting Indigenous affairs at the forefront of their campaigns.”

Part 6 Day of Mourning a key moment in Australia’s history

The 80th anniversary of one of the most significant events in Australia’s history – the Day of Mourning – will be honoured in Sydney today.

On 26 January 1938, Lyn Onus, Pearl Gibbs, Jack Patten, William Ferguson and William Cooper created the blueprint for political advocacy on Land Rights and civil rights by declaring a Day of Mourning for the devastating impact of colonialism on Aboriginal peoples.

The leaders of the Day of Mourning also issued a manifesto for a new deal based on self-determination and equality. In the days that followed, Jack Patten led a delegation of 20 Aboriginal men and women who met with Prime Minister Joseph Lyons.

The delegation recommended the Commonwealth assume responsibility for Aboriginal Affairs, which was realised 30 years later.

NSWALC Chair Roy Ah-See said the leaders of the Day of Mourning must never be forgotten and their courage and determination should inspire every Australian.

“The Day of Mourning is an important day and I encourage Local Aboriginal Land Council members and community to support this event,” Cr Ah-See said.

Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council Chief Executive Officer Nathan Moran said a re-enactment of the Day of Mourning would be held at Australia Hall in Elizabeth Street, Sydney from 10am and conclude with a silent protest march to Redfern Oval.

“Aboriginal people have great respect for our leaders who fought for the human rights of First Peoples in Australia. That fight isn’t over and we need more of our young people follow the lead of Lyn Onus, Pearl Gibbs, Jack Patten, William Ferguson and William Cooper to achieve justice and equality for our people.

Apart from keynote speaker, NSW Opposition Leader Luke Foley and descendants of 1938 Day of Mourning organisers speaking, the day will also feature entertainment from Joe Geia as well as cultural smoking and dance performances

Part 6 Help

The APS and AIPA have developed self-care tips to help Australians cope if they are affected by the heated debate:

  1. Tune in. Tune into your feelings such as anger and distress. Acknowledge these emotions both to yourself and others. Talk about how you are feeling with someone you trust.
  2. Take a break. If you feel distressed by the public debate and social media posts consider limiting your feeds to stem the flow of divisive posts or log-off social media.
  3. Look after yourself. Help combat tension and fatigue by making time to do things you enjoy. Take care to eat well, stay hydrated, exercise and get good sleep.
  4. Channel your energy. Put your energy into positive actions. If you feel passionately about an issue get informed and get involved.
  5. Support each other. If you see cyber harassment, bullying or racism don’t ignore it. Report it and offer your support.
  6. Connect with others. Connect with your family and friends, this grounds us as community members.
  7. Connect with your community. Strong social and emotional wellbeing maintains our wellbeing through connections to body, mind and emotions, spirituality, land, community, families and culture.
  8. It’s okay not to talk. If you don’t feel comfortable talking about an issue it’s okay not to.

 

 

 

 

.@NACCHOChair Press Release #InvasionDay #ChangetheDate #AustraliaDay debate : A call to Community leaders

 

 “In the broader context of this debate I believe that Aboriginal people are still more concerned about real solutions for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s housing, education, health, employment and cultural maintenance, including our lands.

For our people, the arrival of Captain Cook and then British Settlement of Australia is a day of dispossession, death and disease. We require a new day of significance to include and celebrate our cultural survival, connection to country, family and kinship.

We call on all Community leaders across the states and territories to lead a national inclusive discussion and debate on why we need to change and nominate a new day for modern Australia to truly celebrate our diversity.”

Mr John Singer Chairperson of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO).

Download Press Release HERE

NACCHO-Press-Release-A-call-to-Community-leaders

 ” The Australian Indigenous Psychologists Association AIPA fully acknowledge and understand that January 26 remains a day of mourning and pain for many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and the need for all of Australia to make important steps towards healing, but that our Governments need to create the space for this to happen.

We are calling for an action to discuss this so that we can have a day that is inclusive for all Australians to celebrate this great nation.

The APS and AIPA have developed 8 self-care tips to help Australians cope if they are affected by the heated debate

Tania Dalton and Professor Pat Dudgeon are co-chairs of AIPA, and Tanja Hirvonen is the association’s executive support officer.

See Part 2 below 8 self-care tips

NACCHO Press Release

Not everyone across our nation celebrates Australia Day. I have no doubt that this year on Australia Day thousands of Aboriginal protestors will once again march, wave placards, burn flags and voice our opinions about Invasion Day.

See events schedule below

Our supporters who wish to change the date are simply dismissed as a group of politically correct, angry, banner waving far-left extremists who hold a minority view about the merits of the national holiday. Rather, they should be acknowledged as holding a different philosophical view about the significance of the day.

Across the nation, 26 January is for most people a day of celebration of 230 years of Australian history; not the 60,000 years of Indigenous culture.

The last year has been difficult for our people, especially after the rejection by the federal government of the Uluru Statement from the Heart. In a couple of weeks we will gather for the ten-year anniversary of the National Apology.

For our people, the arrival of Captain Cook and then British Settlement of Australia is a day of dispossession, death and disease.

We require a new day of significance to include and celebrate our cultural survival, connection to country, family and kinship.

Modern Australia is made up of peoples from many different cultural backgrounds. We should have our national day to show respect and celebrate this cultural diversity.

Oddly enough the current Prime Minister and number one ticket holder for an Australian republic wishes to ‘save the day’ and remains very excited about the anniversary of the First Fleet’s arrival in Sydney Harbour in 1788, not far from his harbourside mansion.

Turnbull will soon rise in the House of Representatives to parrot a few words of an Indigenous language and inform us of what a great job his department and agencies are doing for us in his Close the Gap report!

Remember, he did promise to work WITH us. The pain and suffering of our people is not so easily bought off with a few trinkets and baubles thrown to us.

In the broader context of this debate I believe that Aboriginal people are still more concerned about real solutions for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s housing, education, health, employment and cultural maintenance, including our lands.

We call on all Community leaders across the states and territories to lead a national inclusive discussion and debate on why we need to change and nominate a new day for modern Australia to truly celebrate our diversity.

Part 2.

Australian Indigenous Psychologists Association writes:

For many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities, Australia Day can be a day of mixed emotions. The way people feel and their reasons are dependent on their own stories, so therefore there is no right or wrong in this matter.

For many, the date of the 26th January represents a day on which people’s ways of life was forever changed and some may term this day, Survival Day or Invasion Day.

Others may choose to celebrate that the longest living Indigenous culture has survived for 60,000 years, and others may take pride in their Aboriginal and mixed heritage due to Australia’s vibrant multi-cultural population.

Whoever or however Aboriginal Australians choose to commemorate Australia Day, we wish to remind all that in the spirit of reconciliation, AIPA would like to respect the voices of many, and ask Australians to reflect on how we can create a day all Australians can celebrate.

In discussions about Australia Day over the past month and year, AIPA have been discussing the meaning with other stakeholders of the date and its significance for people in Australia.

When it comes to Australia Day in the media, there is some support for the day to continue, and overwhelming sentiment from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to change the date and not celebrate on this particular date.  Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are talking about a date that they see as a symbol of their dispossession

Social media commentary has escalated in some areas to levels where it is unreasonable to expect any healthy debate or conversations.

AIPA hopes that we walk towards a shared future as all Australians, by having a national conversation about the Australia Day date.

APS President Anthony Cichello says, “The APS strongly supports celebrating our multicultural Australian society, while considering the views of Indigenous Australians as the original custodians of the land.”

“Psychologists know that words can hurt. It is critical that Australians debate important issues constructively.”

The APS and AIPA have developed self-care tips to help Australians cope if they are affected by the heated debate:

  1. Tune in. Tune into your feelings such as anger and distress. Acknowledge these emotions both to yourself and others. Talk about how you are feeling with someone you trust.
  2. Take a break. If you feel distressed by the public debate and social media posts consider limiting your feeds to stem the flow of divisive posts or log-off social media.
  3. Look after yourself. Help combat tension and fatigue by making time to do things you enjoy. Take care to eat well, stay hydrated, exercise and get good sleep.
  4. Channel your energy. Put your energy into positive actions. If you feel passionately about an issue get informed and get involved.
  5. Support each other. If you see cyber harassment, bullying or racism don’t ignore it. Report it and offer your support.
  6. Connect with others. Connect with your family and friends, this grounds us as community members.
  7. Connect with your community. Strong social and emotional wellbeing maintains our wellbeing through connections to body, mind and emotions, spirituality, land, community, families and culture.
  8. It’s okay not to talk. If you don’t feel comfortable talking about an issue it’s okay not to.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aboriginal Health, Healing , Self Determination Reconciliation and a #Treaty : @VACCHO_CEO Jill Gallagher AO named Treaty Advancement Commissioner

 

” Having a Treaty will be a positive step for our mob. It will change the way people think about us, formally recognise what has been done to us in the past, and it will help us heal and overcome so much of this hurt, to achieve better social, emotional, health and wellbeing outcomes for our people.

I want my grandchildren, everyone’s grandchildren, and the generations to come to be happier and healthier. I want us to Close the Gap in all ways possible, and reaching a Treaty in Victoria is part of achieving this critical goal.

Jill Gallagher AO, is CEO of VACCHO and Co-Chair of the Aboriginal Treaty Working Group and now Victorian Treaty Advancement Commissioner.

Read Jill’s Opinion piece in full Part 2 below Victorian Treaty an opportunity to heal and overcome intergenerational trauma

 ” I believe a Treaty with the Victorian Government will pave the way for a lot of the work VACCHO does around the holistic approach to improving the health and wellbeing outcomes for Aboriginal people.

VACCHO has this holistic approach because we know you can’t just deal with health without dealing with housing and other aspects of life. If you haven’t got a roof over your head you can’t be healthy. If you haven’t got a job, that is going to have a negative impact on your health.

If you or your family are unfairly caught up in the justice system it makes it hard to build a life.

The social determinants of health need to be addressed in a holistic way, and we advocate to Government for that. “

Aged 62, Jill Gallagher has lived long enough to have had her sense of the world shaped by some of the sorriest historical aspects of Victoria’s treatment of Aboriginal people.

As a child she accompanied her mother all over the state as she chased seasonal work picking vegetables on farms, one of few lines of employment Aboriginal people were permitted to do.

As Reported in the AGE  : Jill Gallagher has been named Victorian Treaty Advancement Commissioner.  Photo: Jason South

And she has an early memory, painful still, of her mother being asked to leave the whites-only Warrnambool hotel.

It was Australia in the early 1960s, before Aboriginal people had been recognised in the constitution or been given the right to vote.

On Tuesday Ms Gallagher took on a job that is meant to shape a much more equal future between the state’s first people and the rest of us, when she was named Victorian Treaty Advancement Commissioner.

It is the new, leading role in preparing to negotiate the first ever treaty between Aboriginal people and an Australian government.

“What’s happening in Victoria is history making,” Ms Gallagher says of the $28.5 million treaty process.

“It’s never happened before, for any government to actually be serious about wanting to talk to Aboriginal people about treaties.” As commissioner, Ms Gallagher will lead the task of bringing Aboriginal representatives to the negotiating table with government and ensuring everyday Aboriginal voices are heard.

“My role is not to negotiate a treaty or treaties,” she says. “My role is to establish a voice, or representative body, that government can negotiate with.”

By the time treaty negotiations commence, her work as commissioner will have been done and the role will have ceased to exist.

For now the treaty’s terms of reference is a blank sheet of paper.

Its eventual signing could involve years of negotiations between the Aboriginal community and state government.

Aspects of treaties from other nations, such as Canada or New Zealand, may be borrowed from but Ms Gallagher says she hopes Victoria’s model will “stay true to what the need is here in Victoria”. “Treaty is about righting the wrongs of the past but also having the ability to tell the truth,” Ms Gallagher says.

As head of Aboriginal health organisation VACCHO, Ms Gallagher grapples with the lingering failure to “close the gap” of disadvantage between non-Aboriginal and Aboriginal Victorians, who statistically live shorter lives and in poorer health than the general population.

A report last month by Aboriginal Affairs Victoria acknowledged the inter-generational damage European colonisation did to Aboriginal people, entrenching poverty, racism and disadvantage.

“I see the devastation that colonisation had on my people,” she says.

“I see how it manifests today in many ways such as overrepresentation in the justice system, overrepresentation of children in out-of-home care … So for me treaty is trying to rectify that.”

And as for non-Aboriginals uncertain about what a treaty means for them, Ms Gallagher offers this piece of reassurance: we don’t want your backyard.

Rather, it’s about creating a shared identity.

“I think it will add value to the non-Aboriginal community here in Victoria,” Ms Gallagher says.

“Treaty is about us having the ability to share our very rich, ancient culture, so all Victorians can be proud of our culture.”

Victorian Treaty an opportunity to heal and overcome intergenerational trauma

*Jill Gallagher AO, is CEO of VACCHO and Co-Chair of the Aboriginal Treaty Working Group

Originally published in Croakey

As the end of the year rapidly approaches there is a bright ray of hope on the horizon for Aboriginal people living in Victoria, in the form of Treaty.

Working towards Treaty

For almost two years we have been working as a community towards the goal of a Treaty between the First Nations people and the Victorian Government. It’s an historic process, and one that we hope will inspire and guide the rest of Australia, both at a state and national level.

I’ve been honoured to be a part of the process as Co-Chair of the Aboriginal Treaty Working Group. Our role in this group is not to negotiate a Treaty, but to consult the Aboriginal community on what we would like to see in a representative structure.

We have consulted extensively, and continue to consult, with the Aboriginal Community Assembly meeting in recent weeks and releasing a second statement on Treaty.

Intergenerational trauma

As CEO of the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO) I’ve been working for the past two decades towards improving the health and wellbeing outcomes of Victorian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. I see a Treaty as fundamental to reaching the goal of Closing the Gap on many of our poor health outcomes as Aboriginal people.

Our mob, as we well know, has been disempowered for many, many generations and with disempowerment comes distress, and comes a lack of resilience. Our self-esteem has suffered and there have been so many social, emotional and wellbeing issues

in our community as a result of that disempowerment.

I believe if we are successful in reaching a Treaty it will make a humongous difference in the wellbeing of our people across Victoria. This is about truth telling and healing the past for a better future for Aboriginal people.

Intergenerational trauma is deeply felt in our community from myriad past practices, including the relatively recent Stolen Generations – I work with people born to parents who were stolen, many of my friends were stolen or come from families affected by the woeful policies of the past. In fact, almost 50 per cent of Aboriginal Victorians have a relative who was forcibly removed from their family through the Stolen Generations.

Even right now you just have to consider the disproportionately high number of Aboriginal children in out-of-home care, and the trauma they are suffering from being disconnected from their families, communities and culture. Thankfully the Victorian Government has worked with our communities to help overcome this with its new Aboriginal Children in Aboriginal Care program.

Without doubt intergenerational trauma and a lack of empowerment and resilience leads to inevitable mental illness; we currently have 32 per cent of the Victorian Aboriginal community suffering very high psychological distress, which is three times the non-Aboriginal rate.

Social and emotional wellbeing

But while improving mental health outcomes is incredibly important to our people, it is something that cannot be done in isolation; improving social and emotional wellbeing is also important.

The Aboriginal concept of social and emotional wellbeing is an inclusive term that enables concepts of mental health to be recognised as part of a holistic and interconnected Aboriginal view of health that embraces social, emotional, physical, cultural and spiritual dimensions of wellbeing.

Social and emotional wellbeing emphasises the importance of individual, family and community strengths and resilience, feelings of cultural safety and connection to culture, and the importance of realising aspirations, and experiencing satisfaction and purpose in life.

Importantly, social and emotional wellbeing is a source of resilience that can help protect against the worst impacts of stressful life events for Aboriginal people, and provide a buffer to mitigate risks of poor mental health.

Improving the social and emotional wellbeing of, and mental health outcomes for, Aboriginal people cannot be achieved by any one measure, one agency or sector, or by Aboriginal people alone. It needs to be shaped and led through Aboriginal self-determination with support from government, and that is where Treaty comes in.

A Treaty for healing

I know that many people will dismiss Treaty as a political or public relations stunt. Just look at how the Federal Government has dismissed us on Makaratta. Makarrata is a complex Yolngu word describing a process of conflict resolution, peacemaking and justice. It’s a philosophy that helped develop and maintain lasting peace among the Yolngu people of north-east Arnhem Land.

Reaching a Makarrata is the goal of the Uluru Statement from the Heart, which was agreed in May this year. It’s hurtful and disrespectful to be asked your opinion on something as important as Makarrata and then to have your ideas and solutions be dismissed.

I am glad to say the Victorian Government is, however, listening to us. I believe a Treaty with the Victorian Government will pave the way for a lot of the work VACCHO does around the holistic approach to improving the health and wellbeing outcomes for Aboriginal people.

VACCHO has this holistic approach because we know you can’t just deal with health without dealing with housing and other aspects of life. If you haven’t got a roof over your head you can’t be healthy. If you haven’t got a job, that is going to have a negative impact on your health. If you or your family are unfairly caught up in the justice system it makes it hard to build a life. The social determinants of health need to be addressed in a holistic way, and we advocate to Government for that.

Having a Treaty will be a positive step for our mob. It will change the way people think about us, formally recognise what has been done to us in the past, and it will help us heal and overcome so much of this hurt, to achieve better social, emotional, health and wellbeing outcomes for our people.

I want my grandchildren, everyone’s grandchildren, and the generations to come to be happier and healthier. I want us to Close the Gap in all ways possible, and reaching a Treaty in Victoria is part of achieving this critical goal.

 

 

 

 

NACCHO tribute and Bellear family thank you : #SolsLastMarch #StateFuneral for Sol Bellear AM ” Remembered as a giant of a man “

 

” Sol was giant of a man who made a giant contribution to self-determination for our people right throughout the land , one who would now take his honoured place amongst his very honoured ancestors.

News of his sudden death last week had sent shockwaves through Aboriginal Australia”.

Pat Turner, Chief Executive of NACCHO : National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation speaking at the State Funeral about her long term friendship and respect for Sol Bellear.  Pictures above Michelle Lovegrove

See full NACCHO Tribute to Sol Bellear AM Press Release

NACCHO tribute to Sol Bellear AM Aboriginal activist

NACCHO was also represented by Current Chair John Singer and Past Chairs Pat Anderson , Matthew Cooke and Justin Mohamed.

 ” We will always be grateful for the many expressions of kindness, love and support we have received following the loss of our father and brother, Sol Bellear, who passed away peacefully at home on Wednesday night, 29 November.

We have been overwhelmed by the numbers of people who have reached out to us in this very difficult time. Sol touched many lives in the movement for Aboriginal rights, the game of rugby league and the community of Redfern that he loved.  Now the people whose lives he touched are comforting us with their memories of him.”

Statement from the family of  Solomon David “Sol” Bellear AM

Sol stood for many things including self-determination, proper treaties with our people, Aboriginal control of our people’s health and legal services, Land Rights and a better understanding of our history.

Although, Sol achieved many great victories, much of this work remained unfinished at the end of his life. We ask all those who loved Sol to please continue his work so that the vision he had for his country and people might one day be fulfilled.

One of Sol’s last wishes was for the Sydney City Council to erect a plaque at Redfern Park to help people remember and reflect on the Redfern Speech delivered on that site by former Prime Minister, Paul Keating.

We will always treasure the time we had with him. He was the most loving and committed Father, Brother, Poppy and Uncle any family could hope for.=

We would like to particularly thank the NSW Premier and the staff from her Department, the NSW Aboriginal Land Council, Joshua Roxburgh and our brother, Shane Phillips for their generous assistance in organising Sol’s funeral.

 Sol Bellear remembered as giant at state funeral

Aboriginal land rights and health activist Sol Bellear has been remembered as a giant of indigenous advancement at a state funeral on Saturday at Redfern Oval in Sydney, the spiritual home of his beloved South Sydney Rabbitohs.

From the Australian

It was a mark of the man, mourners heard, that after being dropped as a player from the Rabbitohs squad after raising a black-power salute on scoring a try at the ground, he was within a year serving on the rugby league team’s board.

“He carried a great personal weight on his shoulders because he was a strong man,” fellow activist Paul Coe, one of the leaders with whom Bellear founded the Aboriginal tent embassy at the then parliament house in 1972, said.

“He would stand his ground no matter what or no matter who was opposing him.”

Bellear was joined in one final march to the football ground from the nearby Aboriginal Medical Service in Redfern, an institution which mourners including NSW Governor David Hurley and wife Linda heard was one of his great legacies.

Sols Last March with 3,000 family and friends

The march ended at the park where, exactly 25 years ago tomorrow, Bellear led Paul Keating to the stage to deliver the then prime minister’s famous oration admitting white Australia’s culpability in the poor state of indigenous affairs.(see Picture in Part 1 above )

“He stood proud and he stood tall but he was not egotistical,” Mr Coe said.

“I’ve seen him give money out of his own pocket to people on the streets. This is the kind of man that he was — a kind of man you could admire but not completely understand.

“In those days as young students, trying to work out who and what we were, it was very hard to make ends meet. But he would always give of himself, both time and energy.”

A Bundjalung man from Mullumbimby in northern NSW, Solomon David Bellear, who was 66, leaves partner Naomi and children Tamara and Joseph. He was made a member of the Order of Australia in 1999 for services to the Aboriginal community, in particular in the field of health. His brother Bob, who died a decade ago, was the first Aboriginal judge.

In a letter from grand-daughter Rose read out at the service, Bellear was bid a “merry Christmas in the dreamtime” and the hope he had travelled there safely with his totem, the carpet snake.

Bellear’s achievements were legion. He was the founding chair of the Aboriginal Legal Service, a founding member of the Aboriginal Housing Company, an Aboriginal delegate to the UN General Assembly, player and director at the Rabbitohs, a foundation player with the Redfern All Blacks in the NSW Aboriginal Rugby League Knockout, a manager with the indigenous dreamtime and All Stars rugby league teams, and deputy chair of the former Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission.

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Sol Bellear, whose funeral was held on Saturday. Picture: Dan Himbrechts

Ken Wyatt, federal Minister for Indigenous Health and Aged Care, said on Friday Bellear had “played a key role in establishing medical, housing, land rights and legal services for Aboriginal people and remains a towering figure on the journey towards justice for our people”.

He was remembered as being crucial to the consensus position developed at the Indigenous constitutional convention held in Central Australia in May this year, when disparate ambitions for reform were distilled into the Uluru Statement from the Heart.

Singer Emma Donovan opened the funeral with the touchstone Land Rights Song, whose memorable lines “they keep on saying everything’s fine, still they can’t see us cry all the time” seemed particularly apt.

Bellear’s casket was borne from the park by a cortege including members of his beloved Redfern All Blacks, whose members linked arms to sing their team song for him one last time. His casket was draped with a Rabbitohs scarf, the hearse with an Aboriginal flag.

As it set off one final, slow, lap of the oval, fists were raised in a black-power salute

NACCHO Aboriginal #Health and #Justice #HumanRightsDay : 25 th Anniversary PM Paul Keating’s #Redfern Speech and the Last March for Sol Bellear in #Redfern

 

” And, as I say, the starting point might be to recognise that the problem starts with us non-Aboriginal Australians. It begins, I think, with that act of recognition

Recognition that it was we who did the dispossessing. We took the traditional lands and smashed the traditional way of life.We brought the diseases. The alcohol.

We committed the murders. We took the children from their mothers. We practised discrimination and exclusion. It was our ignorance and our prejudice.

And our failure to imagine these things being done to us.With some noble exceptions, we failed to make the most basic human response and enter into their hearts and minds.”

Sunday December the 10th is Human Rights Day, and 25 years since former Prime Minister Paul Keating delivered a landmark speech at the Sydney suburb of Redfern, acknowledging the wrongs done to Australia’s Indigenous people.

Download the original speech here or read in full below

Copy of PM Paul Keating’s Original Redfern Speech 

“As Keating started, he was a bit nervous, you know, and you could see the anguish on the faces of non-Aboriginal people … and then the looks on the faces of Aboriginal people as he started to talk about the murders and the oppression. And you could see Aboriginal people in the park saying to each other,  yeah – that’s right, that’s it – he’s nailed it’.

Keating called it – the history – for what it was. And it all goes back to history in this country. All of it,”

Sol Bellear Interview with The Guardian

The person who introduced the PM that day Health, justice and land rights Legend Sol Bellear AM will lead his last march at a State Funeral to be held in Redfern on Saturday followed by a funeral service and wake in Mullumbimby Thursday 14 December

Sol’s family, friends and supporters are invited to gather at Redfern Aboriginal Medical Service on Redfern Street from 10am for a last march to the State Funeral service at Redfern Oval starting at 11am.

WHEN: Saturday 9 December 2017

WHERE:

March from 10am outside Aboriginal Medical Service, Redfern Street

Service from 11am at Redfern Oval

SEE NACCHO Tribute HERE

 Prime minister’s Paul Keating’s speech at Redfern Park, Sydney, on December 10, 1992

I am very pleased to be here to  day at the launch of Australia’s celebration of the 1993 International Year of the World’s Indigenous People.

It will be a year of great significance for Australia

It comes at a time when we have committed ourselves to succeeding in the test which so far we have always failed.

Because, in truth, we cannot confidently say that we have succeeded as we would like to have succeeded if we have not managed to extend opportunity and care, dignity and hope to the indigenous people of Australia – the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people.

This is a fundamental test of our social goals and our national will: our ability to say to ourselves and the rest of the world that Australia is a first rate social democracy, that we are what we should be – truly the land of the fair go and the better chance.

There is no more basic test of how seriously we mean these things.

It is a test of our self-knowledge.

Of how well we know the land we live in. How well we know our history.

How well we recognise the fact that, complex as our contemporary identity is, it cannot be separated from Aboriginal Australia.

How well we know what Aboriginal Australians know about Australia.

Redfern is a good place to contemplate these things.

Just a mile or two from the place where the first European settlers landed, in too many ways it tells us that their failure to bring much more than devastation and demoralisation to Aboriginal Australia continues to be our failure.

More I think than most Australians recognise, the plight of Aboriginal Australians affects us all.

In Redfern it might be tempting to think that the reality Aboriginal Australians face is somehow contained here, and that the rest of us are insulated from it.

But of course, while all the dilemmas may exist here, they are far from contained.

We know the same dilemmas and more are faced all over Australia.

That is perhaps the point of this Year of the World’s Indigenous People: to bring the dispossessed out of the shadows, to recognise that they are part of us, and that we cannot give indigenous Australians up without giving up many of our own most deeply held values, much of our own identity – and our own humanity.

Nowhere in the world, I would venture, is the message more stark than it is in Australia.

We simply cannot sweep injustice aside. Even if our own conscience allowed us to, I am sure, that in due course, the world and the people of our region would not.

There should be no mistake about this – our success in resolving these issues will have a significant bearing on our standing in the world.

However intractable the problems seem, we cannot resign ourselves to failure – any more than we can hide behind the contemporary version of Social Darwinism which says that to reach back for the poor and dispossessed is to risk being dragged down.

That seems to me not only morally indefensible, but bad history.

We non-Aboriginal Australians should perhaps remind ourselves that Australia once reached out for us.

Didn’t Australia provide opportunity and care for the dispossessed Irish? The poor of Britain? The refugees from war and famine and persecution in the countries of Europe and Asia?

Isn’t it reasonable to say that if we can build a prosperous and remarkably harmonious multicultural society in Australia, surely we can find just solutions to the problems which beset the first Australians – the people to whom the most injustice has been done.

And, as I say, the starting point might be to recognise that the problem starts with us non-Aboriginal Australians.

It begins, I think, with that act of recognition

Recognition that it was we who did the dispossessing.

We took the traditional lands and smashed the traditional way of life.

We brought the diseases. The alcohol.

We committed the murders.

We took the children from their mothers.

We practised discrimination and exclusion.

It was our ignorance and our prejudice.

And our failure to imagine these things being done to us.

With some noble exceptions, we failed to make the most basic human response and enter into their hearts and minds.

We failed to ask – how would I feel if this were done to me?

As a consequence, we failed to see that what we were doing degraded all of us.

If we needed a reminder of this, we received it this year.

The Report of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody showed with devastating clarity that the past lives on in inequality, racism and injustice.

In the prejudice and ignorance of non-Aboriginal Australians, and in the demoralisation and desperation, the fractured identity, of so many Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders.

For all this, I do not believe that the Report should fill us with guilt.

Down the years, there has been no shortage of guilt, but it has not produced the responses we need.

Guilt is not a very constructive emotion.

I think what we need to do is open our hearts a bit.

All of us.

Perhaps when we recognise what we have in common we will see the things which must be done – the practical things.

There is something of this in the creation of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation.

The Council’s mission is to forge a new partnership built on justice and equity and an appreciation of the heritage of Australia’s indigenous people.

In the abstract those terms are meaningless.

We have to give meaning to “justice” and “equity” – and, as I have said several times this year, we will only give them meaning when we commit ourselves to achieving concrete results.

If we improve the living conditions in one town, they will improve in another. And another.

If we raise the standard of health by twenty per cent one year, it will be raised more the next.

If we open one door others will follow.

When we see improvement, when we see more dignity, more confidence, more happiness – we will know we are going to win.

We need these practical building blocks of change.

The Mabo Judgement should be seen as one of these.

By doing away with the bizarre conceit that this continent had no owners prior to the settlement of Europeans, Mabo establishes a fundamental truth and lays the basis for justice.

It will be much easier to work from that basis than has ever been the case in the past.

For that reason alone we should ignore the isolated outbreaks of hysteria and hostility of the past few months.

Mabo is an historic decision – we can make it an historic turning point, the basis of a new relationship between indigenous and non-Aboriginal Australians.

The message should be that there is nothing to fear or to lose in the recognition of historical truth, or the extension of social justice, or the deepening of Australian social democracy to include indigenous Australians.

There is everything to gain.

Even the unhappy past speaks for this.

Where Aboriginal Australians have been included in the life of Australia they have made remarkable contributions.

Economic contributions, particularly in the pastoral and agricultural industry.

They are there in the frontier and exploration history of Australia.

They are there in the wars.

In sport to an extraordinary degree.

In literature and art and music.

In all these things they have shaped our knowledge of this continent and of ourselves. They have shaped our identity.

They are there in the Australian legend.

We should never forget – they have helped build this nation.

And if we have a sense of justice, as well as common sense, we will forge a new partnership.

As I said, it might help us if we non-Aboriginal Australians imagined ourselves dispossessed of land we had lived on for fifty thousand years – and then imagined ourselves told that it had never been ours.

Imagine if ours was the oldest culture in the world and we were told that it was worthless.

Imagine if we had resisted this settlement, suffered and died in the defence of our land, and then were told in history books that we had given up without a fight.

Imagine if non-Aboriginal Australians had served their country in peace and war and were then ignored in history books.

Imagine if our feats on sporting fields had inspired admiration and patriotism and yet did nothing to diminish prejudice.

Imagine if our spiritual life was denied and ridiculed.

Imagine if we had suffered the injustice and then were blamed for it.

It seems to me that if we can imagine the injustice we can imagine its opposite.

And we can have justice.

I say that for two reasons:

I say it because I believe that the great things about Australian social democracy reflect a fundamental belief in justice.

And I say it because in so many other areas we have proved our capacity over the years to go on extending the realms of participation, opportunity and care.

Just as Australians living in the relatively narrow and insular Australia of the 1960s imagined a culturally diverse, worldly and open Australia, and in a generation turned the idea into reality, so we can turn the goals of reconciliation into reality.

There are very good signs that the process has begun.

The creation of the Reconciliation Council is evidence itself.

The establishment of the ATSIC – the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission – is also evidence.

The Council is the product of imagination and good will.

ATSIC emerges from the vision of indigenous self-determination and self-management.

The vision has already become the reality of almost 800 elected Aboriginal Regional Councillors and Commissioners determining priorities and developing their own programs.

All over Australia, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are taking charge of their own lives.

And assistance with the problems which chronically beset them is at last being made available in ways developed by the communities themselves.

If these things offer hope, so does the fact that this generation of Australians is better informed about Aboriginal culture and achievement, and about the injustice that has been done, than any generation before.

We are beginning to more generally appreciate the depth and the diversity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures.

From their music and art and dance we are beginning to recognise how much richer our national life and identity will be for the participation of Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders.

We are beginning to learn what the indigenous people have known for many thousands of years – how to live with our physical environment.

Ever so gradually we are learning how to see Australia through Aboriginal eyes, beginning to recognise the wisdom contained in their epic story.

I think we are beginning to see how much we owe the indigenous Australians and how much we have lost by living so apart.

I said we non-indigenous Australians should try to imagine the Aboriginal view.

It can’t be too hard. Someone imagined this event today, and it is now a marvellous reality and a great reason for hope.

There is one thing today we cannot imagine.

We cannot imagine that the descendants of people whose genius and resilience maintained a culture here through fifty thousand years or more, through cataclysmic changes to the climate and environment, and who then survived two centuries of disposession and abuse, will be denied their place in the modern Australian nation.

We cannot imagine that.

We cannot imagine that we will fail.

And with the spirit that is here today I am confident that we won’t.

I am confident that we will succeed in this decade.

Thank you

NACCHO tribute to Sol Bellear AM Aboriginal activist : ” Last March for Sol ” and State Funeral details announced

” Sol Bellear leaves an important legacy that must be carried on by the board of NACCHO and all our members if Indigenous Australians are to ever enjoy health services and standards that other Australians take for granted.

Throughout his career he advocated a philosophy of community control, self-reliance and independence, attributes that would be vital for the survival of ACCHO’s over the decades

We would like to record our sincere gratitude and admiration for Sol’s service to our nation and communities, and tender our profound sympathy to his family and community in their bereavement.”

NACCHO Chair John Singer speaking on behalf of all the 143 Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services throughout Australia said he was saddened to hear of the untimely passing of one of the nation’s leading spokespeople on Aboriginal health issues, Mr Sol Bellear AM. ( see our full Press Release below ) Or Download

NACCHO tribute to Sol Bellear AM Aboriginal activist

Last march Sol Bellear AM

Health, justice and land rights Legend Sol Bellear AM will lead his last march at a State Funeral to be held in Redfern on Saturday.

Sol’s family, friends and supporters are invited to gather at Redfern Aboriginal Medical Service on Redfern Street from 10am for a last march to the State Funeral service at Redfern Oval starting at 11am.

WHEN: Saturday 9 December 2017

WHERE:

  • March from 10am outside Aboriginal Medical Service, Redfern Street
  • Service from 11am at Redfern Oval

For any enquiries please email media@alc.org.au or call 02 9689 4444

“ So they took our children away. They forced us from our ancestral lands. They held our wages and savings in trust, and then found better ways to spend the money. We were forced into slavery, denied equal wages and prevented from ever building generational wealth.

That great lie still underpins thinking in Indigenous affairs policy today. So it’s time to do something different, and time to acknowledge that the case for self-determination for Aboriginal people in Australia isn’t just compelling – it’s overwhelming. “

Sol Bellear AM 1951 -2017 : When NACCHO TV recorded over 100 interviews throughout Australia in 2015 Sol was our first interview : VIEW HERE

NACCHO Press Release :

NACCHO tribute to Sol Bellear AM Aboriginal activist

 NACCHO Chair John Singer speaking on behalf of all the 143 Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services throughout Australia said he was saddened to hear of the untimely passing of one of the nation’s leading spokespeople on Aboriginal health issues, Mr Sol Bellear AM

Sol was a respected elder, friend, lifetime Aboriginal activist, a co-founder and Chair of Aboriginal Medical Service Redfern and a recently appointed NACCHO board member.

Sol Bellear a Bundjalung man from Mullumbimby was also the first chair of the Aboriginal Legal Service when it was founded in the early 1970s.

In 1990 Sol became a member of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC), where he served as deputy chair before stepping down in 1994.

Throughout his career he advocated a philosophy of community control, self-reliance and independence, attributes that would be vital for the survival of ACCHO’s over the decades.

Mr. Singer said Sol Bellear was an inspiration to everyone involved with or interested in Aboriginal issues and specifically Indigenous health. He was admired and respected leader who served his community for nearly 50 years.

” Sol was a tireless worker for his people,” Mr Singer said.

“He travelled all over Australia and the world championing the cause of Indigenous Australians as we have had historically some of worst health outcomes in the western world.

“He was a fearless advocate not afraid to take on politicians and bureaucracies.

“And he certainly was a man of great compassion and commitment to improving the health of his Redfern Community and all Indigenous Australians.”

“Sol Bellear leaves an important legacy that must be carried on by the board of NACCHO and all our members if indigenous Australians are to ever enjoy health services and standards that other Australians take for granted,” Mr Singer concluded.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health : Pat Anderson AO 17 th Vincent Lingiari Lecture ” Our Hope for the Future: Voice. Treaty. Truth “

 

” When delegates from the Dialogues assembled at Uluru in May this year, the exhaustive deliberations and informed participation through the Regional Dialogues led to a broad consensus, as articulated in the Uluru Statement from the Heart which was adopted by the Convention.

Specifically, Australia’s First Peoples overwhelmingly rejected any purely symbolic changes to the Constitution, such as through a ‘statement of recognition’.

……..Dialogue participants and the Uluru Convention showed significant agreement.

There was overwhelming consensus around three proposals.

First, for a constitutionally established representative body that would give First Nations a Voice directly to the Federal Parliament.

Second, for the establishment of a Makarrata Commission to supervise the making of Treaties with us.

Third, for a process of local and regional Truth-telling which could form the basis for genuine reconciliation.”

Ms Pat Anderson AO  delivered the 17th Annual Vincent Lingiari Memorial Lecture at Charles Darwin University on Wednesday, 16 August.Full Text and video below

The lecture commemorated the historic walk-off from Wave Hill Station by Indigenous stockmen and their families, planting the seeds for Aboriginal land rights in Australia.

For her lecture titled: “Our Hope for the Future:  Voice. Treaty. Truth” Ms Anderson reflected on her personal history and experience as an advocate for social justice during the last half-century of struggle for the recognition of the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Chair of the Lowitja Institute and co-chair of the former Prime Minister’s Referendum Council, former Chair of NACCHO and CEO of Danila Dilba ACCHO and AMSANT ,  Ms Anderson is a campaigner for advancing the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in education, health, early childhood development, and violence against women and children. She is an Aboriginal advocate for social justice and winner of the 2016 Human Rights Medal.

Watch NACCHO TV Video of full speech

Or full speech transcript download in 16 Page PDF or read below

patanderson-lingiari-lecture-final2-16-august-2017

Ms Pat Anderson AO delivered the 17th Annual Vincent Lingiari Memorial Lecture at Charles Darwin University on Wednesday, 16 August, which commemorated the historic walk-off from Wave Hill Station by Indigenous stockmen and their families, planting the seeds for Aboriginal land rights in Australia.

Good evening everyone,

I acknowledge and pay respects to the Larrakia people, traditional custodians of the land on which we are meeting tonight.

I want to thank Charles Darwin University for asking me to deliver this Lecture. This is huge honour for me. It’s always hard presenting in your home town.

I was feeling a bit anxious about that because you all know everything about me.

I would like to acknowledge Wendy Ludwick who I think put my name forward for this honour.

We are here to honour the memory of Vincent Lingiari and his leadership in the 1966 Wave Hill strike.

I will return to that story, and to the place of the Gurindji in the contemporary struggle for the rights of Australia’s First Peoples shortly.

But first, I’d like to share another story with you, a personal story.

This story is from the 1950s, a decade before the Wave Hill Walk Off, and is set at Parap Camp a few miles from here (in the suburb now called Stuart Park), where I and my sisters grew up with our mum and dad.

For those who don’t know the history, Parap Camp was home to many Aboriginal and some Torres Strait Islander families in those harsh post-War years.

Many of those families had a Stolen Generations heritage, with the parents of Parap camp families having grown up in the nearby Kahlin Compound. Kids were rounded up from all over the Territory.

My mother was one of those, taken as a young girl sometime in the 1930s by white men on horseback from her Alyawarre family north east of Alice Springs.

She was brought here to the Compound, fifteen hundred kilometres away.

After growing up at Kahlin, she was sent to work as a young teenager on a farm on the other side of the Darwin harbour, near Belyuen.

Later, she met my dad, a Swedish merchant seaman who had jumped ship in Fremantle, and made his way to Darwin.

They married and settled at Parap Camp.

My story is from when I was about 9 or 10 years old, when I was in Grade 3 or 4 – like almost all children from Parap Camp, I and my sisters attended school without fail.

School attendance was non-negotiable in those days – we all just went.

Every year the class would have a Christmas Party at the end of the final term, and the idea was that all the kids would bring food from home for the party.

I was excited because I knew my mum made the best sponge cakes ever: great high, fluffy things.

I pictured myself taking one of these cakes into school – I was a bit vain, and wanted to show off what a great cook mum was.

But when I asked her to make the cake, she flatly refused.

No matter what I said, how I nagged at her, she just said no.

Finally, in frustration, I just burst out: “But why mum? Why won’t you make one of your cakes and let me take it to the school party?”.

She hesitated for a moment.

And then she said quietly: “I don’t like white people eating my food”.

I knew immediately from the way she said it that not only was this the end of the argument, but also that she was telling me something more.

I can still see her face and hear her voice.

I haven’t forgotten this: although I didn’t understand how at the time, it was clearly important.

And so I had to trudge off to my Christmas party with a packet of store bought biscuits, while all the other kids brought scones, cakes and biscuits baked by their mothers – none of which, I might add, were as good as what my mum could have made.

This sounds like an ordinary domestic, family event.

And it is.

But like so many stories that are part of every Aboriginal family in this country, there is a lot packed into this little scenario.

For a start, how did my mum get to be so good a cook?

I see now that her skill with cooking was something she had learnt from the white women she worked for as domestic, unpaid labour.

Her ability to cook a beautiful sponge cake was a direct consequence of the policy of assimilation by which all Australian governments aimed to eradicate us as distinct cultural groups.

At the same time, there were other skills that were withheld from her and so many other Stolen Generations.

Most importantly, growing up in Kahlin Compound she was never taught to read or write.

Despite the rhetoric about Aboriginal children being taken away to improve their chances in life, literacy was one skill that the administration clearly thought was of no use to a young Aboriginal woman.

That much is clear from our history.

However, on a personal level, much about my mother’s motivations in the story about the cake remains curious to me.

Did she not want white people to eat her food as an act of defiance?

Was it a reluctance – or a refusal – to place herself in a situation of being judged by them?

Was it her own brand of passive resistance?

I don’t know.

However, I do know it was a profound moment in our relationship as she revealed something of herself to me.

This moment has stayed with me over all these years.

And I believe this little incident points to the great gulf in experience between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australia.

It points towards an experience carried by so many of our families: the experience of having been treated unjustly, but of that injustice not being acknowledged.

This experience has been analysed by Jill Stauffer in her 2015 book, Ethical loneliness: the injustice of not being heard1.

Stauffer describes the profound isolation and loneliness that arises as a consequence of such an experience.

Calling it ‘ethical loneliness’ she says that it is a condition undergone by persons who have been unjustly treated … who emerge from that injustice only to find that the surrounding world will not listen to or cannot properly hear their testimony. … ethical loneliness is the experience of having been abandoned by humanity, compounded by the experience of not being heard.

There is something of this ethical loneliness in my mother’s experience, and even in the story of the cake she would not make.

I believe that experience is common to many if not all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families.

It stems from the complex, often damaged and damaging relationship between our First Nations and those who colonised this place from 1788 onwards.

Much of that damage remains embedded in the relationship between black and white Australia.

This nation has never properly dealt with that damage.

It has never properly acknowledged it, and acted upon that acknowledgement.

I believe we now, in 2017, all of us over the age of 18, this generation, have an historic opportunity to do that, to begin the process of repair, to re-set that relationship on a foundation of equality, justice and truth.

That opportunity is presented by the prospect of genuine and substantive reform to the Australian Constitution, and that is the topic I want to talk to you about this evening.

I would like to take you on the journey that I have been recently on as a member of the Referendum Council, which was tasked with making recommendations to the Federal Government on constitutional reform.

I would like to share with you our experience of the unique regional Dialogues with First Peoples and communities, and what we heard in them, culminating in the National Convention of First peoples at Uluru in May this year, and the Uluru Statement from the Heart.

And most importantly I want to describe the three essential demands to come from this process, which I summarise with these three words:

Voice.

Treaty.

Truth.

Before we trace that journey from the world of the Parap Camp in the 1950s, to where we stand today in 2017, I would like to acknowledge the importance of the Wave Hill Walk Off in 1966 in our history.

Mr Lingiari and the other Gurindji men and women first walked off their jobs on the Wave Hill station to demand fair pay and conditions, but ended up sitting down at Wattie Creek and demanding the return of their traditional lands.

They were demanding proper acknowledgment of the injustice done to them, and proper restitution of the harms done.

In doing so, they began the modern land rights movement.

But they were also re-asserting the struggle for self-determination, as summed up so elegantly by Mr Lingiari himself when he said:

“We want to live on our land, our way”

In those nine words, he captured the essence of what have been and continue to be the central demands of our First Nations since 1788.

First, recognition of our sovereignty, never ceded, of the land, of Country.

Second, acceptance of our right to continue in our unique and diverse cultures.

The Gurindji and Mr Lingiari powerfully re-asserted those demands, just as our First Nations have done since the beginning of the colonisation of Australia, and just as we have continued to do since.

This year, 2017, is a year of anniversaries of events which built upon and extended the rights of First Peoples as so clearly stated by the Gurindji.

It is

• 50 years since the 1967 Referendum;

• 25 years since the Mabo decision overturned the lie of ‘terra nullius’ in 1992; and

• 20 years since the Bringing Them Home Report in 1997.

It is also, crucially, 10 years since the Intervention was unleashed on our communities here in the Northern Territory.

The Intervention was the counter-revolution, the attempt to turn back the clock to the times before the Gurindji and Wave Hill, and the 1967 Referendum, and all the other achievements.

The Intervention was the attempt to take us back to the world of Parap Camp in the 1950s, when the powers of the nation-state reached into every aspect of how we lived our lives.

Now, ten years on, it is clear how profoundly and utterly the Intervention and the thinking behind it has failed.

It continues, however, to create much heartache and pain.

As John Lawrence in his recent Castan Centre Address3 has stated, tem years on, the Northern Territory gaols more people per capita than any country in the world.

The overwhelming majority of those incarcerated are Aboriginal.

The number of children being removed from their families is soaring: it rose by an average of 16% per year between 2011 and 2015.

This frightening increase is entirely due to the removal of Aboriginal children from their families4.

Family violence is out of control.

These figures – which many of you will know – are profoundly disturbing.

They demonstrate the tsunami of anger, frustration, despair and sadness that is engulfing our communities and families.

These type of figures are echoed across the country.

They reflect the kind of Intervention-thinking that has informed policy making over the last ten years, based on the idea that the nation-state knows best what is good for us.

Let us remember that the Intervention was trumpeted by its instigators as necessary to protect Aboriginal women and children.

It marked a shift in policy-making not just here but across the country.

Intervention-thinking sees self-determination as a failed idea, and blames us for the situation in which we find ourselves.

It believes that we do not have anything to offer, that we are at best ‘risks’ to be managed.

It ignores or condones or covers up the abuse of young people in detention, or our lack of housing or access to education.

I say again: it has utterly failed.

We can see this through the statistics, but more importantly through visiting many of our communities and listening to the experience of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples over these last few months.

I’ve been working in this field all of my adult life, and I can say honestly say that I have never seen things so bad.

This has to change.

We now sit in 2017 at what I believe is a critical junction in our history, not just for the First Nations of this country, but for the nation-state as a whole.

Six weeks ago, the Referendum Council of which I was Co-Chair handed a report to the Prime Minister, recommending what constitutional change should look like if it is to be acceptable to our First Peoples.

The report documents what we were told in a series of regional dialogues with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities across the country.

Going out and talking to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people was our first priority under our terms of reference.

These twelve regional Dialogues were held from Thursday Island to Hobart, from Perth, to Ross River outside Alice Springs, to Sydney and Melbourne. People from across the regions came to these centres.

We also held a one-day information session in Canberra.

Each Dialogue was attended by around one hundred people, including Traditional Owners, representatives of local organisations, and individuals.

Each was held over three days to allow full consideration of a number of proposals for Constitutional reform. It was the same format and same agenda for each Dialogue. We needed a methodology which could, in some way, be empirically measured.

The reforms that each Dialogue considered had been inherited by the Referendum Council from the work of the Expert Panel on the Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples in the Constitution (co-chaired by Patrick Dodson and Mark Leibler) and the Joint Select Committee on Constitutional Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples (co-chaired by Senators Ken Wyatt and Nova Peris).

They were:

• first, a statement acknowledging us as the First Australians, either inside or outside the Constitution;

• second, amending or deleting that part of the Constitution which empowers the Commonwealth to make laws for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples;

• third, inserting a guarantee against racial discrimination into the Constitution; and

• fourth, deleting that part of the Constitution which contemplates the possibility of a state government excluding some Australians from voting on the basis of their race.

The Dialogues also considered a fifth option, that of a First Peoples’ Voice to be heard by Parliament, and the right to be consulted on legislation and policies that affects us.

The Dialogue process was unprecedented in Australia’s history: never before have we as First Nations sat down across the nation in such an intensive, structured manner to deliberate on constitutional matters.

It was a passionate process.

Delegates grappled with the technical and legal implications of these proposals, as well as with their political viability.

There were disagreements, there were even arguments: how could it be otherwise when 1,200 people from all the diversity of our Nations were brought together to talk about matters so closely connected with the experiences and history of their families, clans and communities?

But there was also an extraordinary level of agreement on some matters.

When delegates from the Dialogues assembled at Uluru in May this year, the exhaustive deliberations and informed participation through the Regional Dialogues led to a broad consensus, as articulated in the Uluru Statement from the Heart which was adopted by the Convention.

Specifically, Australia’s First Peoples overwhelmingly rejected any purely symbolic changes to the Constitution, such as through a ‘statement of recognition’.

There were two reasons behind the rejection of this narrow model of Constitutional recognition.

First, there was a concern that formal recognition in the Constitution might interfere with sovereignty – and all Dialogues were steadfast in asserting the fact that we as First Nations had never ceded our sovereignty.

In re-asserting the fact of sovereignty, the delegates echoed the conclusions of the Expert Panel on Constitutional Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples five years ago, which stated that5:

The … occupation of the country … proceeded on the fiction of terra nullius. It follows that ultimately the basis of settlement in Australia is and always has been the exertion of force by and on behalf of the British Crown. No-one asked permission to settle. No-one consented, no-one ceded. Sovereignty was not passed from the Aboriginal peoples by any actions of legal significance voluntarily taken by or on behalf of them.

Second, and more simply, participants in the Dialogues and at Uluru simply did not trust the likely process for drafting a constitutional statement of recognition

The concern was that by the time the lawyers were through with it, such a statement would end up being so bland as to be incompatible with the duty to recognise the difficult truths of Australia’s past.

Instead, our mob wanted substantive change, structural reform, for their communities on the ground.

And if it didn’t fit that criteria, they weren’t interested.

And this is where Dialogue participants and the Uluru Convention showed significant agreement.

There was overwhelming consensus around three proposals.

First, for a constitutionally established representative body that would give First Nations a Voice directly to the Federal Parliament.

Second, for the establishment of a Makarrata Commission to supervise the making of Treaties with us.

Third, for a process of local and regional Truth-telling which could form the basis for genuine reconciliation.

These three things – Voice – Treaty – Truth – were the key consensus demands that arose from the Dialogues, were captured in the Uluru Statement from the Heart, and form the core of the Referendum Council’s report.

I’d now like to turn to each of these three crucial concepts and unpack them, give you my view why they are important, what they might mean, and how they might provide a pathway out of our current situation.

These are not abstract notions, or intellectual constructs.

Changing the Constitution, many of us believe, is the only place left for us to go.

We have sat on the Committees, we have set up our own organisations, we have changed national policy agendas, but we still haven’t been able to achieve the substantive change demanded by our communities.

As Marcia Langton said at Garma recently, we have been Royal Commission-ed out, we have been committee-ed out, and we have been panel-ed out.

We still have to rely on other people’s good will.

And that is not good enough anymore.

We need more than that.

We need once and for all for our sovereignty to be recognised and our voices to be heard.

The recommendation for substantive constitutional change was for the establishment of a “representative body that gives Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander First Nations a Voice to the Commonwealth Parliament”.

We believed – following the consensus at Uluru – that this is the only constitutional reform which would accord with the wishes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Why is this important?

Establishing such a body in the Constitution has both substantive and symbolic value.

Symbolically, it recognises the unique place of First Peoples in Australian history and in contemporary Australian society.

It formally acknowledges our place here.

In asking Australians to vote ‘yes’ to such a proposal we would be asking us all to reflect on who we are, on what values and principles we hold dearest.

It would establish a significant national narrative about working together – about a genuine two-way conversation.

But such a body will also provide substantive benefits.

A constitutionally entrenched Voice to Parliament could address Australia’s poor history of consultation with our Peoples by government.

All too often we have been excluded from the key decisions that are made about our lives.

The Intervention itself is a key example, designed over three days6, in some offices in Canberra by people who took little account of the evidence, had no understanding of the realities of our lives and most significantly didn’t talk to any of us.

(No wonder it has failed!)

The Voice to Parliament would ensure we have input at the highest level into the policy-making that affects us.

It could also play a valuable monitoring role.

Properly resourced, it could hold Government to account, regularly reviewing and reporting on the implementation of recommendations from the host of inquiries and reports from the Royal Commission Into Aboriginal Deaths In Custody onwards.

It could also monitor the use of the Constitution’s ‘race power’ or attempts to suspend racial discrimination legislation so that measures like the Intervention could be properly scrutinised before their implementation.

Embedding the establishment of the Voice to Parliament in the Constitution is vital because the body’s existence would not then be at the whim of whichever government was in power in Canberra.

You know, every time there is a change of government, or a new Minister, or even a Head of Department, we all have to troop down to Canberra yet again and justify our existence. Pretty much, start all over again.

The Voice to Parliament would be a permanent and enduring feature of the nation’s body-politic.

It could only be abolished by going back to you, the people, in a new referendum.

To date, all our national organisations have disappeared with the stroke of a Minister’s pen.

We would be, at last, in the main building, not in the demountable out the back.

Of course, the details of how to establish such a body would need to be carefully negotiated with Parliament once its establishment was agreed through Referendum.

My vision – and that of many people we spoke to during the dialogues and at Uluru – is for a body that include representation from all the diversity of First Nations across Australia.

It would be a place for dialogue, a meeting place for us and with us.

And in my opinion, it is this diversity that would enrich the body-politic.

After 65,000 years or more on this continent, with all our different languages, histories and cultures, I think we would have something powerful and unique to offer the nation-state through such a body.

Let me turn to second proposal to come from the Dialogues and from Uluru: Treaty.

Australia is one of the few liberal democracies around the world which still does not have a treaty or treaties or some other kind of formal acknowledgement or arrangement with its Indigenous minorities.

It is something we have demanded since at least the mid-nineteenth century.

Despite the hard-won gains, such as through the Land Rights Act following the Gurindji Walk Off, and the Native Title Act sparked by Eddie Mabo, there is unfinished business that we need to resolve.

We used the word ‘Makaratta’ to describe this process of agreement or Treaty-making.

Makaratta is the process that guides the Yolngu Nation in North East Arnhem Land through difficult disputes, and its workings have been recently described by Galarrwuy Yunupingu in this way7:

… each party, led by their elders, must speak carefully and calmly about the dispute. They must put the facts on the table and air their grievances … The leaders must always seek a full understanding of the dispute: what lies behind it; who is responsible; what each party wants, and all things that are normal to peacemaking efforts. When that understanding is arrived at, then a settlement can be agreed upon.

Following the Uluru Statement, this means the establishment of a ‘Makarrata Commission’ to set up a national Framework and principles for negotiating treaties, and a possible a national settlement document.

A Treaty is a pathway to the recognition of sovereignty and to the achievement of self-determination.

It is an agreement between equals.

Such treaties could be regional or State-wide, and it would be the Makarrata Commission’s job to provide a national framework for, and supervise, these two-way processes.

Critically, treaties are inseparable from the third demand from the Dialogues and Uluru: Truth.

You cannot make a lasting and effective agreement unless you have a shared, truthful understanding of the nature of the dispute, of the history, of how we got to where we stand.

The true story of colonisation must be told, must be heard, must be acknowledged.

Because, this is still not the case.

This is difficult and painful territory – for us as well as for mainstream Australia.

It can be hard to hear.

As Jill Stauffer says in her book ‘Ethical Loneliness’ that I quoted from at the beginning of tonight:

Responding well to others, especially survivors of wrongdoing, may require that we open ourselves to hearing something other than what we expect or want to hear

But hearing this history is necessary before we can come to some true reconciliation, some genuine healing for both sides..

I was reminded of this just last month when I read media stories about an online digital map of more than 150 massacres developed by Professor Lyndall Ryan at the University of Newcastle8.

Through meticulous examination of the records, the map seeks to provide the evidence for those who still question whether massacres happened.

Professor Ryan has started documenting these facts for the eastern coast of Australia but plans to extend this to the rest of the country.

This is important work.

But I question how it is that we have had to wait until 2017 for this?

Why is this not part of the national conversation?

Our communities know about the massacres.

Our families know about the children being forcibly removed from their families.

But it seems that there is a need for many in mainstream Australia to pretend that all this didn’t happen, that it’s all just part of a ‘black armband’ view of history, made up to make you feel guilty.

One of the most moving episodes in the regional dialogues for me personally came at Ross River near Alice Springs.

There the Elders spoke of the distress they felt at the recent placement of a statue of the explorer John McDouall Stuart in Alice Springs to mark the the 150th anniversary of his attempt to reach the Top End from Adelaide.

The statue was shown holding a gun.

The Elders felt legitimately that this showed a painful lack of respect, given the fact that Stuart’s journey led directly to a series of massacres in the region as control of the land was wrested from the traditional owners.

Let me be clear: this process of truth–telling is not about guilt.

Guilt is a debilitating emotion that stops us moving forward or doing anything.

What I’m talking about is respect and acknowledgment.

As one participant in the Regional Dialogues in Broome said:

[We are] people who worked as stockmen for no pay, who have survived a history full of massacres and pain. We deserve respect.

And of course, this is not just the history of our First Peoples – it is the history of all of us, of all of Australia, and we need to own it.

Then we can move forward together.

The Dialogues opted for the development of a ‘Declaration of Recognition’ to be passed by all Australian Parliaments.

This declaration – outside the Constitution – would be free to articulate that difficult shared history.

It could provide a unifying statement about the three waves of people who make up the Australian story:

• our ancient First Peoples (65,000 years or more),

• those people who came in 1788 and after,

• the peoples who have come from out of Europe and Asia and who continue to try to come us today, often fleeing persecution and seeking a better life.

Three waves of people.

So, this where we stand now in 2017.

The unprecedented process of deliberation by Australia’s First peoples, through the regional Dialogues and at Uluru, led to the formulation of three clear demands:

Voice.

Treaty.

Truth.

Some commentators and others have expressed concern that these are new proposals, the examination of which will need yet more new processes to consider.

I respectfully disagree.

None of these issues are new.

We have been talking about these things for a long time.

Other commentators believe that these are impractical, left-field proposals.

Again, I respectfully disagree.

I believe these changes are challenging but achievable, and are proportionate to the level of distress, anger and powerlessness being felt in our communities.

In the international landscape of recognising Indigenous peoples, what we are asking for is modest, conservative even.

Many of our First Nation communities and families are plagued by a myriad of challenges including poverty, suicide, youth detention, family breakdown, and all kinds of health problems.

Worse, in my view, than any of this, is that too many of us feel hopeless.

To reverse this and to take our rightful place in this country, we need to create new places, new ways by which we can speak and get things done to deal with our complicated 21st century lives.

At the same time we will strongly and even fiercely guard who we are and our right to be different.

We need to create a future when we, and our children and grandchildren, are recognised as having something powerful and unique to offer this nation.

This needs to happen now, and not just for us as First Nations.

This is about the social and emotional wellbeing of the country as a whole.

It is a time of reflection, a time for all Australians to consider what kind of a society we are today, what are our values and our principles.

Surely, we are not the same people as we were in 1901 when the Constitution was drawn up.

Eventually we will have to sit down together, black and white in this nation, and deal with this.

For the truth is that this is our place.

We, the First Nations, are not going anywhere.

They can put it off for another ten years, twenty years fifty years.

But eventually you will have to sit down with as respectful equals and sort out this relationship.

But right now, we have an opportunity, a roadmap for doing that.

Simply this:

Voice.

Treaty.

Truth.

And I want to add:

Justice.

Hear us. Acknowledge us.

Thank you all for coming.