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.

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #Racism : #UN #HRC36 told Australia must abandon racially discriminatory remote work for the dole program

Thank you Mr President,

Australia is denying access to basic rights to equality, income and work for people in remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, through a racially discriminatory social security policy.

Australia should work with Aboriginal organisations and leaders to replace this discriminatory Program with an Aboriginal-led model that treats people with respect, protects their human rights and provides opportunities for economic and community development “

36th Session of the UN Human Rights Council 20 September see in full part 2 below

The program discriminates on the basis of race, with around 83 per cent of people in the program being Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander. This is a racially discriminatory program that was imposed on remote communities by the Government and it’s having devastating consequences in those communities,”

John Paterson, a CEO of the Aboriginal Peak Organisations NT, told the Council that the Government’s program requires people looking for work in remote communities to work up to 760 hours more per year for the same basic payment as people in non-Indigenous majority urban areas.

Picture above Remote work-for-the-dole scheme ‘devastating Indigenous communities’

The Australian Government is denying access to basic rights to equality, work and income for people in remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, through its racially discriminatory remote work for the dole program.

In a joint statement to the UN Human Rights Council overnight, the Aboriginal Peak Organisations NT and Human Rights Law Centre urged the Council to abandon its racially discriminatory ‘Community Development Program’ and replace it with an Aboriginal-led model.

Adrianne Walters, a Director of Legal Advocacy at the Human Rights Law Centre, said that the program is also denying basic work rights to many people in remote communities.

“Some people are required to do work that they should be employed to do. Instead, they receive a basic social security payment that is nearly half of the minimum wage in Australia. People should be paid an award wage and afforded workplace rights and protections to do that work.” said Ms Walters.

The statement to the Council calls for the Federal Government to work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people on a model that treats people with respect, protects their human rights and provides opportunities for economic and community development.

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in remote communities want to take up the reins and drive job creation and community development. Communities need a program that sees people employed on decent pay and conditions, to work on projects the community needs. It’s time for Government to work with us,” said Mr Paterson.

The Aboriginal Peak Organisations NT has developed an alternative model for fair work and strong communities, called the Remote Development and Employment Scheme, which was launched in Canberra two weeks ago with broad community support.

“The new Scheme will see new opportunities for jobs and community development and get rid of pointless administration. Critically, the Scheme provides incentives to encourage people into work, training and other activities, rather than punishing people already struggling to make ends meet,” said Mr Paterson.

The Human Rights Law Centre has endorsed the Aboriginal Peak Organisations NT’s proposed model.

“Aboriginal organisations have brought a detailed policy solution to the Government’s front door. The Scheme would create jobs and strengthen communities, rather than strangling opportunities as the Government’s program is doing,” said Ms Walters.

Part 2 36th Session of the UN Human Rights Council

Items 3 and 5

Human Rights Law Centre statement, in association with Aboriginal Peak Organisations Northern Territory, Australia

Thank you Mr President,

Australia is denying access to basic rights to equality, income and work for people in remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, through a racially discriminatory social security policy.

The Council has received the report of the Special Rapporteur on Indigenous peoples’ rights following her mission to Australia in 2017. This statement addresses one area of concern in the Special Rapporteur’s report.

The Australian Government’s remote ‘Community Development Program’ requires people looking for work in remote communities to work up to 760 more hours per year for the same basic social security payment as people in non-Indigenous majority urban areas.

The program discriminates on the basis of race, with around 83 per cent of people covered by the program being Indigenous.

High rates of financial penalty are leaving families without money for the basic necessities for survival.

In addition, the program denies basic work rights. People are required to do work activities that they should be employed, paid an award wage and afforded workplace rights to do. Instead, they receive a basic social security payment that is nearly half of the minimum wage in Australia.

The program undermines self-determination and was imposed on Aboriginal communities with very little consultation.

Australia should work with Aboriginal organisations and leaders to replace this discriminatory Program with an Aboriginal-led model that treats people with respect, protects their human rights and provides opportunities for economic and community development.

Mr President,

Australia is a candidate for a seat on the Human Rights Council for 2018. We call on the Council and its members to urge Australia to respect rights to self-determination and non-discrimination, and to abandon its racially discriminatory remote social security program and replace it with an Aboriginal-led model.

Part 3 Fair work and strong communities

Aboriginal Peak Organisations NT Proposal for a Remote Development and Employment Scheme

NACCHO is one of the many organisations that has endorsed this scheme

See full Story here

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All Australians expect to be treated with respect and to receive a fair wage for work. But the Australian Government is denying these basic rights to people in remote communities through its remote work for the Dole program – the “Community Development Programme”.

Around 84 per cent of those subject to this program are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Most people in remote communities have to do more work than people in non-remote non Indigenous majority areas for the same basic social security payment.

In some cases, up to 760 hours more per year.

There is less flexibility and people are paid far below the national minimum wage.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are also being penalised more because of the onerous compliance conditions.

In many cases, people are receiving a basic social security payment for work they should be employed to do.

The Government’s program is strangling genuine job opportunities in remote communities.

The Government’s remote Work for the Dole program is racially discriminatory and must be abandoned. Better outcomes will be achieved if Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are given the opportunity to determine their own priorities and gain greater control over their own lives.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and Incarceration Debate #JustJustice : Download : IPA releases report on their solutions

The standard of living of Indigenous Australians fall far short of the standard that the rest of the nation enjoys, many aspects of this disadvantage are correlated, in general, with higher offending and incarceration.”

“However, these correlations also exist for non-indigenous cultural groups, and therefore it is incorrect and counter-productive to believe that the criminal justice system must treat Indigenous Australians in an exceptional way.”

The fourth major report of the IPA’s Criminal Justice program authored by IPA Research Fellow, Andrew Bushnell, was recently incorporated into a submission to the Australian Law Reform Commission’s Inquiry into the Incarceration rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Download the IPA Report

IPA report Indigenous Australians and the criminal justice system

NACCHO Note : This article and the attached report has not been endorsed in any way by NACCHO and has been only published for research purposes only

“Australia’s prison population grew by 43 percent between 2007 and 2016, with more than one third of this growth caused by the incarceration of Indigenous Australians. Indigenous Australians make up 3 percent of the general population, but 27 percent of the prison population.”

For balance to this attached report read

NACCHO 20 + Articles Just Justice articles 

NACCHO 40 + Articles NT Royal Commission

A new report released last by the free market think tank the Institute of Public Affairs: Indigenous Australians and the criminal justice system, examines the very high rate of incarceration among Indigenous Australians.

The report makes an original contribution through a renewed focus on core principles of justice and corrections, while being mindful of Indigenous disadvantage.

It finds that despite decades of special programs for Indigenous offenders, recidivism and incarceration rates have continued to climb, and calls for enhanced options for punishment and reform outside of the traditional prison system

“The standard of living of Indigenous Australians fall far short of the standard that the rest of the nation enjoys,” Mr Bushnell said. “Many aspects of this disadvantage are correlated, in general, with higher offending and incarceration.”

“However, these correlations also exist for non-indigenous cultural groups, and therefore it is incorrect and counter-productive to believe that the criminal justice system must treat Indigenous Australians in an exceptional way.”

“The high level of Indigenous offending and incarceration can and should be addressed in a manner consistent with the traditional bases of the criminal justice system: community safety, fair punishment, and personal responsibility.”

“All of the tools necessary for improving Indigenous outcomes in criminal justice are known and available,” said Mr Bushnell.

However, there are unique difficulties in finding alternatives to incarceration. Indigenous offenders are more likely than the non-Indigenous to be imprisoned for violent crimes and to have been in prison before. Moreover, Indigenous Australians are more likely to live in remote areas where the delivery by Government of alternatives to incarceration, like home detention and work and community orders, is more difficult.

But Mr Bushnell said the problems were not insurmountable.

“More should be done to fill in the spectrum of coercion that exists between release into the community and imprisonment. In particular, residential programs in larger population centres that can sustain them would make employment programs and rehabilitation services more viable.”

“It is important to improve Indigenous Australians’ ability to access our universal system of justice, including alternative punishments, rather than developing parallel systems of justice than only reinforce social division,” said Mr Bushnell.

In the report Mr Bushnell the search for solutions should not lead to setting aside traditional principles of justice. He said the criminal justice system must remain focused on defending individual rights and delivering retribution on behalf of victims and society, and the correction of offenders’ antisocial behaviour, for the long-term benefit of all Australians of all backgrounds.

“To view this issue through any other prism is to diminish the agency and dignity of Indigenous Australians and perpetuate a racial separatism that is not in the long-term interests of Australians and national solidarity.”

Australia’s prison population grew by 43 percent between 2007 and 2016, with more than one third of this growth caused by the incarceration of Indigenous Australians. Indigenous Australians make up 3 percent of the general population, but 27 percent of the prison population.

There is growing awareness that incarceration in Australia is rising at an unsustainable rate. In previous reports, the Institute of Public Affairs Criminal Justice Project has demonstrated the potential benefits of reforming punishment for nonviolent, low-risk offenders and the importance of skills training and work to the reduction of recidivism. The lessons of successful criminal justice reform in the United States and elsewhere apply with equal validity to the problem of rising Indigenous incarceration.

NACCHO welcomes comments below

NACCHO Aboriginal Health : Tributes to Dr G Yunupingu and Mr Yami Lester – Men without sight but not without a vision

 

Not far from that creek crossing, at Maralinga, when Yami Lester was a 12-year-old, the British government, in collusion with our Australian government, exploded a series of atomic weapons.

A black mist rolled over their lands, hurting the eyes of this young boy. After a relatively short period of time he became blind.

At his funeral service, we were moved by the singing of Paul Kelly, whose song Maralinga told the story of Mr Lester.

Paul Kelly also worked with the second blind man I wish to commemorate today, Dr G Yunupingu, who brought his beautiful, ethereal voice, in his Yolngu language, to people across the world.

Both men died, in part, due to kidney disease.

Dr Yunupingu had suffered from liver and kidney diseases for many years. He was just 46 years of age. Mr Lester died from end-stage renal failure.”

Extracts from Senator DODSON (Western Australia) Senate Tribute in full Part 2

Picture above from  : Yami Lester: More than 500 people travel to South Australia’s far north for leader’s funeral  : Image and full name used with Permission from family

 ” Dr G Yunupingu ‘s uncle, senior Gumatj elder Djunga Djunga Yunupingu, is reported to have told the crowd at the National Indigenous Awards last week that Dr G Yunupingu ‘built a bridge between Indigenous and non- Indigenous Australia with his music.

Both Yolngu and Balanda walking together hand in hand—two laws, two people, one country.’

These words speak to the moving and reconciling impact of the life Dr G Yunupingu lived, which, sadly, was all too short.

The coalition government and this parliament recognise kidney disease as an important health condition impacting too greatly on our first Australians. Recognising this, we have invested in significant renal services, including dialysis, and we will continue to push for improved services for Territorians.

Dr G Yunupingu’s achievements over his life have left a legacy in the music industry. He will remain one of Australia’s most treasured music artists, described by the Prime Minister as a remarkable Australian who shared Yolngu language with the world through music.

Extracts from Senator Scullion (Northern Territory ) Senate tribute Part 1 Below

 ” We owe him (Mr Lester)  a great debt because he faced adversity with understated courage, with humility, with humour, with great strength.

In a world without nuclear threats and risks Mr Lester would have been a great stockman. In a world with nuclear threats and risks he would crack his whip loud, hard, sharp and constant to sound a different alarm.

Mr Lester made it part of his life’s work to fight for people affected by nuclear testing and to campaign for Indigenous land rights, and we’ve just heard today what a success he made of that and what a difference he made.

Vale, Mr Lester, and our condolences go out to his family and friends.

I was at Garma just a couple of weeks ago, where his legacy was celebrated and his passing very strongly felt.

You could feel it everywhere over the weekend at the time of Garma.

I just want to add, very briefly, to the comments that Senator Dodson just made around kidney disease and the need to address kidney disease in this country, given the impact it has had on these two great Aboriginal Australians.”

Extracts Senator SIEWERT (Western Australia ) senate Tribute in full Part 3 Below

Part 1 Full Text  Senator SCULLION: I move:

That the Senate records its sincere condolences at the deaths, on 21 July 2017 of Mr Kunmanara Lester OAM, and on 25 July 2017 of Dr G Yunupingu, places on record its gratitude and admiration for their service to the nation, and tenders its profound sympathy to their family and community in their bereavement.

I rise on behalf of the coalition government to pay respects and provide sincere condolences to the families, friends and communities of two remarkable men, two First Australians, who have each made such a difference to the nation through their own respective life paths.

Today the Senate pays respects to the outstanding and remarkable contributions of Dr G Yunupingu and Mr Yami Lester. Perhaps what is most striking is that both of these men lived a life without sight, but certainly not without insight and vision, for these two men saw and strived for a better future for their people using both words and action.

I was incredibly saddened by the news of Dr G Yunupingu’s passing, having had the delight of spending time with him in very different circumstances to most people, on his country.

In my previous life as a commercial fisherman, I and my young family at the time spent many years around Dr G Yunupingu’s country, around his home, particularly on the northern end of Elcho Island.

I consider myself blessed to have been able to know this man on his country, when many would see he was most himself.

In fact, I learned that, despite being born blind, Mr G Yunupingu was a great optimist and a man who made the best of everything.

He was a hero of his people and his community and a champion of the Indigenous music industry.

In fact, he was a champion of the Australian music industry, taking Indigenous music and Australian culture to the world.

Learning to play the guitar from an early age, Dr G Yunupingu joined the acclaimed Yothu Yindi band as a teenager.

This band changed the Australian music industry for the better and, more importantly, changed the psyche of our nation through its thought-provoking songs and powerful lyrics.

This music compelled you to listen.

It was music that made all who heard it stop and listen, to listen and learn.

Dr G Yunupingu ‘s uncle, senior Gumatj elder Djunga Djunga Yunupingu, is reported to have told the crowd at the National Indigenous Awards last week that Dr G Yunupingu ‘built a bridge between Indigenous and non- Indigenous Australia with his music.

Both Yolngu and Balanda walking together hand in hand—two laws, two people, one country.’

These words speak to the moving and reconciling impact of the life Dr G Yunupingu lived, which, sadly, was all too short.

The coalition government and this parliament recognise kidney disease as an important health condition impacting too greatly on our first Australians. Recognising this, we have invested in significant renal services, including dialysis, and we will continue to push for improved services for Territorians.

Dr G Yunupingu’s achievements over his life have left a legacy in the music industry. He will remain one of Australia’s most treasured music artists, described by the Prime Minister as a remarkable Australian who shared Yolngu language with the world through music.

Dr G Yunupingu stands among the many Yolngu leaders who have gone before him, including those who were signatories of the Yirrkala bark petitions that were tabled in Parliament this very week back in 1963. Family, friends, fellow Territorians, fans and followers will mark Dr G Yunupingu’s life and provide a final farewell on Tuesday, 19 September at the Darwin Convention Centre.

Today the Senate also provides its sincere condolences to the family and friends of Mr Yami Lester OAM, who passed away on 21 July 2017.

Born in the early 1940s in the APY Lands, on Granite Downs Station in the far north of South Australia, Yami, a Yankunytjatjara man, would go on to live a legacy of leadership that our country acknowledges with sincerity.

The stature of Mr Lester’s leadership was demonstrated in all he did, including as first chair of Pitjantjatjara Council, regional councillor, zone commissioner, driving force of the Institute of Aboriginal Development and chair of the Nganampa Health Council.

Mr Lester is a man who rose from personal tragedy. He was tragically blinded as a young man as a result of the black mist from the nuclear bomb test that blew through his homelands in South Australian when he was only a child. In the decades that followed, Mr Lester’s passion was to fight for justice and restoration for his people and rightful recognition.

He was courageous and persistent. He succeeded in delivering better outcomes for the community he served—for land rights, the health of his people, education, language and culture. He fought for a better future, better health, better education and better jobs.

In all of this, he demonstrated the power of his influence in bringing about major change.

At the state funeral, which I attended with my colleagues Senator Dodson and the member for Lingiari from the other place, I spoke with Mr Lester’s son, Leroy, who shared with me his father’s passion about improving school attendance in his own community.

Mr Lester knew the benefits education can bring not only to his people but to all Australians.

His record of achievement has left a legacy of better outcomes for his community, his people and his nation. Mr Lester advocated for the Pitjantjatjara land rights act. He was part of the historic handover of Uluru-Kata Tjuta, and we remember how he stood alongside Governor-General Sir Ninian Stephen in 1975 and interpreted speech.

He tirelessly advocated for the McMillan royal commission into the British nuclear test that later saw his people compensated.

Mr Lester’s leadership created a legacy that will not be forgotten. He will be remembered as a man of great strength, intelligence, courage and great kindness.

The Prime Minister has described Yami as an extraordinary Australian whose courageous life will be remembered forever.

Both Yami Lester and Dr G Yunupingu leave behind loving families and a nation that is better off for their contribution and worse off for their passing.

We the Australian government commemorate the remarkable lives they lived and pay respect to the legacy they leave. Vale Dr G Yunupingu and Yami Lester.

Part 2 Senator DODSON (Western Australia) :

Today I rise to commemorate the memory of two great Indigenous Australians who have passed since the last sitting of the Senate—Mr Yami (Kunmanara) Lester and Dr G Yunupingu, two blind Aboriginal men who had a vision for Australia. Despite their physical impairment they were far-seeing and insightful, and their lives give testament to their strength and resilience.

From humble beginnings in remote and isolated parts of our continent, one in the desert, the other in the saltwater country, they changed our nation for the better.

Of the two men, I knew Yami Lester the better.

I am proud to call him a friend, a leader and a mentor.

Last week, thanks to the generosity of the Minister for Indigenous Affairs, I was privileged to attend his state funeral in the remote South Australian community of Walatina.

Very few state funerals have occurred in a place so remote.

The hearse, a Land Cruiser embellished with flowers, stopped at a dry creek crossing.

Senior women travelling with his body took the opportunity to point to the dry creek bed at Walkinytjanu, in the middle of the desert, where Mr Lester was born.

While we waited for the Governor, the Premier, the South Australian Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, the Leader of the Opposition and other dignitaries we had a chance to feel the power of the simple birthplace, under the gum trees in the red sand, at a soakage in the desert.

Not far from that creek crossing, at Maralinga, when Yami Lester was a 12-year-old, the British government, in collusion with our Australian government, exploded a series of atomic weapons.

A black mist rolled over their lands, hurting the eyes of this young boy. After a relatively short period of time he became blind.

He believed this was as a direct result of this evil mist. He spent six or so years in a home in Adelaide, where only a younger person spoke his language, Yankunytjatjara. He became a ‘broomologist’, as he used to say, making brooms in the Adelaide school for the blind.

As an adult, with his wife Lucy, he moved to Alice Springs, where I came to know him and learn from his wisdom and insight into life and politics.

He became a leader of Aboriginal organisations there. With the late Reverend Jim Downing he established the Institute for Aboriginal Development, promoting Aboriginal language and culture against the grain of assimilation and forced social and cultural change.

They developed practical measures to assist families living in poverty and worked to reduce infant mortality by helping people to understand the causes of poor health and disease.

I recall giving a speech in Alice Springs on a topic I’ve now forgotten.

Yami pulled me up in the middle of the speech and said words that I took to heart. He said: ‘You’re a smart young man but you have to make a picture book for me in your speech; you need to paint a picture, so that I can see what you are talking about!’.

He was a leader in the struggle to establish Aboriginal controlled and managed organisations in Central Australia; to get recognition of land rights in South Australia; to get Uluru and Kata-Tjuta National Parks returned to traditional owners; and to establish a royal commission into the Maralinga tests.

In all of these struggles his wisdom, courage, determination and commitment were tempered by a wicked and irrepressible sense of humor and an infectious delight in life.

He was a mad supporter of the Melbourne Football Club.

This man, who could not see, showed us a vision of a reconciled Australia and led us on that path.

To his family—Lucy, Leroy, Rosemary and Karina—we express our thanks to you for allowing him to share his time with so many of us.

We wish you well in your future. At his funeral service, we were moved by the singing of Paul Kelly, whose song Maralinga told the story of Mr Lester.

Paul Kelly also worked with the second blind man I wish to commemorate today, Dr G Yunupingu, who brought his beautiful, ethereal voice, in his Yolngu language, to people across the world.

He was born on Elcho Island in the Northern Territory. As his song says, ‘I was born blind. I don’t know why.’ Dr G Yunupingu grew up in Galiwinku, the settlement on Elcho Island, off the north coast of Australia, which is over 500 kilometres northeast of Darwin.

Being blind, he spent his youth with his family absorbed in the Methodist mission environment, and become immersed in the world of music. He was a member of the famous Yothu Yindi band, whose classic song Treaty still resonates today, and the Saltwater Band. It was his solo albums that brought him fame and worldwide acclaim.

His amazing voice was complemented by the cello playing of his collaborator, friend and translator, Michael Hohnen.

Dr G Yunupingu performed for Her Majesty the Queen and for President Barack Obama, but it was the way in which his songs and music brought Yolngu culture and ideas into the minds of so many Australians that is his great gift to us all.

Dr G Yunupingu’s uncle—as the minister has said—senior Gumatj leader David Djunga Djunga Yunupingu, told the crowd in Darwin that his nephew had built a bridge between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians with music, but died before the country was truly at peace. He said:

He left us without knowing his place in this nation, without knowing true unity for all Australians.

Both men died, in part, due to kidney disease.

Dr Yunupingu had suffered from liver and kidney diseases for many years. He was just 46 years of age. Mr Lester died from end-stage renal failure.

He made the choice not to move from his home in Walatinna to Alice Springs for dialysis, allowing the disease to take him on his home country.

We’ve lost two great Aboriginal Australians to the scourge of renal disease. In this place we must mark the passing of these great Australians by committing ourselves to doing more to eradicate this epidemic.

Part 3 Senator SIEWERT (Western Australia )

It was with great sadness that I learned of the passing within days of each other of Mr Lester and Mr G Yunupingu.

Both men have made such a great contribution to this country.

I should say that Scott Ludlam would like to be here today to talk about and share his condolences for Mr Lester, because he worked with Mr Lester and other anti-nuclear campaigners to get justice and to campaign against the nuclear industry.

I think it was very fitting, and I’m so pleased, that Mr Lester got to see the commitment to the expansion of the gold card to those affected by the nuclear tests, in the budget in May.

I’m really pleased that he got to see that because he campaigned for such a long time for justice, for the people who are affected by the radiation from the British nuclear tests in Maralinga.

At least he got to see that.

It is a shame that Scott isn’t here to also add to the condolences.

Mr Dave Sweeney, who is a very well-known antinuclear campaigner and who worked with Mr Lester for a very long time, said of his passing:

We owe him a great debt because he faced adversity with understated courage, with humility, with humour, with great strength.

In a world without nuclear threats and risks Mr Lester would have been a great stockman. In a world with nuclear threats and risks he would crack his whip loud, hard, sharp and constant to sound a different alarm.

Mr Lester made it part of his life’s work to fight for people affected by nuclear testing and to campaign for Indigenous land rights, and we’ve just heard today what a success he made of that and what a difference he made.

Vale, Mr Lester, and our condolences go out to his family and friends.

Mr G Yunupingu—what a huge contribution he made to Australia and the world, sharing his music with the world.

It was such beautiful music which made such strong statements, such heartfelt statements, and enabled people to understand his culture through his words and his music.

His music is a lasting contribution to this country.

I was at Garma just a couple of weeks ago, where his legacy was celebrated and his passing very strongly felt.

You could feel it everywhere over the weekend at the time of Garma.

I just want to add, very briefly, to the comments that Senator Dodson just made around kidney disease and the need to address kidney disease in this country, given the impact it has had on these two great Aboriginal Australians.

People are aware that this has been discussed extensively in this chamber, and we need to keep talking about it until it gets the attention that it needs and we stop the going backwards and forwards between the state and territories and the Commonwealth about who pays for what.

It absolutely needs to be addressed. The causes need to be addressed, so that we don’t get to the point where we need end-stage treatment such as dialysis.

These two men’s legacies will constantly remind us of that.

Vale, Dr G Yunupingu and, as I said, the Greens add their condolences to this motion. I should also say thank you to Minister Scullion and Senator Dodson who ensured that we do get to commemorate these two great men in this chamber.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT: I now ask all senators to stand in silent support of the motion.

Question agreed to, honourable senators standing in their places.

Aboriginal Health #ThePointNITV and Stolen Generation : Guilty of Being Aboriginal reveals the nation-wide practice of giving #StolenGeneration children criminal records.

NITV news has uncovered the story of how thousands of Stolen Generation children had their lives permanently affected after they were charged and given criminal records – purely for being an Indigenous child taken away from their family.

Featuring both on The Point tonight at 9pm, and in an investigative story online Guilty of Being Aboriginal, NITV unearths forgotten evidence of the widespread practice and reveals that these ‘offences’ still appear on full police records requested by individuals today.

Research by Woor-Dungin volunteer Elizabeth Proctor and Law Professor Bronwyn Naylor from RMIT University reveals that in Victoria, it was a systematic, standard practice up until 1989 for Aboriginal children to get a police record for being an Indigenous child in ‘need of protection’.

This means for decades, Aboriginal and Torres Strait children were given criminal records by the courts after being forcibly taken away from their families.

In particular, the story follows 63-year-old Larry Walsh and his journey of uncovering the truth behind his criminal record from 1956, when he was only two and a half years old. During the course of going through old court documents, Walsh discovered that he had been branded a criminal because he was a ‘stolen child’.

Walsh says that having a police record has affected his life: “They picked on me as a kid, the police, saying I had a criminal record. If they’d left me alone in peace, who knows what my life would have been.”

As well as leading to him being targeted and harassed by local police, Walsh says that this childhood record meant that Magistrates referred to his ‘criminal record from 1956’ on more than one occasion, for example when he went to court for driving without a licence.

“As far as I’m concerned it has been used against me, as part of painting a picture of me as a very bad person. I’ve been telling people about this for years but nobody believed me. How many other people in my age group, or as young as their 30s, have they done this to?”

The Victorian Children’s Court has published documents stating that there was a “failure of the previous system to distinguish between children [deemed to be] in need of protection and young people who were offending against the criminal law.”

There have been calls for the official removal of the charges from people’s records.

The story airs on The Point tonight, Thursday 24 August, on NITV at 9pm. Visit The Point online or get involved on Twitter and Facebook using #ThePointNITV

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Aboriginal Health and the @AusLawReform inquiry into the incarceration rate of Aboriginal peoples

 

” The Terms of Reference for this Inquiry ask the ALRC to consider laws and legal frameworks that contribute to the incarceration rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and inform decisions to hold or keep Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in custody.

ALRC Home page

Download this 236 page discussion paper

discussion_paper_84_compressed_no_cover

Full Terms of reference part B below

The ALRC was asked to consider a number of factors that decision makers take into account when deciding on a criminal justice response, including community safety, the availability of alternatives to incarceration, the degree of discretion available, and incarceration as a deterrent and as a punishment

The Terms of Reference also direct the ALRC to consider laws that may contribute to the rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples offending and the rate of incarceration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.

Submissions close on 4 September 2017.

Make a submission

Part A Proposals and Questions

1. Structure of the Discussion Paper

1.40     The Discussion Paper is structured in parts. Following the introduction, Part 2 addresses criminal justice pathways. The ALRC has identified three key areas that influence incarceration rates: bail laws and processes, and remand; sentencing laws and legal frameworks including mandatory sentencing, short sentences and Gladue-style reports; and transition pathways from prison, parole and throughcare. These were the focus of stakeholder comments and observations in preliminary consultations.

1.41     Part 3 considers non-violent offending and alcohol regulation. It provides an overview of the detrimental effects of fine debt on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, including the likelihood of imprisonment in some jurisdictions. Fine debt can be tied to driver licence offending, and the ALRC asks how best to minimise licence suspension caused by fine default. Part 3 also looks at ways laws and legal frameworks can operate to decrease alcohol supply so as to minimise alcohol-related offending in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

1.42     Part 4 discusses the incarceration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women. It contextualises Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander female offending within experiences of trauma, including isolation; family and sexual violence; and child removal. It outlines how proposals in other chapters may address the incarceration rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, and asks what more can be done.

1.43     Part 5 considers access to justice, and examines ways that state and territory governments and criminal justice systems can better engage with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to prevent offending and to provide better criminal justice responses when offending occurs. The ALRC places collaboration with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations at the centre of proposals made in this Part, and suggests accountability measures for state and territory government justice agencies and police. The remoteness of communities, the availability of and access to legal assistance and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander interpreters are also discussed. Alternative approaches to crime prevention and criminal justice responses, such as those operating under the banner of ‘justice reinvestment’, are also canvassed.

2. Bail and the Remand Population

Proposal 2–1        The Bail Act 1977 (Vic) has a standalone provision that requires bail authorities to consider any ‘issues that arise due to the person’s Aboriginality’, including cultural background, ties to family and place, and cultural obligations. This consideration is in addition to any other requirements of the Bail Act.

Other state and territory bail legislation should adopt similar provisions.

As with all other bail considerations, the requirement to consider issues that arise due to the person’s Aboriginality would not supersede considerations of community safety.

Proposal 2–2        State and territory governments should work with peak Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations to identify service gaps and develop the infrastructure required to provide culturally appropriate bail support and diversion options where needed.

3. Sentencing and Aboriginality

Question 3–1        Noting the decision in Bugmy v The Queen [2013] HCA 38, should state and territory governments legislate to expressly require courts to consider the unique systemic and background factors affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples when sentencing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander offenders?

If so, should this be done as a sentencing principle, a sentencing factor, or in some other way?

Question 3–2        Where not currently legislated, should state and territory governments provide for reparation or restoration as a sentencing principle? In what ways, if any, would this make the criminal justice system more responsive to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander offenders?

Question 3–3        Do courts sentencing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander offenders have sufficient information available about the offender’s background, including cultural and historical factors that relate to the offender and their community?

Question 3–4        In what ways might specialist sentencing reports assist in providing relevant information to the court that would otherwise be unlikely to be submitted?

Question 3–5        How could the preparation of these reports be facilitated? For example, who should prepare them, and how should they be funded?

4. Sentencing Options

Question 4–1        Noting the incarceration rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people:

(a)     should Commonwealth, state and territory governments review provisions that impose mandatory or presumptive sentences; and

(b)     which provisions should be prioritised for review?

Question 4–2        Should short sentences of imprisonment be abolished as a sentencing option? Are there any unintended consequences that could result?

Question 4–3        If short sentences of imprisonment were to be abolished, what should be the threshold (eg, three months; six months)?

Question 4–4        Should there be any pre-conditions for such amendments, for example: that non-custodial alternatives to prison be uniformly available throughout states and territories, including in regional and remote areas?

Proposal 4–1        State and territory governments should work with peak Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations to ensure that community-based sentences are more readily available, particularly in regional and remote areas.

Question 4–5        Beyond increasing availability of existing community-based sentencing options, is legislative reform required to allow judicial officers greater flexibility to tailor sentences?

5. Prison Programs, Parole and Unsupervised Release

Proposal 5–1        Prison programs should be developed and made available to accused people held on remand and people serving short sentences.

Question 5–1        What are the best practice elements of programs that could respond to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples held on remand or serving short sentences of imprisonment?

Proposal 5–2        There are few prison programs for female prisoners and these may not address the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander female prisoners. State and territory corrective services should develop culturally appropriate programs that are readily available to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander female prisoners.

Question 5–2        What are the best practice elements of programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander female prisoners to address offending behaviour?

Proposal 5–3        A statutory regime of automatic court ordered parole should apply in all states and territories.

Question 5–3        A statutory regime of automatic court ordered parole applies in NSW, Queensland and SA. What are the best practice elements of such schemes?

Proposal 5–4        Parole revocation schemes should be amended to abolish requirements for the time spent on parole to be served again in prison if parole is revoked.

6. Fines and Driver Licences

Proposal 6–1        Fine default should not result in the imprisonment of the defaulter. State and territory governments should abolish provisions in fine enforcement statutes that provide for imprisonment in lieu of unpaid fines.

Question 6–1        Should lower level penalties be introduced, such as suspended infringement notices or written cautions?

Question 6–2        Should monetary penalties received under infringement notices be reduced or limited to a certain amount? If so, how?

Question 6–3        Should the number of infringement notices able to be issued in one transaction be limited?

Question 6–4        Should offensive language remain a criminal offence? If so, in what circumstances?

Question 6–5        Should offensive language provisions be removed from criminal infringement notice schemes, meaning that they must instead be dealt with by the court?

Question 6–6        Should state and territory governments provide alternative penalties to court ordered fines? This could include, for example, suspended fines, day fines, and/or work and development orders.

Proposal 6–2        Work and Development Orders were introduced in NSW in 2009. They enable a person who cannot pay fines due to hardship, illness, addiction, or homelessness to discharge their debt through:

  • work;
  • program attendance;
  • medical treatment;
  • counselling; or
  • education, including driving lessons.

State and territory governments should introduce work and development orders based on this model.

Question 6–7        Should fine default statutory regimes be amended to remove the enforcement measure of driver licence suspension?

Question 6–8        What mechanisms could be introduced to enable people reliant upon driver licences to be protected from suspension caused by fine default? For example, should:

(a)     recovery agencies be given discretion to skip the licence suspension step where the person in default is vulnerable, as in NSW; or

(b)     courts be given discretion regarding the disqualification, and disqualification period, of driver licences where a person was initially suspended due to fine default?

Question 6–9        Is there a need for regional driver permit schemes? If so, how should they operate?

Question 6–10      How could the delivery of driver licence programs to regional and remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities be improved?

7. Justice Procedure Offences—Breach of Community-based Sentences

Proposal 7–1        To reduce breaches of community-based sentences by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, state and territory governments should engage with peak Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations to identify gaps and build the infrastructure required for culturally appropriate community-based sentencing options and support services.

8. Alcohol

Question 8–1        Noting the link between alcohol abuse and offending, how might state and territory governments facilitate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, that wish to do so, to:

(a)     develop and implement local liquor accords with liquor retailers and other stakeholders that specifically seek to minimise harm to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, for example through such things as minimum pricing, trading hours and range restriction;

(b)     develop plans to prevent the sale of full strength alcohol within their communities, such as the plan implemented within the Fitzroy Crossing community?

Question 8–2        In what ways do banned drinkers registers or alcohol mandatory treatment programs affect alcohol-related offending within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities? What negative impacts, if any, flow from such programs?

9. Female Offenders

Question 9–1        What reforms to laws and legal frameworks are required to strengthen diversionary options and improve criminal justice processes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander female defendants and offenders?

10. Aboriginal Justice Agreements

Proposal 10–1       Where not currently operating, state and territory governments should work with peak Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations to renew or develop Aboriginal Justice Agreements.

Question 10–1      Should the Commonwealth Government develop justice targets as part of the review of the Closing the Gap policy? If so, what should these targets encompass?

11. Access to Justice Issues

Proposal 11–1       Where needed, state and territory governments should work with peak Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations to establish interpreter services within the criminal justice system.

Question 11–1      What reforms to laws and legal frameworks are required to strengthen diversionary options and specialist sentencing courts for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples?

Proposal 11–2       Where not already in place, state and territory governments should provide for limiting terms through special hearing processes in place of indefinite detention when a person is found unfit to stand trial.

Question 11–2      In what ways can availability and access to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander legal services be increased?

Proposal 11–3       State and territory governments should introduce a statutory custody notification service that places a duty on police to contact the Aboriginal Legal Service, or equivalent service, immediately on detaining an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person.

12. Police Accountability

Question 12–1      How can police work better with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to reduce family violence?

Question 12–2      How can police officers entering into a particular Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander community gain a full understanding of, and be better equipped to respond to, the needs of that community?

Question 12–3      Is there value in police publicly reporting annually on their engagement strategies, programs and outcomes with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities that are designed to prevent offending behaviours?

Question 12–4      Should police that are undertaking programs aimed at reducing offending behaviours in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities be required to: document programs; undertake systems and outcomes evaluations; and put succession planning in place to ensure continuity of the programs?

Question 12–5      Should police be encouraged to enter into Reconciliation Action Plans with Reconciliation Australia, where they have not already done so?

Question 12–6      Should police be required to resource and support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employment strategies, where not already in place?

13. Justice Reinvestment

Question 13–1      What laws or legal frameworks, if any, are required to facilitate justice reinvestment initiatives for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples?

Part B The Term of reference

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

I, Senator the Hon George Brandis QC, Attorney-General of Australia, refer to the Australian Law Reform Commission, an inquiry into the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in our prisons.

It is acknowledged that while laws and legal frameworks are an important factor contributing to over‑representation, there are many other social, economic, and historic factors that also contribute. It is also acknowledged that while the rate of imprisonment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and their contact with the criminal justice system – both as offenders and as victims – significantly exceeds that of non‑Indigenous Australians, the majority of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people never commit criminal offences.

Scope of the reference

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

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

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

Consultation

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

Timeframe

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