NACCHO Aboriginal Health and Racism Media Alert : #FirstNations challenges #OneNation to #defineAboriginal and #FirstContact

first-nations

bolt

 and on the same day First Contact started its 3 big nights see story 2 below
 
 The views of the former One Nation politician were always going to be controversial but we didn’t know how extreme until now.
“Frankly it (Aboriginal Australia) should have died out like the stone age,”  “Aboriginality is just unnecessary. It’s not really in the best interests of Aboriginal people. It’s not good for Aborigines to remain Aborigines. You just naturally let it die out.”

 David Oldfield says Aboriginal Australia Should Die Out
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David Oldfield Co Founder One Nation clashes with an Aboriginal elder over his views on Aboriginal people and the constitution. Courtesy: SBS/First Contact

timmy

#DefineAboriginal: Pauline Hanson’s ‘no definition to Aboriginal’ comment sparks sharing of racism stories

Indigenous people have shared their personal stories of racism on social media, after One Nation Senator Pauline Hanson said there was no definition of Aboriginal in an interview on the Bolt Report.

From ABC

“What defines an Aboriginal?” Senator Hanson told host Andrew Bolt.

“You know, there’s no definition to an Aboriginal.

“If you marry an Aboriginal, you can be classified as an Aboriginal.

“Or if the community or the elders accept you into that community, you can be defined as an Aboriginal.

“And that’s not good enough, because then if you make a comment about it, well what are you — are you an Aboriginal, or not an Aboriginal?”

FACT

The Federal Government defines an Aboriginal person as someone of Aboriginal descent, who identifies as Aboriginal and is accepted as such by the community in which they live.

Senator Hanson called for a debate into the definition.

“I think the whole lot needs to be opened up, a big debate on this,” she said.

“And to say that you’re humiliated or intimidated, I think that people need to toughen up a bit. I think we’ve all become so precious, we’ve stopped freedom of speech to have a say, to have an opinion.

“I remember when I was a kid, ‘sticks and stones may break your bones’.”

In response to Senator Hanson’s comments, the creator of ABC TV’s Cleverman, an Indigenous Australian superhero series, Ryan Griffen, took to Twitter.

“Another white person telling us what it means to be Aboriginal. It don’t work like that,” he posted.

He then encouraged other Twitter users to share their experiences, using the hashtag #DefineAboriginal.

Check  Twitter some of the responses.

SBS said that the second season of First Contact would be confronting and they weren’t kidding.

Report from NEWS

Six celebrities — talent judge Ian ‘Dicko Dickson’, ex One Nation politician David Oldfield, singer Natalie Imbruglia, comedian Tom Ballard, actor Nicki Wendt and former Miss Universe Australia Renae Ayris — spent 28 days visiting remote Aboriginal communities.

In the first episode, the celebrities went to Kununurra, in the Kimberley, West Australia and then to the tiny community of Bawaka in the Northern Territory.

Here are some of the most shocking moments.

First Contact — Series Two — David Oldfield, Renae Ayris, Ian “Dicko” Dickson, host Ray Martin, Natalie Imbrugla, Nicki Wendt, Tom Ballard.

First Contact — Series Two — David Oldfield, Renae Ayris, Ian “Dicko” Dickson, host Ray Martin, Natalie Imbrugla, Nicki Wendt, Tom Ballard.Source:Supplied

1. Ray Martin Doles Out the Facts

Martin told the celebrities that an Aboriginal woman is 35 times more likely to experience domestic violence than a non-Aboriginal woman. An indigenous person is three times more likely to commit suicide than you (celebrities). The core of the problem is poverty, booze and depression.

2. Natalie Imbruglia Admits To Never Speaking to an Aboriginal person

The London and Los Angeles-based singer songwriter said “I haven’t had a conversation with an Aboriginal person. I could count on one hand the number I’ve seen in the distance on the street.”

Ray Martin and David Oldfield discuss the day's events. Picture: David Dare Parker

Ray Martin and David Oldfield discuss the day’s events. Picture: David Dare ParkerSource:SBS

3. David Oldfield says Aboriginal Australia Should Die Out

The views of the former One Nation politician were always going to be controversial but we didn’t know how extreme until now. “Frankly it (Aboriginal Australia) should have died out like the stone age,” Oldfield says early on. “Aboriginality is just unnecessary. It’s not really in the best interests of Aboriginal people. It’s not good for Aborigines to remain Aborigines. You just naturally let it die out.”

4. Ian “Dicko” Dickson Talks Tough on Booze

Ian “Dicko” Dickson is one of the celebrities in First Contact on SBS. Picture:

In the past, Dickson has admitted to battling the booze but that only seems to have hardened his stance to alcohol problems in some Aboriginal communities.

“If I can do it (stop drinking) anyone can do it,” Dickson says. “Get off your arse and do something if you want to escape your plight.”

5. Nicki Wendt Admits She Has Had Racist Thoughts About Aboriginal People

“I don’t hate them, I don’t love them, but maybe I don’t care or think enough about them,” Wendt admits.

“I don’t connect to that ‘it’s their land and we’ve taken it from them’,” Wendt also says. “That was a long time ago. We need to move on.”

Even more provocative is this statement: “All I know is that if I’m in a mall and there are 30 black guys and me, I’m frightened.”

Later Wendt says: “I floss and brush twice a day without fail. Our hair’s going to be different. We’re going to smell different.

6. Tom Ballard Goes on Sobering-Up Shelter Patrol

In Kununurra, Ballard joins the local patrol service to pick up the drunk and vulnerable and take them to the town’s sobering up shelter. During patrol, Ballard sees a local man, Wayne, passed out in a park. When the patrol team tries to shake Wayne awake and he doesn’t react, Ballard gets emotional, suspecting the worst. “I thought maybe he was dead,” Ballard says.

7. Nicki Wendt is Shell-shocked

Shelter Carer Elaine Johnson tells a dumbstruck Wendt that she lost her mum and dad to alcohol and that her 24-year-old daughter committed suicide earlier this year. Five days later her nephew hung himself and then her brother passed away in his sleep. “You can work here with all of that loss in your life in such a short time and yet you dedicate your time to looking after other people,” Wendt says admiringly. “That is one of the most resilient people I’ve ever met in my life.”

8. Celebrities Hear Harrowing Tales of Suicide

Jennifer Wilson is part of a support group for people affected by suicide. Wilson tells the celebrities about the plague of suicide affecting communities. The vast majority are men under the age of 30. The youngest family member of Wilson’s family to take his life was 11 years old. A young man tells of trying to hang himself.

Comedian Tom Ballard, actor Nicki Wendt, TV personality Ian ‘Dicko’ Dickson, singer Natalie Imbruglia, former Miss Universe Renae Ayris and ex-One Nation politician David Oldfield on location in East Arnhem land. Picture: David Dare Parker

Comedian Tom Ballard, actor Nicki Wendt, TV personality Ian ‘Dicko’ Dickson, singer Natalie Imbruglia, former Miss Universe Renae Ayris and ex-One Nation politician David Oldfield on location in East Arnhem land. Picture: David Dare ParkerSource:SBS

9. Renae Ayris Admits She is Scared of Aboriginal People

Ayris, who grew up in Perth, says “one time I was spat on and another time someone came up and just completely abused me. It is unforgettable.” Ayris also admitted she didn’t know what the Dreamtime is.

10. David Oldfield Sheds a Tear

When the six celebrities go to Bawaka, they visit the ancestral land of Timmy ‘Djawa’ Burarrwanga. Oldfield gets Burarrwanga off side when he refuses to get painted with red ochre, refuses to go fishing, and argues about Constitutional Recognition. But there is some sign of hope when Burarrwanga took Oldfield to his father’s grave. The pair spoke about their fathers and, according to Burarrwanga, Oldfield began crying.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health And Racism : News Ltd declares war on #18C and the ABC

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” Various newspapers, but particularly the Australian, have been publishing articles for years blaming violence in Aboriginal communities on traditional culture, or questioning Indigenous funding, or aspects of Indigenous identity, and even though I find many of these articles to be painfully ignorant, racist, offensive and insulting.

I am aware that they are within their legal rights to talk about these issues and share these opinions, even if I think they often border on advocating for cultural genocide.

This is an important distinction. Much of the anti-18C rhetoric has been built around the idea that ‘just because someone is thin-skinned and easily offended, it shouldn’t be against the law’.”

Luke Pearson founder of @IndigenousX writing for  NITV  : There has been an amazing amount of misinformation about 18C from various journalists and commentators in the 5 years since Andrew Bolt was rightly found to have been in breach of 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act.

*Differences of opinion are important in media, like the how the Australian’s editors don’t think the word Indigenous deserves a capital I, and I don’t think the people I mentioned in my article, or the australian itself, deserve capital letters either. See Below no 2

See NACCHO 57 published articles about Aboriginal Health and racism  

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 ” The Australian has produced more than 134,000 words on section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act in the three months since the publication of that Bill Leak cartoon. To put that in perspective, that is more words than are in Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, George Orwell’s 1984, or Lao Tzu’s The Art of War.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says “elite” media organisations like the ABC keep bringing up 18C as an issue for public discussion, but The Australian has produced enough words on the controversial section of the Racial Discrimination Act to fill a novel.

A Crikey analysis of stories written by journalists, editors and columnists at The Australian about 18C between August 4, when the original Leak cartoon was published, and today reveal the publication has produced 178 pieces on the matter, including 94 news stories, 84 opinion pieces, and 30 articles that made the front page.

In total, there have been 134,569 words on 18C since August — and the publication was obsessed with the RDA even before the cartoon was published.”

The Oz has literally written more about the ‘thought police’ than George Orwell did
Josh Taylor and Tamsin Rose
Crikey Journalist and Crikey Intern

 ” What the research tells us, then, is that racism is not rare and it is not harmless: it is a deeply embedded pattern of events and behaviours that significantly contribute to the ill-health suffered by all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.

Tackling these issues is not easy. The first step is for governments to understand racism does have an impact on our health and to take action accordingly. Tackling racism provides governments with an opportunity to make better progress on their commitments to Close the Gap, as the campaign is known, in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health. The new plan has begun this process, but it needs to be backed up with evidence-based action.

Second, as a nation we need to open up the debate about racism and its effects “

Pat Anderson former Chair of NACCHO

NACCHO Aboriginal health and racism : What are the impacts of racism on Aboriginal health ?

 NOEL PEARSON PINPOINTS ABC’s ‘SOFT RACISM’

 “Noel Pearson could hold an audience just by reading a supermarket receipt, and for good reason. The prominent indigenous leader is a thoroughly compelling speaker, able to express complex notions of history and destiny in ways that are clear and inspiring.

He also carries significant moral authority, which is why Pearson’s criticism yesterday of the ABC is worth prolonged consideration.

Speaking at the Sydney launch of author Troy Bramston’s Paul Keating biography, Pearson began with a quote from Cicero and worked his way to a concluding line from Machiavelli. In between Pearson dwelt for a time on themes of political ambition and public trust.

All of it was fascinating but his comments on the ABC were the most pointed and powerful of Pearson’s entire address.

Pearson slammed the ABC as a “miserable, racist national broadcaster” that through its coverage of indigenous affairs was engaging if the “soft bigotry of low expectations”. The billion-dollar broadcaster featured he said a “spittoon’s worth of miserable people” who are “wishing the wretched to fail”.

They need blacks to remain alien from mother’s bosoms, carceral in legions, living shorts lives of grief and tribulation,”Pearson continued, drawing a straight line from the ABC’s annual tax-funded wealth to the deprivations of Aboriginal communities in Australia’s north.

“Because, if it was not so, against whom could they direct their soft bigotry of low expectations, about whom could they report misery and bleeding tragedy ?. Between Quadrant’s hard bigotry of prejudice from the right and the ABC’s soft bigotry of low expectations on the left, lies this common ground of mutual racism”.

The ABC yesterday offered a statement defending itself but Pearson’s accusations will ring true to ABC indigenous coverage.- which is anathema to Pearson – is the ABC’s view of Aboriginal Australians as being essentially shaped by welfare and dependence.

Former Prime Minister Paul Keating, who also spoke at yesterday’s book launch echoed the thoughts of many when he suggested Pearson go into politics.

“I always thought Noel would be Australia’s Obama”, Keating said, “but Noel has to learn one thing you have to make commitments.

I hope Noel plays a greater role in leadership than he has to date. “

Daily Telegraph Editorial 22 November : Image above Front Page

18C doesn’t stop anyone from talking about any aspect of Aboriginal culture or identity : Luke Pearson

Among the more egregious of these has been the idea that 18C prevents people from talking about issues of Aboriginal culture and identity – whether it be about ‘fair-skinned’ Aboriginal people, Indigenous funding, or domestic violence.

There is nothing about 18C which prevents anyone sharing any opinion about any of these topics, and the exemptions offered by 18D further ensures that these topics are open for discussion.

The most recent article making these false assertions was from chris mitchell* in, no surprises here, the australian.

In this article mitchell laments how white people like andrew bolt aren’t allowed to have opinions about the topics mentioned above, for legal reasons, and then goes on to share his opinion about those topics.

He writes: “bolt is understandably sensitive to the legal position he faces after the bromberg judgment. But he is dead right when he implies privately that the issue of light-skinned, self-identifying Aborigines needs to be discussed.”

“The losers when people who are largely of European heritage and live a mainstream middle-class life win prizes and preferment because of claimed indigeneity are the really disadvantaged, whom most Australians would rightly think deserve the hand-up being awarded so often today to those who hardly need it.”

There you go, chris mitchell, you just talked about the thing that you said needs to be discussed but can’t be. Maybe you are quietly hoping that you too will have an 18C claim made against you, because you know that 18D allows you to talk about it, or maybe you are sincerely ignorant to the fact that you are talking about the thing you think you can’t talk about.

18C doesn’t prevent you from talking about any of what you are saying, and the Bolt case highlighted this point: “Nothing in the order for relief should be taken to suggest that it is unlawful for a publication to deal with racial identification.

Mr bolt and HWT [Herald and Weekly Times] were not found to have contravened section 18C of the RDA simply because of subject matter of the articles, but rather because of the manner in which that subject matter was dealt with.”

Simply put, he said things about people that simply weren’t true, and that any decent journalist would have very easily found weren’t true, so much so that the only conclusion was that he racially vilified people for the key purpose of racially vilifying them.

So even if the changes to 18C from ‘insult’ and ‘offend’ to ‘vilify’ were made it probably wouldn’t have helped bolt in his case because he racially vilified people, unreasonably and in bad faith.

Various newspapers, but particularly the australian, have been publishing articles for years blaming violence in Aboriginal communities on traditional culture, or questioning Indigenous funding, or aspects of Indigenous identity, and even though I find many of these articles to be painfully ignorant, racist, offensive and insulting, I am aware that they are within their legal rights to talk about these issues and share these opinions, even if I think they often border on advocating for cultural genocide.

This is an important distinction. Much of the anti-18C rhetoric has been built around the idea that ‘just because someone is thin-skinned and easily offended, it shouldn’t be against the law’.

The Human Rights Law Centre, a not-for-profit organisation, released a myth-busting document about the case after the misinformation about the legislation started doing the rounds.

In it they write: “There is no general right not to be offended in Australia. The price of free speech is that we accept that people should generally be able to say offensive things. But there are limits to the kinds of offensive things we can say. Our laws make it a criminal offence to use profane or indecent language or behave in an offensive or insulting way in public. Our sexual harassment laws make it unlawful to engage in unwanted or unwarranted sexual behaviour that is offensive.

The racial vilification laws make it unlawful to do things that are reasonably likely to “insult, offend, humiliate or intimidate” on the grounds of race. The Courts have interpreted the laws sensibly and have said the laws only apply to behaviour that has “profound and serious effects, not to be likened to mere slights”.”

They also state “Mr bolt’s articles didn’t fall within the exemption because the court found that his articles contained multiple errors of material fact, distortions of the truth and inflammatory and provocative language. This meant that he could not rely on any of the free speech exemptions.”

18C doesn’t stop anyone from talking about any issue whatsoever; it does however prevent people from using ‘multiple errors of material fact, distortions of the truth and inflammatory and provocative language’ in clear efforts to racially vilify people.

If people think 18C should be changed from ‘offend’ and insult’ to ‘vilify’ because that would be a stronger threshold then okay, that’s fine. The main problem I have with this seemingly never ending ‘debate’ is when people pretend that 18C prevents from talking about any issue to do with any aspect of Indigenous identity or policy, because it simply doesn’t.

That’s not to say that I don’t get annoyed when people write racist opinions and try to present them as fact, of course I do. I don’t look forward to every other hearing what the latest racist article that has been published is.

I don’t just think is a sad indictment of just how popular racism in our country still is, I think it is why racism is still so popular.

As for actual conversations around matters of public interest, I am all for them. The application of the three point criteria for Aboriginal identity isn’t perfect, and people can and should talk about ways it could be improved. Indigenous funding is a dog’s breakfast, even more so after the introduction of the so-called Indigenous Advancement Strategy, and this too should be looked at critically and again, it already can be.

It would also be great if there were more sincere attempts to understand the complexities of contemporary Aboriginal identities and how they have been impacted on by the countless government policies that have attempted to define and quantify Aboriginality in Australia’s history.

For example, there is a document on the Australian Parliament House website called ‘Defining Aboriginality in Australia’, which mentions that “’Blood-quotum’ classifications entered the legislation of New South Wales in 1839, South Australia in 1844, Victoria in 1864, Queensland in 1865, Western Australia in 1874 and Tasmania in 1912.

Thereafter till the late 1950s States regularly legislated all forms of inclusion and exclusion (to and from benefits, rights, places etc.) by reference to degrees of Aboriginal blood. Such legislation produced capricious and inconsistent results based, in practice, on nothing more than an observation of skin colour.”

That is interesting information, and can help provide context to the current conversation that people like to pretend isn’t the continuation of a 200 year old conversation about how Aboriginal people should be defined and controlled.

Even the comments made by andrew bolt were not remotely new. bruce ruxton expressed similar sentiments years ago when he asked the Federal Government to amend the definition of Aboriginality “to eliminate the part-whites who are making a racket out of being so-called Aborigines at enormous cost to the taxpayers.” It is also interesting to note that the footnote for that quote on the aph.gov.au website article is, you guessed it, the Australian, in 1988.

ruxton’s quote always reminds of another famous quote made in the 1980s, lang hancock’s ‘solution to the Aboriginal problem’:

“Those that have been assimilated, earning good living wages among the civilised areas, that have been accepted into society and have accepted society and can handle society I’d leave them well alone. The ones that are no good to themselves and can’t accept things, the half-castes, and this is where most of the trouble comes, I would dope the water up so that they were sterile and would breed themselves out in future, and that would solve the problem.”

I wonder if that quote would get flagged under 18C as it currently stands, or if people think this is an example of the sort of Free Speech debate that we should be having and that 18C is stopping?

It certainly didn’t stop gary johns from writing an article in the australian arguing that women on the dole should be forced onto contraception, or calling Aboriginal women ‘cash cows’ on the bolt report,

“Look, a lot of poor women in this country, a large proportion of whom are Aboriginal, are used as cash cows, right? … They are kept pregnant and producing children for the cash.

Now, that has to stop.” – Not quite a call for sterilisation, but not quite as far away from lang hancock’s comments as I would like either, given that the latter were made over 30 years later.

So, again, what exactly does 18C stop anyone from talking about? It certainly doesn’t seem to have slowed the australian down all that much?

*Differences of opinion are important in media, like the how the australian’s editors don’t think the word Indigenous deserves a capital I, and I don’t think the people I mentioned in my article, or the australian itself, deserve capital letters either.

NACCHO welcomes feedback/comment:Leave a Reply

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and racism : #LowitjaConf2016 : Fitzroy Crossing: Is the real human crisis forgotten in debate over rights #18C and Bill Leak

 oz

“It is frustrating because we are talking about a really basic human right here,”

“You would think there would be priority for high-quality, early-years education for children who need it most — children who have every right to it.

“This is a definite way to end disadvantage.”

The Australian writes today in Melbourne, Fitzroy Crossing’s most prominent Indigenous leader, June Oscar who successfully fought for alcohol restrictions in Fitzroy Crossing, will speak about the plight of Baya Gawiy at the Lowitja Institute ­Indigenous Health and Wellbeing Conference.

Read 54 NACCHO articles Aboriginal Health and Racism

 ” We condemn the Australian’s publication of Bill Leak’s racist cartoon. Racism damages the health and wellbeing of those it targets.

We acknowledge that the media industry has a long history of perpetuating harmful and racist stereotypes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and that it is well past time that this stops.

We urge the editorial leadership at the Australian to reflect on the hurt and distress they have caused, and to make a sincere and genuine apology “

More than 200 people working in the media, communications and related fields ( Including NACCHO Media ) signed the open letter below, regarding The Australian’s recent publication of a Bill Leak cartoon attacking Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.  As recently reported at Croakey, a number of health and community organisations have also made complaints . See Full list of names at Croakey

Although Australian cartoonists have a rich tradition of irreverent satire, there is absolutely no place for depicting racist stereotypes, I would urge The Australian to be more aware of the impact cartoons like the one published today can have on Indigenous communities.”

Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion has condemned a ‘racist’ cartoon published by The Australian newspaper. SMH

The News Corp newspaper was accused of inflaming already heightened racial tensions by publishing a cartoon criticising Indigenous family values.

 “Yesterday, that months’ old intervention was rediscovered by Andrew Bolt (presumably during one of his periodic trawls of the blogosphere looking for something about which to be offended), and then injected into the Murdoch press’s crusade to repeal section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act.

It’s worth looking at how Bolt and co present the Croakey letter, as an illustration of how dishonest their campaign’s become.

Bolt heads his post “A list of the media’s enemies of free speech” and tells his audience “you can read the names of 173 people who actually want Bill Leak’s cartoon banned”.

I signed the letter criticising Bill Leak’s cartoon. It didn’t mention ‘banning’ anyone

Picture above : Dee Walker with Mila Phillips, 18 months, and her brother Taj, 2½, at the Baya Gawiy centre. Picture: Colin Murty

Fitzroy Crossing: real human crisis forgotten in debate over rights

When two staff members from Western Australia’s Aboriginal Legal Service arrived in Fitzroy Crossing last month to gather complaints about Bill Leak’s cartoon for the Australian Human Rights Commission, they had to drive past what many consider the region’s real looming human rights crisis.

The Baya Gawiy early learning centre, recognised for transforming the lives of some of the nation’s most disadvantaged children, will soon run out of funding and faces closure.

Elsia Archer, president of the vast shire of Derby-West Kimberley that covers the town of Fitzroy Crossing, is aghast. She says of all the issues that the legal service and the commission chose to get involved in at Fitzroy Crossing, they picked a cartoon depicting a neglectful indigenous father that “nobody up here is even talking about”.

“It’s bloody stupid,” she said. “What about fighting for the child centre in Fitzroy or doing something to get some youth programs up here.”

The early learning unit, where 22 of the 28 enrolled children are indigenous, was created and designed by the Aboriginal community after a sustained wave of alcohol-related indigenous deaths in the Fitzroy Valley.

A 2007 coronial inquest heard heartbreaking stories of misery, violence and child neglect, including evidence suicide had become a form of self-­expression among chronic drinkers.

Centred on Fitzroy Crossing, the 450-strong Fitzroy Valley population — with 80 births a year — has had one of the world’s highest recorded rates of children born with a serious alcohol-­related disability. One in eight children born in the valley in 2002-03 had foetal alcohol syndrome and about 55 per cent of mothers admitted to drinking heavily while pregnant.

The Baya Gawiy unit is not only internationally respected for its pioneering approach to working with children with FASD, it is crucial in preventing new cases by working with women and families to raise awareness of health issues.

Additionally, it is the only childcare within a 260km radius and caters for children of teachers, police officers and other service providers.

For local indigenous woman Jadnah Davies, the centre made it possible for her to work.

It was 44C outside the airconditioned playroom at the early learning unit yesterday when her 2½-year-old son Taj picked up a plastic cow figurine to enact its unfortunate encounter with a saltwater crocodile.

The Australian reported yesterday that the WA Aboriginal Legal Service prepared complaints to the human rights commission about Leak’s cartoon on behalf of two Fitzroy Valley men, disability pensioner Bruce Till and retired country music performer Kevin Gunn, after Mr Till got in touch to complain about indigenous ­people being breathalysed at the local pub.

The cartoon, depicting an ­indifferent indigenous father who has forgotten his son’s name, prompted community leader Joe Ross to consider the priorities of human rights advocates. “Bill Leak’s cartoon attempted to tell one story of indigenous ­impoverishment, but the real human rights story is the plight of our children being born into a community that has no direction or hope, a community that lives in remote Australia having to withstand the defunding of early childhood centres such as our Baya Gawiy centre by the Australian government,” he said.

“To me, the Bill Leak cartoon portrayed the abandonment of our Aboriginal children by the many components of their world including fathers, mothers and government agencies entrusted to protect their innocence and ­potential to succeed in life.’’

I signed the letter criticising Bill Leak’s cartoon. It didn’t mention ‘banning’ anyone

This year Americans celebrated 50 years since network TV’s first interracial kiss: a smooch between William Shatner and Nichelle Nichols on Star Trek, screening on 22 November 1968.

The anniversary prompted NITV’s Sophie Verass to investigate the Australian equivalent. In what year, she asked, did viewers first see an Indigenous and a non-Indigenous person kiss?

The answer’s profoundly depressing.

In 1976 the raunchy soap Number 96 allowed a romance between the Indigenous actor Rhonda Jackson and her white co-star Chard Hayward. But, Verass explains, “before audiences see Rhonda Jackson lock lips on-screen, we’re introduced to Indigenous Australians’ sexual agency on television with a close-up of Jackson screaming as a masked male figure aggressively forces himself on her.”

Yes, that’s right – the first sex scene involving an Indigenous person in Australian TV was a sexual assault.

Twenty years later, The Flying Doctors featured an interracial affair. Even then, viewers didn’t see any physical contact between a black and a white person: Verass suggests that a love scene was actually scripted but was “cut by Channel Nine for being too controversial and ‘offensive for the Australian public”.

It was not until 1994 that Australian TV boldly went where Star Trek had gone 26 years earlier, with Ernie Dingo and Cate Blanchett puckering up during the ABC miniseries Heartland.

All that’s by way of illustrating a simple point: the Australian media has an appalling record of representing Indigenous people.

That was why I, along with hundreds of other writers and journalists, was happy to endorse an open letter published by Crikey’s Croakey blog in August this year in response to that notorious Bill Leak cartoon showing a drunken Indigenous man unable to recognise his son.

Yesterday, that months’ old intervention was rediscovered by Andrew Bolt (presumably during one of his periodic trawls of the blogosphere looking for something about which to be offended), and then injected into the Murdoch press’s crusade to repeal section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act.

It’s worth looking at how Bolt and co present the Croakey letter, as an illustration of how dishonest their campaign’s become.

Bolt heads his post “A list of the media’s enemies of free speech” and tells his audience “you can read the names of 173 people who actually want Bill Leak’s cartoon banned”. The Australian subsequently took the same line, tweeting, “These people want to silence Bill Leak.”

Except, of course, the letter doesn’t say that at all.

Here’s the full text.

We condemn the Australian’s publication of Bill Leak’s racist cartoon. Racism damages the health and wellbeing of those it targets.

We acknowledge that the media industry has a long history of perpetuating harmful and racist stereotypes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and that it is well past time that this stops.

We urge the editorial leadership at the Australian to reflect on the hurt and distress they have caused, and to make a sincere and genuine apology.

Pretty innocuous stuff, you would think. Yet it provokes Bolt to go full Malcolm Roberts, with a bizarre rant about “the enemies of our freedom, a vast and largely nomenclature with far more power collectively than you could have imagined”.

Of course, back here on planet earth, editors make judgments all the time as to what they publish and what they don’t. That’s what editing means. If Bolt thinks that such decisions amount to censorship (which is what he implies), he should hand over the passwordand login to his blog so we can all have a go at it.

Yes, the letter calls for editors not to publish racist content. Does Bolt disagree? Is he arguing that, say, the Herald Sun should adopt the slogan that the old Bulletin maintained until the 1960s: “Australia for the white man”? Was it censorship when Donald Horne removed those words from the masthead?

If Bolt thinks the press should openly embrace old-school race baiting, well, he should come out and say so.

One presumes that’s not his argument. Remember, back in 2014, Bolt repeatedly denounced Fairfax for publishing a Glen Le Lievre drawing about the Gaza war, an image widely criticised (in my view, correctly) for employing, wait for it, racial stereotypes. So was Bolt part of the anti-cartoon Illumanati only three years ago? If it was wrong to publish illustrations of hook-nosed, conspiratorial Jews back then (and it was), what makes Leak’s drawings of thick-lipped, low-browed Aboriginal men clutching cans of VB acceptable?

In any case, as Bolt grudgingly admits halfway through his fulmination, the Croakey letter makes no mention of section 18 at all, a minor detail that makes his whole screed utterly bizarre.

For what it’s worth, I don’t see the Racial Discrimination Act as a particularly great tool in the fight against racism, for all sorts of reasons – not least that it focuses attention away from deeper structural problems.

Let’s not forget the context for Leak’s nasty little cartoon.

In July this year, Four Corners aired the awful Abu Ghraib-style images of Don Dale youth detention centre. In response to footage of Indigenous youths being abused by white prison officers, Bill Leak drew his cartoon … blaming Indigenous people.

It was a response entirely in keeping with the media’s long history of belittling and denigrating Indigenous people, and as such entirely deserving of all the outrage it generated.

Yet a reliance on section 18 for redress means that anti-racists look to the courts for solutions, instead of, say, taking to the streets or organising a picket. To put it another way, legalistic solutions are demobilising, counterposed to the sorts of social movements that have won real change in the past.

In the Northern Territory, an astonishing 97% of children in juvenile detention centres are Indigenous. That’s an appalling statistic, symptomatic of something deeply wrong in Australian society. Redressing injustice on that scale requires activists, not lawyers.

By all means, we should be angry about racism in the press, no matter how much the Andrew Bolts howl in response. But we need to use that anger to mobilise for real change.

After all, that Star Trek kiss came at the high point of the 60s – an era of mass revolt on all kinds of fronts. There’s a lesson in that. If we transform the society, the media will follow.