NACCHO Aboriginal #SexualHealth : No point in a one-size-fits-all fix for #STIs in #remote communities @AMSANTaus @CAACongress @Apunipima @TheAHCWA @atsihaw

” The varying incidence of sexually transmitted infections in the ­Aboriginal populations in remote Australia presents a number of challenges to the Australian health system.

The identification of persons with STIs is not straightforward — and sometimes extremely difficult — in remote areas.

The diseases range from rare and difficult to treat, to endemic and even more difficult to treat. Those that are easy to treat remain a problem because of the ways in which the infectious burden develops in these populations.

These are difficult, long-term issues that only a few dedicated services are tackling.

These ser­vices are not helped by prurient and muddled media interest, the ­Aboriginal men and women who for their own reasons deny the existence of these problems and retreat to life-threatening but comfortable slogans, and least of all, the negligence of successive governments whose responsible leaders have responded too slowly and with too few resources for an effective response by the frontline workers.”

Marcia Langton is Redmond Barry Distinguished Professor, Australian Indigenous Studies, at the University of Melbourne.

Read over 38 NACCHO Aboriginal Sexual  Health articles published over past 6 years

Three animated education and awareness videos focus on HIV, STIs and PrEP (a daily medication that can prevent HIV), which aim to enhance awareness of HIV prevention. These are housed on the website  www.atsihiv.org.au,

Watch 1 of 3 Videos HERE

It is wrong to conflate the incidence of STIs with sexual abuse. To make this clear: it is not the case that all cases of STIs in ­minors are the result of sexual contact or abuse.

The rush to recommend removal of Aboriginal children from their families is an unwarranted response, and has become the catchcry of those building their careers on serious health issues that have become salacious fodder for the media and very significant threats to developing protocols for treating these continuing disease threats to ­extremely vulnerable people.

The question of whether to remove children is secondary to the question of immediate medical treatment.

Ascertaining how the STIs are being spread — by interviewing children — is the work of professionals and needs to be undertaken with caution and care.

Some proportion of the sexual activity involves only children and not adults. When only children are involved, different steps need to be taken.

When adults are involved in sexual activities with children, a different set of steps must be under­taken. Is the adult offender living in the household? Visiting the household? In what circumstances does the offender gain access to the child?

It would be ridiculous to have a one-size-fits-all approach to this very difficult problem. Medicos working in the Territory under the Northern Territory Emergency Response schemes were well aware of these problems but unable to speak because of the issues of confidentiality of patients and maintaining the confidence of ­patients and communities to present to clinics.

The rates of STIs among Aboriginal children in the NT must be treated as a medical matter for professionals. In the absence of a Centre for Disease Control (as recommended by the Australian Medical Association), the Office of Health Protection in the federal Department of Health has some responsibility for communicable diseases.

If I were in a responsible position, I would ask the Office of Health Protection to co-operate with the ­Aboriginal medical ser­vices bodies, such as Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory and the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation and the Northern Territory and Queensland health departments, and put together medical teams to test and treat Aboriginal children in the affected areas in the Northern Territory, Queensland and Western Australia.

All children in school should have sex education and STI education, and the educational material should be in their own languages. They and their parents need to be aware of the consequences of untreated STIs: infertility, mortality, brain damage and others. Other infectious diseases, such as trachoma, have been treated with similar approaches involving better co-ordination of existing services.

The federal, Northern Territory and Queensland governments are negligent in the extreme in allowing this situation to worsen over the past 10 years. It has been reported regularly and extensively in the past decade by medical professionals from various health entities, including the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress, and the responsible ministers and officers run for cover rather than taking the necessary steps to treat children for these diseases.

In this context, I have previously said that the complaints from some Aboriginal male leaders about being labelled universally as abusers should be ignored and the complicity of the indigenous sector in protecting their sensitivities and strange complaints that result should also be ignored.

If they had taken positions of protecting children rather than outrage at John Howard’s nasty and ridiculous blame game in 2007, we would not have the increased rates (also greatly under-reported) that are reported now.

Blatant denialism has contributed to this terrible situation.

Marcia Langton is Redmond Barry Distinguished Professor, Australian Indigenous Studies, at the University of Melbourne.

NACCHO Aboriginal health and racism: Marcia Langton the nature of my Q and A apology to Andrew Bolt

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I believe that his obsessive writing about the colour of the skin of particular Aboriginal people is malicious and cowardly

Among the many race-obsessed expressions in his offensive, and now, unlawful, columns was the accusation that the defendants, all ”fair-skinned” Aboriginal people, claimed to be Aboriginal to receive certain benefits.

As every person who has been raised by an Aboriginal parent knows, we must be ”twice as good as the white man” to finish school and get a job and suffer endless racist slurs while doing so from idiots who say things like, ”You don’t look Aboriginal. Why don’t you identify as white?”

What are our children and grandchildren to say to these fools? Deny their mothers, fathers, siblings, grandparents, and other family members because one of Bolt’s ilk is offended by their Aboriginal identity?

Marcia Langton responding to her comments on Q and A

Prof Marcia Langton, B.A. (Hons) ANU, PhD Macq. U., A.M., F.A.S.S.A.

Chair of Australian Indigenous Studies :

The University of Melbourne

I apologised for causing offence to him, because he stated that I should apologise to him because I had ‘hurt his feelings’ and offended him. I did not apologise for my beliefs or my intention of trying to explain my beliefs.

It was not my intention to cause offence to Andrew Bolt. Andrew Bolt as a newspaper column, a television program and a blog site, and ought to be capable of a robust debate, that is a dialogue rather than a monologue.

The debate concerns the fate of Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 and whether this section should be removed. I say it should not be removed and he has demanded of the government that it be wholly removed. If the Parliament removes this section, he, and others who hold his views, will be free to continue to attack Aboriginal people on the grounds of the colour of their skin.

I believe that his obsessive writing about the colour of the skin of particular Aboriginal people is malicious and cowardly.

WHAT ARE THE IMPACTS OF RACISM ON ABORIGINAL HEALTH

The question should also be asked as to whether, by publishing photographs and personal details about these people, he is drawing attention to them for the benefit of his followers, who regularly demonstrate in the social media their extremist racist views.

He is putting the  lives and physical well being in danger from the mentally unwell among his fans? Note that so many of the reports about the Aboriginal people he attacks come from this readership and that Bolt acknowledges them by their first names.

This is a very dangerous practice and I reiterate that my concern is for the safety and wellbeing of the Aboriginal people he attacks.

Some are my friends and colleagues, and many I have never met. They not deserve the horrendous treatment that he metes out to them in his column and blog. I am astonished that the media and the Australian public allow this to continue.

He believes that he is not racist, and I believe that he is sincere in this belief. Nevertheless, I am particularly concerned about the harm that his attacks do to these young people, the impact on their self esteem, and the harm to other young Aboriginal people. I am concerned because of the very high rates of suicide among our youth and I believe that this kind of abuse contributes indirectly to this outcome.

See, for instance, attached report: Yin Paradies, Ricci Harris & Ian Anderson 2008, The Impact of Racism on Indigenous Health in Australia and Aotearoa:

Towards a Research Agenda PDF [2.9 MB] Discussion Paper No. 4, CRCAH, Darwin –

See more at: http://www.lowitja.org.au/racism-and-health#sthash.ePEHMyFC.dpuf)

He refuses to allow me to explain this argument to him. I have tried twice, once at a lunch with him, Jon Faine and Lyndon Ormond-Parker in Melbourne (organised by Jon Faine; date, Tuesday 26 June) and also on 2GB on The Steve Price Show.

On the ABC’s Q&A, I was drawing attention to the fact that his practice, often, is to publicly name a young fair-skinned Aboriginal person, such as Dr Misty Jenkins, and draw attention to their ‘light skin’ or appearance, and then draw an inference that the fact that this person identifies as Aboriginal is somehow fraudulent, or that this person has somehow gained an unfair advantage (such as entry to university) by identifying

The inference is that someone who doesn’t fit a ‘racial’ stereotype and who identifies as Aboriginal is necessarily fraudulent. At no time has he provided evidence to support these implied accusations, and the reader is left with the impression that every ‘fair-skinned’ person is fraudulently claiming benefits that the ‘taxpayer’ must pay for.

Bolt argues that there is only one ‘race’ and yet it is only ‘fair-skinned’ Aboriginal people who are subjected to his taunts, and not, for instance, Dutch Australians or Italian Australians, who might benefit from say the fact of the existence of SBS.

Why are there no objections to other Australians identifying with their cultural or national background?

Has Bolt ever objected to someone claiming to be Dutch Australian or Italian Australian or Irish Australian? Not as far as I know, and thus I conclude that his singling out of ‘fair skinned’ Aboriginal people goes to the issue of ‘race’ and could be construed as racist.

Another relevant argument is my belief that he conflates two problems, and that there are very serious consequences of this conflation.

His assumption, I believe, is that the insistence by the majority of Aboriginal people on our right to identify as such and to maintain our cultural heritage is merely a ruse to obtain welfare and other benefits from the ‘taxpayer.’

The issue of identification as Aboriginal must be separated from the question of what welfare and other benefits ought to flow to people who identify as Aboriginal. There are thousands Aboriginal people who do not qualify for any of the special Aboriginal benefits (such as Abstudy which is means tested, like most government social security and related payments) and yet proudly identify as Aboriginal. There is no financial benefit in doing so, and often there are disadvantages, such as racism in the workplace and various forms of racial discrimination, all of which Aboriginal people, whatever their skin colour, are prepared to endure in order to maintain their identity.

I have spoken and written about this in my speech to the Melbourne Writers Festival.

In this speech, I argued that the two fundamental issues need to be separated, and that all assistance should be on the basis of need not ‘race.’

(This is a complicated issue, and while I don’t agree with everything in this report, it is helpful in separating these issues; Dr John Gardiner-Garden, Current Issues Brief no. 10 2002-03, Defining Aboriginality in Australia, Social Policy Group, 3 February 2003, Canberra: Parliament of Australia, Parliamentary Library):

http://www.aph

I believe that Bolt believes something similar to me (which as I say I have tried unsuccessfully to explain to him) but instead of separating the issues, he continues to imply that any Aboriginal person who does fit a ‘racial’ stereotype and who claims to be Aboriginal, does so for the imagined financial and other benefits that are he says are accorded to them.

Further, rather than saying that any benefits ought to be on the basis of need, his repeated (and I believe, obsessive) published comments and articles on this matter present a series of imputations that as a whole can be interpreted as a complete rejection of the right of people descended from an Aboriginal person to identify as Aboriginal.

Here’s yet another example of this in his column of August 21, 2009, entitled, ‘The new tribe of white blacks’, in which he names and publishes photographs of two of my colleagues, Mark McMillan and Dani Mellor:

http://blogs.news.com.au/heraldsun/andrewbolt/index.php/heraldsun/comments/column_the_new_tribe_of_white_blacks/P40/

There are many other such articles, including these, provided by David Barrow who has corresponded with the Australian Press Council on these matters:

(1) the article titled: “No comment” dated 24 October 2011 attributed to Andrew Bolt which I complained placed a gratuitous emphasis on the race and colour of Dr Leila Usher (a person of fairer rather than darker skin).

(2) the article titled: “No comment” dated 14 October 2011 attributed to Andrew Bolt which I complained placed a gratuitous emphasis on the race and colour of Tamika Chesser (a person of fairer rather than darker skin).

Mr Bolt makes the following statement in the article: No comment:

Tamika Chesser, 21, a former contestant of the reality television show Beauty and the Geek, was to have faced Southport Magistrates Court this morning to dispute allegations she struck a police officer after being arrested for public drunkenness back in April….

However, Chesser later made contact with lawyers from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service and the case went ahead in her absence this morning.

She was fined $800 for charges of assaulting police, obstructing police and public drunkenness .No conviction was recorded.

(No comments for legal reasons. Thanks to reader Jono.)

Race and colour of Dan Christian (a person of fairer rather than darker skin).

Mr Bolt makes the following statement in the article:

I cannot comment for legal reasons: DAN Christian believes he can make a difference as a frontline all-rounder and Aboriginal cricketing trailblazer for Australia. Christian, 28, is as enthusiastic about his Wiradjuri heritage as his inclusion in the second Test squad to face New Zealand in Hobart… Christian, from the NSW Riverina, led an national indigenous side on a tour to England in 2009.

“You are either Aboriginal or you are not. That is how we are brought up,” said Christian…

(Thanks to reader Ashley. No comments for legal reasons, thanks to the Racial Discrimination Act.)

(4) the article titled: “No comment” dated 27 October 2011 attributed to Andrew Bolt which I complained placed a gratuitous emphasis on the race and colour of Professor John Maynard (a person of fairer rather than darker skin).

Mr Bolt makes the following statement in the article:

A recent Federal Court ruling makes me unable to discuss issues of racial identification which are suggested by Professor Maynard’s home page: John Maynard is of the Worimi people of Port Stephens, New South Wales.

He completed a Diploma of Aboriginal Studies from the University of Newcastle in 1995 and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of South Australia in 1999. He was awarded a PhD examining the rise of early Aboriginal political activism from the University of Newcastle in 2003. Prior to his appointment as Chair of Aboriginal Studies/Head of Wollotuka School of Aboriginal Studies at the University of Newcastle Professor Maynard was Australian Research Council post-doctoral fellow and is Deputy Chairperson of Council with the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) in Canberra.

Professor Bunyip discusses Professor Maynard’s latest book: At Newcastle University, Professor John Maynard has just published a book, The Aboriginal Soccer Tribe, which insists Aborigines played a game called Woggabaliri, which the Silly’s Craig Foster reports is “the earliest knownform of ball sport played by indigenous Australians and, according to the Australian Sports Commission, the game most closely resembled association football.”

Recent other examples of my inability under the law to say what I believe are here and here. I was also unable to comment on another professor’s position or on the significance of a video referred to here.

(No comments for legal reasons.)

http://www.andrewboltparty.com/Portals/0/APC_Barrow_Letter%282013_12_16%29.pdf

As David Barrow points out,

In all instances, Andrew Bolt’s articles appear to make a superficial negative imputation between the fairer rather than darker skin complexion of the people pictured and their identification as an Aboriginal.

Further, the imputations in the Andrew Bolt articles appear to be that the people pictured are wrongly identifying as an Aboriginal when their fairer rather than darker skin complexion should disqualify them from genuinely identifying as an Aboriginal.

http://www.andrewboltparty.com/Portals/0/APC_Barrow_Letter%282013_12_16%29.pdf

Race theories underlying Andrew Bolt’s assumptions

I believe that underlying Andrew Bolt’s assumptions are various beliefs about ‘race’ t. I have published about this problem of the underlying ‘race’ theories that impact on the representation of Aboriginal people over a 20-30 year period.

It is my very strong belief that Andrew Bolt has a responsibility to the public to inform himself about these matters. It is also my belief that his obvious failure, or perhaps, wilful refusal, to acknowledge these matters, especially the issue of identity, of which as Justice Merkel as cited in the above found, that some degree of Aboriginal descent is a necessary, but not of itself a sufficient, condition of eligibility) and stressed the role of social processes in establishing individual identity. According to his judgement, Aboriginal descent did not need to be proved ‘according to any strict legal standard’, it being: a technical rather than a real criterion for identity, which after all in this day and age, is accepted as a social, rather than a genetic, construct.

Much of my answer to this question (which would be very long if fully explained) is set out in this opinion piece published in The Age on October 2, 2011 in response to the findings of Justice Mordecai Bromberg in the ‘Bolt case’ (Eatock v Bolt (2011) FCA 1103, (28 September 2011) (2011 No. 2) FCA 1180, (19 October 2011):

http://www.theage.com.au/federal-politics/political-opinion/the-gripes-of-wrath-20111001-1l2z5.html

In this article, I write, for instance:

Bolt and his defenders are crying about an imagined right to unrestricted free speech. But speech is already restricted, for instance, by defamation laws that protect people’s reputations and by the Trade Practices Act, which outlaws false claims about products. it seems to me Bolt is saying that only people of the ”races” he approves of are entitled to such protections. In my view, his claim to the right of unlimited free speech only works if the presumption is that ”white people” like him are not members of a race, but normal.

In his way of thinking (and this is a common belief in Australia) only undesirable ”others” are members of a race, and hence, being a member of a race as he believes such to be constituted is inherently a bad thing.

It was ideas about racial purity, racial hygiene, the master race, the inferior races, a perverted idea about the survival of the fittest and other such nonsense that led to the incarceration of Aboriginal people in reserves in the 19th century to prevent ”mixing” of the ”races” and later, the segregation laws that specified where and how ”half-castes” and other ”castes” could live…

For those people who persisted in identifying as Aboriginal, however ”fair skinned” they were, to use the words of Mordecai Bromberg, life was miserable. This remains the case today, a fact of life for most Aboriginal people, and one that Andrew Bolt has perverted into a mythology based in lies and resentment.

Among the many race-obsessed expressions in his offensive, and now, unlawful, columns was the accusation that the defendants, all ”fair-skinned” Aboriginal people, claimed to be Aboriginal to receive certain benefits. As every person who has been raised by an Aboriginal parent knows, we must be ”twice as good as the white man” to finish school and get a job and suffer endless racist slurs while doing so from idiots who say things like, ”You don’t look Aboriginal. Why don’t you identify as white?”

What are our children and grandchildren to say to these fools? Deny their mothers, fathers, siblings, grandparents, and other family members because one of Bolt’s ilk is offended by their Aboriginal identity?

This must be what Bolt wants. Just like the old Protection Board of the 19th century, he must believe that he can intimidate and terrify Aboriginal people into sneaking away and pretending to be ”white”, to deny their Aboriginal parentage and upbringing and the values and world view learnt in an Aboriginal family.

There were many Aboriginal people who were so intimidated and did sneak away and pretend to be ”white”. It was called ”passing”, a play on words, connoting both ”passing away”, as in dying, and ”passing himself off as white”.

Not quite despised but regarded as gutless, they were the ones who sneaked back to take advantage of the miserable ”benefits” that came with policy reform in the 1970s. Then, we called them ”very late identifiers”.

Of course, they only identified on paper when they filled in a form. They did not identify as Aboriginal in the community. And the reason why is obvious except to Bolt and his kind. What Bolt refuses to acknowledge, or is deliberately misleading about, is the fact that identifying as Aboriginal is almost certainly likely to lead to being run out of school by racists, unemployment and jail. Look at the statistics. That’s what the Close the Gap campaign is aimed at: reducing the Third World rates across almost every socio-economic indicator.

What is particularly insulting about Bolt’s diatribes against the particular individuals who litigated in this case is that each one of them has identified as Aboriginal, aimed high, and beaten the odds. They have achieved great things in their fields; each one has worked inordinately hard and striven for excellence. And each one has been recognised in his or her field for that excellence.

That is also Bolt’s gripe. His columns twisted their achievement into something sinister and underhanded. I can almost hear him muttering, ”How dare these racial hybrids disprove the theory!”

We don’t have to agree with every one of them; we don’t have to like each one of them, but none of them deserve the ugly scorn of Bolt’s columns in the Herald Sun.

Fortunately for young Aboriginal people, and especially our ”fair-skinned” brothers and sisters, Justice Mordecai Bromberg has found so at law.

On October 3, Andrew Brock’s article was published in The Age, stating my point very succinctly:

After more than 100 years of disadvantaging Aboriginal people with ”mixed blood”, conservative commentators like Andrew Bolt now claim there is too much support for mixed-blood Aboriginal people, and only ”real draw-in-the-dirt Aboriginal” people should be eligible for support. It is an old debate, and should be expressed with compassion for the past rather than vitriol.

Every system attracts rorts, and Aboriginal people dislike those who rort the system by falsely claiming to be Aboriginal. But Bolt’s arguments echo early colonial attitudes that presumed the end of the Aboriginal race in Victoria and complete assimilation to be the only solution for half-castes. After the judgment, Bolt wrote about the right to ”pressure people to give up some racial identity”.

Historian Chris Healy, author of Forgetting Aborigines, argues that if people want to forget Victoria was colonised and indigenous people were dispossessed, then a good way to do that is to deny Aboriginality and argue that we are all the same. Another way is to perpetuate a history that allows white people to define who is Aboriginal.

The history of Aboriginal Victorians since colonisation is a tragic, dynamic and inspiring story and one that Victorians might study before deciding who is and isn’t Aboriginal, based on the colour of their skin.

http://www.theage.com.au/federal-politics/society-and-culture/bolt-echoes-a-shameful-past-thats-more-than-skin-deep-20111002-1l3q0.html

Read more

There is a body of case law on determining Aboriginality, about which Gardiner-Garden writes the following:

The 1980s and the Rise of the Three-part Definition

In the 1980s a new definition was proposed in the Constitutional Section of the Department of Aboriginal Affairs’ Report on a Review of the Administration of the Working Definition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders (Canberra, 1981). The section offered the following definition:

An Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander is a person of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent who identifies as an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander and is accepted as such by the community in which he (she) lives.

A definition similar to this had already started to be used by the some parts of the Commonwealth in 1978 and the Report of the Aboriginal Affairs Study Group of Tasmania, (1978, p. 16) found that this definition: provides three criteria which are necessary and sufficient for the identification of an individual as Aboriginal and is sufficient for such identification in Tasmania.

The 1981 Report gave the new definition added impetus and soon this three-part definition (descent, self-identification and community recognition) was adopted by all Federal Government departments as their ‘working definition’ for determining eligibility to some services and benefits. The definition also found its way into State legislation (e.g. in the NSW Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1983 where ‘Aboriginal means a person who: (a) is a member of the Aboriginal race of Australia, (b) identifies as an Aboriginal, and (c) is accepted by the Aboriginal community as an Aboriginal’) and was accepted by the High Court as giving meaning to the expression ‘Aboriginal race’ within s. 51 (xxvi) of the Constitution.

It was also used by the Federal Court when, in a first instance decision, it found that the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody had no jurisdiction to inquire into the death of Darren Wouters as the community did not identify him as Aboriginal nor did he identify himself as Aboriginal. Similarly, several justices in The Commonwealth of Australia v Tasmania, (1983) 158 CLR 1, observed that there are several components to ‘racial’ identity and that descent was only one such component. Justice Brennan concluded that while proof of descent or lack of descent could confirm or contradict an assertion or claim of membership of a race, descent alone does not ordinarily exhaust the characteristics of a racial group’, while Justice Deane argued that by ‘Australian Aboriginal’ would be meant ‘a person of Aboriginal descent, albeit mixed, who identifies himself as such and who is recognised by the Aboriginal community as an Aboriginal’.

The three-part definition was soon facing bigger problems that that posed by competition from either the blood-quotum definitions or the tautological race definition. In the 1990s the three-part definition continued to be used administratively and continued to be used by the courts to give meaning to the legislative expression ‘person of the Aboriginal race’ e.g. Justice Brennan’s 1992 Mabo (No. 2) judgement:

Membership of the indigenous people depends on biological descent from the indigenous people and on mutual recognition of a particular person’s membership by that person and by the elders or other persons enjoying traditional authority among those people.

It was soon apparent, however, that the three-part definition was itself open to different interpretation. When it came to the test, which of the three criteria was the most important? Which criteria, if satisfied, could carry an identification in the event that meeting the others proved problematic?

The 1990s and Problems for the Three-part Definition.

The three-part definition was soon facing bigger problems that that posed by competition from either the blood-quotum definitions or the tautological race definition. In the 1990s the three-part definition continued to be used administratively and continued to be used by the courts to give meaning to the legislative expression ‘person of the Aboriginal race’ e.g. Justice Brennan’s 1992 Mabo (No. 2) judgement:

Membership of the indigenous people depends on biological descent from the indigenous people and on mutual recognition of a particular person’s membership by that person and by the elders or other persons enjoying traditional authority among those people…

In the course of the 1990s there were cases when people identifying strongly as Aboriginal would claim that the sources were simply not available to prove their Aboriginal descent but that this should not mean their Aboriginality could not be recognised. On the other hand there were people who argued that Aboriginality should only be recognised with evidence of descent.

The debate became particularly divisive in Tasmania. In that state many people without ‘known’ Aboriginal family names, found themselves relying on self or community identification at a time when the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre (TAC), the main operator of Aboriginal services in Tasmania, was putting more emphasis on evidence of descent and reassessing eligibility for services based on more stringent requirements than those that had been imposed for the issue of earlier certificates of Aboriginality. The TAC started to refuse to allow certain children to continue to attend the Aboriginal Community School in Hobart or access after-school services and extra tuition and started to deny other indigenous-identifying individuals access to legal services.

This prompted the Tasmanian office of ATSIC to commission Koori Consultants to prepare a report into how the three criteria in the widely-used Commonwealth definition could be applied in Tasmania. The findings of the Final Report of the Community Consultation on Aboriginality in Tasmania, February 1996, tended to support the TAC approach.

The report found that an individual seeking to identify as an Aboriginal ought to be able to satisfy all three criteria – and that when it came to proving Aboriginal descent, authentic documentary evidence should be provided to show a direct line of ancestry through a known family name, to traditional Aboriginal society at the time of colonisation. The report suggested setting up an independent unit to research and verify genealogical material submitted in the support of claims.

Other inputs in the 1990s into the debate over whether the emphasis should be self/community-identification or descent, included judgement in three Federal Court cases.

The first case was the appeal against the Trial Judge’s decision in the 1989 Wouters Case. The initial finding had been that the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody had no jurisdiction to inquire into the death of Darren Wouters as the community did not identify him as Aboriginal and he did not himself identify as such. In Attorney-General (Cwlth) v State of Queensland, July 1990, the Full Federal Court reversed this decision and found that the Royal Commission’s letters patent were framed in such a way as to make Aboriginal descent a sufficient criterion.

Indeed, it was effectively found that the category of ‘Aboriginal’ could expand or contract according to the context and purpose and the Royal Commission was intended tohave such a broad ranging inquiry that its subjects could even include people whose identity was in some part in question. Justice French supported the three-part Commonwealth definition as used by Justice Deane in the Tasmanian Dam case but found that ‘the context of those observations [by Justice Deane in that case] and the purposes they serve do not translate to this case’.

The second case was Gibbs v Capewell, (1995) 54 FCR 503. An order was sought under the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission Act 1989 (ATSIC Act) in relation to the validity of an election held under that act. The first respondent, Mr Capewell, had his election to the Roma Regional Council of ATSIC challenged on the grounds that he was not an ‘Aboriginal person’ as required under the act and that votes were cast by people not entitled to do so because they also were not Aboriginal persons as required under the act. In his findings Justice Drummond agreed with the findings of Justice French in the above discussed Wouters case – that the three-part definition is of use but that the emphasis to be placed on the different criteria in this definition will vary according to context.

He argued that some degree of Aboriginal descent was essential, but that the extent to which the other criteria need to be deployed might depend on the degree of descent. In the absence of other factors a small degree of Aboriginal descent was not sufficient whereas a substantial degree of Aboriginal descent may by itself be sufficient to establish Aboriginality for legal purpose. In general Justice Drummond believed:

The less the degree of Aboriginal descent, the more important cultural circumstances become in determining whether a person is ‘Aboriginal’.

A person with a small degree of descent who genuinely identifies as an Aboriginal and who has Aboriginal communal recognition as such would I think be described in current ordinary usage as an ‘Aboriginal person’ and would be so regarded for the purposes of the Act. But where a person has only a small degree of Aboriginal descent, either genuine self-identification as Aboriginal alone or Aboriginal communal recognition as such by itself may suffice, according to the circumstances.

The third case was Shaw v Wolf (1998). Justice Merkel agreed with the conclusions of Justice Drummond in Gibbs v Capewell (e.g. that some degree of Aboriginal descent is a necessary, but not of itself a sufficient, condition of eligibility) and stressed the role of social processes in establishing individual identity. According to the judgement, Aboriginal descent did not need to be proved ‘according to any strict legal standard’, it being: a technical rather than a real criterion for identity, which after all in this day and age, is accepted as a social, rather than a genetic, construct.

Indeed: The development of identity as an Aboriginal person cannot be attributed to any one determinative factor. It is the interplay of social responses and interactions, on different levels and from different sources, both positive and negative, which create self-perception and identity.

Marcia Langton

Prof Marcia Langton, B.A. (Hons) ANU, PhD Macq. U., A.M., F.A.S.S.A.

Chair of Australian Indigenous Studies

Centre for Health Equity

The Melbourne School of Population and Global Health,

The University of Melbourne

You can hear more about Aboriginal health and Close the Gap at the NACCHO SUMMIT

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The importance of our NACCHO member Aboriginal community controlled health services (ACCHS) is not fully recognised by governments.

The economic benefits of ACCHS has not been recognised at all.

We provide employment, income and a range of broader community benefits that mainstream health services and mainstream labour markets do not. ACCHS need more financial support from government, to provide not only quality health and wellbeing services to communities, but jobs, income and broader community economic benefits.

A good way of demonstrating how economically valuable ACCHS are is to showcase our success at a national summit.

SUMMIT WEBSITE FOR MORE INFO

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NACCHO Aboriginal health, Bolt and racism: Aboriginal Coalition MP Ken Wyatt breaks ranks on race law moves

KW

Indigenous Coalition MP Ken Wyatt has spoken out against the repeal of legislation making it unlawful to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate on the grounds of race or ethnicity.

Mr Wyatt told Fairfax Media he feared that repealing section 18c of the Racial Discrimination Act would either disempower the vulnerable or result in a hardening of intolerant attitudes.

Aboriginal Coalition MP Ken Wyatt

So it feels I’ve lost, and not just this argument. I feel now the pressure to stop resisting the Government’s plan to change the Constitution to recognise Aborigines as the first people here — a dangerous change, which divides us according to the “race” of some of our ancestors.

My wife now wants me to play safe and stop fighting this new racism, and this time I’m listening. This time I was so bruised by Q & A that I didn’t go into work on Tuesday. I couldn’t stand any sympathy — which you get only when you’re meant to feel hurt.

Andrew Bolt Herald Sun (full response blog below )

Bolt was found to have contravened Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act. Nine aboriginal applicants brought a class-action against Bolt and the Herald and Weekly Times claiming Bolt wrote they sought professional advantage from the colour of their skin.

Aboriginal Coalition MP Ken Wyatt breaks ranks on race law moves

”Australia has come a long way in the last 30 or 40 years and what I wouldn’t like to see is a regression that allows those who have bigoted viewpoints to vilify any group of people at all,” he said.

”For me, it is about not disabling a mechanism that makes people think carefully about the vilification of anyone or any group because they know there is a deterrent,” he said.

Rasism

His remarks came as Attorney-General George Brandis described the existing law as ”extremely invasive” and reaffirmed the government’s intention to ”do away” with it.

Tony Abbott vowed  in August 2012 to ”repeal section 18C in its current form” on the basis that freedom of speech should not be restrained ”just to prevent hurt feelings”. Ethnic, religious and indigenous groups have urged the government to think again, raising expectations that the words ”offend”, ”insult” and possibly ”humiliate” will be taken out of the section.

Mr Wyatt said his attitude was shaped by his 10 years’ experience in Western Australia’s equal opportunity tribunal and witnessing how ”racial vilification has significant impacts on people in ways we don’t fully appreciate”.

”I support the whole concept of free speech, but I think there are boundaries that you have to draw and this is one of them.”

He believed that section 18c encouraged mediation and parties coming together to resolve conflicts and that its repeal would result in disempowerment of vilified groups or ”greater use of litigation, which doesn’t resolve the issue at all”.

Senator Brandis has been meeting interested groups,  focusing on how to strike the balance between free speech and protection from vilification. ”The government comes down on the side of those who want to see maximum freedom of speech,” he told ABC radio on Friday.

”And, by freedom of speech, I mean people’s freedom to hold opinions and express those opinions without some bureaucrat or official or human rights body or judge telling them what they are allowed, and what they are not allowed, to say.”

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STRANGE, after all I’ve been through, but Monday on the ABC may have been finally too much for me.

ANDREW BOLT BLOG

You see, I was denounced on Q & A — on national television — as a racist. I watched in horror as Aboriginal academic Marcia Langton falsely accused me of subjecting one of her colleagues — “very fair-skinned, like my children” — to “foul abuse … simply racial abuse”.

WILL THE ABC APOLOGISE? Blog with Andrew Bolt               

Langton falsely claimed I was a “fool” who believed in “race theories” and had “argued that (her colleague) had no right to claim that she was Aboriginal”. I had so hurt this woman she “withdrew from public life” and had given up working with students (something seemingly contradicted by the CV on her website).

FULL TRANSCRIPT: Marcia Langton’s apology               

And when Attorney-General George Brandis hotly insisted I was not racist, the ABC audience laughed in derision. Not one other panellist protested against this lynching. In fact, host Tony Jones asked Brandis to defend “those sort of facts” and Channel 9 host Lisa Wilkinson accused me of “bullying”. And all panellists agreed Brandis should drop the government’s plan to loosen the Racial Discrimination Act’s restrictions on free speech, which the RDA used to ban two of my articles. Can the Abbott Government resist the pressure from ethnic and religious groups to back off?

So it feels I’ve lost, and not just this argument. I feel now the pressure to stop resisting the Government’s plan to change the Constitution to recognise Aborigines as the first people here — a dangerous change, which divides us according to the “race” of some of our ancestors.

My wife now wants me to play safe and stop fighting this new racism, and this time I’m listening. This time I was so bruised by Q & A that I didn’t go into work on Tuesday. I couldn’t stand any sympathy — which you get only when you’re meant to feel hurt.

It was scarifying, even worse than when a Jewish human rights lawyer told a Jewish Federal Court judge that my kind of thinking was “exactly the kind of thing that led to the Nuremberg race laws” and the Holocaust — a ghastly smear published in most leading newspapers. That time, at least, half a dozen Jewish and Israeli community leaders and officials, who knew my strong support for their community, privately assured me such comments were outrageous and the attempt by a group of Aboriginal academics, artists and activists to silence me wrong.

True, none said so publicly for the next two years for fear of discrediting the RDA, which they hope protects them, yet it was some consolation.

But this?

How could I have failed so completely to convince so many people that I am actually fighting exactly what I’m accused of?

The country’s most notorious racist today is someone whose most infamous article, now banned by the Federal Court for the offence it gave “fair-skinned Aborigines”, actually argued against divisions of “race” and the fashionable insistence on racial “identity”.

It ended with a paragraph the court does not let me repeat, but which I will paraphrase as precisely as my lawyer allows: Let us go beyond racial pride. Let us go beyond black and white. Let us be proud only of being human beings set on this country together, determined to find what unites us and not to invent racist excuses to divide.

Yet I am not asking for your sympathy. My critics will say I’m getting no more than what I gave out — except, of course, this is more vile and there’s no law against abusing me, or none I’d use.

No, what’s made me saddest is the fear I’m losing and our country will be muzzled and divided on the bloody lines of race.

I worry, for instance, for the kind of person who turned up in the Q & A audience on Monday and still dared ask why so much land was being returned to Aborigines when “really we’re all here, we’re all Australians”.

He was shown the lash just used to beat me. He was corrected (rightly) for overstating the effect of land rights laws but reprimanded (wrongly) for allegedly ignoring Aboriginal disadvantage, as if he were some, you know, racist.

No panellist addressed his deepest concern, that we are indeed all in this together, yet find ourselves being formally divided by race and by people only too keen to play the race card against those who object.

Langton is an exemplar of those who use the cry of “racist” not to protect people from abuse but ideas from challenge. She’s accused even feminist Germaine Greer of a “racist attack” for criticising Langton’s support for federal intervention in Aboriginal communities.

She accused warming alarmist Tim Flannery of making a “racist assumption” in arguing wilderness was “not always safe” under Aboriginal ownership and when Labor lawyer Josh Bornstein protested, she slimed him as a racist, too: “Doodums. Did the nig nog speak back?”

And three years ago Langton wrote an article in The Age falsely claiming I believed in a “master race” and “racial hygiene” — like the Nazis.

It was a public vilification for which she privately apologised two years ago, but never publicly.

Instead, she now accuses me of this “foul abuse” of her colleague, Dr Misty Jenkins, in a column six years ago.

HER allegations are utterly false. My column, written before my now-banned articles, was on the groupthink Leftism at Melbourne University, of which I gave many examples.

I wrote: “Read the latest issue of … the university’s alumni magazine … The cover story argues that the mainly black murderers (in the Deep South) … are victims … Page two promotes Kevin Rudd’s apology … Page three announces that Davis has picked … global warming alarmist Ross Garnaut, as one of his Vice-Chancellor’s Fellows.

“Page four has a feature on Dr Misty Jenkins, a blonde and pale science PhD who calls herself Aboriginal and enthuses: ‘I was able to watch the coverage of Kevin Rudd’s (sorry) speech with tears rolling down my cheeks … Recognition of the atrocities caused by Australian government policies was well overdue’ …

“Pages six and seven boast that the university hosted Rudd’s ‘first major policy conference’ … You get the message.”

Where’s the “foul abuse”, Marcia? Where have I “argued that [Jenkins] had no right to claim that she was Aboriginal” — something I have never believed and never said of anyone?

But that’s our retribalised Australia. Criticise the opinions of someone of an ethnic minority and you’re ripe for sliming as a racist.

How dangerous this retreat to ethnic identities and what an insult to our individuality. And how blind are its prophets. Take Lisa Wilkinson, who actually uttered the most racist sentiment of the night, accusing Brandis of being a “white, able-bodied heterosexual male” suggesting this was “part of the reason why you can’t sympathise” with victims of racism.

White men can’t sympathise? Pardon?

And so today’s anti-racists become what they claim they oppose. Do I resist or run?

You can hear more about Aboriginal health and racism  at the NACCHO SUMMIT

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The importance of our NACCHO member Aboriginal community controlled health services (ACCHS) is not fully recognised by governments.

The economic benefits of ACCHS has not been recognised at all.

We provide employment, income and a range of broader community benefits that mainstream health services and mainstream labour markets do not. ACCHS need more financial support from government, to provide not only quality health and wellbeing services to communities, but jobs, income and broader community economic benefits.

A good way of demonstrating how economically valuable ACCHS are is to showcase our success at a national summit.

SUMMIT WEBSITE FOR MORE INFO

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NACCHO political NEWS : Australian’s of the Year, Warren Mundine, Noel Pearson, Marcia Langton, Andrew Forrest and Adam Goodes

AG

“I live in a racist country, “To understand what it means to be indigenous, you need to understand that we come with baggage,” he wrote. “Every one of us. And every one of us has a choice as to how we deal with it – some of us have not yet come to terms with that choice, or circumstances have made making the right choice difficult, if not impossible.

Adam Goodes from his life story see below

Champions of Aboriginal  advancement earn THE AUSTRALIAN  top honour

DEEDS to build a nation, endeavours to forge a future, actions roaring louder than words.

The five joint winners of The Australian’s Australian of the Year, Warren Mundine, Noel Pearson, Marcia Langton, Andrew Forrest and Adam Goodes, have transformed indigenous Australia not through the things they have said but through the things they have done.

FROM THE AUSTRALIAN 24 January

PLEASE NOTE: This news coverage is provided to NACCHO members and stakeholders for their information ( not endorsed by NACCHO )

Related Article to the INTRO : NACCHO report Pat Anderson   Racism is a driver of Aboriginal ill health

They are our nation’s indigenous game changers, five leaders from five corners of this beautiful, complex continent who have towered over tokenism and paper-thin promises to find change so real you can see it; change so true that you can raise your right arm and point to it, in the same way that Sydney Swans powerhouse Goodes pointed to how far we still have to go that historic night at the MCG in May when a 13-year-old girl called him an ape.

“Actions are massively louder than words,” bellowed a delighted Mr Mundine, head of Tony Abbott’s indigenous advisory council. He paused, took a breath. “This year,” he said with an impassioned whisper. “This year, we are on the cusp.”

Beyond that cusp is a future where indigenous Australians close the gap on black and white numbers in employment, incarceration and education. Grab yourself a pen green, gold, red, black, yellow and scribble the words of Mr Mundine across your 2014 calendar: “This is the year that we really are going to break through.”

And somewhere down the track, on the right side of change, Mr Mundine will stand and marvel at those who forged the future with him, heart and hands.

Professor Langton, the tireless indigenous scholar, has been spearheading a full national review of indigenous employment with the support of Mr Forrest, a man whose money-where-his-mouth-is commitment to indigenous Australia has seen his Minderoo Foundation donate upwards of $270 million to causes such as indigenous education and the GenerationOne movement to create sustainable indigenous employment.

Dual Brownlow medallist Goodes’s commitment to Australian football was matched this past year only by his commitment to his people, co-running the GO Foundation with fellow Swans great, Michael O’Loughlin, to guide young indigenous Australians into education, employment and healthy lifestyles. “And, well, what can you say about Noel Pearson?” said Mr Mundine of the original game changer for 21st century indigenous Australia. “He speaks for himself really. He’s the bloke who opened up this area for us. He forever changed things for the better for indigenous people. He made these conversations real.”

Mr Pearson, the pioneering lawyer, academic and founder of the Cape York Institute for Policy and Leadership, said that when you take up the mantle of leadership of a suffering people you face three choices. “You use the reality of suffering as the basis for pursuing your idealistic aims,” he said. “You focus on ameliorating the suffering and forget about ideals. Or you tackle suffering in the here and now whilst always keeping sight of your future ideals. I hope I follow the third choice.”

He said he decided to focus on the suffering in front of him rather than long-term ideals.

“I made a decision I could not just pursue long-term ideals at the expense of current suffering. In fact it seemed to me that too many leaders were sacrificing the present for some future dream. It was almost a kind of millennial dreaming, that I could not subscribe to.

“I would rather contribute to supporting families to get healthy and educated, so that these strong, young leaders of the future can take us to Canaan’s shore. The suffering and the loss of our future potential is too tragic to ignore. We have to tackle the practical conditions into which our children are born, and create pathways to strength and advantage.”

Professor Langton said the pathways out of disadvantage and poverty were education and employment.

“The facts are clear: without normal levels of literacy and numeracy and real jobs and careers, too many indigenous people remain excluded socially and economically, unable to live like other Australians in safe houses, unable to raise their children to aspire to their dreams, and vulnerable to arrest, imprisonment, removal of their children, illness, depression and suicide,” she said. “It need not be like this.”

Goodes has spent 16 years in a stellar AFL football career promoting pathways for indigenous kids, always with an emphasis on choices: the choice to succeed, the choice to break the curse of welfare, the choice to call out the girl who shot that loose and hurtful word from the crowd in the dying minutes of the Collingwood Magpies versus Sydney Swans game of May 24, 2013. He accepted The Australian’s honour yesterday with the same grace and understanding he showed the young Australian girl who found herself at the centre of a national racism debate. He pointed to his joint winners, a handful of his heroes who came before him. “It’s a huge honour to be associated with great leaders and motivators in the indigenous field,” Goodes said.

Then he hinted at the post-football career in indigenous politics so many have hoped for him.

“I look forward to doing work with all these inspiring leaders.”

Mr Forrest, the Fortescue Metals Group chairman, was deeply moved by the honour, speaking through a crackly midnight phone line from Davos, Switzerland, where he had announced to leaders at the World Economic Forum his deal to give the Pakistani state of Punjab “pro bono” access to Australian technology converting lignite coal into diesel, which he hopes will free 2.5 million Pakistanis from slavery.

“I feel really honoured and humbled,” he said. “There are so many other Australians I can think of who deserve this more than myself but I also thought instantly that I accept this award on behalf of others: the 300-plus companies committed to employing indigenous Australians.

“I also think the real heroes in this are those indigenous people who, by their thousands, have joined those companies and turned their backs on welfare even though we have created a community and an expectation that indigenous people are encouraged to go to welfare almost as a livelihood.”

Mr Forrest spoke of a momentum he had seen building across indigenous Australia that might just be strong enough to break through this year, with support of a “government which is prepared to get out of the road of its people and just encourage its people”.

“I feel there is a complete impatience now with welfare as an industry and welfare as a solution and there’s a self-belief which I share that our indigenous Australians are a completely precious part of Australia who, given the opportunity and burdened with the same expectations, can meet expectation and succeed and it’s through them that we get rid of the disparity,” he said.

They were thoughts echoed by Mr Pearson. “The mindset is changing and I think we have crossed the Rubicon,” he said. “But it is important to realise that the mindset we want is not an entirely new one. In many ways we are returning to a mindset of the parents and grandparents of my generation, the people who were the bedrock of Aboriginal survival. This was the mindset before the passive welfare era of the past 40 years.

“You look at the old leaders from the 1930s to the 60s. They were workers and nurtured strong families, and would have been horrified at what we allowed welfare to do to our people. The whole responsibility paradigm that we have been pushing would not have been foreign to them.

“I lay no claim to charting a new course. I am just honouring what my father and grandfather would have thought about our rights and responsibilities. I find people of that generation were the same right across indigenous Australia. It was welfare that unravelled our people, and we have to rebuild.”

In his office in Circular Quay, in Sydney Cove, where a British flag first flapped in the Australian breeze on January 26, 1788, Mr Mundine reflected on his 58 years on Australian soil.

“The first 13 years of my life were spent under the NSW Aboriginal Protection Act,” he said. “The Aboriginal Welfare Act, that’s gone now. Native title, land rights legislation, anti-discrimination acts, the access to university. When I was a kid you could count on one hand how many Aboriginals were at university or had gone to university. Now it’s in the thousands. Doctors, lawyers, engineers, teachers, a whole range of professions. Dancers and musicians in the arts, incredible actors. Aboriginal art spreading across the world.

“We’ve still got a long way to go but you can’t deny that we’ve also come a hell of a long way.”

ADAM GOODES STORY

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THE first choice he makes is to turn around. “Nah,” he tells himself. “This isn’t happening.”

May 24, 2013, in the dying minutes of the Sydney Swans versus Collingwood Magpies opening match of the AFL’s annual Indigenous Round, Swans powerhouse Adam Goodes chooses to turn his 100kg, 191cm frame towards an MCG crowd of 65,306 people and face the 13-year-old girl seated on the boundary fence who just called him an ape. He then chooses to point his right arm straight towards the crowd. This muscular, thick-boned weapon of a limb has contributed to 5797 disposals, 1829 handballs and 409 goals in a thrilling 16-year career. But now it’s a spotlight. It’s a thing of incandescence, a thing of fire. He then chooses to remove his mouthguard and call to a dazed steward resting against the fence with his arms folded across his kneecaps. “Mate,” he says. “I don’t want her here. Get her out.”

The moment takes 19 seconds to unfold. And 200 years to arise.

Adam Goodes was named the NSW Australian of the Year two months ago. On Australia Day eve he could well be named our nation’s Australian of the Year or this newspaper’s Australian of the Year. He’s been recognised as much for his community work – domestic violence awareness ambassador, working with kids in youth detention centres, establishing the Go Foundation with his cousin and fellow Swans great Michael O’Loughlin to create indigenous role models in all walks of life – as for the courage he showed that night at the MCG and the compassion he showed the girl thereafter. “I’ve had fantastic support over the past 24 hours,” Goodes said at the time. “I just hope that people give the 13-year-old girl the same sort of support because she needs it, her family needs it, and the people around them need it. It’s not a witch-hunt. I don’t want people to go after this young girl. We’ve just got to help educate society better so it doesn’t happen again.”

He’s had seven months to think about that night at the MCG, to turn it around in his mind, to chew on it with his closest friends and family. He pauses for a moment, silent and thoughtful. “Everybody has choices,” he says. “It’s about how you learn from those choices you make.” Choices.

Horsham, 300km north-west of Melbourne, 1994. Lisa May was a single parent raising three sons, the Goodes boys, Adam, 14, Jake, 12, and Brett, 10. Lisa May had separated from the boys’ father 10 years previously, and had recently chosen to escape from an abusive partner. She chose not to be a victim, not to wallow in a past that saw nine of her 10 siblings taken from their parents; saw her removed at the age of five from her parents at Point Pearce, an indigenous town on the Yorke Peninsula, South Australia, 70km from Wallaroo where Adam Goodes was born on January 8, 1980. She chose to devote her life to her sons.

“I’m very grateful to have a mother who wanted something better for her children than what she had growing up,” says Goodes. “There were sacrifices she made to make sure we went to school. To make sure we did our homework. To make sure we were well fed. I have no doubt she’s proud of us, but we’re forever indebted to her for those sacrifices she made for us.”

At 14, Goodes had a room filled with posters of the black US basketball star Michael Jordan. There was a time when he was climbing out his bedroom window to run to the local phone box to call the police to report domestic violence. But he could relax in his room, fantasise about “air”, hang time, the wonder and grace of a Jordan slam dunk.

On his first day of high school he passed a bus shelter where some kids offered him a puff on a joint; he politely declined. In class he met a kid named Dion resting his feet on a Sherrin football. At lunch the boys from the bus shelter asked him to sit with them but he refused because he’d chosen to go to the oval this ordinary lunch break to kick that oddly-shaped ball with Dion. Some time in that hour-long lunch break he leapt above the shoulders of his school friends and found his hang time, his own air, and Dion’s Sherrin slipped into his chest, sure and right, like it belonged there, like a newborn baby with its mother. “Not many cartilages left in my knees to give me that air up there anymore,” laughs Goodes today.

Some friends and family chose to drag 15-year-old Adam Goodes down. His dad, who separated from the family when Adam was four, had a European heritage. Adam’s own cousins called him “coconut”. He didn’t know what they meant. “Black on the outside, white on the inside,” his mum told him.

Playing for the North Ballarat Rebels in the TAC Cup under-18s, he outmuscled, outplayed an opponent, won a free kick. The opponent had nothing left in him but cheap and easy words: “F..k off you black c..t.”

Goodes chose football as his revenge. Be the best footballer they’d ever seen. Be Gilbert McAdam. Nicky Winmar. Michael Long. Be AFL’s Michael Jordan.

At 17, he was standing with his mum at Melbourne airport, about to fly to Sydney to begin his career with his beloved Swans. “This is the start of great things to come,” said Lisa May. “Don’t forget you are bringing Mama home a Brownlow.”

“I think I get a lot of my personality from my mum,” Goodes says. “She’s very modest about the job she done with all of us boys. She’s never blown away too much by anything we do because she’s always seen the good in us and she’s always believed we could do anything we wanted to do. She’s definitely given us that vision that we can do anything. Anything really is possible.”

Young Adam Goodes would bring Mama home two Brownlows.

Choices. Moments. Turning points. Former Sydney Swans coach Paul Roos watches footballers make choices every day, on field and off. Decisions that turn a game, change the course of a season, alter a career for better or worse. Roos says the greatest myth in the daytime telemovie narrative of Adam Goodes is that greatness fell upon him simply by strapping on his boots, pulling his red and white socks up and jogging on to the SCG. “He needed to be coached. He wanted to be coached. He wanted to learn. It didn’t come as easily to him as some people think. He had to learn his craft. He wasn’t a natural leader. He had to learn to lead. And we worked hard.”

Roos recalls Goodes coming to see him after the 2002 season when he finished third on the list of the Swans’ best and fairest players. Says Goodes: “The biggest disappointment for me at that time was not making the team leadership group and I’d just finished third in the best and fairest the year before. I thought that I’d improved with my consistency as a player and the leadership group was announced and there was 12 players in it and I wasn’t one of them.”

Some players of his talent might have opted for implosion, gone on a bender, skipped training, mouthed off. Goodes chose to quietly knock on his coach’s door and ask him to outline the ways in which he might better his chances the following year, correct his mistakes. “We sat down and had a discussion and one of the first things I asked was, ‘Do you want to be a leader?’?” recalls Roos. “And he said, ‘Yeah, I do’. And I said, ‘OK, well that’s good’. Not everyone wants to be a leader. It’s a myth in footy clubs that everyone wants to lead. I said there are things you need to work on, and behaviours.”

“They wanted to see more leadership from me on the training track and they wanted to hear my voice more in team meetings,” says Goodes.

“To his credit, he took that on board,” says Roos. “And the next time we voted he was in the leadership group.”

In the year that followed that discussion he was named team best and fairest and won his first Brownlow Medal. “I think it’s about how much do you really want something,” says Goodes. “How much do you want to sacrifice to get the best out of yourself? Once you commit in your mind what that is, you will do anything to get that.”

Roos and Goodes continued to have discussions that grew deeper and wider in theme. They talked about Goodes’ background, his family’s struggles. Roos soon saw a man who could not only inspire his team, but also his country. “I was always encouraging him,” Roos says. “From my point of view it was ‘if you are going to be a role model for the team you will also be a great role model for everyone, including your own people’. Adam tries to live his life by reaching his potential. He delves deeper into who he is and who made him what he is. It’s Aboriginal people, it’s European people, it’s every nationality. All kinds of people helped make Adam Goodes the great person he is.”

December 2004, and 24-year-old Adam Goodes sat at a table with future indigenous affairs minister Mal Brough in a French restaurant in Canberra. Also there was Sue Gordon, Western Australia’s first Aboriginal magistrate and chair of the new National Indigenous Council, which Goodes would join. Goodes had been exploring his aboriginality, studying a Diploma in Aboriginal Studies at Sydney’s Eora TAFE. Gordon told Goodes how it felt to be removed from her mother at the age of four in 1947 because she was part-Aboriginal. Goodes listened intently as Gordon told a story that mirrored his mother’s but one he’d never fully heard. “He’s quite deep,” Gordon says. “What I found was he was very keen to learn about Aboriginal issues across Australia. He wanted to understand the history. He was educating himself. But at the same time he didn’t realise that he was becoming a mentor to younger Aboriginal people.”

Today, Goodes and Gordon love each other like family. “I’ve watched him grow from a young footballer to a man to a captain,” she says. “He’s a fine man and he has a cross to bear far greater than some of them.

“That young Collingwood fan that night, that’s a sign that there are still pockets of people who don’t address the issues within a family. It really hurts. There are still a lot people who don’t fully understand it.”

He was magic that night. The thing that’s often forgot about Adam Goodes and the Swans-Magpies game of May 24, 2013, was how well he played, how much he contributed to the first Swans victory over the Pies at the MCG in 13 years. He kicked his 400th career goal that night. He gave his heart and soul to the 65,306 football fans in the crowd. Curling kicks from the outside of his right boot that could have landed on a coin. Bullet handballs that ignited 70m corridor plays. Goal-square marks of such timing and precognitive positioning it felt like his opponents were running in sludge and he was running on air. He found the ball that night like a bee finds nectar. He was a butterfly. He was a bloodhound.

He believes Australian rules football had its origins in marn grook, the game played by his Aboriginal ancestors in which players kicked and jostled for a stuffed animal skin “ball”. “The tallest men have the best chances in this game,” read a passage in 1878’s The Aborigines of Victoria by Robert Brough-Smyth. “Some of them will leap as high as five feet from the ground to catch the ball.”

He believes he was born to play the game. His bone structure, the size of his calves and thighs, his height-to-weight ratio. “When I play football, it’s something that becomes instinctive for me,” he says. He considers the game the “purest expression” of his Aboriginality. And there was no better example of this than on May 24, 2013, at the MCG. He was instinctive. He was electrifying. He was unstoppable. Until he chose to stop.

In 2008, Goodes was asked to contribute an essay to a hardback AFL history called The Australian Game of Football Since 1858. Goodes wrote a disarmingly frank and insightful history of indigenous Australia’s connection to the great game, drawing on everything he had studied, everything he had heard first-hand from scholars such as Sue Gordon and survivors like his mum. He wrote about his hero Nicky Winmar and the day, April 17, 1993, when ceaseless racial taunts caused him to lift his St Kilda jersey and point at his skin. “I am a human being,” Winmar said after the game. “No matter what colour I am.” Goodes wrote about the day in 2002 when one of the game’s most high-profile players called him a “f..king monkey- looking c..t”. He wrote about what it’s like to live “half-caste”, about “being the object of racism so many times that you lose count”. He left nothing off the page like he leaves nothing of himself on the football field when the siren sounds.

“I live in a racist country,” he wrote. “To understand what it means to be indigenous, you need to understand that we come with baggage,” he wrote. “Every one of us. And every one of us has a choice as to how we deal with it – some of us have not yet come to terms with that choice, or circumstances have made making the right choice difficult, if not impossible. But the choice – and the opportunity – remains there, right in front of us.” He titled his sweeping epic The Indigenous Game: A Matter of Choice. Anyone who has read it understands why he chose to stop that night at the MCG, why he turned around to spotlight the “ape” taunt that was flung at him so carelessly and foolishly, just like all those countless taunts that came before it. There was nothing knee-jerk about it. His whole life informed his reaction.

“It takes time to build that confidence to do that,” he says. “I think when you’re proud of something and you’ve always stood up for yourself, and when you get to that place, you’re very sure of who you are and what you stand for. And no matter how old that person was or where that happened to be, my reaction would have been exactly the same.”

That three-letter word did the impossible. It made Adam Goodes forget how much he loved Australian rules football. “Yeah,” he says. “It was disappointing. I don’t know if it would have been different if I had actually stayed on the ground. Because the coach just wanted me to rest the last three or four minutes off the ground that game. It just sort of all hit me once I was on the boundary, just sitting there thinking about it. Yeah, I just didn’t want to be out there anymore.

“When something cuts you to the core it’s very emotional, a very disappointing feeling. Something that you don’t want to have anybody go through and you certainly don’t want to be the reason that person is feeling like that. That’s what I take from the experience,” he says. “I think it’s important for people to stand up for who they are and where they come from. But to be able to do it in a way that cannot only help that person but help the people around them.”

The disappointment was deepened five days later when Collingwood club president Eddie McGuire – a man who had shaken Goodes’ hand in the dressing rooms after the incident with the girl, assuring him his club had a zero-tolerance policy on racism – made a remark on radio linking Goodes to the promotion of the King Kong musical. In some ways, the McGuire comment was a sharper blow, coming as it did from an adult professional, a seasoned journalist and businessman. Goodes was deeply hurt by it. He could have lashed out in the media, returned fire with a few stinging comments of his own. But he chose to go deeper, calling for big-picture understanding, a universal hauling of “the baggage”, a few more hands to carry the cross he has to bear.

“I think what I’ve learned in my journey is that sometimes you pick the wrong way as well,” he says. “You try not to make that bad decision again. You’re not going to make the right choice every time. I’m definitely one of those people who has made a lot of mistakes. It’s about how you deal with them and how you learn from them that really builds your character and how you can build your sense of self-belief and morals.”

But remember, he stresses, “we’re only 200 years old”. He thinks about what might have happened to a “half-caste kid” like him 100 years ago. He thinks about the Kahlin Compound, a Darwin home established in 1913 where, he says, “they took these half-caste kids away because they thought they could better assimilate these kids into mainstream Australia … because they had some white European blood in them”.

“In these camps they were trained to be domestics,” he says. “So no doubt we’ve come a long way since then.

“I’m very happy with the Australia I’m living in right now. We have a fantastic people that want very similar things. It’s a place where you can raise your family and they will be created as equal and be seen as equal. I think there are a lot of people out there doing fantastic things in the community. But we’re never gonna live in a perfect world and nor would we want to. I’d hate to think everybody got along and agreed on everything because that would be a pretty tame life, I believe. But we’ve got to work on each other’s mistakes.”

NACCHO health news: Fiona Stanley: the secret to improving Aboriginal healthcare

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“Who knows and cares most about Aboriginal health? We do. So give us the funding and the knowledge and partner with us to enable us to be responsible for our own health and wellbeing.”

Ted Wilkes

When Noel Pearson launched The Quiet Revolution, the book of Marcia Langton’s 2012 ABC Boyer Lectures, he had the audience in the palm of his hand for almost an hour.

Pearson spoke quietly and clearly about pathways to being “bourgeois”, as he called himself. “Why can’t Australians be proud of us being middle class? Why can’t non-Aboriginal folk in Australia support us in our quest to be part of an elite, to own our own homes and participate in the Australian economic and social fabric?” he asked.

This is an edited extract from essay “On the ground: Key to successful policy outcomes” in GriffithREVIEW 41, available now.

Extract from the Griffith Review Via Crikey

It was a great talk that explored the creation of an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander middle class. Even if you heard the lectures, read the essays — the power of the words on the page put paid to the simplistic criticism that they were just a defence of the mining industry. This is a part of a much bigger project, a transformation, that for the first time means First Nations people are being trained and employed in all areas of the Australian workforce. And doing so in ways that retain and share their culture with others.

Both Noel Pearson and Marcia Langton are unapologetically part of the Aboriginal elite. Like W.E.B. Du Bois in the US a century ago, their cool analysis and forthright advocacy discomforts those with a rusted frame for thinking about First Nations people, one that consigns them to intergenerational underachievement.

Du Bois believed that the top 10% of any culture or population group is the vanguard that brings others along and around them. Born in 1868, three years after the end of the American Civil War, Du Bois was the first African-American to receive a doctorate from Harvard (and also later from Berlin) and one of America’s first sociologists to use large social surveys to examine the circumstances of people living in disadvantaged urban areas. His idea of the “talented tenth” was based on the notion that groups like the African-American population needed leaders with the very best education (his doctorate was in classics, philosophy and science) and this leadership would propel the success.

He established the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in America, but left his homeland as a result of the Joseph McCarthy witch-hunts and died, at 95, in Ghana, a few days before Martin Luther King Jr gave his “I have a dream” speech. He was enormously influential in fighting for full civil rights in America but earned the enmity of radicals who favoured more direct action.

Langton’s essays are as bold, and potentially transformative, as Du Bois’ writings were a century ago. She writes:

“Indigenous participation in education systems and the economy are the main pathways out of the miserable conditions that produce ongoing disadvantage and reduce Aboriginal capacity to enjoy their rights as first Australians and citizens of one of the richest nations on earth.”

Well, they could be transformative if non-Aboriginal Australians really heard the messages on these issues. As she writes:

“The majority of Australians have remained ignorant of the reasons for the high levels of disadvantage that Indigenous people face, both because the reasons are complex, and because there is a wealth of misinformation as well as irrational belief about Aboriginal people in circulation.”

Langton is not party political, and she believes that these issues should not be politically divisive and “the truth is always much more complicated than the policy positions of governments, parties and campaign offices would have us believe”.

At the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research we made a commitment to employing and training as many First Nations researchers as we could, with the aim of giving the Aboriginal research agenda to them. Well-respected, nationally recognised elder Ted Wilkes put it simply:

“Who knows and cares most about Aboriginal health? We do. So give us the funding and the knowledge and partner with us to enable us to be responsible for our own health and wellbeing.”

It was clear he understood the social determinants of health better than anyone, so we concentrated on changing the culture within the institute to enable Aboriginal leadership to grow.

“Engaging Aboriginal people in the development of programs and methods results in them getting exactly the services they need, in their environments and for their unique circumstances.”

Sandra Eades joined the Institute as a PhD student in the mid-1990s, where she became one of the first First Nations people to secure a National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) grant as leading chief investigator. She employed an outstanding group of Aboriginal health workers as research assistants to conduct a longitudinal study of first-time Aboriginal mums and their babies in urban Perth. This group of researchers proved  Wilkes’ approach.

The study successfully enrolled the mothers, and the institute was able to follow their babies in ways that would not otherwise have been possible. It was a true partnership between those with different types of knowledge. Its success convinced the institute that employing and training First Nations researchers and using their methods was essential for the success of the research agenda.

All these health workers-turned-researchers had been trained by another pioneering First Nations Westen Australian health professional, Dr Joan Winch, who set up Marr Mooditj, the first Aboriginal health worker training program in Australia.

Eades had a huge influence on the NHMRC with her roadmap for supporting Aboriginal health research. One brilliant idea from that and other public health strategic planning was Capacity Building Grants to redress this neglected area. In 2005, the Institute won the first such grant in Aboriginal health, with a team of 10 Aboriginal investigators: Michael Wright, Ted Wilkes, Helen Milroy, Sandra Eades, Ngiare Brown, Juli Coffin, Dawn Bessarab, Jan Hammill, Cheryl Kickett-Tucker and Glenn Pearson.

Over the five years of the grant most completed their PhDs and all have become leaders. A group of them, plus Pat Dudgeon and Rhonda Marriott, formed the group of eight chief investigators who subsequently secured NHMRC support for a Centre of Research Excellence in Aboriginal Health and Wellbeing: From Marginalised to Empowered.

I recall helping to write this grant only to have it totally rewritten by the Aboriginal chief investigators. They were committed to a different paradigm of research methodology than mine. They wanted to conduct their own research projects with full engagement with Aboriginal community groups, shifting the power for participation at every stage — from the planning through to data collection, interpretation and implementation. I had instead written a good NHMRC quantitative application hoping that once we got the grant we could incorporate these more qualitative approaches.

I warned that NHMRC was not ready for such a radical proposal. I was wrong. The whoops of joy when they succeeded raised the roof.

There are two major changes in this approach — the first is to truly engage with the people who are the intended recipients of the services that are needed. This demands familiarity with a well-developed, internationally accepted set of methods known as ‘community participation action research’. There are well-established ways to do this, which have been used with the “Untouchables” (Dalits) in India and the First Nations in Nunavut (Canada). As a result, service delivery has been revolutionised.

It is not rocket science, but grounded in a self-evident truth: most of us only use the services we trust, that we feel we have some control over and that benefit our families and ourselves.

Aboriginal people in this country have little experience of exercising such a fundamental power over the services deemed appropriate for them. For many decades these services have been shaped by distant experts who thought they knew best.

Engaging Aboriginal people in the development of programs and methods results in them getting exactly the services they need, in their environments and for their unique circumstances. It also provides jobs, an additional advantage to them, which adds to the efficacy of the services. Aboriginal people will travel across the metropolitan area to attend an Aboriginal-controlled service.

This means that while the overarching principles of services can be developed centrally by government agencies — for example, early childhood learning is good for children to be ready for school, or complete vaccination prevents childhood infections, or sugary foods and drinks should be avoided to prevent type 2 diabetes — the way that these services are implemented should be done in collaboration with those who will be affected, the people themselves. Otherwise they simply do not work.