Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion has rejected Noel Pearson’s push to replace a dedicated minister and department with an Aboriginal-led institution, saying the Turnbull government would not return to a body such as the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission.
Mr Pearson wants the government to introduce his empowered communities model, which would “minimise” the need for a dedicated minister and department by allowing indigenous people to administer services provided for their benefit.
He said he was not advocating the re-establishment of ATSIC, which was abolished by the Howard government in 2005 after collapsing under a mountain of corruption allegations and litigation, but the commission had been “more empowering” than a minister and department.
“Noel Pearson is one of many strong voices in indigenous affairs and I welcome his contribution,” Senator Scullion said.
“However, I strongly believe in the need for a cabinet minister and lead agency solely dedicated to indigenous affairs, and we have no intention of returning to the service-delivery arrangements that existed before, under ATSIC.”
Opposition indigenous affairs spokesman Shayne Neumann said ministerial and departmental oversight was needed. “(It helps) in terms of co-ordination and delivery of policy and government leadership in the area,” he said.
“To hear the voices of Aboriginal organisations and individuals so we can get that funding to the frontline to make a difference in closing the gap.”
Mr Pearson also accused the Coalition of treating his Cape York Institute with “contempt” by failing to respond to his proposal a year after it was handed to the Abbott government.
Malcolm Turnbull’s Assistant Minister Alan Tudge said the government would respond “very shortly” to the report, which canvassed the “right engagement” between government and the communities. “I think that in some communities the government engagement has actually led to a proliferation of services which don’t talk to each other and, at the end of the day, don’t get much progress on the ground,” he told Sky News.
Senator Scullion said the government was working with leaders to determine how to implement the model and believed it had “potential to achieve real, lasting change” across Australia.
The Australian Editorial 29 January 2016
In his National Press Club address, Cape York Institute leader Noel Pearson outlined a new model for indigenous affairs ahead of next week’s release of the Closing the Gap report. The report is expected to contain damning results — again — and lead Malcolm Turnbull into an appeal for innovative policy proposals.
Mr Pearson has proposed a model of indigenous empowerment, aiming to foster entrepreneurialism to improve economic productivity, health and education outcomes. As chairman of the Cape York Academy, he works intensively with local communities, producing impressive results in school attendance and numeracy rates among indigenous children. Mr Pearson levels criticism at government, claiming its actions fail to meet the expectations of Aboriginal communities. The problem, he believes, lies with poor governance.
This will concern the Prime Minister given Mr Pearson’s lament that Tony Abbott’s leadership of indigenous affairs was “cut short”. He described Mr Abbott as his “closest friend” in politics. They shared close camaraderie with then parliamentary secretary Alan Tudge, working in concert to form indigenous policy in office.
And so indigenous affairs emerges as yet another area of policy challenge for the Prime Minister. Mr Turnbull will need to take advice from policy experts within government such as Mr Tudge, who served as deputy director of the Cape York Institute. He will have to balance long-term reform agendas with the more immediate needs of indigenous communities while crafting a process for the referendum on indigenous recognition. And he will need to ensure Minister for Indigenous Affairs Nigel Scullion can provide the outcomes-based governance Mr Pearson rightly contends is overdue.
While innovation in indigenous affairs is welcome, it must be more than change for change’s sake. Successive Labor and Liberal regimes have combined grand overtures (The Apology) with controversial programs (Northern Territory intervention) but have failed sufficiently to close the gap between indigenous and non
“Make no mistake, Indigenous Affairs is in deep crisis,” Mr Pearson said.
“We are seeing good things in isolated areas but not seeing the tectonic shifts that are needed.”
In a statement Senator Scullion defended his government’s position.
“We are taking a methodical approach to implementing our Indigenous Affairs agenda and while change can be a little disconcerting, communities are front and centre of these reforms,” the statement said.
“Our advice comes directly from communities.”
Senator Scullion said he welcomed Noel Pearson’s contribution as “one of many strong voices in Indigenous Affairs”.
Communities disempowered, Pearson frustrated
Mr Pearson also used his speech to express frustration about the lack of action on the Empowered Communities report that was provided to the Federal Government last year.
The report was a joint document provided by representatives from seven regions across the country, and recommended – among other things – creating an Indigenous Policy Productivity Council.
The council would scrutinise policies and programs that affect Indigenous Australians.
“There has been no proper engagement in the ideas we’ve proposed and the institutions that we believe are necessary,” Mr Pearson told the press club.
“The reforms we propose will in fact minimise the necessity of having a ministry of Aboriginal affairs or indeed eventually a minister.”
But Senator Scullion said the Government had responded to the report and offered a regionally focused approach to the issues it raised.
“I welcomed the report and believe that the proposed new form of engagement and focus on Indigenous responsibility has the potential to achieve real, lasting change in communities across Australia, particularly in critical areas such as school attendance and attainment, economic development and community safety,” the minister said.
“However, I strongly believe in the need for a Cabinet Minister and lead agency solely dedicated to Indigenous affairs and we have no intention of returning to the service delivery arrangements that existed before, under ATSIC.”
In his speech Mr Pearson said he thought the nation had reached the “dead end of Indigenous affairs presided over by a minister and a department”.
“There’s good things happening and there are good people involved, I’m not saying that the people involved are insincere,” he said.
“It is just that the system by which they attempt to deal with our communities is not one that works. It can’t discern excrement from clay.”
NACCHO CLOSE THE GAP
Aboriginal Health in Aboriginal Hands for Healthy Futures Exhibition and travelling road show 2016
Celebrating the 10th Anniversary of the Close the Gap Campaign for the governments of Australia to commit to achieving equality for Indigenous people in the areas of health and life expectancy within 25 years.
The National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) in partnership with Wayne Quilliam Photography has developed a visual narrative that has been created to foster awareness, exploration and understanding of Aboriginal health in Aboriginal hands.
Our exhibition of 24 photographic images, melded with a series of video interviews embedded within the images will stimulate individual thinking and dialogue relating to the 10th anniversary of ‘Close the Gap’ campaign celebrated in March 2016.
“The emerging leaders from different communities exchange insights about their experiences, so we don’t have to do the legwork all over again”. Drawing on the strength and the mistakes that some communities made is going to be a real positive.”
Chris Ingrey, the chief executive of the La Perouse Local Aboriginal Land Council
Emerging Indigenous leaders (back row from left): Margaret Blackman, Mary O’Reeri, Anthony Mara, Sean Gordon. Noel Pearson, Harold Ludwick, Fiona Jose, James Fa’Aoso. Front row from left: Neil Morris, Ian Trust, Chris Ingrey. Photo: Louie Douvis Published by AFR Boss
Please note spelling and use of the word “indigenous” is not NACCHO policy
MARY O’REERI became involved in community leadership when she lost two of her brothers to suicide. The 44-year-old mother of four and grandmother of two, who holds a bachelor of education from Notre Dame university, helped convene a national summit in the Kimberley, to address the alarming rise in youth suicide in the region.
O’Reeri, an indigenous engagement officer with the federal department of Families Housing Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FAHCSIA), is not known nationally as an indigenous leader
.But with seven others she was chosen as an emerging leader by Jawun, the Indigenous corporate partnerships group which engages corporate, government and philanthropic partners to offer skills and resources to remote communities.
Jawun, founded as the Indigenous Partnerships Enterprise with Westpac, Boston Consulting Group and the Myer Foundation as sponsors in 2001, has become the go-to group for corporations wanting to engage in indigenous development. Its aim, with the emerging leaders program, is to build a pipeline of young leaders in the indigenous community.
The second Jawun emerging leaders program took eight indigenous young leaders from remote communities who were chosen because of their roles in driving local initiatives.
They were also teamed with corporate partners from Leighton Contractors and the Commonwealth Bank and FAHCSIA, and also completed workshops with indigenous leaders including Warren Truss and Sean Gordon. After a visit to the Cape York Institute where Jawun’s patron Noel Pearson coached the group on how to challenge the status quo, they visited North East Arnhem Land, Redfern in Sydney and the NSW Central Coast.
Before being chosen as a Jawun emerging leader, Chris Ingrey, the chief executive of the La Perouse Local Aboriginal Land Council worked to lower the crime rate among young people in his area. Back in 2005, he says, every Monday morning, stolen cars would be dumped on the Land Council’s property in La Perouse. “The young fellas would steal cars, they’d steal tractors, some even brought in earth-moving equipment. We’d have continual breaking into our own property. It became the norm.”
The local community started a fitness and activity program to draw in a slightly younger age group. Over time, it has had a dramatic impact. Ingrey says that since the programs were introduced “we haven’t had a stolen property dumped in our community for a number of years now. We’ve only had one break-in. We want to be able to build on that success and start more leadership programs”.
The emerging leaders from different communities exchange insights about their experiences, Ingrey says, “so we don’t have to do the legwork all over again”. “Drawing on the strength and the mistakes that some communities made is going to be a real positive.”
James Fa’Aoso, another emerging leader, who is head of leadership at the Cape York Institute, draws inspiration from his mentor, Noel Pearson.
“He told us a good analogy, which he shared [from Mark Ella]. He says the most important person on the rugby team is not the person with the ball, it’s the person running onto the ball, and their decision whether they run outside or run inside, and the important time to call for it.
“He was referring to us. For myself, and the emerging leaders, we are ready to run on the field and run those angles and to call for it, and I’ll believe we’ll catch it.”
If you are interested in emerging leaders
Justin Mohamed April 2 National Press Club Canberra
Bookings are now open and selling fast -do not miss out
SIXTEEN of the most powerful indigenous and business leaders as well as top-ranking bureaucrats have been appointed to oversee a radical plan devised by Noel Pearson to empower Aboriginal communities and ensure that funding delivers real gains on the ground.
Mr Pearson will co-chair the new steering committee with Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet associate secretary Liza Carroll to drive enormous change in the way money for indigenous Australians is spent.
The Cape York leader told The Australian that Tony Abbott had placed a high priority on the Empowered Communities project, and was receiving maximum co-operation from state and territory counterparts.
The first official meeting of the federal government’s Empowered Communities project took place this week.
“The meeting brought together the most senior public servants responsible for indigenous affairs, together with commonwealth government officials and indigenous leaders,” Mr Pearson said. “The fact that the heads of the Premier’s Department in NSW and Queensland were there spoke volumes about the seriousness with which both levels of government are treating the Empowered Communities project.”
Mr Pearson said the involvement of key commonwealth department secretaries, particularly David Tune from Treasury and Finn Pratt from Social Services, meant the “most important players in the public service” were turning their minds to how to develop a better and more productive system for tackling indigenous affairs.
“This will be very hard work and we have bold ambitions, but I am optimistic,” he said.
The project is a joint effort between indigenous leaders from eight regions across Australia, the Australian government and Jawun Indigenous Corporate Partnerships. Several state governments are also participating.
Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister on Indigenous Affairs Alan Tudge said the $5 million investment to fund the detailed design of the project would address key problems that caused waste instead of service delivery.
He said one of the key problems in government interaction with indigenous communities had been the sheer number of programs and agencies that interacted with often very small communities.
Sometimes these programs and agencies were aligned and customised, but frequently they were not.
“For example, the (Australian National Audit Office) reported a community with a population of less than 500 indigenous people receiving over 100 programs, delivered by seven federal government agencies and 11 state government agencies.” Mr Tudge said. “The Empowered Communities model will change the way government and indigenous communities work together.
“It will create a model to achieve greater co-ordination of government policy and it will ensure that government investment is informed by local leaders and targeted to make a genuine and practical difference to the lives of indigenous people.”
Mr Tudge said the project would build on the government’s decision to consolidate indigenous specific programs, bringing them under one government department and ensuring greater policy co-ordination.
He said a stronger local governance structure, led by key indigenous leaders, would be important to delivering better services. “We know local empowerment and locally driven solutions will improve outcomes for indigenous people,” he said. “We need to give indigenous people a greater say and greater responsibility about how best to respond to local issues, and especially to combat welfare dependence.”
The eight regions involved are Cape York, NSW central coast, inner Sydney, Goulburn Murray, East Kimberley, West Kimberley, APY/NPY Lands and northeast Arnhem Land. Marcia Langton of the University of Melbourne is a special adviser to the co chairs.
“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.
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
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.”
Mr Tudge said the Abbott indigenous affairs agenda was huge and needed strong action.”There are enormous challenges, and we don’t pretend to have all the answers, but we have a good team and a very committed prime minister,” he said.
“In concert with indigenous leaders, I think we can make a difference.”
Noel Pearson, Alan Tudge and Tony Abbott on Cape York (photo Alan Tudge Website)
TONY Abbott has appointed Victorian MP Alan Tudge as parliamentary secretary specifically charged with helping deliver his indigenous affairs agenda.
The federal Liberal MP who worked with Noel Pearson at the Cape York Institute will assist Mr Abbott deliver on his pledge to be the first prime minister for indigenous affairs, and will assist Warren Mundine with his new indigenous council.
Mr Tudge will also work with the cabinet minister for indigenous affairs, Nigel Scullion, to deliver meaningful welfare reform.”I will be supporting the prime minister with his indigenous affairs agenda. This will require working closely with Nigel Scullion, other ministers as well as Warren Mundine,”
Mr Tudge told The Australian.”We have already outlined a substantial agenda covering education, employment and constitutional recognition. My view is that if people are educated and have a job, then everything else tends to take care of itself.”
He said he backed Senator Scullion’s bold plans to review welfare dependence in remote communities with no economy.”Clearly there is more to be done to end passive welfare dependence, which is a poison for anyone,” Mr Tudge said.”Kids need to be at school — no excuses. And we need to learn from Cape York and other areas where direct instruction methods appear to be working.”
Mr Tudge said the Abbott indigenous affairs agenda was huge and needed strong action.”There are enormous challenges, and we don’t pretend to have all the answers, but we have a good team and a very committed prime minister,” he said. “In concert with indigenous leaders, I think we can make a difference.”
Mr Tudge will also work to implement a plan devised by indigenous leader Noel Pearson to empower Aboriginal communities, to ensure that money spent delivers real gains on the ground.
It is based upon the Pearson concept of an Indigenous Policy Productivity Council to evaluate the multiple programs that service Aborigines.Mr Pearson’s blueprint, “Empowered Communities”, was backed by a $5 million commitment to develop the idea by Mr Abbott.”One of our priorities will be supporting the design of a new governance model to be applied in eight opt-in communities,”
Mr Tudge said. “It will be developed in conjunction with Noel Pearson and other leaders and is aimed at empowering indigenous communities so that better local solutions can be developed. This will also achieve better value from the funds committed.”Direct Instruction is an explicit teaching method based on rigorous scripted classes and regular testing so that children do not fall behind,” he said.
PUBLISHED IN THE IPA REVIEW (Vol 63/4)
There is a tacit deal for remote Indigenous Australians that is not working.
Indigenous Australians have been supported for the last 40 years just to exist in a place of their choice, as a guilt-ridden nation’s act of compensation for past mistreatment. Low requirements of participation in education and work have been part of the deal.
NACCHO JOB Opportunities:
Are you interested in working in Aboriginal health?
NACCHO as the national authority in comprenhesive Aboriginal primary health care currently has a wide range of job oppportunities in the pipeline.
Labor Senate candidate for the Northern Territory Nova Peris hands out how-to-vote cards at a mobile polling booth on Goulburn Island, east of Darwin, yesterday. Picture: Amos Aikman Source: TheAustralian
ALP Senate candidate Nova Peris has lashed out at indigenous leader Noel Pearson over his support for the “demeaning” Northern Territory intervention, a Howard government policy adapted by Labor.
The indigenous dual Olympian said the NT Emergency Response had “ripped the heart” out of the Territory, and denied Labor’s Stronger Futures legislation including cornerstones of the NTER was the same.
Coalition NT senator and opposition indigenous affairs spokesman Nigel Scullion accused Ms Peris of being out of touch with “strong women” in remote communities, who had spoken out in favour of the intervention, and of trying to rewrite history.
Ms Peris made the comments on the first day of remote mobile polling for the 2013 federal election, in response to questions about Mr Pearson’s view that only a conservative leader could deliver a successful referendum on constitutional recognition of Australia’s first people.
Shown the remarks, revealed in The Australian yesterday, Ms Peris replied that while everyone was entitled to their opinion, Mr Pearson’s “certainly doesn’t fit with the people of the Northern Territory — that was made clear when he supported the intervention”.
“I’m on record saying there were certain issues across the Territory (at the time), but that the way the whole intervention was done, it was just demeaning, and it ripped the heart out of all Australia and out of the Territory,” she said.
“I have no doubt that the intervention has certainly hurt Aboriginal people in the NT.”
Mr Pearson did not respond to requests for comment.
When introduced in the last months of the Howard government, the intervention targeted child and alcohol abuse as well as pornography in 73 remote communities. Welfare payments were quarantined to pay for food, rent and other essentials and the Racial Discrimination Act suspended.
TONY Abbott announced a $5 million funding commitment to the Jawun Empowered Communities Initiative in Sydney yesterday backing a radical plan devised by indigenous leader Noel Pearson to improve governance in indigenous communities.
Mr Abbott declared, in the announcement, that “the first priority of an incoming Coalition government in this area will be to get the kids to school, parents into work and the ordinary law of the land being observed
Here is Tony Abbotts speech in full
Thanks very much Noel and thanks everyone. Thanks Shane for the welcome. This is a very significant gathering. Shane alluded to the fact that on the 26 th of January 1788, not far from here, modern Australia had its formal beginnings. A lot has gone right.
Some things have gone wrong.
But as we all know, modern Australia never quite got right the relationship with the First Australians and what’s happening here today is an important new beginning which accepts our history, which accepts the good and the bad in the past but which tries to build a better future with the Indigenous people and the rest of our community, opening our hearts to each other in a way that we haven’t always been able to do in the previous 200-odd years of our national existence.
So I am very honoured to be here and I was thrilled to put my signature on the Jawun Declaration underneath that of Jenny Macklin because it is important that we try to go forward together on something as important as this. It’s always a real thrill to be in the company of my friend Noel Pearson.
Noel and my relationship didn’t really get off to an auspicious beginning. It was back in 1998. Noel didn’t know me and I hadn’t met him. But I went to a very, very rowdy public meeting at Mosman in my electorate at the Mosman RSL and I could hardly get in. I hadn’t actually been invited as such because it was a meeting that was, frankly, pretty hostile to the Howard Government in which I was then a Parliamentary Secretary.
There were a series of speakers and the last speaker was Noel and Noel made an extraordinary, extraordinary oration. The first two-thirds of it was brilliant and I agreed with every word of it.
The last third of it was brilliant and I had a bit of trouble with it because he concluded with the phrase, “Let us get rid of this putrid government.”
I’m not going to adapt that phrase for any current purposes, but Noel – it was a very, very powerful affirmation of the need for change and it was a very powerful assault on a Government which, at that stage of its life, was still feeling its way forward when it came to Indigenous issues. Now, I’m pleased to say that, led by the former Prime Minister John Howard, we did grow very considerably in the years after 1998 and it was in fact, no less a person than the then Prime Minister who again proposed Indigenous recognition in the Constitution not long before the 2007 election.
But I concluded on that particular night in Mosman Town Hall that Noel Pearson was a person of enormous substance, great charisma and very possibly a prophet for our time and I decided that I would do my best to get to know this man and I would do my best, where I could, to work with this man and see what we could do together.
So, a couple of years later, I was in Mossman in far north Queensland on my first trip to Cape York as Minister for Employment and Minister with whole of Government responsibility for Cape York and I went into the back of a meeting of the Mossman Community Centre about half the people in that room were whitefellas, about half the people in that room were blackfellas – about 200, 300 people and Noel took to the stage.
And again it was an extraordinarily powerful presentation delivered without a note, and Noel said, look sure we were ripped off sure this was our country and it was taken away and yes we feel bad about that and yes there was an injustice about it and we should always fight for justice we should always fight for recognition but we have got to fight to live in the country that we have we have to be able live and work in Australia as it is not as it might have been but as it is, and it was a very bracing and powerful message. And I could tell that while some people in the room were warming to Noel – not everyone was
I first discovered in my own life how prophets don’t always have universal honour in their own country because why Noel was from that country, was well known from early childhood to many of the people there – not everyone agreed.
But that is the lot of someone who proposes change that is the lot of a real leader. Sometimes people who should be their best friends are not their best friends and this is the loneliness and difficulty of true leadership, and I won’t to congratulate Noel for being prepared to set out on that very lonely path which he was well and truly embarked upon back in those days.
So, throughout that period in government I stayed in close contact with Noel, made trips to the Cape, camped out on at least on occasion with the boys from the bush, Noel and we spent a couple of days trying to harvest tea tree leaves for our friend Milton to turn into tea tree oil. And then of course we lost the election and I found myself unexpectedly the Shadow Minister for Indigenous Affairs.
I rang Noel in the February of 2008 and said look mate in the years since I have been in Parliament I have visited dozens of Aboriginal Communities but I have never spent more than 18 hours at a time in one – in my judgment the key problem this whole area is not lack of good will, not lack of spending, but lack of involvement and engagement at a personal level and please would it be possible for me to spend some significant time and be useful, not just a glorified tourist, so in 2008 I was a teacher’s aide for three weeks at the school in Coen.
In 2009 I was a truancy assistant for 10 days at the school in Aurukun, an election happened in 2010 and wasn’t able to get up to Cape York then. In 2011 I spent three or four days in and around Hopevale doing the bush building program. In 2012 quite a few people of great prominence went to Aurukun and we did the books and mortar project to refurbish the library for four days, and it is my commitment that as long as my public life lasts,
I will spend a week in an Indigenous community because if it is good enough for Australians to live in it should be good enough for a Prime Minister to stay in, and it should be good enough for members of the Government to be there too. But one of the things that I became acutely conscious of with growing force through that period of Government and then over the last few years in Opposition, is this whole issue of governance in remote Indigenous communities in particular.
Aurukun is a village of about 1,500 people and there must be over 100 governmental, semi-governmental and non-governmental organisations working there, all doing in their own way an excellent job, but often tripping over each other and the poor people spend their whole life going to meetings rather than getting on with their life.
One of the shining examples of doing things differently, however, was the Family Responsibilities Commission which was working there and in three other Cape York communities thanks to the work of Noel and the Cape York Institute.
As most of you would know, this is an entity established to take charge of the welfare reform process, where a respected former magistrate advised by respected local elders, makes binding decisions on a consensus basis about what should happen to the welfare entitlements of people who, for various reasons, are not quite hitting the mark in terms of observing their responsibilities to their friends, their neighbours and their families.
And I thought to myself, “This is a very powerful lesson which, may well have applicability in other places around Australia.” I think it’s great that this Jawun process is now looking at how the lessons of Cape York and elsewhere might usefully be applied to governance more generally in the remote parts of our country.
It’s terrific to have a very geographically disparate group of people here today and it’s really encouraging to new consensus on display here today from Indigenous leaders from right around our country, different generations, the new consensus that we have to move forward in a different way. And that we need to take
responsibility for our lives. The kids need to go to school. The adults need to go to work. The ordinary law of the land needs to be respected. If all of that happens, then the oldest living cultures on this earth have a fighting chance of survival, but there is no serious chance of survival, if the people who live the life fall into this pit of despair, this pit of hopelessness, which has for so many people beckoned over the last couple of generations.
So, I think this is a very encouraging development today. I’m very blessed because over the last few years, I have become friendly with some really outstanding Indigenous people – Noel, Warren Mundine who is here today, Alison Anderson who has done such remarkable work in the Northern Territory – and as I tried to say in my talk at Garma a couple of weeks ago, I do believe that the only future for this country, is a future where black and white Australians walk forward together arm in arm.
That’s the future for our country.
I think there is a better prospect of that happening now than at any previous time in our national existence. There has been so much dirty water under the bridge. There have been so many disappointments. There have been so many false starts and yet we have made progress, progress is undeniable, but now let’s try to accelerate it, let’s try to do so much better in the next five years than we have in the last fifty.
I think we can do it. I think we can do it. I dedicate myself to working with you to try to bring this about.
TONY Abbott has thrown his support behind a radical plan devised by indigenous leader Noel Pearson to empower Aboriginal communities, to ensure that monies spent deliver real gains on the ground.
“I am happy to be working with Noel Pearson on this project and I believe there are lots of lessons to be drawn from his experience on Cape York,” the Opposition Leader told The Weekend Australian yesterday.
His support means an Abbott government would assess a sweeping new agenda for governance in indigenous communities. It would be based upon the Pearson concept of an Indigenous Policy Productivity Council to evaluate the multiple programs that service Aborigines.
Mr Pearson’s blueprint, “Empowered Communities”, will be released in Sydney next Wednesday with Mr Abbott promising a $5 million commitment to develop the idea.
This signals that Mr Pearson will become a close personal adviser to Mr Abbott if he becomes prime minister.
“Governance is a terrible problem in remote Aboriginal communities,” Mr Abbott said. “Noel Pearson has been a prophet for our times. He is a remarkable thinker on social policy and I want to support his efforts.
“The urgent task now, however, is to get kids into school, parents into jobs and ensure there is law and order in these communities.”
The Pearson concept, based on a new statutory body, aims to monitor current programs, identify why they are failing and entrench the principle of indigenous-led responsibility at the heart of all policy. It involves a five-year pilot program for eight different regions on an opt-in basis.
“We have the money but we are not getting the results that we should be getting,” Mr Pearson told The Weekend Australian.
“This is about re-engineering the existing investment. It is about making the existing investments more productive.”
Mr Abbott and Mr Peason have held extensive talks about the difficulties facing indigenous communities and the need for major reforms.
The Opposition Leader has stated that indigenous policy will be one of his top priorities if he wins the September 7 election.
The Pearson plan means the new IPPC will hold both government and indigenous parties to account for progress.
“It would say, ‘you guys made these commitments, said they would be delivered by this date, so how are we going and what’s the blockage?’,” Mr Pearson said.
“I see this as the most important second-tier reform.
“The first-tier reform is the recognition agenda in the Constitution at a high level of symbolism and both parties are committed to that.
“The next step down is the practical delivery.
“I see this happening in this reform of empowered communities. In my view it will be the thing that gives substance to the headline commitment.
“If you go into the Lockhart River (community) in Cape York, you know there are 90 government programs there.
“You have one organisation having to report 90 different grant programs. The issue is: how do we account to a single point rather than 90 separate points?”
Mr Pearson’s aim is to bring the transformative progress in Cape York to other communities. Under his plan, funds would be pooled on a region-by-region basis under bold new partnership agreements.
Mr Pearson, as head of the Cape York Institute for Policy and Leadership, has drafted a 25-page reform blueprint along with other indigenous leaders.
It has been given to Labor and the Coalition and obtained by The Weekend Australian.
Under the pooled funding proposal, spending would be overseen by the IPPC. It would co-ordinate different agencies to help close the gap between indigenous and non-indigenous living standards faster.
That body would audit the performance of both government and Aboriginal organisations.
Mr Pearson is also concerned that private companies who have outsourcing contracts are not performing to expectations.
Since June, eight regions have been working together to develop cross-regional collaboration and a new interface between government and indigenous communities.
The regions are Cape York, the central coast of NSW, inner Sydney, Goulburn Murray, East Kimberley, West Kimberley, APY/NPY Lands, and Northeast Arnhem Land.
The idea is to test the effectiveness of programs. Pooled funding for opt-in regions would be based on empowered local communities. The blueprint asked for $5m to fund a nine-month design phase.
The overall aim is for the Closing the Gap targets to be achieved faster.
Mr Pearson is keen for government to reform its tender process so that indigenous organisations and people assume more responsibility.
This means tenders must recognise characteristics relevant to service delivery that are currently excluded: for example, connection to community and indigenous leadership.
Shadow Indigenous Affairs Minister Senator Nigel Scullion’s (pictured above centre) opinion piece published in theKoori Mail:
PLEASE NOTE: NACCHO welcomes all contributions from all political parties throughout the 2013 Election campaign
All too often in indigenous affairs people focus on the things that are not working, the problems. But, in this Reconciliation week and in the spirit of the Recognise campaign let us be positive, because we have many good reasons to be so.
Indigenous Australians have been making leaps and bounds forward against all the odds for decade after decade. I believe now with young indigenous Australians grasping better futures and with their fresh approach, the environment is changing yet again for the better and the rate of progress is going to accelerate.
It is useful for us to recognise just how diverse Australia’s Indigenous population is .There are around 670,000 people that identify. Less than 100,000 live in those very remote parts of Australia, from the deserts to the coastal rainforests and the islands of the Torres Strait. Some of them live a very traditional life, they might speak very little English, and they may still follow their traditional customs. Others are living a more Western-style life working with a mining company perhaps, owning their own house and so on.
People are often surprised to learn that Sydney has the largest concentration of Indigenous people in the country – around 50,000 people. While some of them might not be living on their traditional lands, they will tell you that they are no less an indigenous person than their brothers and sisters in very remote parts of Australia.
So when we talk about policies we need to take into account the diversity and avoid falling into the trap of thinking that governments have all the answers. It is a fact that Indigenous Australians have often succeeded in spite of government. In most cases they are doing it for themselves
It will be obvious to everyone that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders have excelled beyond measure in the sporting arena in of art, film, theatre and dance. Indigenous Australians involvement in the political life of the country has a long and proud tradition and is growing rapidly. Adam Giles – an indigenous man -is now chief Minister of the Northern Territory.
When I was a young fellow there were two Aboriginal university graduates in this country Charles Perkins and Margaret Valadian. Now there are more than 25,000 indigenous graduates and the number is growing rapidly. Today there are over 10,000 indigenous students enrolled in university. There are over 150 indigenous medical practitioners.
Indigenous household incomes are growing with many indigenous Australians making their own way quietly with no assistance from government. Around 40 percent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people now own or are buying their own homes.
I travelled recently to an isolated homeland community called Baniyala. A beautiful quiet place with a school and a few houses, a shop, a clinic and not much else. A small family group of about 80 people had moved back to their traditional country to pursue a life away from the hassles of the larger centres in the area. Brendan has a full-time position as a ranger. He gets a good wage with annual leave and superannuation. Two of Brendan’s children are doing their higher School certificate at a Kormilda boarding school in Darwin. He is renting a house and he now wants to lease the land so he can buy his house.
There are many stories like Brendan’s and there are many Indigenous organisations making life better for their indigenous brothers and sisters. Recently I met with the people from the Indigenous health services for Brisbane. Indigenous people choose to go to these health services because they feel comfortable and they get an excellent professional service. These Aboriginal Medical Services are funded through mainstream programs such as MBS like other medical clinics. They get funding for some specific indigenous programs but that is at the edges. They are operating a very professional and cost effective medical service business for a niche market and everyone’s a winner. We need policies that support that sort of work.
Policies should be about getting behind Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, recognising their individual capacities, and removing barriers that might limit their aspirations. Sometimes the roadmap is simply those ingredients that make a better life for any other Australian.
Welfare is killing people. Noel Pearson and the Cape York Institute and other Aboriginal leaders in Australia have developed a model of reform that could be expanded. School attendance is a major problem. We should be funding education systems on the basis of school attendance not school enrolment and we should require parents to send their kids to school. On Aboriginal land you cannot own your house-we must change that. When we spend government money we should make sure it creates jobs for aboriginal people. We need more of the money the government spends hitting the ground and actually benefiting the people it is meant to reach. We spend too much of the money on public servants and administrators that frankly add little value. We must stop that.
Indigenous people are a diverse group they will chart different courses depending on where they live and their circumstances. To that end decisions should be made at the local level wherever possible and we should devolve decisions of government wherever we can. Governments have a limit in terms of what they can do. Aboriginal and Torres strait Islander Australians want to write their own stories. More government can sometimes mean more strings attached .And government departments with the best intentions can end up disempowering people. We need to work against this.
Finally there is the movement to recognise indigenous Australians in our Constitution. Some might see this as a symbolic gesture only. They think it will have no impact- so what is the point they say. If we get this right as a nation we will be able to work together to write a new story for all of us. If we change the Constitution, if we get it right, it will mean something, it will make a difference , it will be a significant tool in overcoming indigenous disadvantage. It will make all of us feel better about ourselves and it will complete us as a Nation.
Thursday, 20 June, 2013
NT Stronger Futures a flop
Today’s NT Stronger Futures progress report confirms the Gillard Government has failed to close the gap for Northern Territory Aboriginals in education and employment, Shadow Indigenous Affairs Minister Senator Nigel Scullion said.
“This report is full of Government propaganda but shows that over seven years Labor dropped the ball on the intervention and failed to empower Indigenous Territorians by getting people off welfare through economic development.
“They key requirements for economic development are education and real jobs, neither of which Labor offers.
“The jobs Jenny Macklin gloats about in the report are Government welfare jobs, such as night patrols and other make work programs that simply reflect the continuing level of dysfunction in Indigenous communities.
“Macklin celebrates jobs in government service delivery by creating a bureaucrat’s paradise rather than a real economy.
“Macklin should explain why Indigenous education results have gone backwards under Stronger Futures, with atrocious NT NAPLAN figures, such as Year 9 persuasive writing where only 3.3%.of very remote Indigenous students in the NT met the national standard or Year 7 persuasive writing where it was just 7.1%.
“Any minor gains in early childhood development are nothing to do with Stronger Futures. Claims about achieving access to pre-school programs are just more smoke and mirrors.
“The Coalition will empower Aboriginal people through economic development, not create more welfare jobs and a bureaucrat’s paradise,” Senator Scullion said.
For further information contact Senator Scullion:
• Darwin electorate office (08) 8948 3555
• Canberra Parliament House office (02) 6277 3867
• Media adviser Russel Guse 0438 685645
Picture Noel Pearson on Cape York with some of his mob: Picture The Age
It is clear that communities in Cape York are making changes and want to take responsibility for themselves and their families. We will continue to support them to do this.”
Press release Minister Macklin
The Australian Government will invest $24.5 million over two years to build on the significant gains that have been made in improving Aboriginal people’s lives in the four communities participating in the Cape York Welfare Reform trial.
This funding injection in the 2013-14 Budget will continue the Family Responsibilities Commission (FRC) and other key parts of the program, as well as introducing new measures to further support school enrolment and attendance, and re-engage disengaged youth with education, jobs and life skills in the communities of Aurukun, Coen, Hope Vale and Mossman Gorge.
The Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin, said the Australian Government’s funding includes provision to operate the School Enrolment and Attendance Measure (SEAM) in the participating communities, to help ensure children attend school every day.
“The recently released evaluation of the Cape York trial showed that the Family Responsibility Commission is very effective in increasing parental responsibility and school attendance amongst many families it works with,” Ms Macklin said.
“While we have seen a significant increase in school attendance through the trial, it is clear that for some families more needs to be done to ensure all children are getting a decent education and attending school every day in all four communities.
“The local Family Responsibility Commissioners have told us that further efforts are needed to engage hard to reach families and ensure they send their children to school.
“That is why we want to work with the Family Responsibility Commission and our welfare reform partners to implement SEAM as part of the Cape York welfare reforms, with a key role for the FRC.
“The Queensland Government has a key role to play in ensuring children attend school and I am asking them to work with us to support the introduction of SEAM in these communities.”
Under the enrolment component of SEAM, parents will be required, if requested, to demonstrate to Centrelink that their children are enrolled at school.
The Family Responsible Commission will be made aware of parents of children who are not enrolled and will work with them to address any barriers to enrolment.
If children fall below the set attendance benchmark, the Family Responsibility Commission will work with families, the schools and Centrelink to develop attendance plans.
If parents do not meet their part of the agreed attendance plan, income support payments may be suspended. Payments will be reinstated once the parent complies with their responsibilities.
Ms Macklin said that the evaluation also showed that there a number of young people who are not participating in education, training or employment.
“We want to see young people fulfilling their potential and learning the benefits of personal responsibility,” Ms Macklin said.
“That is why we will also introduce a package of measures to support disengaged young people between the ages of 16 and 21.”
Newly funded youth workers will be available to provide better support to young people in the communities. They will work closely with the FRC and with disengaged young people to help them develop an action plan to undertake education or training, address any barriers to participation, develop the skills needed to get a job, and where relevant, improve their parenting skills. The FRC will also have the option of referring them to income management.
Ms Macklin said that while progress has been made in the Cape York Welfare Reform communities, the Australian Government did not underestimate the challenges that remain.
“It is clear that communities in Cape York are making changes and want to take responsibility for themselves and their families. We will continue to support them to do this.”
“The Australian Government’s continued investment and the introduction of the additional measures will help build on the significant gains already made, as well as target the harder to reach groups in the communities,” Ms Macklin said.
“Local communities have shown they want to take responsibility and the Australian Government is committed to working with them to do this.
“The Queensland Government has a clear role to play in relation to school attendance and support for disengaged young people, as well as in ensuring that the important gains already made through the Cape York Welfare Reforms are not lost.
“I will continue to urge the Queensland Government to fulfil their ongoing responsibility to the people of Cape York.”