The judicial system in Australia targets Indigenous people more than any other group. Indigenous people are racially profiled, are killed in custody and are more likely to receive custodial sentences than their non-Indigenous counterparts. In fact, Indigenous people in Australia have higher incarceration rates than during apartheid South Africa. We continue to gaol Indigenous people for non-payment of parking fines as a result of mandatory sentencing that was instituted to target this very group of people within society.
What is my identity? And, how do I learn more about it? As an Aboriginal person, what do I want to contribute? What do I want to be known as? What makes me Aboriginal….?
Putting face to the many loving and intact Aboriginal families and engaged and active #IndigenousDads is necessary to reject Leak’s caricature of us, equally we need to find a way to talk about some sad realities beyond the reach of the Bill Leaks of the world and beyond the reach of those who fight with or against him over the top of us.
Australian likes to see itself as the Lucky Country, the land of the fair go, home of the ‘Aussie battler’. We like stories of underdog battling against the odds, even if they don’t always overcome them – Ned Kelly, ANZACs at Gallipoli, the Australian farmer, convicts, bushrangers – these are our national heroes.
These are how many Australians still like to view themselves, even though most Australians today have never farmed the land or even ridden a horse, have never fought in a war (thankfully!), were not sent to Australia in chains, and have never even worn a trashcan on our heads while having a shootout with police.
I was once tapped as ‘young Indigenous leader’, and have been invited to various equivalent programs over the years to talk to the next generation of ‘young leaders’ and it has never really sat that well with me that the opportunities provided to our ‘young leaders’ don’t seem to continue very well after we turn 25. What is the point of focusing on recruitment if there is not a similar focus on retention and promotion?
Me, being all young Indigenous leadery and whatnot.
This week on @IndigenousX we had Associate Professor Bronwyn Carlson sharing some really interesting history about the politics of Aboriginal identity in the past and present. I thought I’d put some of them here for those peeps who aren’t on Twitter or who missed some of the conversation. (As the tweets are embedded the profile picture and name will change as the host changes, but these tweet were all sent while Bronwyn was hosting.)
I'm interested in talking about Indigenous identity. Here is a bit about me
Who’s counting?, on Inside Story https://t.co/stO2g5eXAs
— Bronwyn Carlson (@IndigenousX) 10 March 2016
Earlier this week saw the release of the first ever Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders owned and led Sexuality and Gender Diverse Populations (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual, Queer and Intersex – LGBTQI) Roundtable Report. This report is via the federally funded Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Evaluation Project (ATSISPEP). A small group of people identifying as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer or Intersex (LGBTQI) participated in the third national roundtable also co-hosted by the National Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander Healing Foundation in Canberra on 16th March 2015.
“It’s not easy being Aboriginal, out there. It is not easy”
(Kickett 1999, p. 74)
As I recently sat at the airport waiting for my plane, I picked up a copy of The Australian to pass the time. On the front page was the headline ‘Push for Aboriginal ID tests by indigenous leaders’. It was no surprise to see such a sensationalised introduction to the issue of Aboriginal identity. Such headlines have become commonplace in recent years. Today, another headline, and again in The Australian, ‘Land council slams Aboriginality rorts’. All too often the process of obtaining proof of Aboriginality is framed by much mainstream media as an easy task. This is usually set against the sub-text that there are masses of people fraudulently claiming to be Aboriginal for all the perceived ‘benefits’. I have been doing several radio interviews of late and I have frequently been asked about the stories in The Australian. While I am not familiar with these ‘new’ iteration of mainstream media’s interpretation of this issue, I do claim some knowledge of this topic, having written about the Confirmation of Aboriginality in my new book.
Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.
This is the mantra of social commentators everywhere: anti-welfare and pro-free market. The argument goes that economic self-determination is the key to overcoming Indigenous disadvantage and will be achieved from employment, enterprise and entrepreneurship.