An Open Letter to a Teacher from an Aboriginal Parent, 1977

(Adapted from an open letter, from a parent to a teacher published in the Native Perspective July – August 1977)

Dear Sir/Madam

Before you take charge of the classroom that contains my child, please ask yourself why you are going to teach Aboriginal children.

Are White Student Unions At Universities Really Such A Bad Idea?

Yes. They really are a bad idea. (I could pretty much end it there, but that probably doesn’t make for a very interesting post though, so I’ll go on a bit of a rant as well and see where it takes us…)

In fairness, not as bad an idea as the NT Intervention, or trying to implement religious tests for refugees, or cutting over half a billion dollars from Indigenous Affairs, and not even as bad an idea as giving Bolt his own tv show, but still… it’s a pretty bad idea.

What is the cost of being ‘Australian’?

The past week has seen a continuation and an escalation of terror. Attacks of terror and counter-attacks of terror have hit numerous countries, leaving hundreds dead, thousands of friends and family members in mourning, and many around the world feeling lost, fearful, hurt, confused, and looking for something, anything, to ‘do’ in response to all of it.

Why We Will Never Find The ‘Most Appropriate’ Term To Refer To All Indigenous Australians.

Finding the ‘most appropriate’ term to refer to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples/Indigenous Australians/First Australians/First Peoples/First Nations etc is like the Holy Grail of stuff that seems like it would be way easier than it actually is to resolve. Sadly though, it is a conversation that will never go away, and is also one that will probably never be entirely resolved.

A big part of the problem stems from the refusal to accept and use the hundreds of original names that exist, eg Wiradjuri, Noongar, Gamilaroi, etc, and even that often has the issue of agreed upon English spelling of these words. This also doesn’t solve the desire to refer to all groups under a single banner, even though we never had one ourselves.

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Cultural Awareness Training Is Not A Punishment, Or A Cure-All For Institutional Racism

By now you could possibly have seen the story about a South Australian cop who called an Aboriginal man a “black c—” and said he would like to “tie the hose around your neck, set you on fire, and drag you around the streets attached to our car with the lights and sirens on.” I say possibly because the story did not get much airtime in the national press and the police officer in question was neither demoted nor fired.

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We dodged bullets to win land rights. It’s time for the next generation to take up the fight

When land rights were first won for Aboriginal people, it was about asserting our rights and traditions. Today it’s about continuing that legacy and ensuring future generations can benefit from the land.

In our fight for land rights in the 1970s and 1980s, we dodged bullets, we got beat up and locked up. But we kept turning up and we won the day. In New South Wales the Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1983 was enacted and we had the power to make our own decisions and elect our own representatives to make these decisions on our behalf.

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I’m Not A ‘Proud Australian’

I don’t “feel” Australian. I don’t ever identify as just “Australian”. I don’t sing the anthem. I don’t wave the flag and don’t really care when I see someone burning it. I don’t feel proud on Australia Day. I don’t eat lamb chops. Frankly, I don’t particularly care for the people who do all the aforementioned. Indeed, a good portion of the time, I tend to view them with disdain and frustration.

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The walk for reconciliation changed my life. I still believe we can walk together

There are many current issues in Indigenous affairs I could write on: the closure of Aboriginal communities in Western Australia, the deregistering of sacred sites, the levels of uncertainty surrounding constitutional recognition, the poor outcomes for Aboriginal people on every significant social measure in Australia.

However, if people already refuse to listen to the evidence and the experts, the reports and the statistics, or to everyone else that talks so powerfully and passionately about these issues, then it’s more than likely that they, and the powers that be, won’t listen to me either. I’m no expert. I’m just a person who, like so many others, quietly and humbly works hard at their job and struggles to ensure that – together with my partner – I put food on the table and keep a roof over my children’s heads.