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Bronwyn Carlson. The politics of identity and who gets to decide who is – and isn’t – Indigenous

My name is Bronwyn Carlson and I am an Aboriginal woman who was born on and lives on Dharawal Country on the South Coast of NSW. I am an associate professor of Indigenous studies at the University of Wollongong

I have been talking about the politics of identity on IndigenousX and it has been an amazing experience having such a significant audience to talk with about my research on identity.


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Daniel Lester. Economic prosperity is crucial to improving social outcomes for Aboriginal people

I am Daniel Lester, a proud Wonnarua man and a descendant of the Lester family, born in the Sutherland shire with strong family connections to La Perouse and the south coast of NSW. I’m the first deputy ombudsman (Aboriginal programs) in NSW and Australia.

The broader NSW Ombudsman agency in which I sit is an independent and impartial watchdog, overseeing most public sector and many private sector agencies to make sure they meet their responsibilities to the community. Loosely translated, the word “ombudsman” means “the citizen’s defender” or “representative of the people”. We are independent of the government and accountable to the public through parliament itself. Our mandate is to improve the conduct and decision making of agencies within our jurisdiction.


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Tasman Keith. Indigenous Australia: it’s too late to redecorate; we need to demolish the crib

What’s up people? I go by the name of Tasman Keith, I’m a Goori man from Bowraville which is in the Gumbaynggirr Nation – my Aboriginal heritage comes from my father’s side. I also inherit bloodlines of Irish, Scottish and English from my mother’s side.

I’m a full-time musician and part-time school learning support officer at Bowraville Central. When I’m not working on music I’m helping the kids from primary and secondary with their education, which often gets sidetracked with either their questions on my music, or their questions on Aboriginal history.


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Kristy McMahon. As an Indigenous woman, it’s been a long, hard journey to find out where my family is from

My name is Kristy McMahon, I’m an Aboriginal woman from Brisbane. I have been fortunate to grow up strong in my identity as an Aboriginal woman, but like many other Indigenous families affected by the Stolen Generations I have had to struggle with not knowing where my mob is originally from, not knowing any stories of that place, and having far too few family stories to try and piece it together.

I’ve always known I was Aboriginal, and have always felt accepted into the community I’ve been living in. I got my confirmation of Aboriginality when I was young with my father and sister. I don’t remember why we got the forms, it was just something that you had to do. I know that Aboriginality is much more than just a piece of paper though, and have been trying to learn as much as I can about our family history.


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Sharon Davis. As an Aboriginal woman, I’ve learned education is essential to our freedom

I am from both the Bardi and Gija peoples of the Kimberley. My mother, her mother, and all my mothers before her were Aboriginal women. I am the product of past polices and practices, but also of love and reconciliation.

I grew up all over Australia. My family never really settled and looking back, I think it was the pull between black and white, between my mother’s country in the Kimberley and my Gudiya (non-Aboriginal) father’s place in the Blue Mountains that replicated my own inner turmoil in understanding Aboriginality.


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Pekeri Ruska. On this Invasion Day, I am angry. Australia has a long way to go

I am an Aboriginal women, born in 1987 into a staunch family who were ready to teach me and my siblings the truth from birth. They had walked the walk and had earned their right to talk the talk, to educate. But before I had even left my mother’s womb, I was a statistic, another Aboriginal person to be counted on the census to add to the 3% or so of other Aboriginal people that made up our population in 1987 on a continent where only 199 years prior to my birth, we made up 100% of it. By 1900, it was estimated that the Aboriginal population had decreased by 87%.


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Chris Bourke. This year, let’s ditch the Queen’s Birthday holiday and replace it with Mabo Day

Last June, the Queen’s Birthday public holiday passed by with very little fanfare. The Queen’s Birthday Honours were announced, and a small number of formal government events were hosted. But by and large, the meaning of the day has largely lost its significance among the public, becoming simply about getting the day off work. While we all enjoy the day off, the day could become far more symbolic of our national history.

This day commemorating of the Queen’s official birthday has little significance in the lives of the vast majority of Australians. It is a hangover from Australia’s colonial past. Last year my main emotion, along with many other Canberrans, was a sense of relief that Tony Abbott didn’t award another one of his infamous knighthoods.


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Joel Bayliss. I consider myself lucky to learn about my culture. Too many Aboriginal people missed out

My name is Joel Bayliss and I’m an Aboriginal man. My cultural ties stretch from Borroloola in the Top End, to the Arrernte lands of the central desert of the Northern Territory. I am a proud husband to Hilda, doting dad to to Ava and Isaiah.

The word identity means different things to different people. I identify as a husband, a father, a Crows and Glenelg supporter, a member of a political party and as stated before, an Aboriginal man.