Blind Justice? Not in our experience.

In BlogX by Nat Cromb

Author: Nat Cromb

Share this Post

Nat Cromb is a Gamilaraay mother, legal professional, writer and social justice advocate.

I am claustrophobic. I don’t like enclosed spaces and if someone hugs me for too long, I tend to be forceful in ending it. If anyone restricts the movement of my arms I lose reason and flail, resisting the feeling of restraint. If police officers tried to restrain me, I would instinctively try to pull my arms free and resist. It is my instinct, something I cannot help. This response to the terror of being restrained could get me killed.

It is all too real. This happened to David Dungay Jr, an Indigenous man who died horrifically in custody and is now the subject of an inquest.

For many Indigenous people, myself included, this case is triggering. While the pain makes it hard to interact with the case and the story – we owe it to David and his family to know his case and fight for justice for David and for the many others at risk because, as Indigenous people in this country know, a custodial sentence gives rise to a material risk of death inside.

As I watched the footage [deliberately omitted from this article] of the last moments of David Dungay Jr’s life, I felt his terror and even though I knew what the outcome was – I was holding my breath waiting for some humanity where he would be freed from restraint and be able to breathe deeply. I knew that the instinctive response of his body was an attempt to gain enough freedom to breathe. He was in terror trying his hardest to get free in order to suck in air.

That humanity never came. Instead we saw officers who are trained on the risks of positional asphyxiation disregard their training and berate him for “resisting” and belittling him with “if you can talk you can breathe.” These men knew of the risk, knew that he was unable to breathe and ignored his cries for help. In his terror, movements become reactionary. Of course you would resist restraint in circumstances where you were restrained into a position that precluded breathing. They were killing him and he was trying to survive.

His terror is something I won’t forget. I was rattled watching that footage and despite my love for him as a brother, I did not know David, but those moments where I felt his terror – despite my own – I was hoping with all that I was that he would be allowed to just breathe. I cannot imagine the pain of his family who bear witness to his final moments, see, hear and feel that terror but I feel that I need to state the obvious to all of those out there that are believing the rhetoric of the officers who are self-interested in their testimony.

They knew the risks. They ignored his pleas for help and air. It is obvious from viewing of the footage that they treated him with contempt.

These men now claim they thought he was tricking them from testimonial at the inquest. The life of David so immaterial to these men that they actually consider the fact that they now claim they thought he was tricking them as a reasonable excuse to ignore his pleas for help.

Leaving aside that these men have had ample time to consider their words carefully, so what? You would rather risk a man’s life than risk that it is all a trick? Is it not worth the risk of copping a fist from an unarmed man to check his welfare and allow him room to clear his airways and breathe?

Does it not compute that a reasonable physical reaction to blocked airways is resistance?

I don’t profess to be the subject matter expert nor a criminologist, but in law school we are taught there are two elements to murder; actus reus (the act) and mens rea (the mental element).

The footage is self-evident, these men clearly restricted David to the point where he died of positional asphyxiation with varying degrees of involvement. The mental element is the more difficult element to make out even in this case, however, knowing that these men are trained on the risks of positional asphyxiation and seeing footage that demonstrates their abandonment of this training to place him in a position in which he could not breath, failed to listen to his pleas for help and instead argued with a man in his final moments of terror gasping for breath does raise an issue that would be subject to extensive legal debate.

The Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) defines murder in Section 18 as “the act, or thing by him or her omitted to be done, causing the death charged, was done or omitted with reckless indifference to human life, or with intent to kill or inflict grievous bodily harm upon some person.” There are volumes of legal analysis on each of these elements, which perhaps gives insight into the complexities and nuance of legal argument and it may well be that these men will be the subject of such discussion, but bearing in mind I am forming a view as a witness to the horrific footage of David’s final moments, I view the actions of the men as vile. Actions that I would find it tremendously difficult to reconcile if I were David’s family, and even harder if this is yet another case in which there is no consequence for a preventable death in custody.

It is my opinion that these men knew or ought to have known by virtue of their training that positional asphyxiation was a material risk of their handling of David and their ignorance to his pleas that he was unable to breath and their failure to immediately act to adjust him so that he was able to breathe is an omission that caused his death. There will be further conjecture as to whether this is sufficient to constitute reckless indifference to human life occasioning death as prescribed by Section 18 of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW), but one thing is certain, this death was preventable and these officers should be accountable for their actions.

We know that justice is not blind in this country. We will wait to see what the outcome of the inquest is and what the finding of the coroner is to be. The family and Indigenous community undoubtedly hoping that there is a recommendation for charges to be laid. If for nothing else, to ensure that all officers take their responsibilities seriously and consider the welfare of people in their custody. I have seen enough of these abhorrent cases to understand that charges are unlikely.

I would like to send my love and solidarity to the family of David. We know what happened. It will not be forgotten and we will continue to agitate for justice alongside you.

Rest in Peace David.

Share this Post

Author: Dameyon Bonson

Share this Post

Dameyon Bonson, a Mangarayi and Torres Strait Islander man, based in the Kimberley. He has a keen interest in social enterprise and value based market economics. His expertise includes Indigenous suicide prevention and strategising Male health engagement. He is the founder of Black Rainbow Living Well™ and YFRONTS™.

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.

You can download the report here.

Whilst there is much to celebrate with this achievement. There is still sadness in my heart that the lives of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBQTI community, who are undeniably the highest risk of suicide, self-harm, alcohol and other drug self medication, has apparently not attracted the attention of the wider mental health and suicide prevention sector.
What we know from the diligence of our Native American brothers and sisters is that over half of Native trans* people have attempted suicide. They have found prevalence of suicide attempts of trans* people is highest among American Indian or Alaska Native (56%). That Native American LGBQTI people experience even more prejudice and discrimination and have higher rates of suicide deaths, attempts, and ideation than heterosexual Native American and LGBQTI people of any other racial/ethnic backgrounds in the US.
 
It is staggering the very visual and obvious scarring that comes with cutting; a non-suicidal self injury mainly undertaken as another self medication and relief.
 
It is staggering the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBQTI people whom turn to alcohol and other drugs to self medicate against homophobia and heterosexism.

I will intend to raise these issues at the UNPFII in New York, where I hope to lobby successfully for an international consortium to look at the SDOH affecting Indigenous LGBQTI people at an international level. The outcome of this meeting will be presented at the World Indigenous Suicide Prevention Conference in New Zealand later this year.

Nationally and globally there has been limited investment in the social and emotional wellbeing of Indigenous LGBQTI people, outside of HIV. Which is how we are constantly framed and carries with it significant stigma – even in 2016.
 
There are currently 7 publications on the health and wellbeing of LGBQTI Australians, one or two have a discussion point of the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBQTI people. But that’s where it starts and ends.

The Sexuality and Gender Diverse Populations (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual, Queer and Intersex – LGBTQI) Roundtable Report references a report I undertook, self funded. This will be released in the coming months via in kind contributions from the construction sector.
 
I am extremely grateful, as are many from our community, for the opportunity the ATSTSPEP project has presented us as group.

Ongoing discussions will create greater understanding of the experiences of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBQTI community.
 
For example, the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBQTI people need to be viewed through the interconnected lens of our sexual, gender and Indigenous identities. Through an intersectional lens that posits the social determinants of our health; taking into consideration the devastating effects of whiteness, racism, heterosexism and homophobia.
However, there is a significant underestimation of the urgent and unmet need the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBQTI is faced with.

Those of us alive today, we are the lucky ones. We made it through. A lot of our mob are dead and there is way too many more out there struggling.
 
A 40-year-old Aboriginal Trans* Man with a physical disability and suffering from depression, up until 6 weeks ago was homeless. He was sleeping in his car at the beach and in car parks of the mountains in and around Melbourne. With the help of the networks of Black Rainbow, we were able to help him raise, via crowdfunding, the $3000 needed to secure him a bond. Through our networks we were able to get him on the radar of the Victorian Aboriginal Health Service (VAHS), who now provide him with the medical and social support he needs. Through these same networks we were also able to get him some case management, and this came via NSW. He lives in Victoria.
 
Where does a 40-year-old Aboriginal Trans* Man with a physical disability and suffering from depression go for help? There is no one door. Behind one there can be racism, behind another trans*phobia, behind another stigma associated with mental health. It goes on, and on.
 
A staggering 84% of respondents to the survey that informs my report, when asked if they had been affected by suicide, said ‘Yes’.
 
An encouraging 88% respondents answered ‘Yes’ when asked if wanting to see an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, Sistergirls and Brotherboy Suicide Prevention, wellbeing and healing strategy.
 
Both Canada and New Zealand have strategies for their Indigenous LGBQTI people. We could have one too. It is not that the work isn’t being done or that there isn’t people to do it. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBQTI roundtable in Canberra is testament to this. So too is the work of Maddee Clark, Steven Lindsay Ross, Andrew Farrell, Casey Conway and Tanya Quakawoot.

It is not that partnerships with research institutions haven’t been initiated, they have. I personally nurtured a relationship for 18 months and at the last minute was told, ‘No’, because the research institutions were not sure if it would be funded in the second half of 2016.
 
Senator Nova Peris, penned a letter of supporting our community and Black Rainbow to a large mainstream NGO, whom came back with ‘we have no money’.
 
A national LGBQTI group also knocked back a partnership when approached to co-submit for the Indigenous Advancement Strategy – their response was also a ‘no’.

Special mention to Indigenous Allied Health Australia and to the Healing Foundation for their ongoing support in this area, and no doubt there are many others that can also be mentioned. Solidarity is a great thing; it empowers us to continue to be active in our advocacy. Because, the urgency of the suicidality of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBQTI people can not be underestimated.
 
From the Sexuality and Gender Diverse Populations Roundtable (18 March 2015),
– “The urgent need for research led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander sexuality and gender diverse populations was stated in the responses of the participants in the Sexuality and Gender Diverse Populations Roundtable” (pg 12).
– “We need to have direct representation at the decision-making tables, we need to be co-leading or leading and not just from the distance doing some advising” (Sexuality and Gender Diverse Roundtable Participant).
This was being reinforced and identified for a number of purposes:
 
1.         To ensure that the voices of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander sexuality and gender diverse community are valued and present;

2.         To ensure ownership of the issues, the analysis and conclusions with respect to sexuality and gender diverse people;

3.         To ensure that new insights involving sexuality and gender diverse populations are recognised;

4.         To connect the voices of the sexuality and gender diverse community directly to evolving policy wherever possible and appropriate; and

5.         To guide further development of ideas found in current reports and literature to supplement the sexuality and gender diverse populations’ concerns that emerged in the Roundtable.
 
From within the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Conference organising committee folks are advocating, with the support of others, for the need to equitable distribution of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBQTI voices. What is so great about this conference as well, is the inclusion of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBQTI community across all stream and themes rather that delegated to a ‘high risk’ category of it s own. The rational behind this is because we too, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBQTI people, form part of the wider Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.

I write this with respect in my heart and love in my soul. But lip service can no longer be paid to the idea that ‘suicide is everybody’s business’ when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBTI people are too often still being excluded.

Sexuality and Gender Diverse Populations (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual, Queer and Intersex – LGBTQI) Roundtable Report.

If you or anyone you know needs help, contact Lifeline Australia on 13 11 14, or speak to your local Aboriginal Medical Service.

Share this Post

Author: Dameyon Bonson

Share this Post

Dameyon Bonson, a Mangarayi and Torres Strait Islander man, based in the Kimberley. He has a keen interest in social enterprise and value based market economics. His expertise includes Indigenous suicide prevention and strategising Male health engagement. He is the founder of Black Rainbow Living Well™ and YFRONTS™.

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.

You can download the report here.

Whilst there is much to celebrate with this achievement. There is still sadness in my heart that the lives of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBQTI community, who are undeniably the highest risk of suicide, self-harm, alcohol and other drug self medication, has apparently not attracted the attention of the wider mental health and suicide prevention sector.
What we know from the diligence of our Native American brothers and sisters is that over half of Native trans* people have attempted suicide. They have found prevalence of suicide attempts of trans* people is highest among American Indian or Alaska Native (56%). That Native American LGBQTI people experience even more prejudice and discrimination and have higher rates of suicide deaths, attempts, and ideation than heterosexual Native American and LGBQTI people of any other racial/ethnic backgrounds in the US.
 
It is staggering the very visual and obvious scarring that comes with cutting; a non-suicidal self injury mainly undertaken as another self medication and relief.
 
It is staggering the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBQTI people whom turn to alcohol and other drugs to self medicate against homophobia and heterosexism.

I will intend to raise these issues at the UNPFII in New York, where I hope to lobby successfully for an international consortium to look at the SDOH affecting Indigenous LGBQTI people at an international level. The outcome of this meeting will be presented at the World Indigenous Suicide Prevention Conference in New Zealand later this year.

Nationally and globally there has been limited investment in the social and emotional wellbeing of Indigenous LGBQTI people, outside of HIV. Which is how we are constantly framed and carries with it significant stigma – even in 2016.
 
There are currently 7 publications on the health and wellbeing of LGBQTI Australians, one or two have a discussion point of the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBQTI people. But that’s where it starts and ends.

The Sexuality and Gender Diverse Populations (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual, Queer and Intersex – LGBTQI) Roundtable Report references a report I undertook, self funded. This will be released in the coming months via in kind contributions from the construction sector.
 
I am extremely grateful, as are many from our community, for the opportunity the ATSTSPEP project has presented us as group.

Ongoing discussions will create greater understanding of the experiences of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBQTI community.
 
For example, the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBQTI people need to be viewed through the interconnected lens of our sexual, gender and Indigenous identities. Through an intersectional lens that posits the social determinants of our health; taking into consideration the devastating effects of whiteness, racism, heterosexism and homophobia.
However, there is a significant underestimation of the urgent and unmet need the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBQTI is faced with.

Those of us alive today, we are the lucky ones. We made it through. A lot of our mob are dead and there is way too many more out there struggling.
 
A 40-year-old Aboriginal Trans* Man with a physical disability and suffering from depression, up until 6 weeks ago was homeless. He was sleeping in his car at the beach and in car parks of the mountains in and around Melbourne. With the help of the networks of Black Rainbow, we were able to help him raise, via crowdfunding, the $3000 needed to secure him a bond. Through our networks we were able to get him on the radar of the Victorian Aboriginal Health Service (VAHS), who now provide him with the medical and social support he needs. Through these same networks we were also able to get him some case management, and this came via NSW. He lives in Victoria.
 
Where does a 40-year-old Aboriginal Trans* Man with a physical disability and suffering from depression go for help? There is no one door. Behind one there can be racism, behind another trans*phobia, behind another stigma associated with mental health. It goes on, and on.
 
A staggering 84% of respondents to the survey that informs my report, when asked if they had been affected by suicide, said ‘Yes’.
 
An encouraging 88% respondents answered ‘Yes’ when asked if wanting to see an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, Sistergirls and Brotherboy Suicide Prevention, wellbeing and healing strategy.
 
Both Canada and New Zealand have strategies for their Indigenous LGBQTI people. We could have one too. It is not that the work isn’t being done or that there isn’t people to do it. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBQTI roundtable in Canberra is testament to this. So too is the work of Maddee Clark, Steven Lindsay Ross, Andrew Farrell, Casey Conway and Tanya Quakawoot.

It is not that partnerships with research institutions haven’t been initiated, they have. I personally nurtured a relationship for 18 months and at the last minute was told, ‘No’, because the research institutions were not sure if it would be funded in the second half of 2016.
 
Senator Nova Peris, penned a letter of supporting our community and Black Rainbow to a large mainstream NGO, whom came back with ‘we have no money’.
 
A national LGBQTI group also knocked back a partnership when approached to co-submit for the Indigenous Advancement Strategy – their response was also a ‘no’.

Special mention to Indigenous Allied Health Australia and to the Healing Foundation for their ongoing support in this area, and no doubt there are many others that can also be mentioned. Solidarity is a great thing; it empowers us to continue to be active in our advocacy. Because, the urgency of the suicidality of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBQTI people can not be underestimated.
 
From the Sexuality and Gender Diverse Populations Roundtable (18 March 2015),
– “The urgent need for research led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander sexuality and gender diverse populations was stated in the responses of the participants in the Sexuality and Gender Diverse Populations Roundtable” (pg 12).
– “We need to have direct representation at the decision-making tables, we need to be co-leading or leading and not just from the distance doing some advising” (Sexuality and Gender Diverse Roundtable Participant).
This was being reinforced and identified for a number of purposes:
 
1.         To ensure that the voices of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander sexuality and gender diverse community are valued and present;

2.         To ensure ownership of the issues, the analysis and conclusions with respect to sexuality and gender diverse people;

3.         To ensure that new insights involving sexuality and gender diverse populations are recognised;

4.         To connect the voices of the sexuality and gender diverse community directly to evolving policy wherever possible and appropriate; and

5.         To guide further development of ideas found in current reports and literature to supplement the sexuality and gender diverse populations’ concerns that emerged in the Roundtable.
 
From within the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Conference organising committee folks are advocating, with the support of others, for the need to equitable distribution of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBQTI voices. What is so great about this conference as well, is the inclusion of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBQTI community across all stream and themes rather that delegated to a ‘high risk’ category of it s own. The rational behind this is because we too, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBQTI people, form part of the wider Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.

I write this with respect in my heart and love in my soul. But lip service can no longer be paid to the idea that ‘suicide is everybody’s business’ when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBTI people are too often still being excluded.

Sexuality and Gender Diverse Populations (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual, Queer and Intersex – LGBTQI) Roundtable Report.

If you or anyone you know needs help, contact Lifeline Australia on 13 11 14, or speak to your local Aboriginal Medical Service.

Share this Post

Author: Dameyon Bonson

Share this Post

Dameyon Bonson, a Mangarayi and Torres Strait Islander man, based in the Kimberley. He has a keen interest in social enterprise and value based market economics. His expertise includes Indigenous suicide prevention and strategising Male health engagement. He is the founder of Black Rainbow Living Well™ and YFRONTS™.

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.

You can download the report here.

Whilst there is much to celebrate with this achievement. There is still sadness in my heart that the lives of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBQTI community, who are undeniably the highest risk of suicide, self-harm, alcohol and other drug self medication, has apparently not attracted the attention of the wider mental health and suicide prevention sector.
What we know from the diligence of our Native American brothers and sisters is that over half of Native trans* people have attempted suicide. They have found prevalence of suicide attempts of trans* people is highest among American Indian or Alaska Native (56%). That Native American LGBQTI people experience even more prejudice and discrimination and have higher rates of suicide deaths, attempts, and ideation than heterosexual Native American and LGBQTI people of any other racial/ethnic backgrounds in the US.
 
It is staggering the very visual and obvious scarring that comes with cutting; a non-suicidal self injury mainly undertaken as another self medication and relief.
 
It is staggering the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBQTI people whom turn to alcohol and other drugs to self medicate against homophobia and heterosexism.

I will intend to raise these issues at the UNPFII in New York, where I hope to lobby successfully for an international consortium to look at the SDOH affecting Indigenous LGBQTI people at an international level. The outcome of this meeting will be presented at the World Indigenous Suicide Prevention Conference in New Zealand later this year.

Nationally and globally there has been limited investment in the social and emotional wellbeing of Indigenous LGBQTI people, outside of HIV. Which is how we are constantly framed and carries with it significant stigma – even in 2016.
 
There are currently 7 publications on the health and wellbeing of LGBQTI Australians, one or two have a discussion point of the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBQTI people. But that’s where it starts and ends.

The Sexuality and Gender Diverse Populations (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual, Queer and Intersex – LGBTQI) Roundtable Report references a report I undertook, self funded. This will be released in the coming months via in kind contributions from the construction sector.
 
I am extremely grateful, as are many from our community, for the opportunity the ATSTSPEP project has presented us as group.

Ongoing discussions will create greater understanding of the experiences of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBQTI community.
 
For example, the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBQTI people need to be viewed through the interconnected lens of our sexual, gender and Indigenous identities. Through an intersectional lens that posits the social determinants of our health; taking into consideration the devastating effects of whiteness, racism, heterosexism and homophobia.
However, there is a significant underestimation of the urgent and unmet need the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBQTI is faced with.

Those of us alive today, we are the lucky ones. We made it through. A lot of our mob are dead and there is way too many more out there struggling.
 
A 40-year-old Aboriginal Trans* Man with a physical disability and suffering from depression, up until 6 weeks ago was homeless. He was sleeping in his car at the beach and in car parks of the mountains in and around Melbourne. With the help of the networks of Black Rainbow, we were able to help him raise, via crowdfunding, the $3000 needed to secure him a bond. Through our networks we were able to get him on the radar of the Victorian Aboriginal Health Service (VAHS), who now provide him with the medical and social support he needs. Through these same networks we were also able to get him some case management, and this came via NSW. He lives in Victoria.
 
Where does a 40-year-old Aboriginal Trans* Man with a physical disability and suffering from depression go for help? There is no one door. Behind one there can be racism, behind another trans*phobia, behind another stigma associated with mental health. It goes on, and on.
 
A staggering 84% of respondents to the survey that informs my report, when asked if they had been affected by suicide, said ‘Yes’.
 
An encouraging 88% respondents answered ‘Yes’ when asked if wanting to see an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, Sistergirls and Brotherboy Suicide Prevention, wellbeing and healing strategy.
 
Both Canada and New Zealand have strategies for their Indigenous LGBQTI people. We could have one too. It is not that the work isn’t being done or that there isn’t people to do it. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBQTI roundtable in Canberra is testament to this. So too is the work of Maddee Clark, Steven Lindsay Ross, Andrew Farrell, Casey Conway and Tanya Quakawoot.

It is not that partnerships with research institutions haven’t been initiated, they have. I personally nurtured a relationship for 18 months and at the last minute was told, ‘No’, because the research institutions were not sure if it would be funded in the second half of 2016.
 
Senator Nova Peris, penned a letter of supporting our community and Black Rainbow to a large mainstream NGO, whom came back with ‘we have no money’.
 
A national LGBQTI group also knocked back a partnership when approached to co-submit for the Indigenous Advancement Strategy – their response was also a ‘no’.

Special mention to Indigenous Allied Health Australia and to the Healing Foundation for their ongoing support in this area, and no doubt there are many others that can also be mentioned. Solidarity is a great thing; it empowers us to continue to be active in our advocacy. Because, the urgency of the suicidality of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBQTI people can not be underestimated.
 
From the Sexuality and Gender Diverse Populations Roundtable (18 March 2015),
– “The urgent need for research led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander sexuality and gender diverse populations was stated in the responses of the participants in the Sexuality and Gender Diverse Populations Roundtable” (pg 12).
– “We need to have direct representation at the decision-making tables, we need to be co-leading or leading and not just from the distance doing some advising” (Sexuality and Gender Diverse Roundtable Participant).
This was being reinforced and identified for a number of purposes:
 
1.         To ensure that the voices of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander sexuality and gender diverse community are valued and present;

2.         To ensure ownership of the issues, the analysis and conclusions with respect to sexuality and gender diverse people;

3.         To ensure that new insights involving sexuality and gender diverse populations are recognised;

4.         To connect the voices of the sexuality and gender diverse community directly to evolving policy wherever possible and appropriate; and

5.         To guide further development of ideas found in current reports and literature to supplement the sexuality and gender diverse populations’ concerns that emerged in the Roundtable.
 
From within the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Conference organising committee folks are advocating, with the support of others, for the need to equitable distribution of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBQTI voices. What is so great about this conference as well, is the inclusion of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBQTI community across all stream and themes rather that delegated to a ‘high risk’ category of it s own. The rational behind this is because we too, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBQTI people, form part of the wider Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.

I write this with respect in my heart and love in my soul. But lip service can no longer be paid to the idea that ‘suicide is everybody’s business’ when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBTI people are too often still being excluded.

Sexuality and Gender Diverse Populations (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual, Queer and Intersex – LGBTQI) Roundtable Report.

If you or anyone you know needs help, contact Lifeline Australia on 13 11 14, or speak to your local Aboriginal Medical Service.

Share this Post

Liked it? Take a second to support IndigenousX on Patreon!