What Was 200 Years Ago?

The recent shenanigans around the use of ‘invasion’ instead of ‘settlement’ was annoying on so many levels. Not least of which was the stark reminder of how many Australians just require an inciting ‘green light’ from media to let loose a tirade of hatred and ignorance aimed at Aboriginal people.

It can happen at the drop of a hat, over the most insignificant of events. Even a years old document stating things that have been around for decades can set it off. Never mind that it is not an enforceable document demanding students think and talk in a certain way. Never mind Captain Cook, who wasn’t even mentioned in the document in question, was not the first white person to come to Australia. Never mind that the Australian national ethos can proudly embrace historical criminals who opposed government in the form of bushrangers, but feels threatened by the acknowledgement of Aboriginal resistance fighters. Never mind that the edicts from England which spoke of peaceful negotiations, purchasing land and forming treaties were completely ignored in favour of the myth of Terra Nullius, or that the infamous posters pictorially claiming that both white people and Aboriginal people alike would be hung for killing each other was completely ignored (the only white people to be hanged for killing Aboriginal people was after the Myall Creek Massacre, the only massacre that has entered mainstream Australian consciousness, not because of the horrific nature of the massacre itself, but because of the fact that white people were punished for it). Never mind any of that, because as amateur historian Kyle Sandilands said, “get over it, it’s 200 years ago.”

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Andy Saunders. The messages we send our kids, without even saying a thing

While holding her iPod my 10-year old daughter takes a break from her social media platform, she looks up and asks me “Dad, what did you have when you were my age”.

Me: “Baby, I had a pair of shorts, a haircut and a download called mum that uploaded real quick through clenched teeth, usually saying, ‘go outside’, and if I didn’t take note she would become louder with an extra word put in.”

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White Australia Still Has A Black History

That slogan is decades old, and it’s meaning hints at white Australia’s long standing reluctance to meaningfully acknowledge Aboriginal people and perspectives in the telling of our national history. Earlier this year a person wearing a shirt with this slogan on it was forced to turn it inside out before being allowed to enter Parliament House. Apparently this seemingly obvious concept is still perceived as threatening to the white Australian ideal of this land being ‘settled in peace and not war’.

Earlier this week, our most recent former PM went to great lengths to rewrite his own history in an article for Quadrant, and although he didn’t mention the words ‘Aboriginal’ or ‘Indigenous’ whatsoever in his article, he did manage to include the line that ““Unlike France or Britain, we lack a colonial past to complicate the present,” – this was just the latest in a long line of similar comments from Abbott in denying the existence of Aboriginal people (“Nothing but bush”) and the realities of invasion (“a form of foreign investment”).

Rowdy politician should do their job, or piss off back to Canberra

The sweeping election victory of the Country Liberal Party (CLP) in 2012, was due in no small part to the massive swing against Labor in the typically safe Labor “bush seats”, electorates made up of largely Indigenous people and Indigenous owned land. A neglectful and fatigued Labor party failed on numerous fronts to respond to the requests of their bush electorates and machinations of federal level politics also didn’t bode well for electoral victory. The subsequent CLP victory was a shock to many, but a long time coming.

Strangely, during the first weeks of the CLP’s governance, it very vocally and crudely tried to distance itself from the Labor party’s alcohol management policies. The most notable of which, was the “Banned Drinker’s Register” (BDR), dismantled within the first two weeks of winning government. The reasons for getting rid of this policy have varied and changed over a period of time, but a steady chorus of “look at the stats, it didn’t work” has been the fundamental basis of all their arguments (at least post-election) . A middle-schooler studying statistics and logic could quite quickly and easily highlight the fallaciousness of this argument, as trying to measure the success or failure rate of a public-health intervention only one year into operation is, frankly speaking, laughable. Laughable still, or perhaps perplexing to those who haven’t kept up with NT politics, is the somewhat recent CLP attempts at alcohol management policies, such as the placing of police officers at takeaway alcohol premises around the electorates in proximity to the bush seats, fulfilling a function almost identical to the BDR and at twice the cost. Health stats indicate there has actually been an increase in alcohol related injuries post-BDR. However, I won’t be making that argument here, just a remark intended as a friendly elbow jab and a wink.

Being Inclusive of Aboriginal People is Divisive Because… Reasons.

Divisive is one of those words that some politician used once to justify their racism, sexism, and/or homophobia and everyone else has just kinda jumped on the bandwagon.

The most recent example of this is the Council of Campbelltown SA refusing to fly the Aboriginal flag because apparently it would be ‘divisive’ to fly an official flag of Australia.

Apple, Facebook and Google Taken to Human Rights Commission over Racist Survival Island 3 App

A group of Aboriginal applicants have today lodged a group complaint to the Human Rights Commission against the multinational suppliers of the free online App/Game ‘Survival Island 3 – Australia Story 3D’ for racial vilification under section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act (RDA).

Survival Island 3 was developed by NIL Entertainment and made available worldwide online, including for download in Australia via a number of app stores including Apple iTunes, Amazon, and Google Playstore. The game creators and developers are located overseas.

Can a Treaty shift the racist ideology that plagues Indigenous Affairs? I hope so.

Underpinning all discussions and arguments about the best approach to policies and programs affecting indigenous people is the fundamental question of ‘Why?’.

Why are Aboriginal peoples around the country plagued by the well known and often flouted statistics: more likely to die from suicide, to go to jail, to have children removed, to die younger… the list goes on and on.

Senate Inquiry calls for major overhaul of failed Indigenous Advancement Strategy

The desire to rollout the seemingly ideologically based Indigenous Advancement Strategy (IAS) within a short timeframe appears to have been more important than genuine consultation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Organisations, a comprehensive regional needs analysis and transparency in the design and implementation.

The Senate Inquiry Report into the Advancement Strategy tendering processes by the Finance and Public Administration References Committee was released on 17th March 2016. Before this Report came out those of us who have been working in the Aboriginal Community Controlled sector knew that the IAS was chaos so the recommendations came as no surprise. I guess that’s one of the frustrations, had Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people been consulted all the way through the design and implementation the issues raised by the Report would have been less likely to occur.

#IdentityX

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.)