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Matthew Tjapaltjarri Heffernan

Matthew is a Pintupi-Luritja/Irish man, hailing from Alice Springs but now calling Darwin home. Matt was awarded a National Scholarship from “Global Voices” (A Non-Government Organisation promoting international diplomacy). This involved undertaking research to develop a paper for publication on “Indigenous Economic Development”. As part of the scholarship Matt travelled to New York City to participate in the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, where elements of the paper were included in the Global Youth Caucus’ final recommendations to the Forum. Matt was also invited to, and provided feedback in consultation with the United Nation’s “Global Compact” regarding Indigenous issues and corporate social responsibility policy. Now Matt is a regular contributor to IndigenousX, and the Northern Territory poetry/writing community as well as being a social commentator on Indigenous issues and NT politics. Now matt is a regular contributor to IndigenousX, and the Northern Territory poetry/writing community as well as being a social commentator on Indigenous issues and NT politics.
View all Matthew Tjapaltjarri's articles
Matt Heffernan
Matthew Tjapaltjarri's articles

We know ‘the system’ has long failed Aboriginal people – so why not cyberpunk it?

Indigenous disruption of cruel government policies could further the cause of self-determination and might even help save the planet

Ngurrparringu (Forgotten)

Irriti ngurra Warumpila ngayulu nyinapayi. Pulinguru walpangku ngyunya yunpa pampunu. (A long time ago, I lived on the land of my people, Warumpi. From the mountains, the wind would blow and caress my face.)

Racists in Australia had credibility long before the St Kilda rally

On and offline tempers have been flaring this week over the St Kilda neo-Nazi rally and the counterprotest.

Sky News, just stahp. You’re doing yourself zero favours.

Recently, a wonderful story hashtag-restored my faith in Australia’s mainstream media. For once it was talking somewhat positively about the homeless Indigenous people of Darwin. 

Don’t Redefine Indigenous, Redefine Good Government

Recently the Productivity Commission looked into the way in which GST revenue is distributed across Australia’s states and territories. Currently, GST revenue is carved up based on a number of factors to achieve what is called horizontal fiscal equalisation (HFE). This assessment involves a number of measurements, one of which includes taking into account the proportion of Indigenous people in each state or territory.

The Redfern Statement: Restating our need for self-determination

The Redfern statement, compiled by a collective of at least 55 Indigenous and Non-Indigenous organisations and peak-bodies has issued a bold challenge to whichever party is elected as Australia’s government come 2 July 2016, “It is time Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voices are heard and respected, it is time for action”.

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.

Changing Things I Cannot Accept

“Black Dolls, Gollywogs and Dictionaries” A common refrain people of non-European descent hear when we voice offense or concern is “political correctness gone mad”. Somehow nostalgia and tradition have become trump cards for the continued promotion and consumption of racist paraphernalia and vernacular. It’s no wonder then that for a lot of my peers and including myself, it’s easy to fall into a routine cynicism. However this is not the way it has to be, I want to share in this piece, moments of change in 2015, where taking action and reasserting our right to not be dehumanized in public spaces or institutions has resulted in progress. The first experience is a personal one, when I was in a local Darwin chemist and stumbled across this.

National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples: What will a new leadership structure bring?

If Australia as a nation wants to have a mature response to the socio-economic woes affecting its Indigenous population, self-determination, self-representation and direct input into political decision making and policy development are systems that must be implemented.
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