IndigenousX – Election 2022

26 Apr 2022

The election campaign for 2022 is riddled with point-scoring and game playing. We are not here for that, we are here to check the record on the issues that matter.

We are roughly four weeks out from the next federal election and IndigenousX has been watching the campaign setting announcements, the focal issues, and the point scoring closely to examine just where we place in the priority list.

Aside from the Voice to Parliament issue being discussed at a high level; Labor intends to hold a Referendum on the issue in the first term if elected and the Coalition’s Minister for Indigenous Affairs Ken Wyatt refuses to commit to the timing of a referendum because they are apparently “committed to getting it right” and have set about their own model, ignoring the work in designing the Voice, Treaty Truth model of the Uluru dialogues. Instead, the Coalition is adopting a Voice Co-Design approach with the final report delivered. No word on the legislative implementation that is intended to result from this report. The Australian Greens Party have taken an alternative approach to the two major parties by withdrawing support from the Voice, Treaty, Truth campaign and instead wish to focus efforts on Treaty first as a matter of sequence.

While the policy issue is one that is critical to the future landscape for our people and communities, we know that national policies that are intended to be legislated, documented, implemented, and enforced as proposed take a lot of time. After all, the Uluru dialogues commenced in 2016, and the design earlier than that so this particular issue is a slow burn, not through lack of will from our communities to see change, but rather lack of political will to forge ahead regardless of approach.

It is little surprise then that our communities are fed up with the clear game playing happening on the national stage in the lead-up to the election. The issues that we see as critical to our community and people are not getting attention, instead we see a media saturation of gaffes, photo opportunities, filler busters and promises that speak to the condescension and contempt of politicians towards the very people they work for. They are trying to set the tone on what they see the issue as without actual interrogation of community concerns and issues and this lack of insight and empathy shows the inadequacy of leadership.

These people have made it their career to represent and lead. It is their entire job, and their focus is on playing games instead of delivering upon the requirements of their roles. 

The inquest into the death of Victoria Nelson while in custody starts today. We will watch this closely and support the family’s right to answers, their right to dignity in their grief, and their pursuit of justice. Victoria’s inquest is a devastating reminder and further evidence of the trauma being experienced in so many of our families and communities as a result of our interaction with the criminal justice system and the healthcare system in this country.

The issue of the criminal justice system in this country is a central one for our community but we know based on past campaigns, the ‘tough on crime’ angle plays well to the masses who fail to comprehend the complexities of interaction with the system, the structural and systemic racism of the criminal justice system and the failures of the community of Australia in implementing community care. This issue is one we will examine closely in our political campaign deep dive.

The Australian healthcare system is another matter that should be central to campaign discussion. While they are trying to present a picture that erases the last 2 years of critical failures in our governments to adequately resource our public health infrastructure and communicate nationally aligned and informed health advice, they are failing once again to address the issues that they are required to represent on. Not only is the health infrastructure grossly under-resourced, but there are also significant access to healthcare issues and bureaucratic finger-pointing that makes the ineptitude we see circular with no solutions. Following the latest Coalition budget, our peak bodies have confirmed disappointment and lack of foresight in governmental spending.

The current pattern of spending under the category of ‘education’ is something that we will unpack too – very telling when you follow the paper trail as to where the political priorities line up. One thing is for sure, change is needed and we will examine which political choices will bring about the change needed in this space.

In circumstances where family and domestic violence saw a significant increase in the incidence rate and need for support throughout the global pandemic and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are disproportionally affected by this violence (on average, one woman dies per week in this country from this violence), the roadmap to addressing this should be at the forefront of the political campaigns. In its place, we have seen transphobic statements be portrayed and conflated as ‘standing up for women’s rights.’ If women’s rights are something that this government, then it should have been a priority throughout their term in power. Instead, they opted to attempt to humanise the empathy training failure who requires his wife and children to point out that women are deserving of empathy with family interviews where activists are told to have better manners.

Dunghutti woman Ashlee Donohue has worked tirelessly on supporting women and addressing domestic violence in this country. An author and CEO of Mudgin-Gal, Ashlee not only has extensive experience working in this space but she has lived experience that fuels the fire when it comes to doing this work. Ashlee has called for a national definition of Family and Domestic Violence and is a vocal advocate for funding for frontline services. Instead, there has been a significant decline in funding for frontline services while the issue itself is on the rise. The ignorance of the perspectives of Black women doing the work is the opposite of what needs to happen. As Amy McQuire advocates, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women must be centred on addressing this issue at a national level, not solely because of our statistically significant disparity when it comes to being more likely to be hospitalised or killed from this violence, but because the ways in which this is discussed and the solutions being proposed by those in the room need to be culturally appropriate and informed. All too often, white feminism is racist in its consideration and examination of the issue of feminism.

Over the next few weeks, we will examine the position of these political parties on real issues that affect our communities and allow our people and communities and our allies to go to the ballots aware of how each party responds to matters.

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