Members of the Arrernte and Central Australian Aboriginal Strong Women's Group outside the Alice Springs Town Council chambers. Photo: Roxanne Highfold

Steve Bunbadgee Hodder Watt: Jacinta Price under fire from Aboriginal women

In BlogX, Good Reads, Media, Politics by Jack Latimore6 Comments

Steve Bunbadgee with Torres Strait Pigeon

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Steve Bunbadgee Hodder Watt is a Lardil man with English heritage who lived in central Australia for 30 years and has worked in Aboriginal media and theatre. He now lives back on Lardil homelands at Gununa and works as a media and youth manager.

Alice Springs town councillor Jacinta Nampijinpa Price has been at the receiving end of community criticism from groups in Alice Springs recently. Last week a petition was circulated on social media to protest against mainstream media’s representation of Ms Price as a community leader.

The petition, titled ‘As an Aboriginal Person Jacinta and Bess Price DO NOT represent me or speak on my behalf’ was started by Awabakal woman Tracey Ray who says both Jacinta and her mother Bess Nungarrayi Price – a former Housing minister of the failed Adam Giles-led Country Liberals NT government – are not at all representative of many Aboriginal people.

“I started it because I want our people to have a voice and for the rest of Australia to know that the ordinary Aboriginal person did not share the views of Price. That she didn’t speak on our behalf.” she says.  “I have been upset with the Prices now for some time.”

More recently, a collective of Aboriginal women from the central Australian region presented a statement to the first Alice Springs Town Council meeting for 2018 that called for an end to lateral violence, racial profiling, discrimination and constant vilification.  “[…] it is hurtful, it is divisive, it is unnecessary. It fuels tension in our community and incites bullying and racism towards us” claims the collective’s statement. 

Debra Maidment, from the Arrernte and central Australian Strong Aboriginal Women’s Group said the statement was a grassroots intervention to have Price follow respectful cultural protocol when discussing issues related to other Indigenous people’s regions. “This is the first time we’ve had to do this. She was speaking out against the Aboriginal flag flying on the (Sydney Harbour) bridge. Now, did she ask any Sydney mob if they didn’t want to fly the flag?”

Trisha Morton Thomas was also party to the strong women’s collective statement and says it is equally about a unified approach to dealing with our shared past and a reconciled future.

“It was the Arrernte women leading the charge and rightfully so. It is their country. The statement was a response but the women decided to address the nonsense in a constructive way, which was to highlight that leadership in Aboriginal communities is decided by the people and not by media or governments. They also wanted to address comments about Alice not being a racist town by stating that they have been at the brunt of racism their whole lives.”

The meeting was not attended by Ms Price, but her mother and father did attend with some extended family. Posts to social media later suggested that the Price family objected strongly to the Aboriginal Women’s Group statement. 

 Aboriginal councillor Catherine Satour says she was threatened with violence after delivering the statement to  the Town Council on behalf of the strong women’s group. Ms Satour wrote about the incident in a Facebook post:

“The ask was clear, “that Council support us in our endeavour to strive for unity, reconciliation and harmony amongst our Community of Alice Springs, so we can work together to address our problems and move forward”. This was unanimously supported in principle by the entire council.

“What followed this peaceful presentation has absolutely shaken me. I received threats of violence towards me from someone unidentified at this time. This has left me vulnerable and exposed with genuine fear for my safety. Police were called to the Council chambers where there remained a group of people on the lawns of Council. It concerns me that other Councillors have been exposed to similar threats.

“Let me be clear any threat or act of violence against women is completely unacceptable and should never occur. I will do all I can to stand strong against domestic violence and violence perpetrated against women…

“…This is happening as Traditional owners are very concerned with what is happening in the town and want to be included in addressing with the problems.”

The allegations of threats of violence follows Councillor Price’s decision to counter last week’s petition with a plea to her Facebook friends to report the petition to that platform’s community standards administrators. In a Facebook statement Price described the petition as “abusive”. A video depicting community support for Ms Price from within town camps surrounding Alice Springs was also posted. 

Tracey Ray insists her petition is not abusive and says Price has double standards when it comes to freedom of speech.

“The petition was started to give our people a voice, so they could be heard, so the powers-that-be know that Aboriginal Australia does not agree with the views of the Prices,” says Ray. “They are out of touch with community, not just their own but across all the nations of this country.”

Prominent Anmaterr filmmaker Trisha Morton Thomas says she supports the petition.

“As far as I can see the petition is merely stating that Jacinta Price does not speak on behalf of the seven thousand plus Aboriginal people who have signed it,” says Thomas. “That’s no more abusive than someone saying they don’t like eating Brussels sprouts.”

* This article was updated on 8 February to emphasise that the Arrernte and central Australian Strong Aboriginal Women’s Group were in no way responsible for the petition created by Ms Tracey Ray  


the Arrernte and Central Australian Aboriginal Strong Women's group. Photo: Roxanne Highfold

The Arrernte and Central Australian Aboriginal Strong Women’s group. Photo: Roxanne Highfold

We are a group of Aboriginal women representing various Central Australian language groups residing in the community of Alice Springs.

We are grandmothers, mothers, sisters, daughters, Traditional Owners, custodians and land owners. We are professional working women, advocates of our community, mentors, and business owners.

We have always worked hard and strived for unity, reconciliation and harmony amongst our Community of Alice Springs, so we can work together to address our problems and move forward.

To those who have taken the time to engage with us, to walk with us in support of our community, we say thank you.

If ever there was a time where we needed your support, this is the time.

We are the recognised Leaders of our communities and we would like you to know that, to be an Aboriginal leader it requires you to be appointed and recognised as such by the Aboriginal community.

As The Honorary Linda Burney, MP so rightfully put:
“Leadership in an Aboriginal cultural context is not given or measured by how much media you get or if you earn big money. True Aboriginal leadership does not come from high-level appointments or board membership. It doesn’t come from and cannot be given by white constructs. Leadership is earned; it is given when you have proven you can deal with responsibility and you understand that responsibility.”

As Leaders, we do not condone any harm or wrongdoing to people, we hold our Elders with the upmost regard, and we certainly do not undermine our own Culture or self-determinance.

Collectively we have 200 years of a lived experience as Aboriginal women in this region, working tirelessly with engaging and empowering our people to overcome the trauma and injustices that our people are subjected to everyday.

We have experienced lateral violence, racial profiling, discrimination and are constantly vilified. We are told over and over again, that we are not good enough – it is hurtful, it is divisive, it is unnecessary. It fuels tension in our community and incites bullying and racism towards us, undoing all the positive hard work that has been carried in out in our community.

We are tired of being hurt, we are tired of our men being stereotyped and demonised. From this time on, we are victims no more. We are looking for unity, reconciliation and harmony.

We ask that our community to support us in our endeavour to strive for unity, reconciliation and harmony amongst our Community of Alice Springs, so we can work together to address our community’s problems and move forward.

Together, we stand together united as one!


The Arrernte and Central Australian Aboriginal Women’s Group

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  1. I’m so over the Black and White Price Team virtue signalling that they care about the disadvantaged and victims of abuse, implying that alternate opinions on solutions are less than virtuous, meanwhile raking in much money from Consultancies and opinions paid by the right wing media.

  2. Those who were there that night know the utter undeniable truth that Bess Price, her partner Dave and her family members behaviour turned violent towards the Women’s group as a result of them putting forward that powerful and honest statement to the council. As the statement clearly points out, the women are concerned about the unrest and division in the community and they also wanted the council to know what defines an Aboriginal leader and what qaulities you need to have to be a true leader. The statement also defined how true leadership is appointed by the Aboriginal communities and not white constructs- that is key to self-determinance and good Aboriginal governance. This statement didnt even mentioned Jacinta’s name, yet, it was obvious this struck a big nerve for Bess and her family as shortly after it was read out in the gallery by Councilor Satour, they rushed outside to call out the Women’s group to challenge them about the statement. The derogatory language coming out of their mouths was vile and disgusting. It was even embarrassing seeing Jacinta’s father and auntie’s talking ill of Aboriginal culture and disrespecting the Arrernte people the very traditional owners of the country whom their own two feet were firmly planted on when they were making those disrespectful comments. And how hypocritical of Bess when in the media spotlight she bangs on about dv, fv or any sort of violence but yet she was the one perpetuating that very violence she declares she stands against. Shame on Jacinta for not, since the meeting, being transparent and honest by coming forward to tell the truth about that night, yet again sweeping the truth under the carpet just in hope it doesn’t damage her political profile. If she thinks she’s got a chance at being elected for the seat of Lingairi, she’s got another thing coming because if shes doesn’t sort out the circus she runs voters certainly won’t be voting in her favour. Shame on you Price family, shame on you all!!

  3. Good job Steve. I doubt people like Aunty Trish etc would be any greens lap dog. They are women who think with their own brains. I know a lot of Aboriginal women in Alice Springs also speaking out. Its great that their voices are finally heard…those who want to play identity politics need to hold a mirror up to themselves (lots of double standards in the you know who comment)

  4. Steve, you are taking your orders from the Greens. The white professional protestors have been publicly supporting criminals in our town for months. They have been teaching our kids to hate the police and encouraging them to commit crime. They have publicly supported people who have used filthy racist and sexist language and make death threats against an honest young Aboriginal woman who is trying to end the violence and racism. These white faced racists think they can be as filthy and racist as they like because they call themselves indigenous. They are much worse than the real white racists. The people who signed this letter do not speak our languages, they hold all the jobs and have done for decades while we have no work and we keep burying our kids, while our young women are killed and our young men get locked up. When the police and the ambos try to save our lives more and more drunks and kids attack them and throw rocks at them. Some of the ones who signed this letter have relatives who sell sly grog to the wife bashers and killer drugs to our kids. When the police arrest them your Legal Aid lawyers get them off. We all know who they are. Meanwhile your mob are letting the Greens steal our flag and use it for their own purposes.

    We knew all of this when we went to the council meeting and saw all of these women who call themselves Arrernte all come in like a big gang with their professional white protestors shepherding them like collie dogs herding sheep. One of them helped to do a job on Darebin and Yarra councils before she came here. One of her friends from down there, who calls himself a Wurundjeri elder’ has said in public that my daughter is ‘a cancer’ and he hopes that ‘she dies a slow and painful death’. And your lot wants us to respect white faced men like this who tell the world that they are as Aboriginal as us who still speak our languages and carry our law. We have no respect for him, we do not acknowledge hims as a leader or elder, how can we?

    In the meeting those white women had a camera on us every time we turned around even when we asked them to stop. They know our problems. One of them is a doctor at the hospital and has access to our medical records. in our group we have grandmothers who are widows, Some have been bashed and put into the ICU several times. One’s husband hung himself and she found his body. We all have ongoing serious chronic health problems. The doctor knows this. When we tried to talk to these white women who were the leaders of your group of ‘leaders’ they told us that they only listen to ‘Arrernte women’. Some of us are Arrernte and all of us have Arrernte speaking blood relatives. They insulted us quietly with smiles on their faces to provoke us. They kept saying over and over again ‘You’re violent, you’re violent’. They targeted the most vulnerable ones in our group deliberately. And yes we got angry and some of us shouted. You know, and they know, that is the Aboriginal way. It happens everywhere in Australia. When it happens in Red Fern apparently it’s Ok because it is part of their protocol. None of us was drunk, another racist stereotype lie the protestors told you to use. And none of us threatened a councillor. We are still waiting to hear who that was supposed to be. Since the meeting they have been hacking our phones and computers. They are cowards who attack in the dark like evil kurdaitcha.

    We have known all of these women who now call themselves Arrernte. They used to respect us and call us family until the white protestors and the Greens came to town. They could have talked to us anytime but they only ignore us and hide from us at their secret meetings with the protestors. They are making us their enemies when they should respect us. That is our protocol.

    All your talk of flags and protocols is rubbish, you are saying what the Greens want you to say. Your white mother has been part of their group for many years. You might be in your father’s country now but your white mother is still here making trouble for us. We have our own protocols, we know our own Law not the one that your lot made up last week. We will always fight back when somebody threatens to kill one of us or insults them with filthy racism and sexism. Many of our relatives have been killed but not by white racists. We will not let these racist protestors take over our town, speak for us and kill our kids.

    One of grand daughters was stabbed on a town camp, She bled to death because the ambos couldn’t get to her without police protection because the drunks attack them when they come to save our lives. Why don’t you protest about that? Last week was the anniversary of the day my daughter helped ambos and police put her young aunt’s body into a body bag, She had died suddenly after drinking for two weeks. I told her to stop drinking or she would die the week before but that fun loving, well loved cousin of mine didn’t listen. Tell me how lying a flag in Sydney could have saved her life. You talk rubbish.

    You should be ashamed of yourself. Be a man and stand up for the victims of crime instead of the criminals. Worry about what is happening to the kids in your father’s country. Flying flags and arguing about Australia Day will do nothing for them neither will the racist white protestors and all those white faced ones down south who don’t know anything about our law , language and culture. Everything you are saying and doing distracts us from what we really need to do.


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