NAIDOC Week 2008


  1. Musgrave Park Family Fun Day
  2. Book Launch at Avid Reader Bookshop – The Tall Man by Chloe Hooper
  3. Review of Liyarn Nigarin by Ciaron O’Reilly


Meet Chloe Hooper, author of “The Tall Man, The story of death and life on Palm Island.”

Chloe Hooper

Tues 8th July, 6pm for a 6.30 start at Avid Reader
Tickets $5

Avid Reader staff, Benjamin Law, Anna Krein and Krissy Kneen are incredibly excited about this event.

Chloe Hooper is author of the novel “A Child’s Book of True Crime”, and is a respected journalist. With skill and sensitivity she has written a book about Palm Island.

“On 19 November 2004, a drunk Aboriginal man had been arrested for swearing at police. Less than an hour later he died with injuries like those of a road trauma victim. The Queensland State

Coroner reported there was no sign of police brutality, backing up the police claim that the man had tripped on a step. The community did not agree, and a week later burnt down the police station. The state government immediately invoked emergency powers, flying in special police squads trained in counter-terrorist tactics who arrested countless locals, including teenagers and grandmothers. I went there two months later.”

This is an event not to be missed.


Review of Liyarn Nigarin by Ciaron O’Reilly

Dublin Screening of “Liyarn Nigarin” with Peter Postlewaite followed by gig with Archie Roach, Rubie Hunter, Bart Willoughby, Shane Howard, Steve Cooney, Mary Black & others

Well the film was excellent and from chatting to a bearded hip Peter Postlewaite his heart is definitely in it. He stumbled across the struggle of aboriginal Australia relatively recently while staging a one man play in Perth. Before going on stage one night, Postlewaite was approached by Scouser, Bill Johnson, who had been in the seminary in Liverpool with him way back when. Bill had since moved to Australia, married and adopted 3 children. The aboriginal lad adopted, Louis St John, was murdered in his late teens by 3 English racists recently arrived in Australia. When the cops asked why they chose the victim, the response was “Because he was black!”

Postlewaite takes this response personally as an Englishman, seeing it as an attitude that runs directly from the early pastoralists encounter of aborigines.

He hooks up with a product of the Stolen Generation policy former street drinker now musician Archie Roach and former priest now Aboriginal activist Pat Dodson and takes us on a moving journey.

The film looks at Western Australian aboriginal deaths/killings in custody that the coroner continually writes off as “misadventure” and then an exploration of the stolen generation removal policy of aboriginal children to be integrated into white society. We travel to the victim’s original family and outback community.

The film then broadens out to analyse recent Australian government policy ignited by the racist One Nation/Pauline Hanson populism and adopted and fine tuned by the 11 year conservative Howard government rolling back the Mabo decision in the High Courts that for the first time in the courts recognised aboriginal occupation before British invasion.

The jury is still out on how much substance will go with the recent apology to the stolen generation by recently elected Labor Prime Minister Rudd.

The speech by former Labor Prime Minister Paul Keating in the early ’90’s directly linking white gain to black loss is impressive. The cringing, small mindedness arrogance of conservative PM Howard also gets a good airing. See this fine film if you can!

The disappointment was the size of the audience (approximately 25) for this free 4 PM Saturday screening. I only recognised one person from the Dublin activist scene and didn’t detect any young Australian backpacker types. (I saw a lot of them in the Outback Pub last night for the screening of the third State of Origin Rugby League telecast!) Not sure if this reflects on the passive racism of the young Aussie backpackers, disengagement of Irish activists who share a common history with the largest group of aboriginal artists to assemble in Dublin or poor promotion of the event.

The gig in the evening was excellent. Obviously a significant moment in the life of Australian muso Shane Howard (Goanna) and those indigenous Australians who had accompanied him to his spiritual homeland. Archie Roach and Ruby Hunter were brilliant making the connections between Irish and Aboriginal history…their songs were great. Mary Black, Steve Cooney and other Irish musicians were also wonderful.

Interview with Peter Postleaite on the film “Liyarn Ngarin”

YOUTUBE -Archie Roach “Took the Children Away” & “Walking into Doors”

Archie Roach “Took the Children Away”…Roach

Archie Roach “Walking into Doors”…utube

Yesterday I had the privilege of meeting up with Uncle Bob Anderson an aboriginal elder from Brisbane and former active Trade Union organiser. It was great to hear news of common friends and struggles and of radical history from Brisbane before my time. (Bob snafuued one of the riot batons being produced for the racially selected ’71 Springboks Tour a photo of which made it on to the front page of The Courier Mail exposing what was being prepared for the protesters. I was only 11 when a State of Emergency was declared so a racist game of Rugby could take place. Bob gave me an aboriginal flag badge and I gave him a black shamrock

I hear Archie Roach will be playing Musgrave Park/Brisbane in mid-July during an aboriginal cultural event get there if you can!

Ciaron O’Reilly
“The poor tell us who we are,
The prophets tell us who we could be,
So we hide the poor,
And kill the prophets.”
Phil Berrigan

4 thoughts on “NAIDOC Week 2008

  1. Archie Roach and Ruby Hunter in Musgrave Park 11 July

    The Black Arm Band 18th July 7.30 at the Botanic Gardens River Stage – free

    Dave Arden, Mark Atkins, Lou Bennett, Emma Donovan, Kutcha Edwards, Joe Geia, Shane Howard, Ruby Hunter, Jimmy Little, Rachel Maza-Long, Shellie Morris, Stephen Pigram, Archie Roach, Peter Rotumah, Dan Sultan, Bart Willoughby and Ursula Yovich and many, many more

  2. What is the answer to the “addiction epidemics in indigenous communities: grog, drugs and gambling” ? — Noel Pearson’s words.

  3. 28 July 2008

    Dear Ian,

    And please be kind enough to forward this through your networks,

    Re: Building Communities Not Prisons Campaign

    Please come to the launch of our Building Communities Not Prisons Campaign, featuring Professor Ross Homel, Professor of Criminology at Griffith University and activist Sam Watson. (See attached flyer)

    Thursday 14th August 2008 6:15 for 7:00pm at QCU Building, 16 Peel St, Cnr Grey St, South

    ANTaR Qld has been monitoring the high rates of imprisonment of Indigenous people and we are deeply concerned that the rates are continuing to grow, particularly for young people and for women.

    To counter the policies leading to this growing rate of imprisonment we have put together a broad aim, and three specific goals. These, when successful, would result in healthier and more socially sustainable communities, a greatly reduced number of Indigenous people within Queensland’s prisons and considerable savings to Queensland tax payers.

    Our over-all aim is to generate in Queensland a State-wide change in practice and focus from incarceration to prevention of crime as relevant to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.
    Our specific goals are:

    1. To ensure that the target set in the Qld Justice Report 2000 is achieved: that is decreasing the rate of Indigenous imprisonment by 50% by 2010 (2012 is more realistic). This can be achieved by resourcing and implementing a range of community development projects, family support projects including support with transition of children to school and a particular focus on the needs of young people in Indigenous communities.

    2. To ensure that the recidivism rate drops to 50% by 2011 and to 30% by 2015. This is achievable by resourcing effective programs within prisons, rewarding prisons which achieve low recidivism rates and by having effective post-prison support programs.

    3. To ensure that changes are made to the institutional policies and operating procedures which make it more likely that A & TSI people are imprisoned where other Australians would either not be arrested and charged, or would receive non-custodial sentences.

    We know that many individuals and many organisations have long been involved in working in this area and we are hoping that we may all work together in a loose coalition, perhaps rather like the Close the Gap in Indigenous Life Expectancy.

    We have attached our campaign plan which specifies our goals and our planned actions. This is a working document and we would appreciate any suggestions you are able to provide. We can only make these significant changes come in policy and practice if many of us, as individuals and organisations, work together.

    Whilst our main focus in with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians we believe that our efforts to change policy initiatives to prevention of crime rather than incarceration is relevant to all Australians and we hope that we can work closely with more mainstream organisations working in this field.

    Also, whilst Queensland is the first ANTaR state association to formulate a campaign policy, the overall aim has been adopted nationally by ANTaR, so we will also be running a national campaign.

    You and your association may be involved in one or more of the following ways:

    1) Endorsing the campaign’s aims

    2) Working with ANTaR Qld to plan and carry out activities

    3) Advertising the campaign and events

    4) Opting in to our campaign mailing list

    5) Supporting our campaign financially or through the donation of skills and expertise.

    Please do come to our campaign launch on Thursday 14th August at QCU Building, 16 Peel St, South Brisbane or send a representative or message of encouragement.
    We would be delighted if you and any of your colleagues were able to be there as an initial networking opportunity. Please also share the information amongst your networks. Just let us know if you are joining us for soup before the meeting.

    We look forward to working with you.

    Kind Regards,
    Monique Bond
    Building Communities Not Prisons Action Group

    Monique Bond – Monique has been an active supporter of justice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians since 1982. She has been involved with ANTaR since 1997. Keith Hamburger’s speech on 8 October 2007 about the proposed mega-prison at Gatton alerted her to a disastrous policy which would lead to increasing imprisonment of Indigenous people.

    Jim Fouras – Jim was known during his time as a state politician as a fierce supporter of human rights and justice. Since his retirement from politics he has continued to be very involved in youth and housing issues and he is passionate about putting resources into helping communities and families rather than in locking them up.

    Elizabeth Savina
    – is a speech pathologist specializing in literacy at the University of Queensland. She has a particular interest in gaining more information about the high rate of communication disorders within the incarcerated population, so as to ensure these are adequately addressed in preventative and rehabilitation programs.

    ANTaR Qld Association Inc Office 10, 27 Cordelia St, South Brisbane, Qld 4101
    Ph/Fx: +61 7 3844 9800 – email: – ABN: 75858856 289
    ANTaR Qld
    Office 10, 25-27 Cordelia Street
    South Brisbane Qld 4101
    Phone/Fax (07) 3844 9800
    We acknowledge the Turrubal and Yaggera people, traditional custodians of the land on which Brisbane is situated.

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    Checked by AVG.
    Version: 7.5.524 / Virus Database: 270.5.5/1571 – Release Date: 24/07/2008 5:42 PM

  4. Ian,
    regarding your question @ 2

    “What is the answer to the “addiction epidemics in indigenous communities: grog, drugs and gambling” ? — Noel Pearson’s words.”

    I have been telling myself to write something on this issue for months and perhaps soon I will. In the meantime, these are “Noel Pearsons own words” which pose more questions than answers but I believe he has raised the right questions.

    This is an excerpt from Pearson’s response to the NT
    intervention when it first began.

    ………. “The Howard-Brough plan to tackle grog and to provide
    policing is correct. However, the plan needs to be amended so that there is a concerted strategy to build indigenous social and cultural ownership.

    Howard and Brough need to understand the challenge is this:
    we must restore Aboriginal law in these communities. We must restore Aboriginal values and Aboriginal morality in our communities.

    Aboriginal law, properly understood, is not the problem, it
    is the solution. When I say Aboriginal law, I just do not mean the laws that prevailed in our pre-colonial classical culture, I mean our contemporary values and expectations about behaviour. The old law did not deal with grog, drugs, gambling, money and private property.

    These new things have represented a fundamental challenge
    for Aboriginal culture. Many communities have struggled to apply the values that underpinned their traditional law to these new challenges.

    We have not met this challenge successfully. We desperately
    need to.

    We need to develop an Aboriginal law that deals effectively
    with these new challenges: grog, drugs, gambling, money and private property.

    Some communities have articulated an Aboriginal law that
    deals with the new challenges as well as the old. Many communities have strong social and cultural norms dealing with the old challenges, but they are hapless in the face of the new challenges. What does Aboriginal law have to say when
    relatives want money for binge drinking?”…………..

    I cannot link directly to this but you can link to it from this link (down the bottom)
    “Politics Aside, An end to the tears is our priority”

    My main criticism of Pearson is that he says grog is a causal factor, not a symptom. I say in every case, addiction is caused by an underlying cause, though different in every case. However in terms of Pearson’s notion of contemporary customary law and his emphasis on economic development and land rights, his model deals with many underlying structural issues of lifestyle and consciousness so I do not think the schism between Pearson and I is that wide.

    I am aware of Alcohol programs or proposals on Stradbroke Island, Palm Island and the much publicised cape york trial, all based in one form or another on contemporary customary law although in each case very different structures and priorities. There is no one size fits all solution.

    Cape York has full government support so far, Palm Island’s program has been squashed and replaced by a state regime and the Stradbroke Island model exists independently from state authority and funding at this stage and struggles accordingly.

    Mt Isa used to have a petrol sniffing program whereby the elders picked up young men engagining in sniffing and took them against their will into the desert to go through cultural law and teaching. The police shut this down by charging the elders with kidnap and assault.

    The only solution is empowerment in real terms at the local level to implement community programs, not individual programs such as the AA model which is the only model available from state health agencies.

    AA models fail magnificently in mainstream communities too, so this debate is not peculiar to Aboriginal addiction.

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