i wish all of you a happy new year and hope that 2011 will be all that you want it to be and you can then add social justice for all to that list as well.
there are some important issues coming up in the next few months and simply as an advisory they are invasion day on the 26th january 2011 were the majority of people gathering at the music festivals will be gently persuaded by the music that all is well and that reconciliation is not only plausible but possible. the non-aboriginal reconciliation movement is, to most of us, merely another term for assimilation. but i digress.
i am sure i do not have to remind you that all is not well and that we still have a long long way to go. all i ask is that the significance of the day for our mobs is kept in mind. it is not a day of celebration for us, it is a day mourning as was raised at the day of mourning site in sydney in 1938.
the next nsw date of significance is the 14th of february, this being the 7th anniversary of the death of tj hickey by the redfern police. further information on what is planned for this day will be sent out closer to the date.
another date of nsw importance will be the coronial inquest in april of this year, monday 4th/tuesday 5th at the nsw coroners court at glebe. further notice on this event will be sent closer to that date.
for those who may be unaware veronica baxter, an aboriginal transwoman, was found hung in her cell, march 2009, at the metropolitan remand and reception gaol at silverwater nsw. as you will see it has taken over two years for the coroner to get around to investigating the reasons for her death. it appears that the nsw cops took some 18 months to investigate the ‘facts’ of the case.
this time lapse, whilst not unusual, is still disgraceful and a slap in the face to the family who sits and waits for over two years to, hopefully, find out how and why their loved one died.
the post we now look at comes from another federal ex-politician and again from the labor party. barry cohen served in the then hawke government, retiring prior to the 1990 elections which were won by paul keating. in 2007 he was given an order of australia gong for his services to parliament and assorted community groups.
barry begins by giving his view of the 1967 referendum. he was at that time nsw asst. campaign director for the yes vote. on the result he places a much rosier outcome than i would. whilst agreeing with his points on the census and the empowering of the federal government to make positive laws for aborigines, i disagree that australia wished to raise the living standards of our mobs.
for that to have happened would have meant that we were removed from the racist laws of the states and territories; we were not and the rest is history. and a black black history at that. none of the racist laws of the states/territories were changed, our children continued to be taken from us, as were our wages, among other criminal acts.
all condoned by the federal politicians of the time until whitlam made several positive changes in taking office in 1972 and onwards. whilst stopping the taking of the children he did not however take control of aboriginal issues, mainly leaving that responsibility to the states and territories.
whilst expressing horror at the appalling living conditions for aborigines in outback nsw i can only argue that he now needs to visit some communities in the n.t. to find that nothing has changed except for the worst.
aboriginal child health remains a significant issue as of course does education.
barry recognises that there are still problems and i can only agree with his view that society owes much to our people and both governments and our communities have contributed to the wide gap in australian living standards. i do not agree one iota however with his infantile accusation that we somehow live in a ‘mythical paradise.’
one can only imagine where the source of his analysis has come from but to argue that the pre invasion life style of aborigines included living 50 years less is absolute rubbish and bears no consideration whatsoever. our pre-invasion lifestyle would have been nothing less than a ‘paradise’ compared to the horrors and the genocide post-invasion. horrors and genocide that still bedevils us to this day.
he is right that we must decide our own future but that possibility has never been granted to us. the argument that our current state is caused by a failed model of self determination bears no argument at all. never have we been giver that opportunity, we have always been over-lorded by the governments and their bureaucrats (including chogm that is nothing but bureaurocracy on steroids), churches and their missionaries, among other social disasters. the church groups did realise their collective mistakes; governments never.
barry’s opinion on education and the building of schools does, i believe, have some merit but i disagree again that this will somehow destroy the bonds of the students with their families and communities. this is not another stolen generation. these children will still be made aware of their language, their culture, their country, their laws and everything else that goes with it. i see no alienation of children in attending boarding schools to those who don’t attend school at all.
during the 43 years since the 1967 referendum the failures of governments and the communities have become a disaster. this, at least now, has been recognised but the nt intervention is not the answer. changes to the australian constitution to better recognise aboriginal history and our proper place in that history is not going to change much at all but it is more than just mere symbolism. if the federal government really wants to show us that it cares then it can start by properly recognising our place in this nation. to do that we must have an endorsed sovereignty and treaties. i see absolutely no value at all in the granting of parliamentary seats whether by allocation as in the maori example or in the granting of winnable seats in both houses of federal parliament. such appointments will be made by the politicians of the day and they will appoint only those who have already accepted their assimilationist model. i have no faith in warren mundine or noel pearson in representing the true aboriginal view. they have never spoken for me.
whilst it is true that only three aborigines have been elected to the federal parliament that says more for the preselection practices of the parties than to our own resources. many times have our activists stood but have never been voted in. we do have aboriginal politicians in wa and the nt.
barry states that the time has come to end the symbolism and the politics of the warm inner glow. i can only concur. all governments of australia must stop their generally useless symbolic, warm inner glow gestures and really come to terms of the injustices arising from the 1788 invasion. we dot possess the resources nor the power to make such change.
the only gap that really must be narrowed is the gap between white governments and the original owners of this country. we must be treated as equals not as some subservient peoples that have been defeated.
we will never be defeated.
as barry ends his article, quote “lets end the symbolism and get on with the job.” unquote
indigenous social justice association
- Barry Cohen
- From: The Australian
- December 27, 2010 12:00AM
ON May 27, 1967, a referendum was held to change the Constitution.
It meant Aborigines would be counted in the census and to empower the federal government to make laws for members of the Aboriginal race.