Rally at Parliament (George Street, Brisbane) 10am, and March to Jagara Hall 11 am.
(*) The rally is at 10am on Thursday morning at Parliament House.
(*) The rally should go from 10am to 11am and then the group should march across the Musgrave.
(*) There will be a team of workers at Jagara hall from 11am.
Murri Watch, Murri Ministry and Link Up will be providing food and workers. If anyone wants to make a donation, can they just deliver fruit / water / bread – to Jagara after 11am on Thursday.
Sam Watson will not be able to lead the march this year as he was one of the originals at the Tent Embassy in Canberrain 1972 and will be down there for the 40th anniversary celebrations. It is the first time Sam has not attended Invasion Day in Brisbane since 1970 when this annual event was first staged.
invasion day 2012 is the big one — Aboriginal tent embassy 40th anniversay
40 years since four young aboriginal warriors on invasion day 1972 who were sickened by the absolute racism of the then-billy macmahon coalition federal government who stated that australia belonged, by right, to the descendants of the invaders and no lands belonged to the aboriginal traditional owners or would ever be returned to them.
that such rank racism ignited the aboriginal activists is of no great surprise. what was a surprise was that four young aborigines huddled under a beach umbrella would become a national focus on activism that resonates still 40 years later. since invasion day 1992 the tent embassy has been managed by a long list of aborigines and other supporters have lived on site and kept the peace fire burning.
i, and so many others, will be there to celebrate and honour all those who have kept the struggle alive and to make sure that our embassy continues to show the world our just claims for sovereignty, treaty(s) and social justice.
thank you gerry for your contribution. as we have already discussed it is my opinion that the first secretary of the tent embassy was my much respected friend, ms. pat eatock, rather than the equally respected ms. bobby sykes. whomever, the respect and the honour flows on.
indigenous social justice association
(m) 0450 651 063
(p) 02 9318 0947
address 1303/200 pitt street waterloo 2017
we live and work on the stolen lands of the gadigal people.
Aboriginal Tent Embassy Canberra, January 26 2012 We will not leave till justice, at long last, is done
Sun 11 Dec 2011
Thousands to camp at Aboriginal Tent Embassy
Thousands to stay till racism and discrimination are eliminated
The Intervention must end immediately
The full suite of funding and services to all Aboriginal communities must be met
The intentions of Native Title to be upheld, and more
By Gerry Georgatos
On the afternoon of January 26, 1972 a beach umbrella as a tent appeared on a lawn in front of Parliament House in Canberra. History was raised – this was the onset of Aboriginal Tent Embassy.
On January 25, Prime Minister William McMahon announced the governments Aboriginal policy and which would not include any admission that Aboriginal peoples had any rights to land and compensation the government would only provide special purpose leases for Aboriginal communities if one could demonstrate adequate economic and social use for them. In 1972, after a generation of non-violent human rights struggles and a rise of voices – by Aboriginal communities and youth – the call for widespread and radical change, for real justice for Aboriginal peoples and for land rights came loud and clear, and would not go away. 40 years later, on January 26, 2012 the call for change, and the many voices will come even louder for though much has changed as a result of 1972, much has also got worse, and the racism is as bad as ever.
Many people inspired
Next to the beach umbrella that was pitched as the first tent on Parliament lawns a sign was put up which read Aboriginal Embassy. This was the most powerful political action of the last two centuries of Australian history. It was both a race and class struggle. During the ensuing months this struggle manifest as inspiration heralding supporters that swelled past 2,000. When police violently brought down the tents, film crews captured its witness for significant numbers of the public to be outraged. All of a sudden many Australians began to realise the disenfranchisement of peoples in their own country, landless Aboriginal communities, their alienation, and that it was the doing of non-Aboriginal Australia. They began to admire their resilience against the backdrop of their inter-generational poverty. The tents symbolised the impositions of the worst type of poverty in Australia abject, acute and chronic – and the impermanence upon Aboriginal peoples and that for justice and humanity there was a need for en masse widespread changes.
Prime Minister McMahons speech had been heard on radio by a number of Aboriginal activists who had coalesced together in the Sydney suburb of Redfern. In effect they understood McMahons words as a rejection of the notion of an Aboriginal title to land and therefore enough was enough and they decided on action. They had become frustrated by the governments inability to live up to the spirit of the 1967 referendum. In 1971, the Aboriginal Advancement League appealed to the United Nations to support an Aboriginal claim for land and mineral rights in a part of northern Queensland and with compensation. Ongoing was the linger of Mapoon, 1962-64, Yirrkala, 1963-71, Lake Tyers, 1962-70, the Wave Hill walk off, 1966-75, and land rights was the burning issue of the day, and 40 years later it remains a burning issue. The hotbed of racism that is Australian has worked only in slavishly snail-like piecemeal ways.
Four young founders
McMahons rejection of land rights for Aboriginal peoples caused four young Aboriginal men, Billy Craigie, Tony Coorey, Bert Williams and Michael Anderson to drive from Sydney to Canberra. They set up their beach umbrella with their Aboriginal Embassy sign and faced off Parliament House.
Michael Anderson said to the press, The land was taken from us by force. We should not have to lease it. Our spiritual beliefs are connected with the land.
In the days and weeks to follow they would be joined by other Aboriginal rights activists Paul Coe, Gary Foley, Chicka Dixon, Gordon Briscoe, Bruce McGuinness, John Newfong, Roberta Sykes and Dennis Walker and others would follow from right throughout Terra Nullius. Forty years later, three of the four who set up Aboriginal Tent Embassy are no longer with us however their narrative remains strong in those who carry on the fight for justice. Forty years later, Michael Anderson shall be at Aboriginal Tent Embassy, and unlike 40 years ago where the numbers swelled to an incredible 2,000 over a couple of months, in all likelihood there shall be more than 2,000 folk at Tent Embassy, January 26, 2012.
It may become the most significant event on the Australian landscape since the original Tent Embassy. From far and wide they will come, from the Kimberley and the Pilbara, from right throughout the Northern Territory, from the Territories near 100 Aboriginal communities, and from just about every Aboriginal community in Australia, and from towns and urban centres – and then there will be every bona fide social justice group and individual in support, in tap for the continual unfolding of our common humanity and the common good.
Majority wont leave Canberra
And of them, once arrived, a significant majority will not leave Canberra – for this appears an opportunity to seek the justice that those before them in 1972 sought and as a result, where indeed changes occurred in the fullness of time, they had underwritten them.
In 1972, the frustration of the Gurindji Land claim, the High Courts rejection of the Yirrkala peoples case again Nabalco and the Commonwealth was too much for Aboriginal rights activists and for any reasonably minded people who are to an informed conscience. The last straw had come with the release of figures showing that Aboriginal infant mortality was way up to 17 times higher than the national average it was too much, their peoples were landless, many of them killed off by neglect and apartheid-like conditions the justice was little if any. In 2011, whats changed? Mortality rates have got worse, many Aboriginal communities are squalid in third world conditions no fault of their own – however induced by government policies, the Emergency Response by Military Intervention, 600 Australian soldiers marching in, smashing in the worst forms of racism and the consequence of landlessness upon the Aboriginal peoples of the Northern Territory, and multinationals with the support of State and Territory governments rapaciously destroying the spirit of Native Title authority as Aboriginal communities are left high and dry while the message signified to the rest of Australia is that the Aboriginal communities are being taken care of, for their own good, and will benefit.
Since 1972 Aboriginal success stories have been myriad bright, against odds which others, non-Aboriginal, do not face, and there has been the Mabo High Court decision, and then the many gestures The Apology however for the most part the neglect is as embedded as it could be and the racism burns wildly and ferociously and for all the world to see, not just us. United Nations High Commissioners, UN Special Rapporteurs and the heads of Amnesty International similarly say so and in no uncertain language. The feel at this time is that thousands will be at Canberra for Aborginal Tent Embassy for what is otherwise known to most Australians as Australia Day however I would not be surprised if 10,000 and more are there, and I will not be surprised if they do not leave late on January 28 as has been prescribed for the time being and that in turn we have thousands during the three days who will not leave at the end of the third day, and with thousands more coming, camping on the lawns of Parliament for much of the remainder of 2012; for this is the only way forward to justices long denied. The Commonwealth has long failed Aboriginal peoples, and it will continue to fail Aboriginal peoples with piecemeal offerings while on the widespread scale walk all over peoples, however insultingly and disturbingly highlighting the piecemeal offerings, and in turn creating more divides, dissent and dangerous precipices.
The Commonwealth needs to be stared down, and for all the world to see, and it is important leverage that our global village should see what we see, if Aboriginal peoples are to be allowed their due Aboriginal advancement by Aboriginal peoples the full suite of funding to all Aboriginal communities and peoples, wherever they may have located to, so as to ensure the full suite of services, not just the most basic – and in many communities even basic services like running water, electricity and various utilities and do not exist.
Australian news media rarely steps outside the governments perspective
Aboriginal Tent Embassy is an opportunity for Aboriginal peoples to win the justice that otherwise will not be given to them. It is opportunity for moral leadership and courage wholesale as legated by the spirit, and narrative, of Bill Craigie, Tony Coorey, Bert Williams and Michael Anderson. They initiated an awe-inspiring cultural wave and which on its crest so many climbed. The Australian news media is predominately the mouthpiece of government, walking within a strict narrow paradigm to nitpick at the issues at hand as delivered within the governments perspective, and the Australian news media rarely steps outside the governments perspective. However, in 1972, the Australian news media did the unthinkable and allowed themselves to be inspired to some extent and listen to the Aboriginal perspective, from those folk at Aboriginal Tent Embassy. Hence, the news media radically challenged the government – significant numbers within the news media were receptive to Aboriginal Tent Embassy, and to the witness of truths often kept at bay from them, from all of us, with little or no dissemination of Aboriginal perspectives and truths in our primary and secondary school education, and therefore our form and content was denied this consciousness. The news media permitted Aboriginal issues and perspectives to be garnered unfettered to Australian audiences this is what could happen in late January, however it will take the presence of thousands on the lawns of Parliament rather than hundreds, and it will take people camping for months, and with the premise they will not leave till the justice is home.
For the justice rampant, it will take every contemporaneous wrong doing upon Aboriginal peoples to strongly highlighted at Tent Embassy, and woven as a tapestry to be passed around Australian and international audiences to hence precipitate the Commonwealth into appropriate actions and unheralded policies and freedoms for Aboriginal peoples.
Michael Anderson said, The forthcoming 40th anniversary of the Aboriginal Embassy in Canberra is a milestone in the Aboriginal struggle. The fact that the Embassy has been standing continually since 1992 is a testament to our determination to fight against all odds and the tyranny of the majority to gain that which is ours.
The Mabo (no.2) judgment, in 1992, affirms the biased legal judgment against our peoples, when the full bench of the High Court concluded that the adverse possession of Australia by the colonial governments and administrators was somehow legal though their assumption that British sovereignty over Aboriginal peoples arrived in Australia in 1788.
He said that Aboriginal Tent Embassy has to be treated with the fervour of a last stand, for people to uptake themselves so strongly with a conviction for the justice that justice can and will come and he is right, the justice is possible if the Commonwealth and its institutions are pushed to the brink to deliver it and this has always been the way to the greatest number of changes in the shortest possible time. He said. The challenge that we now face is to resolve the ambiguities of history. It is my opinion that we pursue the credo of Kevin Gilberts book, Because a Whiteman well never do it a quote a long time Aboriginal rights campaigner Alice Briggs of Purfleet Mission, Taree, NSW.
A mind-boggling conquering of peoples
The Intervention was one of the worst acts of racism inflicted upon a peoples not only anywhere in Australia however anywhere in the world it was a mind-boggling conquering of peoples, the wiping out of freedoms and the impost of further abrasive rules and diminution and yet the Commonwealth has not apologised. In the Northern Territory despite the plethora of evidence against the first wave of aggressive militant Intervention by the Commonwealth, they are about to impose a second wave, a ten year extension. Editor-in-Chief of the Canberra Times, Jack Waterford, on November 13 wrote about the Intervention and it probated extension, with the governments obvious nescience that when the medicine doesnt work, double the dose, It is with no pleasure whatever, if with a certain sense of I-told-you-so, that I record that yet another of Auntie Jenny Macklins tough-love policies towards Aboriginal Australians is failing. Around Australia, the proportion of Aborigines attending school in 2010 is lower than it was in 2007. This is so even in the intervention communities in the Northern Territory. We can be thankful that Macklin is unlikely to be deterred by such hiccoughs or any other indications of the ineffectiveness of her ideology, prejudices and policies in action. If the medicine doesnt work, it is time to double the dose. The current plan on which she is working involves starving the childrens families in an effort to force them to go to school. This is achieved by suspending social security… this has never worked in overseas communities, but Macklin either knows better, as usual, or is pandering to a disapproving white community. Cutting welfare benefits to enforce school attendance only reinforces the disadvantages of the families, and the children within them, made the objects of the coercion… Since the intervention began, the number of white public servants in remote communities has doubled… hundreds of otherwise unemployable culturally-trained engagement specialists to write memos as they redact business plans and devise governance arrangements.
At Elcho Island, men, women and children have been left by the Territory and Commonwealth governments to live in tents, something that the no government jurisdiction would allow for non-Aboriginal Australians. The makeshift and second rate refurbishing and re-building of houses has been so slow in the Elchos Galiwinku community that families have been living in squalid tent camps and this is a theme Northern Territory wide governments have never prioritised Aboriginal communities and peoples. Northern Territory parliamentarian Nigel Scullion said, This is disgusting at any time but especially given the Northern Territory is in the middle of the wet season. Families cant possibly live in cramped conditions in our hot and humid climate with torrential downpours starting to occur. But my dear Mr Scullion we all know that our governments have long allowed, and induced, such predicaments.
Gurindji spokesperson John Leemans said that the federal governments extension of the Northern Territory Intervention extends the racism that successive governments had inflicted on Aboriginal peoples in the Northern Territory. He said, The federal government has introduced Stronger Futures through Northern Territory legislation that extends the racist Intervention for a further ten years. Inter-generational trauma caused by past policies of assimilation and dispossession is at the root of many problems facing Aboriginal communities across Australia today.
Mr Leemans said, Now under Labors plans, Northern Territory Aboriginal children turning 15 in 2022 will have lived their entire life as second class citizens under Australian law. The persecution of Aboriginal peoples under the Intervention has had horrendous consequences. Reported rates of attempted suicide and self-harm have more than doubled.
The Northern Territory Intervention has induced hatred and discrimination and is slowly drowning Aboriginal culture, clan leaders from the community of Ramingining, in the East Arnhem have said. Speaking on behalf of six clan groups and 17 Elders, Senior Lawman, Matthew Dhulumburrk said Elders in the remote community were shocked and angered by the announcement that the Intervention would be extended by another ten years. He said, We dont want another decade of discrimination here in Ramingining. The government is extending and strengthening laws designed to assimilate Aboriginal people. Many people are feeling stigmatised by this blanket policy that brands all Aboriginal people as alcoholics, irresponsible parents and child molesters.
He said, We will not sit back and watch these attacks on our lives, our future, our culture and our law. After five years, it feels like the water level has climbed up to our neck. Another ten years will bring it way over our heads. The government is drowning us slowly and wonders why twice as many of our young people are attempting suicide. There is no valid reason to discriminate against Yolngu in this way.
Ramingining, Ampiliwatja, Urapuntja, Galiwinku, Mt Nancy, Lagamanu, Tennant Creek, Yuendumu, Borroloola, Kalkarindji
The Ramingining will come to Aboriginal Tent Embassy in Canberra in January, to track their voice, as part of many voices, to a voice for all Australians to hear loud and clear, and for the federal government to hear, whether it wants to understand or not, to step back from the grievous harm it is causing to peoples Australia-wide. Elders and spokespeople of the Ampiliwatja, Urapuntja, Galiwinku, Mt Nancy, Lagamanu, Tennant Creek, Yuendumu, Borroloola, Kalkarindji and other Northern Territory communities I have spoken to have said that they will have representatives at Aborginal Tent Embassy that the only way forward is for everyone to speak up together – united. Minister Macklin has long claimed that there had been widespread consultation with the Northern Territorys Aboriginal communities however there is little evidence of this with Elders expressing to myself and others that there had been little or no substantive consultation and this is discrimination and racism. All of them say that the key issues are that they should be treated equally to other Australians, and not discriminated, that their culture should not be looked down upon by Australian governments and the major problems include that governments continue to neglect their obligation to provide the full suite of basic services and opportunities to them; employment, education, electricity, running water and health services. Indeed, by not doing so this is racism.
Deplorable third world conditions
We have had in this year of 2011 the head of Amnesty International challenging the Gillard government to lift its game on Aboriginal disadvantage. Amnestys Secretary-General, Salil Shettys call came despite and contrary to the governments release of its plan for a second wave of the Intervention. Mr Shetty met with Minister Macklin urging her to end the governments discrimination of the Northern Territorys homeland peoples and instead to initiate emergency actions to improve housing conditions and the unfettered supply of the full suite of basic services to human beings. Mr Shetty was asked whether he had confidence in Minister Macklin and the Australian government and he said, We dont go by words we go by actions. Mr Shetty said he was devastated by the deplorable third world conditions he found when at the Northern Territorys Utopia township and nearby communities he said, Its disturbing that one of the worlds most developed countries is currently falling short on these crucial human rights issues.
We want to see (Aboriginal peoples) enjoy full rights. They are not asking for something beyond what every single Australian rightfully deserves.
Aboriginal lawyer, Paul Coe who was part of the original Tent Embassy and one of its many strong voices said, We didnt realise the psyche of Aboriginal peoples to it would be affected by this action of raising a flag and in calling our own protest with Aboriginal Embassy, and saying we are aliens in our own lands and that we are sovereign people and Aboriginal people came from everywhere.
Kimberley Traditional Owners
Kimberley Traditional Owners have had enough of state and federal governments and multinational mining companies working against or with obvious disregard of them. They are campaigning to hold off the West Australian governments support for private enterprise to rip the heart out of James Price Point, setting aside the full suite of Goolarabooloo and Jabbir Jabbir concerns and human and land rights. They have set up their own Embassy – Walmandan Tent Embassy camp. The Walmandan Tent Embassy was declared at the site earlier this year and acts as a replica, in the spirit, of the Canberra Tent Embassy. They will come to Canberra, in January, from as far as the north west Kimberley, and they say they will be there in numbers strong. On the approaching horizon there appears the myriad bright prospect of a coalescing of peoples and causes from far and wide to Canberra saluting the voices for justice for Aboriginal peoples.
Goolarabooloo Law Boss and Traditional Elder, Philip Roe said, We have a right under the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, which Australia has signed, to carry out our cultural practices and protect our country. Many have said, that the amendments sought to the Australian Constitution to delete discriminatory (and racist) sections, including sections 25 and 51, and to include mention of Aboriginal peoples in various ambles and sections will be inadequate in culminating justice. Well, they are right it will be something like The Apology, however it will not be the securing of the tenure of justice and of an unfolding equitable social justice language and tangible results what needs to be included in the Commonwealth Constitution is pretty much Australias party and recognition, and therefore the enabling of constitutional law, of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People. We either go all the way, and thats a beautiful precedent to be setting, an example for all those to come, and surety for our children and our childrens children, and if we dont then weve gone very little of the way – very little indeed.
Niyikina woman, anti-gas hub campaigner and Broome councillor, Dr Anne Poelina said that Walmadan Tent Embassy had become an imperative because the state and federal governments continued to only listen to people with corporate connections and they were ignoring the wishes of Aboriginal peoples who want to protect and value their cultural, environmental and heritage values.
Michael Anderson said, It is an absolute joy to know that the people of the Kimberley are now making their statement loud and clear. It is imperative that in your stand that you have chosen to take that the commitment of the people must be enduring, no matter how hard or trying it may become.
Mr Roe said, I, and many of the Goolarabooloo, and many of our supporters and those who care about the environment, will be in Canberra. The world will hear our story.
Olympic Dam mine
The decision by the Commonwealth and South Australian government to give environmental approval for BHP Billitons Olympic Dam mine was a sad day for the Arabunna people, said Elder Kevin Buzzacott. The approvals mean the expansion of the mine, which is located in the north of South Australia, is one step closer to finalisation. Once approved, which of course it is the likelihood, then the Olympic Dam mine shall become the largest copper and uranium mine in the world. Mr Buzzacott said the mine would destroy the heart of the Arabunna land and its peoples, stealing more legacy from Arabunna children.
He said, We dont want that big great gaping hole in the desert. We just dont want it. We dont want the lands poisoned by uranium and its toxic waste, we dont want our lands made waste lands. We never wanted Olympic Dam in the first place because its a sacred site but who listens to us. Do we matter?
I and others of the Arabunna people will be at Tent Embassy and we will continue to fight, and together we can do this. We have the support of many conservation groups and they will be with us in Canberra. Our numbers are growing.
Muckaty, Mirarr, Djok
The Arabunna peoples will find in Canberra Muckaty peoples, Mirarr and Djok Elders and community representatives, who will like the Arabunna will highlight the endless disregard of government(s) of their peoples rights. Mirrar Senior Traditional Owner, Yvonne Margurula expressed great sadness that uranium from her lands in Kakudu National Park fuelled the radiation that has leaked from Fukushima in Japan. Djok Senior Traditional Owner, Jeffery Lee said his people are fighting to protect their lands at Koongarra from further uranium mining which are incorporated into Kakadu National Park. Muckaty spokespeople have long argued that they should not have their lands decimated by a radioactive waste dump and that it is immoral and unlawful for government(s) offering social benefits to secure basic services they should not have to provide a dangerously toxic waste dump on their lands in order to secure roads, housing and education.
From Roebourne, Western Australian, Yindjibarndi peoples will come to Canberra to speak of their struggle with one of Australias largest mining companies, Fortescue Metals Group with its proprietor, Andrew Forrest. Yindibarndi Aborginal Corporation (YAC) CEO, Michael Woodley has promised that he and his people will never give up the fight for justice for the Yindjibarndi, whatever it takes. He said, This fight may be David versus Goliath, however we can never surrender because if we do surrender our lands we surrender thousands of generations of our ancestors, we surrender our identity, we surrender everything and that means we surrender our children and their futures.
Mr Woodley said, Whatever it takes we will keep up the fight against Fortescue and to the end because at least our children will know whats important by what we do.
Sadly, we did not need this fight because if Fortescue sat at the table with us, honestly rather than deceitfully then we could have worked out what was best for everyone. However what is not best is the decimation of our peoples history, of our peoples lands, of our peoples rights to be.
One of the worlds worst deaths in custody records
And let us forever remind ourselves that Australia has one of the worlds worst deaths in custody records prison and police custodial however this countrys social wealth is envied by most of the rest of the world. Therefore how is it possible that Australia, with its social wealth, and high human development index, perpetrates the most horrific statistics in terms of custodial deaths, in terms of per annum deaths and in terms of crude totals? Aboriginal peoples are more than 20% of custodial deaths, disproportionately borne with this brunt because of the disproportionately wild incarceration rates they have been thundered Aboriginal humanity this too is racism. Aboriginal incarceration rates are five times the rate when compared with Apartheid South Africa, and West Australias Aboriginal incarceration rates are eight times the rate when compared with Apartheid South Africa.
In any other country these types of targeted incarceration rates and deaths in custody rates would have led to a civil war or en masse confrontations. No reasonably minded person can argue down Australias contemporary racism. As a researcher in Australian Deaths in Custody and as a visitor to prisons, and advocate on behalf of many, I have been approached by scores of families, Aboriginal, grieving for the loss of a family member, usually quite young, who is now a death in custody statistic, and many of these families will be at Aboriginal Tent Embassy. The stop deaths in custody campaigners from every part of Australia will pour in, and stand out, with banners metres wide, on the lawns of Parliament; they alone will number in their hundreds and their cries will be there for the international media to finally hear for our Australian news media is now well versed in the facts that Australia has one of the worlds worst deaths in custody records, and the worlds highest incarceration of a peoples our Aboriginal peoples. Yet, they have lacked the through-care journalism in an ongoing highlighting of this ugly predicament and the demand for expeditious social changes, for the justice to be done, for lives to be saved, and from the beginning of their lives, for prevention, for a chance at a good life from the day they are born.
Aboriginal Tent Embassy will be a powerful voice for the spiritual narrative, seeking to end widespread suffering, and pernicious inter-generational distrust between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians and it will remember John Pat, Mr Ward, Mulrunji Doomadjee, T.J.Hickey and many, many, many others. So too will the Bellotti Support Group be in Canberra, as they continue to travel far and wide, highlighting injustices against Aboriginal folk that non-Aboriginal folk do not experience its bitter taste.
A hundred from the northwest
Broome-based Nikiyina woman and Aboriginal rights activist, Sofia Mirrniyinna said, We will be there in Canberra in numbers, not just small numbers, we will be there in large numbers for this is an opportunity for all our peoples to have so many wrongs righted, to have the elimination of prejudices and racisms finally underway; we have been blamed for far too long for all the wrongs of others, for what has been done to our peoples by the governments of this country and when more Australians and more of the rest of the world, come January, understand this, with everyones eyes looking upon us, and ears with no choice but to listen, people will be moved to better understandings and into becoming better people, to truths far removed from them for far too long. And because of this, which has to happen, cowardly and gutless governments will be poll driven to make changes, to allow for our freedoms. It may well be that because of Tent Embassy there will be no James Price gas hub, that Native Title Tribunals make themselves honest and authentic and represent the rights of our peoples, and that bloody Intervention is rescinded and everyone is apologised to, and that we are finally recognised as peoples in our own right. I will be there, so will a hundred others from the northwest. I am not coming for three days only but for as long as we need to be there.
The former governor of Western Australia and who not long ago chaired the Indigenous Implementation Board said, Weve got nobody to blame but us. He said it is about time government(s) stop blaming Aboriginal peoples and that government(s) and their mouthpieces stop perceptually modifying the views of Australians to align with what translate and manifest as prejudices and discrimination and with an accumulated gusto of ugliness unfold as rapacious and unrepented racism. He said, All weve done is destroy the families and destroy the ability of the people to be families. Half these people dont even have a decent family. The kids havent got homes to go to and its going to get worse. Its awful, unbelievably awful.
Mr Sanderson said, The attitude is that were doing really well and all these black bastards are bludging off us so get out of the way and let us dig the whole place up, including their country.
Spokespeople for the Occupy movement, Australia wide, have said to me in recent interviews that many of them will swell the numbers of their Aboriginal brothers and sisters at Tent Embassy in January, camping, sitting and walking alongside them, to demonstrate to Australia that non-Aboriginal Australians are part of the call for justice for Aboriginal peoples however they will not interfere with the agenda of Tent Embassy and their only voice will be one of solidarity for this is about Aboriginal advancement by Aboriginal peoples. They are prepared to stay solid with their brothers and sisters and if need be some of them are prepared to be arrested alongside them. One of them said, If I was to be arrested in the name of something let it be for the call to a just society. In October, at the first day of the Sydney Occupy protest in Martin Place where there were near a couple of thousand protestors, Aboriginal rights activist Pat Eatock, who was at Tent Embassy 1972, said, Our Aboriginal peoples are among those who suffer the most, who the 1% walks all over. I am here for humanity, for our refugees who should not be (mal)treated like they are I welcome them. I am here for the poor and I am here for an end to governments that have brought about the Northern Territory Intervention, who are making the lives of our people worse.
She said, Our people have the highest suicide rates, the highest unemployment rates. In the Northern Territory, the federal government is pushing them off their lands and into hubs, those horrible towns. We fought for our lands and now they are taking them off us. The government has taken the right of choice from our people. They have introduced income management and the Basics Card and they do not let people choose whether they would be best served by this or not. All the statistics are worse than before the Intervention. We need to take back our land, our lives and our struggle.
Mrs Eatock said, In the Northern Territory it is blackmail. The government is trying to make us white and now we have the problem of their way or no way and we have the problem of dark-skinned whites.
She told the Occupy crowds, I was part of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy in 1972 and in January it is 40 years since that happened and the Tent Embassy continues and we will be there in big numbers in January in Canberra. We were the first to occupy Parliament in 1972 and we ask you to be there with us in January, to occupy alongside us as we bring back the journey for the struggle for our peoples. A couple of thousand Occupy protestors cheered so loudly following Mrs Eatocks speech that nothing else could be heard.
Human Rights Alliance spokesperson, Natalie Flower, said, When there is justice for Aboriginal peoples there will be justice for all Australians. When prejudices, biases, ugly stereotypes and assumptions are eliminated, when racism is burnt to a cinder then there will be justice for Aboriginal peoples, and Australia will have a consciousness to bring its humanity together. Aboriginal Tent Embassy is the struggle for justice long overdue, and it will be supported like no other human rights struggle has in recent times, not since 1972. We will be there, and we will be there for the long haul, for this is Australias best chance in a long time to a just and civil society, one that does not discriminate against people based on race or creed.
Ms Flower said, Not only will we be there in a fervent call for Aboriginal justice, in that cry for all people to walk free, and be seen and treated as equal, however so will many thousands of others, for we have felt the spirit for this journey Australia wide, and with global reach through word of mouth, through social and citizen media, and through the many groups, organisations and peoples confirming that they will be there, and so they should, for not to be there when one can would be inexcusable.
In 1972, Bobbi Sykes, later to become Dr Sykes PhD, now deceased, was the first Secretary of Aboriginal Tent Embassy, and in a surprise to many, as it was televised around Australia, and to other parts of the world, police moved in, knocking down protestors, and violently arresting them women dragged and violently bundled into police paddy wagons. Dr Sykes was brutally dragged and arrested and later said, We were no longer prepared to be kicked around, and Tent Embassy was about that, we came together united under the single issue of land rights.
Although the 1967 referendum was an important event marking a new beginning in black and white relations, most notably in the sphere of politics, the establishment of the Aboriginal Embassy in Canberra was a much larger event in our minds. The Aboriginal Embassy is credited with the onset of more immediate changes than arrived from the 1967 referendum.
Similarly, more changes may arrive from Aboriginal Tent Embassy 2012, if it lives up to be what it promises, than will result from any changes to the Australian Constitution. It is ironic that in 1972 the political party that benefited most from Aboriginal Tent Embassy was Gough Whitlams Australian Labor Party (ALP), and most definitely Aboriginal Tent Embassy contributed to the ALPs Time for Change theme and the rise of the ALP into power culminating a few years later with that iconic image of Whitlam and Vincent Lingiari. In 2012 the bad guys are the Australian Labor Party who are the incumbent government – and the racist policies are not just owned by Tony Abbotts Coalition, however in collusion with Julia Gillards government. In 2012 it will be the Australian Greens who will milk to the hilt, as did Gough Whitlams mob, Aboriginal Tent Embassy, however we will have to wait and see what promises they shall live up to (or not). Unless, parliamentarians start standing up, and especially in the federal House of Representatives and in the Australian Senate, and speak with a fervour like none yet known, with an anger yet unheard, who will presume of politics as a calling, who will call a spade a spade and indict racist Australian governments and policies then nothing can be trusted as change coming in its own right borne from within the corridors, halls, offices and meeting rooms of our parliament buildings. So far, no political party and no single parliamentarian has demonstrated the extenuating moral leadership to bring on justice for Aboriginal peoples, for Aboriginal advancement by Aboriginal peoples, and substantively contribute to a national consciousness and humanity that we can all be proud of no Australian politician has had the temerity to unveil in the public domain, within the assemblies of our parliaments, the racist and discriminatory layers that blight and languish upon the Australian landscape serving to culminate in the making of racists of Australian children, or in their indifference and passivity towards the inhumanity and discrimination that others are pummelled into. It is the job, and the calling, of our parliamentarians to lead the way in terms of our morality and our values, and in this they have long, and quite obviously, failed us and the evidence is in two centuries worth of unprecedented debacles for Aboriginal peoples at the hands, and arbitrariness, of non-Aboriginal peoples. Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudds The Apology is meaningless when it is delivered against a background that asserts the Intervention. His Apology was a lie, and for a period of time, a short period, I had believed it.
Shirley Smith, who is no longer with us, and who was at Aboriginal Tent Embassy, a founding member of the Aboriginal Legal Service, the Aboriginal Medical Service, the Aboriginal Childrens Service and the Redfern Aboriginal Housing Company wrote in her autobiography, assisted by Bobbi Sykes, The Embassy symbolised that blacks had been pushed as far as blacks are going to be pushed… First and foremost it symbolised the Lands Rights struggle. But beyond that, it said to white Australia, Youve kicked us down for the last time. In all areas. In education, in health, in police victimisation, in locking people up en masse in all these things. It said that blacks were now going to get up and fight back on any or all these issues.
“The late Bill Craigie said, In 1972, the Tent Embassy highlighted to me what sort of strength Aboriginal peoples have got when they come together in unity.
If you wish to contact The Aboriginal Embassy coordinators you can email aboriginaltentembassy or contact Ray Swan 0401 663 913 John Coe 0431 902 858 Robbie Thorpe 0437 967 039 and www.aboriginaltentembassy.net
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indigenous social justice association
(m) 0450 651 063
(p) 02 9318 0947
address 1303/200 pitt street waterloo 2017
we live and work on the stolen lands of the gadigal people.
sovereignty treaty social justice