Indigenous Poet Abused online after HSC

Ellen van

Ellen van Neerven,  Indigenous writer                                                   photo from Facebook

Aboriginal poet is abused online after HSC English exam.

Ellen van Neerven’s poem Mango, had students attacking her on Twitter and social media. Ellen wrote the poem Mango about the excitement of discovery, however was disappointed and is now not contactable following the reaction of some students after the English exam. She was ridiculed and abused racially online by year 12 students.

Some online supporters of Ms van Neersen are asking the Dept of Education to investigate following the backlash.

TWITTER @OmarjSakr

However, other students are still attacking her publicly and its continuing and growing. It now is going viral with added memes and gifs ridiculing Ms van Neerven.

Ellen - Osman


The HSC Discussion Group on Facebook is actively ridiculing her and her poem. Some examples of the support and harassment are below.


Ellen - cricket atttack

Ellen - Support1

Ellen - attack 3

Perhaps the first exams are over and the veracity of the attacks on Ellen will subside after all, there are many more exams to come and a refocus needed.

Crazy Policeman attacks Indigenous kids – other Police shocked

A frustrated Policeman attempts arrest on young girl trying to help him

Policeman goes crazy trying to arrest kids 

The video shows a group of Murris (Indigenous Queenslanders) being asked to ‘move on’ by a Policeman who over reacts.

The Policeman is frustrated with the group who are simply shopping at the time. Other Police arrive to understand the situation and look dumbfounded.

The frustrated Policeman tries to arrest a young girl who bent to pick up his keys, who had her hand out to give them back to him but he launches for her arm.

After failing to grab & arrest members of the small group, the Policeman from Murgon Qld falls into a heap when he dives & misses them.

The other Police members look in shock and assist the group to move away from the Policeman.

The Policeman centred in the video was found in a police vehicle sobbing afterwards.  Witnesses say he confessed to  just returning from leave and apologize for the actions taken.

The incident is currently under investigation by the Ethical Standards Command.

The video in has gone viral eith around 500,000 views in 2 days.

Take a Knee NRL and AFL players

kneeformer 49er’s player Colin Kaepernick leads a knee at the US national anthem


Will Indigenous players take a knee?

Should players in the NRL and the AFL grand finals take a knee when the Australian national anthem is played this week?

In the US, the knee is taken by players, led by Coling Kaepernick, formerly of the San Franciso 49ers, to protest the police brutality dealt out by police all over the US, which is also a factor in Australia.

Over 30% of Indigenous Australians males are in custody. There is increasing funding for the incarceration of Indigenous males and females, our children too in the past 20 years than there has been for Indigenous operated programs.

What would be the result if an Indigenous player took the knee?

Would the Prime Minister condemn him and also ask him to be fired, as Trump did in America?

Would an AFL or NRL player risk being fired as a result by the club or the competition itself like Colin Kaepernick has?

Australia needs to have a debate on the amount of Indigenous people still in custody and why. An Aboriginal man died in custody this week, one of almost 100 in NSW since the 1989 Aboriginal Deaths in Custody Royal Commission. He died in suspicious circumstances at Tamworth Correctional Facility last week. Tane Chatfield was a 22 year old father with his life ahead of him.

On his sisters Facebook page (Jody Pitt):


“My brother had passed away under very suspicious circumstances & in his own way has left a lot of indications that his death was not in vein nor was it self inflicted. From the information we could gather Tane was yet another victim of BLACK DEATH IN CUSTODY – which would then try & be obscured as a suicide.

Now why my family grieves the sudden & unexpected death of my brother we also have to fight the corruption amongst the justice system & hope & pray we can get an answer not only to find peace but peace for him. This all happened while he was under the care of the TAMWORTH CORRECTIONAL FACILITY & we will not get rest until we get the justice for our brother that he deserves.”

We still await the Deaths In Custody Royal Commissions recommendations implementation.

We now have a rise of 35% of Indigenous men in gaol since the Coalition came into power in NSW in 2011. Its a growing epidemic. Nothing heard or done by the various state governments in Australia to combat this disgraceful inaction.

So will we see a knee taken by an AFL or NRL player?

What other action can we take as individuals to prevent more deaths or is it another persons problem, another family and another time to do something about it?

We need a Kaepernick. We need a leader and warrior.

Importantly, let’s see if the NSW Aboriginal Knockout players all stand while the Australian national anthem is played.


David Towney

British Invasion Day – Change the date

AUST DAY - Day of mourning

1770 Lieutenant James Cook proclaimed the ‘Great South Land’ a body of land, of which he was not sure how big or vast it was, now belonged to King George III in Britain.

A land the King never saw or visited. A land of many nations who did not know of the landing of a ship on a coast in a harbour behind an island over the mountains and near the sea which was never apart of their nation. Not our country. But some King suddenly owned it.

So that happened. 1770 owns this.

A Council in Melbourne, the Yarra Council, wished to have a day of commemorating Indigenous families and struggles instead of the snags and beer absurdity of a beach landing. Now the City of Darebin council have also joined them. Its not a matter of adhering to sensitivities of Indigenous people. It’s the shame of history and the actions of invaders.

The British wanted this land. They were losing the great continent of northern America, the war of Independence meant they could no longer obtain the resources of northern America any longer. They were at war with the French. They needed trees to build ships and flax to make rope. The tallest flat in New Zealand and trees for ships in Australia.  They obtained it through British and accepted European means, invasion. However, the King told James Cook, to chart the south lands coast and “obtain information about its people, cultivate their friendship and alliance…”

Land was essential to the British at all costs. So they took it without regard for our people, the owners of country, the leaders and communities of nations.

It was labelled “empty land” or Terra Nullius. No ones land. A lie.

Australians have wanted to own this history.

Australians have wanted to own the 1770 & 1788 lie.

Celebrating 1770 landing on the 26 January each year reinforces that lie. A lie of settlement. A lie of Australian history.

The British grabbed land from Aboriginal people. Systematically stretching & stealing ownership from Aboriginal nations. Lied to. Stolen. Rounded up by stockmen and colonial police. The invasion of a village. A camp. Massacre of a family. The decimation of the population. The killing of children. The poisoning of water holes. The history of the British invasion.

The survival of Aboriginal people is real. A continual struggle to live with this history, it’s consequences and structures. Formal and informal structures established to maintain the invasion and ensure it is not questioned or dismantled.

So that happened. It happens still. Own it? Celebrated it?

The new nation of Australia did not appear then. The land was here. The people were and are still here. It was a land of over 300 nations & languages. Incredible diversity and knowledge. Nations who respected other nations for thousands of years. But in 1770, a country was to develop around the Aboriginal nations. One that fought hard against the traditions of the first nations. One that took directly from the first nations.

So that happened. British invasion. 1770.

Australia Day in July

Australia Day started as an effort to raise war funds in 1915. That was July 30. The following year, Australia wide, it was changed to July 28. It was called such things as Foundation & Empire Day and was originally, only in the state of New South Wales. Events such as stalls, theatre, speeches, auctions and collections to raise extra funds was the purpose of Foundation Day.

Aust Day - Red Flag

Different states had different days of celebration because they were named for different reasons. Established dates had a different date of establishment.  Wattle Day, Foundation, Proclamation Day all recognised the states establishment and was celebrated as a day they became apart of Australia.

So that happened. July, June and other dates. That was owned. Almost Australian.

Proclamation Day was an annual celebration in South Australia each December and Western Australia celebrated Foundation Day on June 1.

Aust Day - Badges

Various celebrations of a national day in Australia


Western history still evoke the British arrival in 1788 as successful. Successful for trade for the British. Successful for the resources for the British. Successful for the killing of the nations of Aboriginal families for the British.

But it wasn’t an Australian act. It was British. For Britain. It wasn’t Australian because it wasn’t for all Australians. The new country of Australia was living in with the ‘White Australia’ policy, so it was only for European, anglo-Australians.

Today, we are Australian. Since 1967 we have been Australian. But we are apart of this land and landscape since time began. So the label ‘Australian’ is a new one as we  always have been apart of our nations. Wiradjuri. Gamilaraay. Yorta Yorta. Wurundjeri. Wik. Larrakia. Jawoyn. Jagera. We are a people wanting to be apart of a country that moves in one direction with a history & future to be celebrated. It must be without regret or excuses. It must also be expressed with pride. That didn’t happen in 1770 or 1788. Our families fought in WWI and WWII for the same country that did not accept us as citizens. Being defenders of this land was and is still a priority of our people. The future of our people and culture rely on our fight.

Living in two countries, one state and a divided history.

In 1938, our leaders who established the Australian Aboriginal Advancement League in Victoria and the Aborigines Progressive Association in NSW commemorated the 26th January as “The Day of Mourning”.  We protested the 150 years of invasion in Australia.

Leaders such as  William Cooper, Jack Patten, Bill Ferguson and Pearl Gibbs, developed a political movement to improve Indigenous lives, rights and conditions while educating non-Indigenous Australians about our struggle. William ‘Bill’ Ferguson also has a memorial in Israel as he supported the Jews against the Nazis in WWII.

Aust Day - Day of mourning - chalkboard

Day of Mourning 26 January, 1938


Jack Patten and Bill Ferguson  wore in their Aborigines Demand Citizens Rights! 1938 manifesto,

‘We ask—and we have every right to demand—that you [white Australians] should include us, fully and equally with yourselves, in the body of the Australian nation’.

That happened. It was 1938.

We continue to fight Australia Day, being the 26th January, a day that is an insult to our people. It means we do not belong, we are a pest; fauna and flora. It means the start of our eradication. The systemic death of our families.


All Australian states officially celebrated and proclaimed the 26 January a public holiday in 1993. The following year, it became the National holiday known as Australia Day.

To separate the actions of the British and Australians, an independent day that means celebrating as a people of one. A people together. That should be done on a date we all want together. A date that is needed for our survival. As a nation of one.

Australia became a country in 1901 at Federation. Non-Indigenous Australians became Australian citizens of this country in 1948, not just British subjects.

Indigenous people in 1967. Finally!

But Australia still celebrates a British invasion. The systematic take over of over 300 Aboriginal nations. Indigenous lands and waters. Our grasslands, gardens & forests.

So if 1788 divided us, disown it. That was a British action not an Australian one.

If massacres were a British action, disown it.

If hunting parties and poisoning of water holes was a dividing British action, disown it.

Change the date. An Australian date where the actions of the British are past.

Break the date.


Mates with mates.

May 8…





Mothers Day – how a non-Indigenous mum raises her Indigenous girl

As a Wiradjuri man, I often wonder how a non-Indigenous mother would raise an Indigenous son or daughter. Does she reflect on culture? How would she do that,  especially if you’re dislocated from country and family? Is it different or the needs of love and care will be everything your child requires for a fulfilling life?

Tara, former model now photographer, blogger and mother of a beautiful baby girl Penelope,  gives her thoughts on Mothers Day.


Guest writer: Tara Hodges

I am the proud Mother of a beautiful little Wiradjuri/ Palawa girl, Penelope Larila.


Penelope connecting to mother earth

On Mothers Day, and always, I take the time to reflect on her Aboriginality & what that, along with Motherhood means to me.

My Daughter comes from strong People, rich in culture & in spirit. When she was born, we bathed her in water from Wiradjuri Country to pay homage to her Grandfathers People. Her middle name, Larila means Platypus (Palawakani) & we gave her this name to pay homage to her Grandmothers people.

I believe it is vital Penelope keeps her connection to country & to community. In our home, that means speaking daily about her identity, learning language, attending community events, eating bush tucker & taking pride in who she is & where she comes from.


Tara & Penelope

I think of other Children, that like Penelope may have a Non-Aboriginal Parent, or Carer. Those that may not understand the importance of keeping their Child connected to Culture, which though I couldn’t understand, can only imagine there may be a lot of confusion & hurt for a child lacking in a state of being, or sense of self.

Like most Mothers, I often think of Penelope’s future.

It saddens me to think of the trials in which she may face & that just for being who she is; it’s likely she will face more than most. With those trials, comes great pride of being part of the Worlds oldest surviving & thriving culture. There is nothing that will take that away from her. As a Mother, I will provide my Daughter with unconditional love, care & all the necessary tools in life to make her mark. And as her Mother, I know she will.

Tara’s photography,  studio and contact can be found at:


Remembering our Warriors

ANZAC -Warriors remembered


ANZAC day in Australia means many things to many people but is a strange experience for Indigenous people.

“Half-castes may be enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force provided that the examining Medical Officers are satisfied that one of the parents is of European origin.” In WWI, the enlisting of Aboriginal soldiers was permitted to a small degree.

An Uncle of mine fought at Gallipoli as a result. Shot there and that bullet remained until the day he died 40 years later.

My grandfathers fought in the World Wars. But they fought again when they returned to Australia. My grandfather, Andrew Towney, was a tall, strong man. He could fight too. He was a WWII soldier in the middle east and Papua New Guinea. He returned to Australia to apply for membership of the local Ex-Services club but was rejected. He never set foot in that club from that day on.

“In 1945, after World War II ended a War Service Land Settlement Agreement between the Commonwealth and states, enabled returned service personnel access to land under soldier settlement schemes. Following the agreement, the states and the Commonwealth enacted solider settlement legislation or amended existing legislation.

As in the schemes introduced after World War I, Aboriginal personnel were not specifically excluded but the assessment procedures were prejudiced against them and many were rejected from the scheme. This was particularly cruel as the scheme offered lands that once belonged to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.”

Not only did he not receive acceptance or appreciation of his efforts for this country, he was also denied the right to march in the ANZAC day march. So he never marched again. Instead, my grandfather stood on the footpath each ANZAC day to watch the soldiers he fought with and helped protect, to walk by him as the street and community rose in applause for the marching soldiers. Each year without fail, he would watch them.

I don’t know what that rejection is like. I do not know what his feelings were like. He never spoke of those things. Rarely did he speak about the war again.

Our returning Aboriginal soldiers were not allowed to receive the veteran pension, nor their wives a widow pension. That finally changed when we were counted as Australian citizens in the 1967 Referendum.

As Gary Oakley, Indigenous Liaison Officer, Australian War Memorial said:

…We’re not citizens, yet we’re willing to die for this place, we’re willing to die for non-Indigenous Australians, have a think about that one….

It was not just a person who rejected my grandfathers sacrifice, it was a community, a country and once more, a people; our Aboriginal people, who were denied acceptance and not appreciated once more. These men, without being citizens, gave up their lives for this country and for all the rhetoric that was celebrated as an Australian but still dreamed of being equal, being one with this country that formed around us.

If only you could see my grandfathers face every year while standing alone on that footpath.

I know I won’t.


Wiradjuri NEWS founder

David Towney


Quotes attributed to:

and FB posts by friend, Cleonie Quayle

Racial Discrimination Should Never be Legalised via 18C

18C 2 poster

I have a Facebook friend. I have never met my friend in proper, real, actual life. That’s so common with many of my Facebook friends. 

However, this particular friend has had a life different to most. Different in one sense but for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, my friend has a shared experience with so many people of our age.

The day was “Harmony Day”. A day that celebrates social cohesion, equality and our sense of ‘fair go’. So why has this friend felt the need to share life experiences and mistreatment on such a day?

The current Federal Government, led by the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, to change the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 Section 18C – Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 deals with offensive behaviour “because of race, colour or national or ethnic origin” in Australia. He is determined to change the Act. He is bowing to pressure within his conservative, not progressive Party, by the backbenchers to make such changes. Those backbenchers range from extreme right wing Queenslanders to outdated, ‘flat world view’ South Australians. Sorry, my anger and race is showing by writing such comments about this attack on Aboriginal people as the deplorable acts by a deplorable system still taints all of our lives.

One time ago, we heard yelled from a crowd thirty rows back, “get over it”, “move on” but today, we get that reply on many social media profiles who hide with dubious names and cartoon filled photos.

Such brave people.

Sorry it’s showing again.

So instead of rambling on with amounts of frustration and a tirade of typing to overload my blood pressure, I will show some of my Facebook friends actual life. The treatment. The suffering, the life. The reality of why we need the protection of 18C in the Racial Discrimination Act 1975.

Ironically, I will need to put a warning on the following as it will contain offensive language. Strong language. Disgraceful language.

Her postings on social media on Harmony Day were as follow – sorry a reminder. This is one persons life. A woman. A victim and a mother unveiled to you:

” when I was born, I was not an Australian citizen, until I was 6 years old, 1967 Referendum .  #HarmonyDay, let’s share stories of racism with hashtag #FreedomOfSpeech “

” when I lived in Campbelltown and was being bashed in the backyard by my ex with a shovel and bottle. To which I found the strength to jump the fence and escape, very beaten and bloodied, I ran to my friends house and she called the police. The white neigbours in the townhouse looking down on the incident, told one of my friends, “geez, she put up a good fight. ”

” when I lived in Redfern or wanted to get a cab from Redfern or dropped off at Redfern, to this day, I have never been able to get a cab.  “

” when my son started kindergarten, he came home with a black eye, an older child had bashed him, because he was Aboriginal. Ever sat with a child who is traumatised and doesn’t want to go back to school?  “

” when I was growing up, racism and hatred was normalised and acceptable, until the introduction of the Anti Discrimination Act and the Racial Discrimination Acts in 1975. 

” when my son was at school, he was suspended for jumping into a fight, because his best friend, who was Chinese, was being beaten by 3 white Australian kids. Thanks Pauline Hanson at the height of your racism towards Chinese. ”

” At the height of Pauline Hason’s racism against Asians, When I was in traffic I witnessed 3 white young Aussie’s throwing a bottle of water on a Chinese girl and drenched her and told her to “fuck off back to her Country”, she started crying. ”

” when I went to Alice Springs in 1985, I was drinking with some friends and the bouncer told us we had to go outside in the beer garden, because Aboriginals aren’t allowed to drink in the lounge. #HarmonyDay, let’s share stories of racism with hashtag #FreedomOfSpeech “

” When I owned a red Datsun, I pulled up at the shops and two blokes asked me did I steal it. ”

” when I went to Queensland in 1985, I was denied access to a club, the reason given by the bouncer “because I am Aboriginal.”  ”

” when I was at school and wore a halter neck dress for plain cloth dress day, my music teacher, said to everyone in the class the next day “I saw Cleonie walking around the other day in a lap, lap.” and everyone started laughing. ”

” when I was 20 years old, I was bashed by two bouncers and kicked in the head, at Caringbah Hotel and put in hospital with concussion for defending my friend who was Vietnamese. ”

” When I lived in Lurnea, a neighbour would call my children “Niggers and told me to fuck off back to the bush.” ”

” On ANZAC day, when my eldest son was 2 years old, happy singing on the train, an ex drunken veteran said “shut up you little black cunt.” ”

” when I was 15 years old, I was refused service in a Café in Marrickville, because he didn’t serve Niggers.  #HarmonyDay, let’s share stories of racism with hashtag #FreedomOfSpeech “

“when I was 15years old, my best friends boyfriend ” asked her how could she hang around with a piece of Abo shit.” ”

” when I was 6 years old, I asked my foster mother, “why do people call me blackie”, she replied “God made me in the daytime, he made you in the night, he made you in a hurry and forgot to paint you white.” ”

” when I was 4 years old, I was removed from my parents, under a racist policy, now known as the Stolen Generations. ”

” when I was 12 years old, sitting on the train coming home from school, I was spat on and called “nigger”. ”

” when I was 10 years old, 5 boys bashed my head into the bubbler at school and cracked my tooth, calling me “black” ”


I ask if you think this language and treatment is okay? Now you do not know your future and the family you have in the future. You may have Aboriginal children as nephews, nieces, sons, daughter or grandchildren. That may influence your thinking about the use of words mentioned above. It may not. But you also may have a past. Someone in your past was treated this way too. A grandmother. Grandfather.  An uncle who suffered or great Aunt who remained alone for unknown reasons.

I would not want this for my daughter, son or granddaughter.

I will leave the last word to my friend who opened up her story and life to anyone wanting to hear.

“Seriously, if you can’t say something without denigrating someone else and being a racist, is your opinion really worth listening to?”


#HarmonyDay, let’s share stories of racism with hashtag #FreedomOfSpeech


David Towney – Wiradjuri NEWS