Death of a cartoonist…who offended us

There are tributes to a cartoonist in Australia who died yesterday. We disliked his racism in cartoons. We disliked his stereotyping and propaganda messages in his cartoons. We disliked his view of Aboriginal Australia and the negativity reinforced in a comical manner, because he was a cartoonist and it suited his audience. We even dislike saying his name, Bill Leak, but we will to clarify who we are speaking of.

Bill Leak cartoons 

We are alarmed that the Prime Minister would pay a tribute to this man. We have expected Rupert Murdoch and other media personalities to do so but we are surprised by the words towards an extremist such as this cartoonist by the PM.

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Instead of Wiradjuri NEWS making further comment on him, we will let this cartoonist’s work and the tributes say how Australia feels and pays homage to its own.

If this surprises you, then this is what we as Aboriginal people face in media and at the political level everyday.

Aboriginal Men – Quit B Fit Conference 2017, Dubbo

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I’ve attended an Aboriginal mens conference in Dubbo this week. A conference important to the Aboriginal men in NSW.

A 38 year old man saying he found he had a growth in his body that is likely to mean his life is limited. He found out this year.

Another man who has prostate cancer and is dealing with it. His family is dealing with it. His work is dealing with it. His whole world has stopped and needs to deal with it.

A man who struggles with his identity and how he ‘fits into life’ when he doesn’t know his people, grabs me aside over a coffee.

There are also other stories I could mention but will not for reasons left to the conference to deliver.  Our men do face several important challenges in society, being a cultural teacher, leader, show a family and community strong face, while also working and sitting on community controlled structures. However, over 20-40% of men can be incarcerated, have alcohol and drug issues, have degrading and racist labels applied to us and try twice as hard just to appear equal. If we suffer and have not role models, have no teachers, no leaders, no strength in family and community then we go backwards and we put all loved ones at considerable risk.

So this conference is an opportunity for our men to speak up and step out of the normal skin we are in and be something we aspire to be.

How? It all starts with listening.

We hear the story of the guy who cannot give up gambling, then we share our experiences. We listen to the violent incident that happened when a woman was beaten by her husband.

We listen and share other experiences and heroic stories of the women telling family, supported and finding a way out of an isolated world. The women hold our community together and men need to understand, care and support our mums, sisters, wives and daughters.

We hear of a fallen, prominent leader who has to tell the community of his personal battle. It affects him everyday and even if he is publicly shamed, he still has a responsibility to share his story so others know it affects the most well known and respected people in our community as well.

These are Aboriginal men, wanting to change the way Aboriginal men are seen and valued by the community, family and most importantly, by ourselves. We must live with the person we are given, know, born and share with. We must be happy with the Aboriginal man that exists inside of us and who represents us.

This afternoon, men will head out to play golf. Why? For the first time in a long time, many will laugh and walk with others who they may never have met and immediately, open up to them about why they are here and why they want to be here. Think about that for a moment and ask yourself why you are reading this? Why would you read this? How come and Aboriginal mans existence is important to you?

The answers may be evident but also may exist in 10 years time or next week.

You see the news and know how men are portrayed in the media and generally on reports or social media accounts. But have one thing on your mind when you read or listen to those stories or accounts. Importantly, it’s Aboriginal men sorting out Aboriginal men’s business; sorting out the five lives we live each day.

The man you see. The man in the family. The man at work. The man in society. The man who is a cultural teacher & knowledge holder. He becomes he who learns to be a man, husband, father, lover, son, grandfather, uncle, aunt, brother, mother & friend.

So this morning I’ve listened to the many issues affecting our men. Also, I’m deeply interested in each of the different groups where our men take charge of our health and purpose to change our lives. For example, we had a group, “Preventing Violence Against Women” talking this morning. Preventing violence against women focusses on male behaviour, breaking down the social and critical family issues Aboriginal men face today. But the program starts by explaining our history, our issues. Why? Many Aboriginal men do not see their lives clearly. Why, how and the circumstances as to our existence is not understood to a large degree. Through a 3 day workshop, an Aboriginal man will look at his place in the world, from invasion to a Mission life, the Freedom Rides to The Apology.

The program also has a Strong Aboriginal Women program to encourage our women to voice up, be strong and independent Aboriginal women. It is another series of workshops operated by strong Aboriginal women.

The program is operating in NSW and so far, has commenced in

Tweed Heads,Yamba, Dubbo, Wilcannia, Murrain Bridge, Griffith, Walgett, Toomelah, Walhalla, Mt Druitt, Redfern, Wallaga Lake, Albury, Bowraville, Tamworth, Condobolin, Menindee, Cranbrook and Taree.

Then, we had some anecdotal evidence from the evaluation of the program.

“This program has changed our life”…Is a quote from one of the workshop participants. Men actually participating and giving feedback is an essential element for our community to be successful and to progress. Protection, loving and caring are areas our Aboriginal men are starting to talk about, starting to share and break the impacts of colonisation, institutionalisation and incarceration.

Drugs, incarceration, alcohol, smoking, violence are themes often repeated in our communities. I then begin to wonder “Is repeating the issues also adding to the way we reinforce the negatives in our communities?” Maybe a solution to the breaking of such cycles is to talk positive, be positive person and have ‘role model solutions’ to the future.

Who would be the role models?

Well you could start with the amazing amount of sports stars we have, however, it may simply be that we never can aspire to the heights of the many successful Indigenous sports stars. So if we cannot attain that level, why share their stories?

We could show our fantastic actors and TV content. But many of those stories too focus on negative social issues in the community and the unreal escape from that reality. So the story of an actor many not be the best option.

Maybe, its just the ordinary Joe in the street that we need to hear. Maybe it’s the ordinary Jane we need to support. Maybe it’s the ordinary Smiths who we need to follow.

So why do we need an Aboriginal Mens Conference? A quote from a man at the conference,

“We are spiritual people in a human experience”

Edit: Oh, I missed out on something that no one else has mentioned. I read it back and thought, hey, there’s an important ingredient in this conference that is I forgot to mention. The team that brought this conference together from Wellington Aboriginal Health is a key. The Quit Smoking team is also important who encourage us and sponsor this conference to happen. But its still not the main exclusion.

The men sharing stories. The men talking. Our men re-learning our experiences with other men. I think that is the most important outcome of the day, for men to share thoughts and feelings with our people, family and mates.

HUNGER LAND

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The old world

The storm approaches. A new season upon us.

My face hits the ground and dust appears on impact. A hit to the head. I’m only seeing the grass and red dirt blowing across the plains, back into my eyeballs. Weaker and weaker, they roll into an ocean wave of sleep. Slumping into a clump, my body is smashed from side to side. Everything is black and your body groans into a deep heap; not moving.

I don’t understand how I got here but I remember the voices. Low and high voices, commanding voices, laughing and scared voices. Whispers…that’s right, whispers were the last thing I remember.

We float our dead people to the place they came from. Past the last great fire and into the ghost land.

Out of last nights darkness, the ghost land spilled a spirit. Then another. A group of spirits from the dead world rolled across the sand and stared at me. Staring and shouting like they know me and I know them. But nothing made sense. I’ve never talked to ghosts before and my jaw was locked, not able to say my thoughts. Not able to move and tell anyone about the spirits coming to visit me. I’m frozen.

A fish, that’s right, a fish.

I remember showing them a fish I caught and offering it to them. I had a basket full of my morning catch when suddenly, they moved over towards me, smiled and grabbed them. I heard the whispers, turned to grab my fish net and that’s it. Down I went. I lay here watching the wind, circle on the clearing. The leaves sing a song high in the tree tops. They chatter and swoop to each other in a greeting of the old men. The circles gather other wind over the clearing and the hills beyond. They talk and watch in one place, circling over and over then speed off to tell another that the spirits have come.

I get to my knees, slowly to my feet. Warm blood pours onto my shoulders and off to the sand. The stain is my stain. My mothers sand knows I am hurt. I hear her heart break, screeching, snapping in the forest. I hear her rumble in the water. She is not happy. I hear her in the dark forming clouds. She speaks.

My net is gone. My fish have disappeared. My spear is here and my shield still sits over on the grass where I left it. You don’t need a shield from spirits normally, or when fishing. I had no fight with them but I’m not sure.

The sand feels wet with my blood; I must have been out of it a while. I stumble back to the grass and lay  gazing, gathering the spinning ancestors constantly talking in my ears. One, now ten, they spin and say I’m in danger. Doubt means danger.

Then suddenly…

I heard the cracking bang of a season storm breaker. The sound from the clouds and rain brought in by that spirit. Broken by that spirit.

I wait but there is no rain…just clouds, wind and a burning hole in my skin, the bang from the spirit.

The hole is wider and the blood spills. I burn inside. My eyes weaken and slip again.

“Its the fish, I think the spirits came back again for the fish.” My thoughts weaken.

I will not be able to catch any to take and gift them for my mothers sake. Mother will not be happy with me. Please, do not harm my mother. I can hear her still, blowing wildly through the trees and tasting my red stain as I bleed and empty my light. My mouth is dry. I search harder for the air around me…searching…searching…

First contact.

The commanders gave orders and the new order was invoked. The unknown ghosts put a curse on our families. Hunted our villages, killed and removed us. They have a permanent curse.

The spirits have never talked to us. Never. Never explained why they are here. Never wanted to share with us. Never understood us. Never sat down with us. Never… and the curse remains.

 

Today

This is not an chapter of ‘Hunger Games’. It is an appetite that kills Indigenous people in the millions. When Australians celebrate today, remember the first death. Remember that was multiplied a million times. Remember no one speaks to us, exactly as it was back then. Remember we should never forget that in building the modern Australia, it was on Aboriginal land that was not legally or morally obtained. It was a lie saying that the land was empty. The ‘Mabo decision’ overturned that lie but never removed the stain or curse. The curse of non-recognition. The curse of no equality. The stain of blood.

The old curse from spirits of a ghost land who refuse to talk to us, listen or meet with us. Hunger Land still divides us as it did from that first day.

2016 – the year in review

We review the main Indigenous news headlines of the past 12 months. Not too much but a bit of an outline of the main stories of the year.

The federal Government we give a 4 out of 10. No big changes or accomplishments to mark off, in fact they kept the same Minister, Scullion and he did not perform first time around.

No judgement on the Prime Ministers Indigenous Advisory Council as they only tell us if they are not consulted, so through their silence you can estimate most judgments by the Minister and Prime Minister in the past 2 years has been with the approval of the Advisory Council.

 


JANUARY

Language Magazine publishes an article on the NSW school revolution; putting Aboriginal languages back in the day to day teaching of most schools with Indigenous students.

New Year celebrations in Brisbane city was declared open with a ‘welcome to country’ Aboriginal ceremony.

25 year Cabinet Documents are released – How the Deaths in Custody Royal Commission changed Labor Policy, Tickner.

Sydney welcome in the new year and Natan Moran of the Metropolitant Land Council performed a ‘Welcome to Country’ ceremony before the harbour fireworks display

Indigenous doctors are the key to improving INigenous health, says leading Darwin academic, Prof Wakerman.

The unexpected death of David Bowie delivered stories of his heroic efforts to expose the struggle for Aboriginal rights in Australia during his ‘Red Shoes’ tour in the 1980’s. Bowie was horrified of the outright racism he witnessed during his times travelling through Australia in the 80’s and early 90’s. His music clip ‘Let’s Dance’ was dedicated to showing that racism.

A video game “ Survival Island” is taken off the shelves as its aim was to kill as many Aboriginal people as possible in order to advance in the game. The Aboriginal man is dressed in traditional hunting attire and you are encouraged to kill him. A petition with over 60, 000 signatures and social media campaigns made the developers of the game, remove it from Google Play and iTunes.

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Tasmanian Aboriginal places are enhanced with further dual named sites to be registered.

Hundreds of people gathered for the opening of the Tamworth Country Music Festival As the Aboriginal Showcase opened the festivities. Aunty Yvonne Kent delivered a ‘welcome to country’ followed by a smoking ceremony by Len Waters.

Talk once more of the changing of Australia Day to another date would make it more inclusive for all Australians.

Aboriginal Tent Embassy site in Canberra is considering a community garden to help enjoy and commemorate the place Indigenous rights movement boiled over, in the face of most Australians and international media.

 


FEBRUARY

Aboriginal inmates in Victoria get the approval to sell their artworks made in gaol as a means to ease the transition back into regular life outside of the prison system.

Blackface has once again ignited social media as members of the Aussie Rules Club, Learmonth Football Club in Victoria dress as Cathy Freeman and hunters. It was uploaded to rapper Briggs phone and he unleashed on Facebook.

 

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Aboriginal ‘safe spaces’ are under attack as non-Aboriginal students are asked to leave a Queensland University computer room reserved for Indigenous students only.

Four players for the Sydney Thunder T20 Cup squad have been named in the NSW National Indigenous Cricket Champions squad.

NT intervention fails on human rights so the NT government launches Aboriginal Affairs Strategy.

Locals concerned about development on Aboriginal land at Iluka, north coast of NSW. A group of concerned land owners have raised issues with a proposal of 162 lots of the Birrigan Gargle Local Aboriginal Land Council.

500 strong Indigenous leaders meet to reject he Constitutional Recognition campaign. In Victoria, the Andrew Government encouraged the gathering of  Australia’s Indigenous leaders to discuss the Recognition issues at a venue in Federation Square.  A motion was passed – “We as the Sovereign People Reject the Constitutional Recognition”

Flinders Ranges to be renamed in recognition of the  traditional Aboriginal owners. The new name will include “Ikara” which means ‘meeting place’ . It will now be known as the Kara-Flinders Ranges National Park.

WA Government threatens to weaken its Aboriginal Heritage legislation even further to enable full scale development of Aboriginal lands for mining, but destroying sites and sacred places without accountability

 


MARCH

SA nurse Gayle Woodford worked in a small Indigenous community, she was murdered and the man was arrested.

Calls for the Gweagal shield, taken by Cook in 1770, to be handed back to its traditional owners, Gweagal clan of the Dharawal nation. It is currently held in the British Museum.

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A Parliamentary inquiry into the shocking suicide rate of young Western Australian Nyoongar, Yamatji, Wajuk and Wongi people after a 10 year old girls suicides in the Kimberley.

Talk resonates through mainstream media of changing the Australian flag to better reflect its diversity and original land owners.

Socceroos donate $90,000 to Indigenous football to encourage and support young aspiring Indigenous footballers. John Moriarty is recognised for his contribution to Australian football and Indigenous business by Football Australia.

Kyle Sandilands sparks debate about Invasion vs Settlement as other slow news commentators debate this issue on TV, radio and print media. The issue was the first attempt to try and test the Section18C racial discrimination laws, without really trying to cross the legal line on ‘offence’ as the debaters had no clue about where the argument was going. It was a join effort by many of the usual suspects in the news mafia. However, leaders such as the Premier of Queensland  Annastacia Palaszczuk backed the “invasion stance”.

Meanwhile  the Gladstone Council raises the Aboriginal flag or the first time in an historical event following Aboriginal elders from Gladstone, Bundaberg, Fraser Coast and the North Burnett refused to sign a major land agreement that was 10 years in the making until local council flew the Aboriginal flag.

In Sydney the Light Rail project unearths 20,000 historic Aboriginal artefacts  which could de-rail the project. Some of the items included spear heads and cutting tools in pristine condition near Randwick. It slowed the project but was the site was given a ‘consent to destroy’ notice.

The then Chief Minister of the Northern Territory, Adam Giles, is building his war chest for the upcoming election, with Health given a major boost.

A film, “An Dubh ina Gheal/Assimilation in the Glens” is launched. It’s a film exploring race, language and culture & the complex relationship between Indigenous Australians and the Irish in Australia. It looks at the Tent Embassy and the politicisation of the “Shamrock Aboriginal”.

Mainstream media focus heavily on the negatives of remote community living, with headlines “Life in the bush should not be a life sentence”. Its used as a discussion topic around the removal of and reasons why remote communities should not exist. Suddenly the media is concerned about Aboriginal welfare; not the monetary one they Governments cut.

Indigenous Rangers program gets some airtime and the positives its made for employment and health of country.

Carmichael Mine project gets approval in Queensland against the wishes of the Traditional Owners.

Deadly Runners in Queanbeyan get a mention in the Canberra Times. Its an all Aboriginal running group who gather each morning and do a local circuit for health, enjoyment, companionship and mob networking.

Investment Magazine says over 80% of Aboriginal retirees will not have enough money to retire on.

In response to the “invasion vs settlement” debate, one newspaper asks “Who speaks for Aboriginal Australia?”

Blue Borobi (koala) is announced as the mascot for the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast

 


APRIL

Gurrumul accuses the Darwin hospital as ‘racial profiling’ him as a drunk, as he is ignored for 8 hours when he complaining of internal bleeding, a liver issue he has battled since childhood. It caused him to be rushed later into intensive care where he remained until the hospital had a thorough investigation into the matter.

The Tar-Ru Board of Management are using  “Environmental/Cultural Flows” in the Murray Darling system of 950 megalitres of water for the wetlands near Wentworth. It should help population and diversity of waterbirds and the Southern Bell Frog, while improving the health of river red gums.

Indigenous Business Australia’s finance systems manager Nicholas Schofield, 46, had a salary of $113,000 but used stolen IBA money to bankroll a lavish lifestyle and was facing gaol. The Guardian newspaper fronted the headline, “‘Gross breach of trust’: Indigenous Business Australia manager facing more jail. In May, he was sentenced to 3 years gaol by the ACT Supreme Court for the $1.4million theft.

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Photo source: Canberra Times 

 

Journalist, Stan Grant, announces he is considering running in the 2016 Federal Election. He was considering offers from several Party heavyweights before making his final decision.

Australian Bar Association says the Federal Government should intervene to stop Mandatory Sentencing legislation in the NT. The current laws unfairly target Indigenous people who already have high levels of incarceration throughout the NT and Australia. “Australia’s Indigenous incarceration rate is one of the most challenging human rights issues facing the country today […] and is a matter of deep concern to the Australian Bar Association,” Patrick O’Sullivan QC, president of the Australian Bar Association said.

“Amend mandatory sentencing and watch Indigenous incarceration rates fall.” This call was made throughout the year until it was finally amended.

IN April, before the Federal Budget was announced, the Indigenous Ranger program was further promoted for positive employment, cultural and tourism for Indigenous people throughout WA and the NT.

Artists brought to light in an exhibition, “Secrecy and Despatch”, the massacres Governor Macquarie orchestrated in Appin and other areas of NSW. Governor Lachlan Macquarie wrote in his diary in April 1816 that he felt compelled to “inflict terrible and exemplary punishments” upon Indigenous people living on the outskirts of Sydney – and so he did.

Indigenous Smoking rates have dived by 40% for people over 15 years of age, according to a new study published in the Guardian.

Jamie Olivers Food Ministery seeks Aboriginal community involvement with a new van unveiled to travel to Indigenous communities. This van will promote and provide healthy eating options for Aboriginal people.

Woolies Supermarkets announce they will double their Indigenous workforce from 2,000 to 4,000 as a result of its Employment Parity Initiative.

The NATSISS survey indicates ‘Closing the Gap’ is a long way from meeting parity. The Australian Bureau of Statistics conducts the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey (NATSISS) every six years, analysing a broad range of subject matter including cultural identity, social networks, housing, health, education and employment. Discrimination, incarceration and health risks remain high.

 


MAY

Stan Grant is riding the media wave to promote his profile ahead of possible candidacy in the upcoming Federal Election. Still hasn’t decided on a Party in a life changing proposition.

May 7th and the Election is announced taking some by surprise.

Traditional Owners In South Australia protest the proposed Nuclear Waste Dump facility earmarked for the APY (Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara) Lands.

The Government is asked to do something about the increasingly “…’epidemic’ Indigenous suicide rates in remote Australia.”

Indigenous groups are disappointed with the Budget with ‘little to offer’ . Disappointed and underwhelmed would best describe indigenous Australia’s response to the budget, with calls for an end to “the combative approach to Indigenous Affairs”, is the mood summed up by the National Congress of Australia’s First People. The Hockey Budget in 2014 snubbed the body of funding in 2014, 2015 and continued in 2016. It ripped $500 million out of Indigenous programs. Treasurer Scott Morrison was noted for mentioning ‘Indigenous’ only once in the entire Budget Speech.

Election 2016 Shorten announces Indigenous teachers scholarships to encourage more Indigenous qualified teachers.

Indigenous Australia has a representative in the Australian Miss World component of the event. Magnolia Maymuru, 19, will spar it out against candidates around Australia in July, with the ultimate goal of being the nation’s face at the Miss World finals in London. 

Reviewing the WA Budget in 2016, found that the Barnett Gov did not spend any of the $150million Indigenous Reform money. The money is a carrot to remote communities to close and move into bigger centres, instead of funding going to more isolated areas. Nothing was spent because remote communities did not want to move and close homelands. So the threat to close or be a non-funded community went with little reporting, with the $150 million remaining as many of the homelands have not received a boost in funding for some time anyway.

Andrew Bolt claims he is Indigenous. I might leave that just there for a while and come back to it but you read that correctly, Andrew Bolt claims he is Indigenous.

Federal Election – Nova Peris announces she will not stand for the Senate at the upcoming election and focus on her family instead. Meanwhile, research shows half of the NT Indigenous community is not enrolled to vote. Malarndirri McCarthy, journalist with NITV and the ABC and a former Northern Territory legislative assembly member during 205-2012,  has thrown her hat in the ring to replace Nova Peris. McCarthy is a Yanyuwa Garrawa woman from Borroloola in the NT.

National Sorry Day discusses the need for a Treaty. Headlines such as “There are lots of ways to say sorry but Indigenous Australians need a Treaty now” speak about the grass roots cry for a Treaty with the Australian Government.

 


JUNE

Election – only 58% of Indigenous people are registered to vote. Linda Burney talks about the female leaders who have inspired her into Federal Parliament. Australian Electoral Commission cuts venues for voting at the upcoming election and axes many remote voting booths.

In the north of Australia, the Festival season see’s the community and tourists join together at Yirrkala.

Documentary series on ABC celebrates the recording of ancient longlines throughout Australia .

NDS is rolling out in Australia and adequate Indigenous series are lacking.

Arts sector is failing Indigenous artists and communities says ArtsHub.

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Talqua Clancy a star of the Rio games – photo:Zimbio


RIO Olympics

Squad has 7 Indigenous sports representatives from beach athletics to volleyball to basketball, rugby and hockey. They include:

Benn Harradine – athletics discus thrower who previously attended 2008 Beijing and 2012 London Olympics.

Patrick Mills – NBA basketballer who previously attended 2008 Beijing and 2012 London Olympics.

Lydia Williams and Kyah Simon – female footballers will make their Olympic debut, with the Matildas having not qualified for the last two Olympics.

Brooke Peris – women’s hockey player makes her Olympic debut and follows in the footsteps of her first cousin Nova Peris, who won gold in women’s hockey at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

Taliqua Clancy – becomes they first Indigenous female volleyball player to represent Australia at the Olympics. She will team with Louise Bawden in women’s beach volleyball.

John Porch – men’s rugby sevens player with the Thunderbolts. Rugby sevens makes its Olympic debut and rugby union was last played at the 1924 Paris Olympics.


 

A blistering verbal attack is launched at Pauline Hanson by Indigenous leader Mundaroo Yanner while she visits Cairns in her bid to be re-elected to the lower house in the upcoming Federal Election.

 


JULY

FEDERAL ELECTION is won by the Coalition with a close Senate result. A record number of Indigenous MP’s are elected.

First female Indigenous House of Representatives member, Wiradjuri woman and school teacher Linda Burney,(ALP-NSW) is elected. She will add class and cultural knowledge to the waning focus of Indigenous Issues in the Federal Parliament. She joins the Liberal Indigenous member Ken Wyatt (Lib-WA) as the only Federal indigenous members in the Lower House.

Senate officially elects Pat Dodson (ALP-WA) to the Labor ranks who was already a member following a WA representative resigning, giving an Indigenous voice to the Senate along with Jackie Lambie (Ind – TAS) in the Senate and new Senator Malarndirri McCarthy (ALP-NT). Senator McCarthy was a former ABC and NITV journalist and NT member between 2005-2012.

Indigenous people in WA have the highest rate of malignant mesothelioma in the world as a result of asbestos related activities in remote Western Australia.

ASIC wants to stop Indigenous people being ‘ripped off’.

Australians like suicide prevention researcher Gerry Georgatos call for a Royal Commission into Indigenous suicide.

Native Title holders in the Gulf area of the Northern Territory have commercial trading rights recognised in Court.

The most complained about TV commercials concern the treatment of women and Indigenous people.

NAIDOC week is enjoyed all over Australia.

Constitution Day has the talk of a Treaty between journalist Stan Grant and Chris Sarra.

Dr Chris Sarra is awarded NAIDOC Indigenous Person of the Year award at the National Awards in Darwin for his 20 year effort in Indigenous Education. Stephen Page won the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Coalition denies it is trying to overhaul the successful Indigenous Rangers program as pressure mounts on their policy changes on the program. The program Report calling for changes from PM&C was leaked to the Crickey and the Government had to answer some tricky questions regarding their commitment to the program. According to the Guardian, “Scullion said there were no plans to limit ranger numbers, that the document was internal and without formal status. He said he had “absolutely no intention” of transitioning the program back to a work-for-the-dole scheme.” The Indigenous Affairs Minister, Nigel Scullion, apparently was unaware PM&C had commissioned the Report.

Black Lives Matter movement comes to Australia as a protest is held in Melbourne highlighting deaths in custody, racism, dispossession, intergenerational poverty and the blind eye of Australian Governments to the West Papua deaths.

The Asia Pacific Report based in New Zealand publishes an article saying Australia is still stealing the generations – the abduction of Aboriginal children continues.

Four Corners airs the most controversial episode of the year, looking at the detention of youth at the Don Dale Youth Detention Centre in the Northern Territory. It showed youth being gassed and given torture treatment usually akin to middle eastern war torture technics of the CIA. I causes outrage in Australia and throughout the world.

Prime Minister Turnbull calls a Royal Commission into the treatment of youth at the Don Dale Youth Detention Centre in the Northern Territory.

 


AUGUST

Further unrest and debate circulate throughout the country on the treatment of Indigenous youth in detention. Turnbull refuses calls for a national focus on the Don Dale Royal Commission.

Protests gather momentum on the youth detention issue around all major capitals in Australia.

NACCHO calls for self determination as the key for better Indigenous health

Maori director Taika Waititi (Hunt for the Wilderpeople) to employ Indigenous Aussies in the upcoming Thor movie set on the Gold Coast.

Cartoonist Bill Leak draws a racist cartoon depicting drunken Aboriginal fathers and nameless children in a stereotype that offends the majority of Indigenous and non-indigenous Australia. Without an apology, the controversy runs for several weeks.

As a result of the racist Leak cartoon, social media reacted with the hashtag #Indigenousdads by Australian Aboriginal fathers showing and telling of their love and affection for family.

The announcement is expected but the Recognition referendum is delayed by the Federal Government.

A US study shows that over 50% of the earths environment is protected by Indigenous groups/people.

The Greens lobby the Government to revive the CDEP program in remote communities to combat depression and a skills shortage for employment .

The first World Indigenous Business Forum is held in Saskatoon, Canada

The 50th Anniversary is held for the Wave Hill walk-off is celebrated by the Gurindji people and Indigenous people all over Australia. It followed the revelations that for over 80 years, the Gurindji people like many Indigenous Australians were targeted and killed for land by stockmen, authorities and Europeans.

Calls for tech companies to add and Aboriginal flag to the line up of emoji options.

Fremantle City Council cancels celebrations on the 26th January and instead wants to host any festivities on the 28th January. The decision is to enable Indigenous people to be inclusive and have an opportunity to celebrate Australia as a nation while not being offended. The date of 26th of January is viewed as the day Aboriginal people lost our land, started the targeted genocide of our family members, our culture and our existence. In a unanimous decision, the Fremantle City Council decided it was better to celebrate a national day of Australian identity and unity should occur on a date other than the 26th January, the day the British arrived in Sydney.

A woman is blasted on social media for dressing her child in black face in a ‘tribute’ to West Coast AFL player, Nic Naitanui. She said that while it was a “Queening moment”  she was aware that there would be a back-lash of “political correct extremists”  and that her ‘brown boy’ …”looked fanf…ingtastic”.

Indigenous Rap artist, Briggs, expertly crushes those who defend ‘black-face’ on social media in a response to the ‘Nic Naitanui incident’.

Scullion refuses to meet with Congress as a stand off about health, The Redfern Statement, detention and funding sees the Government avoiding the demands of Congress. Congress Co-Chair, Dr Jackie Huggins said, “ They can starve us of funding but we won’t go away.”

Our Indigenous world is shocked when 14-year-old Elijah Doughty, killed when the motorbike he was riding was allegedly struck from behind by a ute In Kalgoorlie. The male who hit him accused Elijah of stealing the motorbike from his home while he was at work mining. However, it was discovered the bike was Elijah’s own bike and the man hounded him down without reason or provocation; simply that Elijah was a local Indigenous kid and the man had a dislike for Indigenous youth.

 


SEPTEMBER

Scullion offers n’olive branch’ to meet with the Redfern Statement leaders according to the National Indigenous Times.

Linda Burney MP and Senator Pat Dodson make their maiden speech to Federal Parliament. Dodson says Australia cannot return to the days of racism, in a swipe at newly elected Pauline Hanson and her supporters. When Linda Burney was born, she was recognised only as ‘Fauna and flora’ in the Australian Constitution but now is a Member of Parliament.

Businesses vow to fight the cancelled Australia Day celebrations of the Fremantle City Council.

Victoria is to transfer ownership of 511 homes to Aboriginal Housing Victoria so that they may be allocated to low income Aboriginal tenants. It is part of a plan to transfer over 1,448 homes over the next 3 years to AHV.

Welfare hasn’t helped Aboriginal people in the 40 years of receiving it according to Warren Mundine who says Aboriginal people are given money, instead of earning it. His father didn’t accept welfare and worked for it. In fact, most Aboriginal parents were underpaid, worked for next to nothing and relied on Government rations before citizenship but this was unnoticed and not mentioned by Mundine in an Australian Financial Review piece.

Mission Australia releases a report saying there needs to be a fundamental shift towards Indigenous youth consultation and inclusiveness as they currently rank their current levels of ‘happiness’ at rank of zero. (Mission Australia Youth Survey 2015)

The death of Elijah Doughty’s death sparks emotional cry for justice by his supporters gathering at the court house. The court heard the ute driver reported his motorbike stolen to police and drove through the Aboriginal reserve early in the morning to target and chase him down.

 

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Bangarra Dance Theatre is a big winner at the Australian Dance Awards while David Page is awarded a posthumous award

Former losing Prime Ministers Howard and Abbott lock conservative horns like a mens club gathering and reject the push for a Treaty with Indigenous Australians. They simply want an acknowledgment in the Constitution that mentions Indigenous people were the original Australians. I’ll just leave that with you.

Triple J to move the Hottest 100 countdown from Australia Day.

A documentary questioning the Recognition debate is aired with Linda Burney MP  and Andrew Bolt, extreme conservative media personality, travelling around the country to encounter different situations and clarifying their viewpoints.

Record number of Indigenous Federal parliamentary members meet to reject changes to 18C and also make a statement about rejecting hate.

The Paralympics gather in RIO where 13 Indigenous athletes will represent Australia.

Queensland court action likely over the ‘stolen wages’ of Indigenous workers, where workers were not paid or underpaid by employers and Government.

Social media exploded with the response of Indigenous man, Jarred Wall, listening to 2 women at a cafe running down other Indigenous people. The conversation was rude, distasteful, disrespectful and unacceptable. So Jarred responds by buying them a pot of tea then writing on the receipt “Enjoy the tea! Compliments of the 2 Aboriginals sitting next to you on table 26 :)”

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DNA test report confirms Indigenous Australia culture is the oldest in the world, going back at least 50,000 years.

The Sydney Aboriginal community fight to retrieve the Gweagal Shield, an item taken by James Cook on his 1770 voyage, back from the British Museum. To date, the British Museum refuses to release the shield and other Indigenous items.

Police shoot Indigenous man in the street in the Wiiradjuro town of Cowra following what Police call, a “confrontation”.

 


OCTOBER

Mundine calls for a ban on the National Anthem at the NRL Grand Final. Meanwhile, Today show host Karl Stefanovic slams Mundine for suggesting it live on air.

Bureau of Statistics BOSCAR report reveals Indigenous incarceration grew 54% in the past 15 years. Almost the same amount of time that ATSIC was decommissioned.

As Indigenous leaders call for a Treaty, Warren Mundine focusses again on domestic violence issues and calls for a Domestic Violence Inquiry.

Conservative newspapers back Mundine attacking welfare in Indigenous communities, mention nothing of the lack of funding, strategic direction, centralised focus on or for Indigenous programs or initiatives.

Perth Indigenous entrepreneurs say they are left frustrated by the lack of support from the Federal Governments, Indigenous Business Australia.

Goat Island in NSW will be returned to the Traditional Owners announced by Mike Baird, Premier of NSW.

Mental Health week recognises the need to provide more support to the growing levels of mental illness in Indigenous communities.

Australia’s newest sporting champions are a Russian and Indigenous ice skating pair. Harley Windsor and his Russian Australian partner win the Australian title and go on to France to represent Australia at the World Championships.

Jess Mauboy becomes the first Indigenous artist to debut at number one on the Australian charts.

Wesley Enoch unveils the Sydney Festival program, first Indigenous person to organise the Sydney Festival.

Google hands out $5million in community grants, addressing literacy and numeracy levels in remote Indigenous communities .

Stan Grant signs a new deal on the ABC. He is to host a national Indigenous round up of the weeks news each Friday in the 7:30 time slot. Conservative newspapers call him the “gatekeeper” for ABC Indigenous.

Children in state care are 14 times more likely to end up in the the justice system according to a new report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. It also found that nationally, Indigenous children are 27 times more likely to be in youth detention than non-Indigenous children. They make up 54% of detainees, despite only being 3% of the population.

 


NOVEMBER

Indigenous media warn the Prime Minister he should not follow the same path as Tony Abbot, making promises to Indigenous people yet slashing funding and services.

Kalgoorlie, leaders meet to settle the unrest sin the death of Elijah Dougherty.

More calls for the return of the Gweagal Shield where it sits with over 6,000 other Australian Indigenous items stolen by James Cook in 1770. A museum spokesperson said “Some objects, such as the shield, are of high cultural significance for contemporary Indigenous Australians. At the meeting, we discussed how the museum is open to discuss lending the shield, subject to all our normal loan considerations.”

Greens passed a motion in the Senate for the peak Indigenous body, the National Congress of Australia’s First People, to be fully funded for the next 3 years

Remembrance Day is held and the Minister for Indigenous Affairs pays tribute to an Aboriginal Digger who died at the Western Front at the end of WWI. Over 1,000 Indigenous soldiers fought for Australia in that war but were not considered citizens, did not have a vote, fair wages or treated equally in the country.

Investigation into the Bill Leak racist cartoon is dropped as complainant withdraws complaint following heavy media and social media pressure to do so.

FIRST CONTACT tv show has a backlash following comments by former Miss Universe Australia, Renae Ayris, “They need to forgive what happened to them and move on”. She hit back on social media but social media accused her of racism for not respecting and understanding the plight and circumstances Indigenous Australians live with.

The Prime Ministers own Indigenous Advisory Committee Chair seeks to question their role as he states they were not consulted on another inquiry on Indigenous incarceration. Warren Mundine has a public swipe at the Turnbull government for not bothering to speak with its own advisors before making an announcement about an inquiry into Indigenous incarceration. Such a public swipe confirms that other budget cuts and the closing of homelands were issues brought before the Advisory Committee who made the decision along Government lines to cut or stop servicing them.

A kangaroo bone confirms Australia’s oldest piece of ‘jewellery’. ANU archeologists only recently discovered it was used as jewellery but the bone was found in the Kimberly area in the early 1990’s. The jewellery is estimated to be around 20,000 years old.

Pauline Hanson MP claims she is the victim of reverse racism.

Fremantle shifts its opposition to a celebration on Australia Day to having fireworks on the 28th January, two days after the ‘official’ Australia Day events.

FIRST CONTACT tv show continues to light up social media as one of the participants says, “I’m scarred of Aboriginal people”.

How Australia is failing its Indigenous people, says the international German publication, Deutsche Welle (DW),  Germany’s international broadcaster. It says with over 25years of constant economic growth, only one group in Australia has missed out, being Indigenous people. Instead of prospering, more gaols have been commissioned and incarceration a convenient excuse for society to remove its injustice issues.

 


DECEMBER

The FIRST CONTACT tv program is labelled ‘poverty porn’.

Federal Government lobby heavily against the change of Australia Day celebrations in Fremantle. The worry for the conservatives is that once one Council moves to change celebrations and be more inclusive towards Indigenous people, then other Councils will move as well.

Scroll.in reports the process of repatriation is happening from museums around the world back to Indigenous communities of humans and artefacts but, it is a very slow process.

SBS Australia publish a list of ‘free ride’ myths that Australians think benefit Aboriginal people.

Universities commemorate the 50th year of Charlie Perkins graduation at Sydney University. Outcomes for Indigenous people have not improved a great deal in the past 50 years, although education is more accessible than it was in the days Mr Perkins was studying in Sydney. However, one of the new Senators, has a different view on our education achievements and where that is achieved. ”One of the highlights for what the prison system is doing is educating our prisoners, giving them degrees offering them opportunities so that they can try and better their lives when they walk out the gates,” Senator Malarndirri McCarthy told the audience at the University of Sydney’s Great Hall.

“Have a think about that: There is something terribly wrong in our country when we must rely on our prison system for the best education for our people.”

South Australia talks TREATY with its Indigenous people. Historic negotiations costing $4.4 million over five years to create treaties with dozens of separate indigenous South Australian nations.

AFTRS announces honorary degrees on legendary Aboriginal film maker Lester Bostock. Uncle Lester Bostock, commonly known as ‘Uncle Lester’, is a filmmaker, mentor, advocate and Bundjalung Elder. He was one of the founding members of Black Theatre in the 1970s and helped to form Radio Redfern, now Koori Radio, in the 80s. He was the first Aboriginal presenter on SBS Radio and was part of the first Aboriginal program team on SBS Television with Rhoda Roberts. (Australian Film Television & Radio School)

“Indigenous treaties are just playing games with words”, according to the Vice Chancellor of the Australian Catholic University, Prof Greg Craven. The same University who employed conservative commentator and sometimes lecturer, Andrew Dillon.

Talk surrounds the impact of a discussion on a Treaty may weaken the push for Constitutional Recognition and its vote in a referendum.

Sydney to Hobart yacht race may see its first Indigenous crew, the Tribal Warrior team led by Shane Phillips. Shane is also leader of the successful Redfern All Blacks Rugby League team who have won the Annual Rugby League Knockout in Sydney 2 years in a row.

As the Boxing Day Test is to begin, the 150 year commemoration of Australia’s first national cricket team, the Aboriginal XI, will be held today at the MCG. The Australian Cricket Association will honour the first Aboriginal XI with a  ceremony at the hallowed ground today.

Lifehacker publishes an article on 10 new Apps that can help you change the language you learn. One of those Apps is the pioneering Wiradjuri Language App, developed by Wiradjuri based Regnr8 team in Wagga Wagga. Regenr8 have recently released another 6  Language Apps.

Video shows the shocking death of Ms Dhu in a WA police cell is released to the public. On August 4, 2014, at Port Hedland in north-western Australia, Ms Dhu, a 22-year-old Aboriginal woman, died of a preventable illness while in police custody for unpaid fines of $3,622.34. Ms Dhu had been imprisoned on August 2 for four days to “cut out” her fines, after calling police to report she was a victim of domestic violence. The lack of respect and care taken for her limp body shows a systemic problem in the WA police service. To date, no charges or acceptance or blame has been labelled towards the police involved even though she complained to them of health issues several times.

Former Prime Minister Bob Hawke aggravates Aboriginal people attending the Woodford Festival in Queensland as he calls for a nuclear waste dump on APY lands in SA.

Bush Medicine Cures Cancer

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Did you know that a bush medicine in North Queensland stops cancer?

The medicine fruit is known as the blushwood, from the blushwood tree (Fontainea picrosperma) and the cancer killing compound is found in its seed. It’s a rainforest plant found only in far north Queensland. Australian scientists have tested it for breast & skin cancer as well as to shrink tumours.

It is not known if the intellectual property of the Walkmin, Kuku-Yalanji,  Bar-Barrum and Djungan Indigenous people is acknowledged by the drug research teams developing usable products from the blushwood berry. The scientists involved in the research have had to extract the compound from the berry seed, as only specialists can, and have warned against self administering or growing the plant at home.

Concern because just eating the fruit alone may be toxic.

A nursery selling the brushwood tree, the Walkman based Yuruga Plant Nursery, gets a regular flow of enquiries regarding the blushwood tree each week. However the nursery ran out of stock a few years ago and are reluctant to restock as they are concerned about the potential toxic nature of the berry.

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Drugs have become available as a result of experiments from the berry. During those experiments, a single injection of the experimental drug EBC-46 saw a breakdown of the tumour almost immediately. The drug would cut off blood to the tumour within the day and quickly changes the bruise coloured affected area from blue, purple to black. To date, only surface cancer is treatable as no evidence is to suggest if it will work on metastatic cancers.

Glen Boyle from the QIMR Berghofer (Queensland Institute of Medical Research) study says the success rate of the drug is at 75%.

In 2014, Boyle revealed to ABC radio program with Mark Colvin on PM, “People who cant take any more surgery or they can’t take anymore chemotherapy, I’ve used the example before of elderly patients for example who just can’t go through another round of ‘chemo’ or can’t of through another general anaesthetic, for example. This could be used to treat those sorts of tumours, and hopefully improve quality of life for the patients.”

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Following successful tests on her 300 animal cancers and tumours, human trials are underway in Australia and the United States.

Another bush medicine thats important to our world but again, one that will probably not be a benefit to local Walkmin, Kuku-Yalanji,  Bar-Barrum and Djungan Indigenous communities of north Queensland.

Our communities in Wiradjuri country have several bush medicines which are the knowledge and the IP of Wiradjuri people. Several communities still use bush medicines and all approvals to research them should be ethically approved locally and by the Wiradjuri Council of Elders.

Language – the best present

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If you had a few wishes over Christmas, would one of them be to have my Aboriginal language back? Thankfully, my Wiradjuri language was given that wish over 12 months ago, with a dictionary, language classes in school and TAFE and now an App available on the phone.

But what about the people of the Yorta Yorta, Barngala, Mutti Mutti, Yitha Yitha or Wonnarua nations? Surely Santa could deliver before Christmas? Well…

Did you know about the revolution happening in our Indigenous languages today?

This week, that revolution grows and before Christmas 5 more Apps are available! Yes, five other Aboriginal languages are now an App, available on the iPhone, iOS and Android.

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The Apps newly developed by the Regenr8 team

Who are Regenr8?

A small but innovative Aboriginal NGO, Regenr8 (Regenerate) is Wiradjuri based & operated and it’s making waves in the revitalisation of our languages and culture. Innovative because they are using digital technology to do so.

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Cheyne recently took leave to help in WA to help Western Desert communities

How? The first major product it developed was the Wiradjuri App. Through funding provided by the Wiradjuri Study Centre in Condobolin, the Wiradjuri App was an original idea to get the next generation interested in learning our language again with modern tools at hand. That tool, being the mobile phone.

An existing and extensively researched Wiradjuri dictionary by Stan Grant senior and Dr John Rudder was used by the Regenr8 to build the App. The dictionary was released in 2005 and helped to develop curriculum used by TAFE and schools to teach our language. In order for it to go to the next level and be the “Wiradjuri App”, it needed further research and importantly, a language cultural group organised locally to advise on its use, style, context and culturally safe provisions needed for its acceptance.

The Regener8 team, consisting of founder Cheyne Halloran, a Ngunnawal man and a skilled team,  were advised by respected Elders and the Wiradjuri Study Centre in Condobolin. They helped Cheyne’s team to set up the parameters and cultural protocols to develop the App,  which guided their consultation process and accountability to our community.


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The Regenr8 purpose as written on the website at https://regenr8.org

The result is an App you can get on iOS, iTunes  or Android phones today. It was the first in its kind in the world.

But that’s not the end of their story. They are developing more language Apps for other Aboriginal nations in consultation with their respective communities. Plus, Cheyne and the Regenr8 team are looking to build other cultural tools while also assisting communities to ‘get back to the future’ and their feet.

Recently, the guys took leave to travel to the Western Australia Western Desert communities to ask how they could help with the issues they are facing  north of Kalgoorlie. Such communities have faced a high number of suicides in recent months and the Elders have asked for a halt to the boredom,  depression, lack of self esteem and limited options faced by the youth and young adults in the Western Desert communities. So for a month, Cheyne and team travelled over 8,000kms to address this, seek interest in developing language Apps, jobs, a skilled workforce or the gaps in those skills, what the community would be interested in doing and how they could assist in making it happen.

The reluctance of the Regenr8 to explain and talk about what they do is a tribute to the humble nature of the founder, Cheyne and to this mentors on the Board of Management, Elders within the Wiradjuri nation.

To advance in the future technologies of the digital world using Apps, the team had to go ‘back to the future’. The old ways came first. The Elders consulted. Protocols adhered to. Families sharing. Community gathered. Then, it was time to teach & learn.

Through a management structure of Elders and respected community members on the Board, the Regenr8 team are well guided to expand further services to our communities, including more language tools and cultural aids in a digital form, changing the way our communities live, learn and share our culture.

So this Christmas, five nations get a present. Language Apps that are free to learn, teach and share, and another language around the corner. Thank you Regenr8.

All Apps are currently available on iOS, iPhone and Android. Check out more of what they guys do on their website https://regenr8.org

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