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PostPosted: 21.08.2007, 15:13 
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Pat Dodson, the same Aboriginal leader who was so outspoken during the Yawuru protest of a didjeridu concert, has voiced his opinion concerning the government intervention into communities in the NT:

http://www.theage.com.au/news/NATIONAL/ ... 52809.html


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PostPosted: 26.10.2007, 21:03 
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You may have heard about the talk behind closed doors between Australia's minister for Aboriginal affairs, Mal Brough, and Yolngu elder Galarrwuy Yunupingu. The result was what some people called a "backflip" namely that Galarrwuy is now not longer completely opposed against the Government's intervention and that he has agreed on a 99 years land-lease in the Yirrkala area This has of course caused some unrest in the region but it's not up to us to decide what's good for the future of Yolngu. Anyway, here's Galarrwuy's view on Howard's statement that it's now time for a reconciliation:

Quote:
A chance to right many historic wrongs
Galarrwuy Yunupingu
October 27, 2007


AFTER many long years, we are now facing the moment when we must decide how this country will recognise the first Australians.

When Captain Cook landed on the Australian continent he had with him an order from King George. That order was that he obtain the consent of the local people to his arrival and any settlement.

Cook's actions were on behalf of the king and he left a legacy that the nation is still trying to tackle today. Indigenous people have our own law and society.

For my people it is rom watangu.

Rom Watangu is the law of the land and the seas, and of life itself. My people are and will always be the owner and the maker of the land and sea.

Rom watangu is the most powerful and real thing in Yolngu life. We do not pledge allegiance to the Crown.

A Prime Minister has said that he will now do what was not done before. He will recognise the special place of Aboriginal people in the Australian nation.

He will sit down and talk with us, consult with us, listen to us, and learn from us in the process of formulating questions for the whole of Australia to vote on.

As I said earlier, doing this properly and honestly is the most serious business that we have faced as a nation.

John Howard is trying, on behalf of the nation, and on behalf of the Queen, to get it right. On behalf of the Gumatj people, I must thank the Australian people for this.

As Howard acknowledged, it is the Australian people who have maintained a sense of injustice about the place of indigenous people in Australia, and the Australian people have finally got through to Howard.

Let me say that this is serious business. And allow me to make the following three points to illustrate how serious this is.

First, the referendum must be about more than just the preamble. We must make changes to the constitution to make sure that our place in the preamble is not undermined.

Howard has said that the constitution must be amended to recognise the special place of indigenous people in Australia and that means we must deal with the section known as the "race power".

This is Section 51(26) and it allows the government to make laws based on race that can disadvantage indigenous people. This clause needs to be removed and replaced with a clause that protects and strengthens indigenous rights.

This includes most importantly our property rights, both to land and sea. These rights must be recognised and protected.

Indigenous people owned the land and the sea before anyone else. This must be recognised once and for all.

Second, we must ensure that we bring all of Australia along with this process. Every Australian must have a chance to have their voice heard.

Third; this point concerns the practical aspects of this settlement. There can be no settlement if indigenous people remain the most disadvantaged citizens.

Words can set the scene but real commitments are required to tackle poverty and disadvantage. Fixing these problems will take time, energy and money. The immediate problems of the indigenous world cannot be put to one side as we start to talk about symbols and words. This is why I have supported the Emergency Intervention in the Northern Territory. There are problems with its implementation that must be fixed, and I am personally committed to getting the intervention working. And so must we all, for the sake of the children.

And these children must have a future, which means economic development. Significant investment and effort is required to build economies that can provide jobs and income for the future.

These are matters that I have discussed at length with Noel Pearson. Our words must inspire us to greater efforts on behalf of the children and the old people and the everyday people who struggle out there.

It will not be an easy task and I know from experience that many times we will want to stand up and walk away from the table. But we must persist. We must never give up on this task as it is the most important task.

Reconciliation does not come about because we agree to sit down and talk. Reconciliation only comes about when we have talked and reached an understanding. It is at the end of that process, when we shake hands and go off into our day-to-day lives when we are reconciled; reconciliation does not come just from turning up to a meeting place.

Reconciliation comes about because of honesty, truth and making good what wrong has been done. There has been much wrong done to my people, including to the Stolen Generations. These wrongs must be made right.

We have the opportunity now so I encourage you all to work towards this great prize that is reconciliation.

Galarrwuy Yunupingu is the chairman of the Gumatj Association. He was Australian of the Year in 1978. This is an edited text of his speech to Melbourne University Law School last night.


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PostPosted: 28.10.2007, 17:42 
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seriouschris wrote:
You may have heard about the talk behind closed doors between Australia's minister for Aboriginal affairs, Mal Brough, and Yolngu elder Galarrwuy Yunupingu. The result was what some people called a "backflip" namely that Galarrwuy is now not longer completely opposed against the Government's intervention and that he has agreed on a 99 years land-lease in the Yirrkala area This has of course caused some unrest in the region but it's not up to us to decide what's good for the future of Yolngu. Anyway, here's Galarrwuy's view on Howard's statement that it's now time for a reconciliation:

Quote:
A chance to right many historic wrongs
Galarrwuy Yunupingu
October 27, 2007


AFTER many long years, we are now facing the moment when we must decide how this country will recognise the first Australians.

When Captain Cook landed on the Australian continent he had with him an order from King George. That order was that he obtain the consent of the local people to his arrival and any settlement.

Cook's actions were on behalf of the king and he left a legacy that the nation is still trying to tackle today. Indigenous people have our own law and society.

For my people it is rom watangu.

Rom Watangu is the law of the land and the seas, and of life itself. My people are and will always be the owner and the maker of the land and sea.

Rom watangu is the most powerful and real thing in Yolngu life. We do not pledge allegiance to the Crown.

A Prime Minister has said that he will now do what was not done before. He will recognise the special place of Aboriginal people in the Australian nation.

He will sit down and talk with us, consult with us, listen to us, and learn from us in the process of formulating questions for the whole of Australia to vote on.

As I said earlier, doing this properly and honestly is the most serious business that we have faced as a nation.

John Howard is trying, on behalf of the nation, and on behalf of the Queen, to get it right. On behalf of the Gumatj people, I must thank the Australian people for this.

As Howard acknowledged, it is the Australian people who have maintained a sense of injustice about the place of indigenous people in Australia, and the Australian people have finally got through to Howard.

Let me say that this is serious business. And allow me to make the following three points to illustrate how serious this is.

First, the referendum must be about more than just the preamble. We must make changes to the constitution to make sure that our place in the preamble is not undermined.

Howard has said that the constitution must be amended to recognise the special place of indigenous people in Australia and that means we must deal with the section known as the "race power".

This is Section 51(26) and it allows the government to make laws based on race that can disadvantage indigenous people. This clause needs to be removed and replaced with a clause that protects and strengthens indigenous rights.

This includes most importantly our property rights, both to land and sea. These rights must be recognised and protected.

Indigenous people owned the land and the sea before anyone else. This must be recognised once and for all.

Second, we must ensure that we bring all of Australia along with this process. Every Australian must have a chance to have their voice heard.

Third; this point concerns the practical aspects of this settlement. There can be no settlement if indigenous people remain the most disadvantaged citizens.

Words can set the scene but real commitments are required to tackle poverty and disadvantage. Fixing these problems will take time, energy and money. The immediate problems of the indigenous world cannot be put to one side as we start to talk about symbols and words. This is why I have supported the Emergency Intervention in the Northern Territory. There are problems with its implementation that must be fixed, and I am personally committed to getting the intervention working. And so must we all, for the sake of the children.

And these children must have a future, which means economic development. Significant investment and effort is required to build economies that can provide jobs and income for the future.

These are matters that I have discussed at length with Noel Pearson. Our words must inspire us to greater efforts on behalf of the children and the old people and the everyday people who struggle out there.

It will not be an easy task and I know from experience that many times we will want to stand up and walk away from the table. But we must persist. We must never give up on this task as it is the most important task.

Reconciliation does not come about because we agree to sit down and talk. Reconciliation only comes about when we have talked and reached an understanding. It is at the end of that process, when we shake hands and go off into our day-to-day lives when we are reconciled; reconciliation does not come just from turning up to a meeting place.

Reconciliation comes about because of honesty, truth and making good what wrong has been done. There has been much wrong done to my people, including to the Stolen Generations. These wrongs must be made right.

We have the opportunity now so I encourage you all to work towards this great prize that is reconciliation.

Galarrwuy Yunupingu is the chairman of the Gumatj Association. He was Australian of the Year in 1978. This is an edited text of his speech to Melbourne University Law School last night.


Has intervention ever worked? Are there models for successful reconcilliation that could be followed? Or will the Australian Aboriginals have to walk the same route as the first peoples in Canada and the USA?

If Steve Sklar reads this: Steve, have the Suomi in Scandanavia reconcilled with the various governments in those countries? Come to that, does anyone else know the answer? My point is, if there has been success somewhere, couldn't those ideas be "transferred" to Australia?

In so far is Galarrwuy's change of heart - perhaps he looks on it as 'better the devil you know', by that I mean that perhaps he feels that if he works with the people who want to 'fix' the NT, he might have some say in how things are done. Perhaps if he goes against it, his views down the line will be completely ignored. Perhaps this is damage control on his part?


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 Post subject: Re: Govt. slapping at Garma
PostPosted: 26.09.2008, 19:46 
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It's now already a year ago since that Government intervention in the Northern Territory has started. I'm not in a position to judge what has actually worked and what not but I found this article interesting and illustrative, so here we go.

From the Sydney Morning Herald:
Wrong side of great divide
September 27, 2008

The government intervention in Territory Aboriginal life has thrown out the baby with the bathwater, writes Lindsay Murdoch.

Arnhem Land's red dust swirls in gusts across Gurrumuru, a tiny desolate outpost on a treeless plain near a river that snakes to the sea. Crumpled shells mark where grass fires destroyed two houses, and the windows are missing from the corrugated iron school. On frequently stifling hot days, the nine children of Gurrumuru are caked red from the dust blowing through the schoolroom.

But Barayuwa Mununggurr has a message for white people who told the Rudd Government that communities like Gurrumuru should be starved of services, causing residents to move to small, fully resourced towns. "We won't be moving … please write that," says the custodian for Gurrumuru, population 50, which was built in the early 1970s as part of the so-called homelands movement, when thousands of Aborigines moved back to ancestral lands from mission settlements.

"This is our home, our life. It's where we sing the songs of the sea and the soil and the trees … it's where our culture is connected to the land."

Resentment, frustration and fear are building among the 10,000 Aborigines in about 500 Northern Territory homelands as a review panel prepares to report to the Federal Government on Tuesday about the National Emergency Response, the military-like intervention launched by the Howard government a year ago this month that aimed to arrest child sex abuse in Territory Aboriginal communities. The Howard government seized control of 73 remote indigenous communities after the Territory Government's Little Children Are Sacred report revealed widespread child sexual abuse across the Territory. The intervention included the quarantining of welfare payments for particular expenditures. Half is set aside for groceries and other essentials, for example.

The taskforce running the intervention told the Rudd Government in June that only those Aboriginal communities that pass a viability test should be granted access to schools, health clinics and other services - and some would not make the grade.

But Mununggurr, the chairman of Laynhapuy Homelands Association Inc, said no taskforce member had visited any of the association's 19 homelands in north-east Arnhem Land before making the recommendation. "They should come here … it would open their eyes," he said, aware of the risk to continued occupation of traditional homelands. "They would see that our children are not being sexually abused and there's no alcohol, drugs or petrol sniffing … we are being punished because of the sins of others."

While hundreds of millions of intervention dollars are spent building houses, clinics, schools and other infrastructure in the Territory's bigger indigenous communities, the Territory and federal governments in effect have banned development in homelands.

People living here have been subjected to the same punitive intervention measures, such as the quarantining of welfare payments, despite no evidence of child abuse or other identified problems here. A Territory report underscores the high cost of service delivery to remote outstations and notes the gulf between homelands providing adults with a "positive trade-off of lifestyle" and government ensuring "children have access to adequate services, especially education".

Across north-east Arnhem Land, English is a second, third or even fourth language spoken by children from 50 Yolngu clans connected through complex kinship, ceremony and language. Mununggurr said he has difficulty getting white bureaucrats in Canberra and Darwin to understand the importance of Yolngu living on their country. "We tried [living on others' land] and it didn't work."

Most homelands are ancestral estates near a sacred site, which senior elders look after. During a visit to Gurrumuru and two other homeland communities, Garrthalala and Yilpara, clan elders told the Herald how the respect and authority in which senior Yolngu lawmen and women are held has helped keep their children from Western vices and safe from abuse.

Traditional kinship structures and culture, still intact in the homelands, have many prohibitions and processes for dealing with the care and protection of children, they said. Elders told of their fears that Yolngu culture and society would perish if clans could not continue to live on and access their land.

They warned that if services were cut, many of the 800 people in the Laynhapuy homelands would have to move to towns like Yirrkala on the Gove Peninsula, creating law and order problems, while those who stayed where they were would be severely disadvantaged. Yirrkala, population 800, has a significant petrol sniffing problem after years of battling alcohol abuse. And it's a prescribed area under the intervention and is run by a government business manager. A man was arrested there last week for child sexual abuse.

Laynhapuy Homelands recently told a Senate committee that most Yolngu did not wish to be assimilated or mainstreamed. "They strongly value their culture and law and links to country, and do not regard the fact of their physical/locational separateness from the mainstream as equating to being disadvantaged," the association said.

The Yolngu have had sustained contact with white Australia only since the 1930s, when missions were established in Yirrkala, Milingimbi and Galiwin'ku. But in the early 1970s senior Aboriginal leaders decided to move back to their ancestral lands to escape mining development and the associated ravages of alcohol. The Whitlam government supported the push, which it saw as part of Aboriginal people's self-determination.

Yolngu cleared airstrips, mainly by hand, and built houses using homeland timber. In 1985 they established the not-for-profit Laynhapuy Homelands Association Inc, which has an annual turnover of $14 million, assets of $40 million and staff of 100, 75 of them Yolngu. There are also 285 part-time workers under the Community Development Employment Program (CDEP).

Laynha Air, a Yolngu-owned and operated airline, flies teachers and health workers to settlements and heavily subsidises fares for homeland residents.

But life in the homelands is tough. Houses are overcrowded and facilities scant. Wandawuy, a 90-strong community, has no electricity. In Yilpara, a community of about 150 on Blue Mud Bay, leader Djambawa Marawili sleeps in a tent. "We don't have enough houses but this is the land promised to us by our ancestors," the prominent artist said. "Our children are safe and happy here … even if they deprive us, we won't leave."

Marawili said Yilpara's art, ranger program and a project to attract tourists wanting to interact with indigenous culture can make Yilpara economically viable. On July 30, the Yilpara won a High Court decision giving traditional owners exclusive rights over tidal waters along Aboriginal land in the Territory.

Sitting on mats beside the bay, elders told how their grandfathers were great warriors, how a spiritual stingray divided the land and how their ancestors had contact with Macassan fishermen for centuries before the arrival of Europeans.

Waka Mununggurr (in Arnhem Land, there is only a handful of family names), a custodial leader in Yilpara, led us to the top of a hill on the community outskirts. There, the skull of his grandfather, a famous warrior, is buried under a rest in peace sign.

Waka comes here often to think about the spirits and the stories that have passed through his clan for centuries. He tells of the importance to his people of the crocodiles that lurk in the bay, and how upset his people were to learn outsiders killed a crocodile and left its bagged head among the mangroves.

"When I die I want to be buried here," Waka says. "This is my home. I belong here. No matter what happens I won't be moving away."

The Laynhapuy Health Service told the intervention review panel it was "beyond belief" that Centrelink came into the communities and signed people up for welfare quarantine programs.

"Residents travel up to 210 kilometres, paying $1400 for a return [taxi] trip to town, to buy groceries," the service said. "Taking into account that most people on CDEP and Centrelink benefits earn less than $20,000 a year and that grocery prices in Nhulunbuy [the nearest supermarket] have recently been reported as being 25 per cent above those in Darwin, it is a wonder that children get fed at all."

In its scathing submission to the intervention review panel, Laynhapuy Homelands said the intervention was not based "on an accurate understanding of the situation on the ground or the real issues that affect child welfare and wellbeing in many areas, especially homelands/outstations". Yananymul Mununggurr, the Laynhapuy Homelands' chief executive, told the Herald that the intervention had tackled the wrong issues and was "making life harder for us". "We want to develop education resources, our ranger programs and business enterprises in our homelands and create our own opportunities out here," she said. "Our land is who we are and it is important for us to remain there."

The Laynhapuy submission said the intervention had created "a sense of disempowerment and confusion and therefore stress among Yolngu about where things are heading". It said the income management imposed hardship and did not effectively handle issues of substance abuse, child neglect or gambling. "The ban on investment in new housing in homelands will prevent the welfare of children and others in overcrowded houses being addressed."

The submission said direct Commonwealth involvement in the intervention should be wound up and resources transferred to the Territory Government to expand its "closing the gap strategies".

We drove with Barayuwa Mununggurr for 90 minutes from Yirrkala along a dirt road to Garrthalala, a cluster of seven neat houses overlooking the sea.

The Yolngu leader and traditional owner, Multhara Mununggurr, told us her people were fed up with indigenous leaders from elsewhere speaking on their behalf and influencing government opinion. One leader did not speak for all Yolngu, she said.

We met Dhungula Mununggurr, her husband, the proud leader of the Djapu clan, who led the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, and the federal cabinet on a walk in Yirrkala in July. He said he feels shame that his welfare payments are quarantined. He refuses, on principle, to spend any of the money.

Barayuwa Mununggurr barracks for Geelong in the AFL and was eager to show us Garrthalala's school, built in part by Geelong Central Rotary in 2006. Its panelling was in Geelong's colours - blue and white. In one classroom, 10 Yolngu students from homelands communities sat at desks with laptops, four of them connected to the internet, doing interactive maths.

Under a trial three-year program, 60 students fly in to Garrthalala on Laynha Air to study their Northern Territory Certificate of Education (year 11), staying in dormitories. Seven students are expected to graduate from the program this year after studying subjects including business, maths, English, surf life saving and music.

A teacher, Nick Ross, who sleeps in a swag on the school verandah, said: "The students are unique and they are wonderful to teach with almost no behavioural problems present in the classroom that you would normally find in most classrooms. This is a great cultural as well as educational experience in a bush setting away from the bigger communities and all the problems that go with that."

The program's federal funding runs out in December.

Lindsay Murdoch is the Herald's Darwin correspondent.


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 Post subject: Re: Govt. slapping at Garma
PostPosted: 29.09.2008, 03:56 
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Location: Salt Lake City? Really? How did that happen?
seriouschris wrote:
Yirrkala, population 800... A man was arrested there last week for child sexual abuse.


Great article summing up the issues from the Yolngu side. I'll just clarify one thing that would have been important for the mainstream news readers - the arrest was of a white man, not Yolngu!

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