Australian news, and some related international items

Western Australia’s govt slow to re-register Aboriginal sacred sites

Aboriginal-protest-remote-WWA Government ‘dragging feet’ over sacred site registration: Indigenous group, ABC News 25 Sep 15 By Kathryn Diss An Aboriginal heritage group has accused the State Government of dragging its feet on reinstating several sacred sites it deregistered over the past year.

Several culturally significant sites around WA have had their protection withdrawn on the basis they no longer fit the definition of a sacred site.

Guidelines issued by the Department of Aboriginal Affairs stated that to be a recognised sacred site, a place needed to have been devoted to religious use rather than simply mythological stories, songs or beliefs.

But in a test case in April challenging the Aboriginal Cultural Materials Committee’s (ACMC) deregistration of a site in Port Hedland, the Supreme Court quashed the decision to remove it from the protected list.

Dr Stephen Bennetts from the Aboriginal Heritage Action Alliance said it had been months since the ruling was handed down and the government had not yet reinstated the other sites.

Dr Bennetts said he is concerned the sites could be damaged if they were not adequately protected. “It is quite possible some of those may have already been damaged,” he said.

Dr Bennetts said it was a scandal none of the custodians of the deregistered sites had been notified of the court’s decision.

“Because we know the reasoning the ACMC deregistered them in the first place was to make it easier for developers to get their approvals that was the exact reason,” he said………..

September 26, 2015 Posted by | aboriginal issues, Western Australia | Leave a comment

We do not want nuclear anything on our Land – Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Law and Culture

APY LAW & CULTURE – CONCERNS FOR NUCLEAR WASTE, Coober Pedy Regional Times, 24 Sept 15,  Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Law and Culture is declaring its intention to move away from the APY Administration. For a long time our committee has been worried about the direction the APY Administration is taking.

On several occasions we have been told Law and Culture is a side committee, that it is second to the APY.

Law and Culture comes first. It always has. The administration needs to understand this. All Anangu know that our Law and Culture comes first, our Law and Culture must be at the heart of decision making. We have decided to stand alone. Our Law and Culture will come first. Our lives depend on it. We will source alternate funding.

One of our big concerns is the Royal Commission into Nuclear Energy. Law and Culture says no to APY Lands being used to mine uranium or dump the waste.

We won’t be silenced on this. We won’t be bought. This is our land. We do not want nuclear anything on our Land. Murray George, Chairman, Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Law and Culture
Anangu Pitjantjatjara etc

September 25, 2015 Posted by | aboriginal issues, South Australia | Leave a comment

#SOSBLAKAUSTRALIA: Stop the Forced Closure of Aboriginal Communities in Australia

text-aboriginal-rights#SOSBLAKAUSTRALIA 5th Global Call to action announced: 
Stop the Forced Closure of Aboriginal Communities in Australia
16 Sep 15: “With the recent change of leadership in the  current LNP government and last week’s announcement of  eight Indigenous individuals confirmed to determine the fate of 274 Aboriginal Communities in Western Australia  alongside what the Government claims to be a  ‘consultative process’, a new date has been set for the  5th Global Call to Action – Friday 27th November 2015.

… #SOSBLAKAUSTRALIA grew out of necessity in the response  to the threatened forced closure of Aboriginal communities.  Our extended reach is in excess of 12 million people and our  direct reach is close to 75,000. Our goal goes well beyond  any ‘consultation’. Regardless of who is prime minister, we
are committed to keeping our communities on their homelands and we have been consulting among our own people to develop sustainable and viable models for communities, outstations and seasonal campsites.

To support this work, we are steadily galvanising support from NGOs, unions, the legal fraternity and public figures  and have built a skills database with submissions from thousands of everyday people worldwide, who care as much as  we do about our Aboriginal culture and human rights.

#SOSBLAKAUSTRALIA itself will be scaled up to increase its  capacity, whilst supporting a cultural revolution, political platform and fundraising campaign.

September 23, 2015 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL | 1 Comment

Walkatjurra Walkabout completes 5th walk against uranium mining in West Australia 16 Sep 15: “The Walkatjurra Walkabout, which started in 2011,  finished its 5th walk in the North Eastern Goldfields town  of Leonora on Tuesday. The walk, a collaboration of Aboriginal and non-indigenous people, is a moving community  protest against the proposed uranium mines in the region.

The month long walk, lead by local Traditional Owners,  covered almost 450 km’s from Wiluna to Leonora, passing  Toro Energy’s Wiluna uranium mine proposal at Lake Way and Cameco’s proposed uranium mine at Yeelirrie Station.  Walk participants included local Traditional Owners, people
from Australia, Japan, Taiwan, England, Sweden, Aotearoa (New Zealand), America and France.

The walks continue to attract people interested in learning about Aboriginal culture, caring for country and to share a united vision for a nuclear free world.

greensSmThe walk was also joined at Yeelirrie for two days by Federal Greens senators Rachel Siewert and Co-Deputy Greens leader Scott Ludlam along with state Greens MLC Robin Chapple.

The visit included a tour of Toro Energy’s uranium project at Lake Way near Wiluna with walkers and Toro Energy. Many of the participants have first hand experience of the
dangers of the nuclear industry, especially those from Japan and Taiwan, whose nuclear industry are fuelled by Australian uranium. … “

September 19, 2015 Posted by | aboriginal issues, opposition to nuclear, Western Australia | Leave a comment

AUDIO: Aboriginal Freedom Summit 2 pushes for Treaty

Hear-This-wayAUDIO Freedom Summit 2 pushes for Treaty 14/09/2015 Organisers of the three day Freedom Summit held in Alice Springs say they will continue to push Government towards how treaties can be made  with Aboriginal and Islander communities across the country.

Grass root Aboriginal leaders including South Australian Narungga Elder Tauto Sansbury came together in Central Australia to discuss and address a range of issues and government policies that continue impact on his people.

September 16, 2015 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL | Leave a comment

Winda-Mara – Aboriginal success stories that we just don’t hear about

Stories like Winda-Mara’s need to be told—they show how Aboriginal communities are more than capable of creating their own forms of livelihood, if given space to do so. Winda-Mara’s diversity has been key to its success—rather than being just a “health” or “employment” program, it approaches issues holistically, asserting that cultural heritage protection and community health are fundamentally linked. Now that my eyes are open to it, I’ve realised that other Aboriginal communities across the country have similar stories. Let’s find and share these stories, and support these communities in articulating their own visions for their futures.

The Indigenous Australia We Don’t Talk About
By  on August 8, 2015 It’s not very often that most of us hear success stories from Aboriginal communities. The overwhelming majority of the mainstream media treatment of Indigenous issues focuses on the (very real) problems which affect Aboriginal people, problems which can seem so complex and entrenched that imagining solutions usually seems impossible. In a society still dominated by a collective denial of our violent past and oppressive present, a society which hides behind empty sloganeering about ‘progress’ as it continues to punish Aboriginal people whenever they articulate their desire for control over their own lives, any coverage at all can seem like a blessing. But I wonder if only ever hearing the negative stories helps to reinforce an understanding of the situation as intractable and hopeless—if it perhaps leads us away from imagining and articulating alternatives.

A couple of weeks ago, my partner and I were privileged to be able to visit Winda-Mara, an Aboriginal co-operative run by local Gunditjmara people in Heywood, south-western Victoria. Winda-Mara was established in 1991 as an Aboriginal health organisation with the aim of providing culturally appropriate healthcare to the community. Since then, the organisation has expanded to also include housing, education, employment, and environmental and cultural heritage management. Continue reading

August 12, 2015 Posted by | aboriginal issues, Victoria | Leave a comment

Mirrar people mourn Hiroshima, and regret impacts of uranium sourced from their land

Mirarr recognise 70 years since nuclear bombs destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki  06 Aug 2015  The Mirarr traditional owners of lands in Australia’s Northern Territory, including parts of Kakadu National Park and the Ranger and Jabiluka uranium deposits, acknowledge with sadness the seventy year anniversary of the world’s first nuclear bomb attacks.

Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation, which represents the Mirarr, is supporting commemoration events around the country in recognition of the strong links between Mirarr country and Japan and the great damage that the nuclear industry has inflicted on people and country over these 70 years.

Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation CEO Justin O’Brien said: “There is a strong history between Mirarr country and Japan. Mining began at Ranger- against the wishes of the Mirarr – in large part because of agreements between the Australian and Japanese governments.”

In 1978 before Ranger mine opened, then Senior Traditional Owner Taby Gangale was worried the uranium from his land might be used in nuclear weapons stating: “What if they make an atom bomb or something? Same as they did in Japan. Very dangerous.”

The Mirarr feel great responsibility for the impacts of uranium sourced from their land. Soon after the Margarula,-Yvonnenuclear emergency started at Fukushima, Mirarr senior traditional owner Yvonne Margarula wrote a letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon expressing her concern and sadness at the devastation that uranium from her lands was causing in Japan: “This is an industry we never supported in the past and want no part of in the future. We are all diminished by the events unfolding at Fukushima” Ms Margarula wrote at the time.

“In 2014 the Mirarr hosted a visit from Naoto Kan, who was Prime Minister of Japan at the time of the Fukushima nuclear emergency. Mr Kan’s visit marked a new chapter in the longstanding partnership between our two countries. We discussed the ways in which uranium has damaged both Mirarr country and Japan and the importance of working together towards peaceful energy sources and better outcomes for all people.” Mr O’Brien concluded

For details of commemoration events visit the website of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons  For further information including photographs of the Mirarr, Naoto Kan and Ranger mine contact Kirsten Blair: 0412 853 641

August 7, 2015 Posted by | aboriginal issues, Northern Territory | 1 Comment

Northern Territory development : Aboriginal owners asked to agree to extinguish native title

exclamation-Northern Land Council calls for major rethink of northern development amid concerns about Ord expansion talks PM  By Sara Everingham ABC New, 25 July 15,   The head of the Northern Land Council (NLC) has said a major rethink of northern development is needed and he fears one of the Northern Territory Government’s key strategies for boosting agriculture will lead to little but heartache for Indigenous people.

Chief executive officer Joe Morrison said traditional owners were being asked to agree to extinguish native title to allow for the expansion of the Ord Irrigation Scheme from the East Kimberley into the Northern Territory but he said he was worried there would be few lasting benefits in return.

Continue reading

July 25, 2015 Posted by | aboriginal issues, Northern Territory | Leave a comment

Western Australia’s Barnett goverment moving Aborigines off their land to benefit miners

handsoffIt is a trend that points to one thing — move indigenous people off their country so that the miners get a free hand and they can do as they will.

Michael Martinez: WA stance on indigenous Australia a worrying sign, MICHAEL MARTINEZ GEELONG ADVERTISER JULY 09, 2015 “…….. Mr Barnett and his pro-mining party members are trying to change the Aboriginal Heritage Act so that one bureaucrat can make a decision determining if a site is sacred or not.

There has already been a Supreme Court decision questioning the deregistering of a sacred site in Port Headland, and there are 22 other sites that the West Australian Government has removed during the past few years.

A government committee in Western Australia and the minister decided that the land and waters around parts of Port Hedland port should no longer be considered an Aboriginal sacred site because it had not been used for religious purposes.

Justice Chaney said in his judgment: “I conclude that the committee did not give consideration to the question of whether or not the Marapikurrinya Yintha was a place of importance or special significance because the question did not arise for consideration in light of the conclusion that it was not a sacred site.”  Continue reading

July 15, 2015 Posted by | aboriginal issues, legal, politics, Western Australia | Leave a comment

The hypocrisy of Abbott and Shorten in the constitutional “recognition” for Aborigines

On July 1, just days before the Kirribilli gathering, the Abbott government cut off funding for the Aboriginal Medical Service at Mount Druitt in western Sydney, cutting adrift its 11,000 active patients and 96 doctors, nurses and other staff.

Since the 2014 federal budget, the Abbott government has stripped $600 million in funding from indigenous community organisations, including health, legal and language support services. It has also driven, via funding cuts, moves to shut down hundreds of remote settlements in Western Australia and elsewhere, forcing their residents off traditional lands.

Despite the hype, no concrete proposals emerged from Monday’s gathering

Australia: The political fraud of constitutional “recognition” for Aborigines, World Socialist Website  By Mike Head  8 July 2015 A hand-picked group of 40 indigenous officials and academics joined Prime Minister Tony Abbott and opposition Labor Party leader Bill Shorten in Sydney on Monday for what was billed by the establishment media as an “historic summit” to discuss a proposed referendum to “recognise” indigenous people in the Australian Constitution.

The contrived event, staged at Kirribilli on Sydney Harbour, one of the city’s most affluent neighbourhoods, exposed the widening social and economic gulf between these privileged layers and the vast majority of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, who live in poverty-stricken working class suburbs, rural towns and remote settlements……. Continue reading

July 15, 2015 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL | Leave a comment

Mirrar people call on Abbott government to secure Kakadu National Park from further uranium mining

Ranger-pitTraditional owners ask Abbott government to fix stand-off over Ranger uranium mine, SMH. July 12, 2015 –  Resources reporter The traditional owners of the land on which the Ranger uranium mine is built have challenged the federal government to guarantee that no future mining will occur on the Ranger and Jabiluka mineral leases, and to begin preparations for the sites’ inclusion in Kakadu National Park.

In rare comments that do not bode well for the operator of the mine, Energy Resources of Australia (ERA), the Mirarr traditional owners indicated they would not agree to an expansion of the Ranger mine in the future, despite ERA seeking to keep that option open.

More than a month after ERA’s major shareholder, Rio Tinto, declared it did not support the Ranger expansion project, the uranium miner continued to push that barrow, and confirmed on Friday it had asked the federal and Northern Territory governments for an extension of its lease beyond 2021 so that it might reconsider the mine expansion if commodity prices improved.

Mirarr spokesman Justin O’Brien said the comments continued the “intense uncertainty” that had surrounded ERA’s future.

He called for certainty from the Abbott government.  Continue reading

July 13, 2015 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Northern Territory | Leave a comment

Aboriginal elder Kevin Buzzacott speaks at strong anti nuclear protest in Adelaide

Buzzacott,-KevinNuclear dump would destroy our land: elder Aboriginal elders from across the country have joined scores of university students camping out in a stand against the storing of nuclear waste in Australia.

Protesters from far and wide have set up a tent community at Flinders University in Adelaide in protest against plans for a nuclear waste dump, in South Australia or anywhere else.

text-relevant“To the South Australian government, to the federal government, to the mining giants – don’t worry about trying to put the waste dump here,” Arabunna elder Kevin Buzzacott said on Thursday.

 “Because you’ll be wasting your money. We’ll be out there trying to stop it.” The action comes as the federal government is set to reveal a shortlist of prospective sites for a possible nuclear dump before making a final decision in 2016.

scrutiny-Royal-Commission CHAINIt also coincides with South Australia’s royal commission into nuclear power, which is looking at whether the state should expand its involvement in the nuclear industry.

At least one SA Liberal senator says it should, with Sean Edwards recently urging the state to cash in by becoming a global player in the spent nuclear fuel recycling industry.

But Mr Buzzacott said a storage facility would destroy the sacred land of the country’s traditional owners. “We’ve lost a lot of sacred sites as it is,” he said. “We don’t want to lose any more. “We’ve been here 40,000 years. We’ve never touched the land – we love the land.”

July 10, 2015 Posted by | aboriginal issues, Nuclear Royal Commission, opposition to nuclear, South Australia | Leave a comment

We need to change the Native Title Act and get Real Land Rights for Aboriginal poeple

“we have no rights to say no to mining under native title.”

The court has never once found in favour of holders of native title.

the constitution is not silent. It is actively discriminatory, explicitly enabling authorities to enact race-specific laws. This must end.

Native title yes, but still no land rights, The Age July 8, 2015  Sydney Morning Herald columnist, author, architecture critic and essayist

Sacred land must not be dug up and our constitution and laws should assure that. So it’s NAIDOC Week. “We all stand on sacred ground,” protests the starry-eyed tagline. “Learn, respect, celebrate.”

Going by the flood of earnest Indigenous heritage displays, trucked-in smoking ceremonies and family-friendly clips of smiling Koori kids you’d think we meant it. Eighty-five per cent of us, apparently, support removing anti-Aboriginal racism from the constitution. God knows it’s little enough, late enough – but is it also hypocritical?

The most memorable part of that June 22 Q&A program wasn’t Zaky Mallah. It was the nine-minute segment on native title and mining rights. Yet the Mallah story was beaten up nationwide like a thousand-egg free-range souffle, while the land-rights conversation once again sank without trace. Continue reading

July 9, 2015 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL | Leave a comment

Aboriginal landowners reject coal giant Adani

Adani shown the door by traditional owners, SMH July 4, 201 Business columnist The Wangan and Jagalingou people gathered two weeks ago at a convention centre in Carseldine north of Brisbane.

They were there to vote on a proposal to make sure those responsible for their native title claim were truly representative of the Wangan and Jagalingou people. These are the traditional owners of the land in the Galilee Basin, precisely where Indian company Adani aims to build Australia’s biggest coal mine, the controversial $16 billion Carmichael project.

Twice in three years, the Wangan and Jagalingou (W&J) had rejected Adani’s advances to sign a land deal for the mine, and twice Adani had dragged them off to the Native Title Tribunal and sought approval for the state to override their opposition to the mine.

It was just after 9am on Saturday, June 20, when two charter buses turned up at the Tavernetta Function Centre in Carseldine. Adani had bussed in 150 people in a sly bid to force consideration of a new memorandum of understanding they claimed to have with W&J, despite the previous ‘no vote’ from W&J. It was an Adani ambush, and it must have cost a fortune: three days of food, accommodation and transport for 150 people.

“We saw the buses turn up and we were wondering what was going on,” says traditional owner and W&J lead spokesman Adrian Burragubba.

“They tried to organise their own meeting after ours in order to get the people to agree to their MoU – a kind of tricked ILUA [Indigenous Land Use Agreement] when they knew they didn’t have one. Right now we’re in the Federal Court precisely because we refused an ILUA and they have tried to override us.”

But Adani’s cunning stunt backfired. They hadn’t counted on their 150 voters changing their minds after impassioned speeches from the likes of Burragubba. W&J tribal elders are deeply concerned about the effect of the mine on their cultural heritage and the risks it poses to water and wildlife.

By the end of the day, Adani’s reps had been asked to leave the meeting. Of the W&J’s 12 “new applicants”, or claim representatives, at least seven were against Adani, despite all the money flying about to skew the vote, and three were in favour. The views of the other two appear in the balance.

Burragubba says Adani has been engaging in tactical skulduggery for years, excluding him from meetings as he represented families which were not in favour of Carmichael.

“They claimed I was disruptive,” he told Fairfax Media.

“But they need all applicants in a meeting to do a deal. So there cannot possibly be a legally binding agreement.

“Adani has been conniving with these other two people [other Indigenous applicants] to try to get an agreement and undermine the Native Title process and our right to free prior informed consent.”

Before the showdown at the Carseldine convention centre, Adani had co-opted two of the W&J applicants, also directors of the trustee for the W&J’s Cato Galilee Trust……….

July 3, 2015 Posted by | aboriginal issues, Queensland | Leave a comment

Central Sydney blocked as marchers protest Aboriginal community closures

handsoffAustralia: Sydney streets blocked by protest against Aboriginal community closures Warrior Publications by Calla Wahlquist, The Guardian, June 28, 2015

A protest against the closure of remote Aboriginal communities blocked streets in central Sydney on Sunday, as about 600 people marched against the Western Australian government’s plans to wind back support for communities it deems aren’t viable.

The protest began at Town Hall at 1pm on Sunday and moved toward The Block in Redfern, closing George, Lee, Regent and Lawson Streets on the way. t’s the third national call to action and the sixth time protests have shut down an Australian capital city in protest against the plan to overhaul funding to the state’s 247 remote Aboriginal communities, which the premier, Colin Barnett, has said will result in “significantly fewer” homelands communities remaining open……

At the same time, WA has developed its own “major reforms” for service delivery in remote Aboriginal communities, which is expected to lead to the closure, through withholding services from some communities, of a number of less populated communities over the next few years.

Details are scarce and the full model is yet to be worked out. Nominations for Aboriginal leaders to join the regional working groups intended to steer the reforms closed this month.

Protest organisers, rallied around the #SOSBLAKAUSTRALIA hashtag on social media, have been ramping up activities since Friday ahead of July 1 – the day federal funding to WA’s remote communities formally switches over to the state…….

July 1, 2015 Posted by | aboriginal issues, New South Wales | Leave a comment


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