Australian news, and some related international items

Aboriginal cultural heritage depends on remaining on homelands

Env-AustIf Aboriginal people are forced off their land, who will pass down the stories?, Guardian,  22 May 15 Imagine what an unbroken link to the land, thousands of years old, feels like. IndigenousX host Kelly Briggs on keeping the light of culture burning bright “…………….  People in this town work tirelessly to reinvigorate our languages, keep our stories strong and pass strength on through keeping the lights of pride in our culture burning bright.

You don’t find these people in newspapers, at award ceremonies or talking about Aboriginal issues on TV. You find them quietly going about their business lifting up the community. Away from the glare of what is now becoming to be known as “the Aboriginal industry”. There are many towns spread across Australia like mine, trying to reconnect with culture. Be it through languages, story revival or identifying places of Aboriginal significance – this is happening. Research shows that people who are connected to their cultural heritage are happier.

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May 23, 2015 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL | Leave a comment

Aboriginal leaders meet in Broome

Leaders unite to finish the land rights battle THE AUSTRALIAN, Natasha Robinson
MAY 20, 2015 
Aboriginal leaders from across the country have pledged to forge a new path to lift their people out of poverty and dependence, placing property rights at the centre of a national empowerment agenda that would shuck off the bureaucratic constraints threatening to reverse the gains of land rights and native title.

A historic meeting of more than 40 indigenous leaders in Broome yesterday heard that the enactment of land rights and native title legislation represented the “high point” of Aboriginal rights in ­recent decades, with those rights relentlessly undermined ever since by policies that had failed to afford indigenous people a true stake in policy and enterprise.

The roundtable was notable for its close co-operation between political warriors from the land rights era and conservative figures, with a remarkable level of agreement ­between the Left and the Right.

Reconciliation icon Patrick Dodson, hosting the event on Yawuru land, said the fight for true control over property and local economies was the “common backbone” of today’s Aboriginal rights movement.“Many of the gains that we thought we’d made … are now being undermined and dissipated,” Mr Dodson said. “We have a lot more in common than we have that divides us.

“None of us have got the silver bullet or the single answer, but we’re all searching for the best interests for the indigenous ­peoples, not just our own groups, but across Australia.”…….

The roundtable was attended by more than 40 indigenous leaders from across the country, including Cape York leader Noel Pearson, Northern Land Council chief executive Joe Morrison, chief executive of the Aboriginal charitable trust KRED Enter­prises Wayne Bergmann, North Australian Land and Sea Management Alliance chief executive Melissa George, Carpentaria Land Council director Murrandoo Yanner, National Native Title Tribunal president Raelene Webb and North Australia Land and Sea Management Alliance chairman Peter Yu. Mr Pearson said the initiation of the roundtable by Mr Gooda and Mr Wilson had “brought a really fresh angle” to discussions of economic development that were often divided along ideological lines……..

In cases where native title was extinguished, compensation was next to impossible for commun­ities to obtain, the meeting heard.


May 20, 2015 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL | Leave a comment

Community opposition to a national radioactive waste dump in Western Australia

A genuine commitment to volunteerism would require providing affected communities with ample time to deliberate on their willingness to host or live near a facility through publishing the full list of nominated sites.

Although the government stresses that it does not want to impose a nuclear waste facility on any community, there is no guarantee that this Government (or a future one) will not revert to earlier habits of trying to do so. Community consent is in fact not a prerequisite for its siting decision.

WA actually has state legislation in place prohibiting the storage of radioactive waste from outside the state. This means that, although the National Radioactive Waste Management Act gives the Minister the right to override state legislation, the voluntary and democratic aspects of the WA nominations are highly compromised.

Don’t waste the homelands: community opposition to a national radioactive waste dump in WA


By Anica Niepraschk , 15 May 2015 Western Australian iron ore company Ginbalbie Metals’ nomination of a section of its land to host Australia’s proposed radioactive waste management facility comes as the third known nomination in WA. The two-month nomination period for the project closed on May 5.Another known nomination comes from a landowner in Leonora, against local opposition but supported by Leonora Shire. The Shire had been keen on nominating freehold land itself but could not identify any suitable land.

The third revealed nomination from WA involves land in Kanpa, near Warburton in the eastern part of the state, and lacks support from the Ngaanyatjarra elders.

Similarly, Ginbalbie Metals’s nomination of a land near Badga station in the mid west of the state faces opposition from the traditional custodians of the land. Neither the local community nor Yalgoo shire had been consulted on the nomination. The site is even subject of a current native title claim by the Widi Native Title Claimant Group. The group expressed its strong opposition to Federal Industry Minister Macfarlane, stating that ‘the proponent has displayed an appalling level of disrespect’ for the traditional owners by failing to consult them. They generally reject radioactive waste dumps and uranium mining on their homelands. Continue reading

May 16, 2015 Posted by | aboriginal issues, opposition to nuclear, Western Australia | 1 Comment

Aboriginal Land Councils distrust Northern Territory Government, reject it for running Indigenous outstation services.

‘Dysfunctional’ NT Government must not run Indigenous outstations, Northern Land Council and Central Land Council say ABC News 14 May 15 Two of Australia’s most powerful Indigenous land councils have labelled the NT Government “dysfunctional and welfare dependent” and “a failed state that is almost totally dependent on the Commonwealth” as they rejected an idea for the NT to take responsibility for Indigenous outstation services.

The federal budget made provisions for a one-off payment to the NT Government of $155 million in exchange for taking over municipal and essential services in remote outstations and communities.

But the Northern Land Council (NLC) and Central Land Council (CLC) have said the NT Government would not be able to adequately run the services and would result in community closures like those planned in Western Australia. Continue reading

May 16, 2015 Posted by | aboriginal issues, Northern Territory | Leave a comment

Uranium mining companies are selectively buying off Indigenous people

Uranium Minefield: Middle Men Are Bleeding Aboriginal Land Dry, VICE  May 11, 2015 by Jack Callil Buried in Australia’s soil is a third of Earth’s uranium, the largest reserve in the world. This means there’s big money in mining it. But standing on it are Indigenous Australians with native title rights to that land. The Martu people, only numbering only around 1,000, own around 136,000 square kilometers in Western Australia.


On the other side of the dispute is the world’s largest uranium company Cameco, which in collaboration with Mitsubishi, want to extend the Kintyre mine that was previously owned by Rio Tinto. It bears the name of an area cut out of the Karlamilyi National Park for mining in 1994.

Darren Farmer, a burly middle-aged Martu man, told VICE that “the Martu people do not want this uranium mine. Everybody has said no.” But that hasn’t stopped Environment Minister Greg Hunt, who last month gave Kintyre the green light.

This decision was made possible by the intricate mechanics of the Native Title Act. Indigenous Australians are forced to nominate a corporate body that represents them legally. In the case of the Martu people, theirs is the Western Deserts Land Aboriginal Corporation ( WDLAC). In 2012 WDLAC gave up Martu land for mining, and are nowworking with Newcrest Mining, Fortescue Metals Group, Reward Minerals—and Cameco.

WDLAC is currently under investigation for what VICE understands is the corrupt management of millions in mining profits. Continue reading

May 15, 2015 Posted by | aboriginal issues, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Australian govt turns from Northern Territory in search for vulnerable communities to host nuclear wastes

Nuclear waste dump unlikely in NT after land councils, stations refuse to nominate site ABC News, 11 May 15, By Anthony Stewart The Northern Territory appears unlikely to house the Federal Government’s proposed radioactive waste dump after major land holders fail to nominate a site.

The Federal Government began a renewed searchfor a site to store Australia’s intermediate-level nuclear waste and dispose of low-level waste in March this year. A formal application process closed on the May 5.

The ABC confirmed the Northern Land Council, Central Land Council, and Northern Territory Government had not nominated any land. Gilnockie and Supplejack Downs Stations also decided against participating in the process.


In a statement, the Federal Government refused to confirm whether any other organisation had nominated land.

“Details on nominations will be made public following the close of the nomination process and consideration by the Minister for Industry and Science. On current timeframes, this is expected in July 2015,” the statement read………

Anti-nuclear campaigner Lauren Mellor said it was the end of a long fight against nuclear waste in the Territory. “It’s very good news. We have spent the last decade with residents and traditional owners of the Northern Territory fighting a nuclear dump process,” she said. “The Federal Government has pulled out of the trenches in the Northern Territory.”

She said the fight had been pushed to other parts of Australia. “Unfortunately our concern is they will go and target another vulnerable community as they’ve done many times before to try and push them to house a national or even international dump,” Ms Mellor said.

Several organisations in both South Australia and the Western Australia have indicated they have nominated land under the process.

May 13, 2015 Posted by | aboriginal issues, Northern Territory, wastes | Leave a comment

Thousands rally across Australia against closure of Indigenous communities

handsoffMelbourne city centre blocked by protests over closure of Indigenous communities – as it happened, Guardian,  @heldavidson   1 May 15 [excellent report and pictures] 

Thousands of people joined rallies in towns and cities around Australia and overseas to protest against threatened withdrawal of funding from remote communities Tens of thousands have attended reportedly peaceful rallies across Australia and New Zealand, protesting against the threat of closure of remote communities in Western Australia.

The largest rallies in Melbourne and Sydney began at 4pm, severely disrupting Friday peak hour traffic. The Melbourne rally blocked a major intersection and Flinders st Station. Protesters intend to move to Kings Domain where they will set up a makeshift camp for two nights.

Some protesters in Sydney have moved on to the Redfern Aboriginal tent embassy after thousands walked down Sydney’s George St, delaying some public transport.

Between 500 and 1000 attended a Perth rally, as well as thousands more across Sydney, Canberra, Darwin, Adelaide, Alice Springs, and 1,000 in four New Zealand cities. …..

May 2, 2015 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, opposition to nuclear, Victoria | Leave a comment

Australians heard the social media call from Aborigines threatened with removal from their lands

Family harnesses power of social media to drive protests against forced closures of Aboriginal communities, ABC Lateline  By Ginny Stein 1 May 15 Pressure is growing across Australia against plans by West Australian Premier Colin Barnett to close scores of remote Aboriginal communities.

A call to protest has spread across social media with rallies  in capital cities across the country. But the protests had their origins far from any big city.

Layangali Bieundurry and her brother Nelson Bieundurry are from Wangkatjungka, a remote Aboriginal community on the edge of the Great Sandy Desert with a permanent population of approximately 200 people.

Although internet access is slow in Wangkatjungka, the call to protest against the Government’s threat to close up to 150 communities started there thanks to family support, and then spread nationally and now globally. “We knew that all our family were on Facebook, so what we did, we just set the page up and started sending out messages throughout Facebook and that is how most of our family knew,” Ms Bieunderry said.

“And then other communities started to jump on Facebook and started realising what the Government [was] going to do to us in the remote communities.”

#SOSBlakAustralia has since emerged, connecting people, communities and organisations with similar interests and concerns through the Twittersphere. “I want it to go into the ears of Tony Abbott, that’s where I want it to go,” Mr Bieundurry said………

Throughout the Kimberley, the threat to close up to 150 remote Aboriginal communities has raised both fear and anger. At Wangkatjunga, there is disbelief that the next wave in a long history of dispossession may soon hit.

The State Government has not stated which communities may close, sparking fear across the state………

May 2, 2015 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Western Australia | Leave a comment

United Nations forum supports Kimberley Land Council’s plea to save Aboriginal communities from closure

Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, the special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, and Professor Megan Davis, who was elected chairperson of the current session, were among those who supported the submission.
UN forum backs fight against closure of remote Aboriginal communities in WA , Guardian, , 23 Apr 15, The Kimberley Land Council wins support for its submission arguing against the proposed closure of up to 150 remote communities by the Barnett government. The United Nations permanent forum on indigenous issues has supported a submission by the Kimberley Land Council condemning the proposed closure of up to 150 remote Aboriginal communities in Western Australia.

Continue reading

April 30, 2015 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL | Leave a comment

Forced evictions: Australian govts make way for uranium miners

50 City of Perth armed police raided an Indigenous homeless camp at Matagarup, and drove off mostly elderly women and young mothers with children. The people in the camp described themselves as “refugees … seeking safety in our own country”. They called for the help of the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees.

Australian politicians are nervous of the United Nations. Abbott’s response has been abuse. When Professor James Anaya, the UN Special Rapporteur on Indigenous People, described the racism of the “intervention” , Abbott told him to, “get a life” and “not listen to the old victim brigade.”

flag-UN.The planned closure of Indigenous homelands breaches Article 5 of the International Convention for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) and the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP).

Forced evictions are Australia’s latest racist assault on Aboriginal handsoffPeople, Ecologist 28 Apr 15  28th April 2015 Australia’s deliberate and calculated attacks on its indigenous population carry many of the hallmarks of genocide, writes John Pilger. And things are getting worse, not better, as states that have grown rich by exploiting Aboriginal land evict and demolish remote Aboriginal communities. Australia has again declared war on its Indigenous people, reminiscent of the brutality that brought universal condemnation on apartheid South Africa.

Aboriginal people are to be driven from homelands where their communities have lived for thousands of years.

In Western Australia, where mining companies make billion dollar profits exploiting Aboriginal land, the state government says it can no longer afford to“support” the homelands.

Vulnerable populations, already denied the basic services most Australians take for granted, are on notice of dispossession without consultation, and eviction at gunpoint. Yet again, Aboriginal leaders have warned of “a new generation of displaced people” and“cultural genocide”.

Genocide is a word Australians hate to hear. Genocide happens in other countries, not the ‘lucky’ society that per capita is the second richest on earth. Continue reading

April 30, 2015 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Australia breaches international law in evicting remote Aboriginal communities

handsoffIn 2011, Barnett’s government displayed a brutality in the community of Oombulgurri which the other homelands can expect. “First, the government closed the services,” wrote Tammy Solonec of Amnesty International:

It closed the shop, so people could not buy food and essentials. It closed the clinic, so the sick and the elderly had to move, and the school, so families with children had to leave, or face having their children taken away from them. The police station was the last service to close, then eventually the electricity and water were turned off. Finally, the 10 residents who resolutely stayed to the end were forcibly evicted [leaving behind] personal possessions. [Then] the bulldozers rolled into Oombulgurri. The WA government has literally dug a hole and in it buried the rubble of people’s homes and personal belongings.

In South Australia, the state and federal governments launched a similar attack on the 60 remote Indigenous communities.

The closure of Indigenous homelands breaches Article 5 of the International Convention for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

Evicting Indigenous Australians from their homelands is a declaration of war John Pilger, Guardian 23 Apr 15  Australia occasionally interrupts its ‘normal’ mistreatment of Aboriginal people to deliver a frontal assault, like the closure of Western Australia’s homelands   

Australia has again declared war on its Indigenous people, reminiscent of the brutality that brought universal condemnation on apartheid South Africa. Aboriginal people are to be driven from homelands where their communities have lived for thousands of years. In Western Australia, where mining companies make billion dollar profits exploiting Aboriginal land, the state government says it can no longer afford to “support” the homelands.

Vulnerable populations, already denied the basic services most Australians take for granted, are on notice of dispossession without consultation, and eviction at gunpoint. Aboriginal leaders have warned of “a new generation of displaced people” and “cultural genocide”.

The prime minister, Tony Abbott, has revived this assault on a people who represent Australia’s singular uniqueness. Soon after coming to office, the federal government cut $534m in Indigenous social programs, including $160m from the Indigenous health budget and $13.4m from Indigenous legal aid. …….

In announcing that the Australian government would no longer honour the longstanding commitment to Aboriginal homelands, Abbott sneered, “It’s not the job of the taxpayers to subsidise lifestyle choices.” Continue reading

April 23, 2015 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, South Australia, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Aboriginal women speak out for a Treaty

text TreatyAboriginal women on why Australia needs a treaty Thursday, April 9, 2015 By Rachel Evans & Richard Fan More than 150 people filled the Redfern Community Centre on March 20 to discuss a treaty for Australia’s first people.

Organised by Stop the Intervention Collective Sydney (STICS), the event was hosted by veteran journalist Jeff McMullen and televised by National Indigenous TV. As coverage of female Aboriginal voices are rare among mainstream discourses, their retelling of their pasts and hopes for the future captivated the room.

Natalie Cromb, a Gamileraay woman, said that a treaty “would help the Australian government keep its word to the Aboriginal people”. She noted the ongoing debates between treaty and constitutional recognition and argued that the British colonisers fashioned three legal ways to justify their occupation: “First it was settlement, second through conquest, then third through succession — where sovereignty was ceded and agreement was reached between the parties.”

Cromb observed that Britain occupied the land, declared terra nullius and declared that Australia’s Indigenous people were an absent, fading race. “Terra nullius was deliberate and the average Australian does not know about this history of rapes, murders, and genocidal policies, and that it was also used to deny compensation,” she said.

Cromb said that a treaty “is vital to our solution. It would be a first meaningful step. A treaty is the insurance policy we need to hold the government to account. But we are still at the bottom of the social pyramid. We are having water switched off in communities. We know constitutional change won’t stop the removal of our people.”

Amala Groom, a Wiradjuri woman and founding member of Aboriginal Rights Coalition (ARC) and STICS, noted that a treaty “would recognise the sovereignty of the First Nations over their land”, and secure the right of self-determination which was promised when Australia ratified the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights 40 years ago. Continue reading

April 15, 2015 Posted by | aboriginal issues, New South Wales | Leave a comment

Federal funding for South Australia’s remote Aboriginal communities

Future of remote Aboriginal communities secured by deal between SA and federal governments ABC Radio The World Today  By Natalie Whiting, 13 Apr 15 Nicola Gage & staff The future of remote Aboriginal communities in South Australia has been secured by a deal between the state and federal governments.

There were concerns communities could close because of Federal funding cuts to essential services, including rubbish collection, sewerage, power and water.

However, a compromise announced this morning will see the Federal Government continue to pay for services in the APY Lands, for the time being. Continue reading

April 15, 2015 Posted by | aboriginal issues, South Australia | Leave a comment

Melbourne city at standstill as thousands marched to support remote Aboriginal communities

Thousands rally in Melbourne in support of remote Aboriginal communities ABC News, 11 Apr 15 Thousands of people have staged a rally in Melbourne against the forced closure of remote Aboriginal communities, bringing parts of the CBD to a standstill.

There were major delays to public transport on Friday as Flinders Street and St Kilda Road closed to traffic. Yarra Trams tweeted at 7:10pm to say Swanston Street trams running between the Arts Precinct and Melbourne Central Station were able to resume service.

Earlier, Metro Trains advised passengers to access Flinders Street Station via Elizabeth Street to avoid the crowds………

Last month, Tony Abbot backed the West Australian Government’s plans to close nearly half of the state’s 247 remote communities and said it was not unreasonable if the cost of providing services such as schools, outweighed the benefits.

“What we can’t do is endlessly subsidise lifestyle choices, if those lifestyle choices are not conducive to the kind of full participation in Australian society that everyone should have,” he said.

The Prime Minister’s comments received criticism from Aboriginal leaders, as well as both sides of politics.

“I think it’s a very disappointing and hopeless statement by the Prime Minister, quite frankly,” Indigenous leader Noel Pearson told The World Today in March……

April 11, 2015 Posted by | aboriginal issues, Victoria | Leave a comment

Australian government’s plans to shut down remote Aboriginal communities

Entire Aboriginal Communities May Be “Closed” in Australia
By Ben Mathis-Lilley  
Thousands of people rallied in Melbourne on Friday to protest the potential closure of up to 150 Australian aboriginal communities, according to reports. The government of Western Australia has said it cannot continue to provide services to all of the 274 “remote communities” under its supervision and that many of them are affected by social ills including sexual abuse. (Public figures who oppose the plan suggest that the abuse issue is being used manipulatively as cover for a financial decision.) Australia’s notoriously insensitive/gaffe-prone prime minister, Tony Abbott, has described native peoples’ decision to live in the communities as a “lifestyle choice.”

The previous shuttering of a Western Australian community called Oombulgurri illustrates what might happen on a large scale if the government goes forward with closures, which wouldn’t begin until 2016:

… many of the people living in Oombulgurri didn’t want to leave, says Amnesty International’s Australian Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Manager, Tammy Solonec.

As the government gradually closed vital facilities such as the health clinic, school and police station, and eventually shut off the town’s power and water, people were left with no choice but to move out, says Ms Solonec.

An estimated 69,665 “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples” live in Western Australia.

April 11, 2015 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL | Leave a comment


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