Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

The vastly different way that bushfires are experienced by Aboriginal people

Strength from perpetual grief: how Aboriginal people experience the bushfire crisis, The Conversation, January 10, 2020 , Bhiamie Williamson, Research Associate & PhD Candidate, Australian National University, Jessica Weir, Senior Research Fellow, Western Sydney University, Vanessa Cavanagh, Associate Lecturer, School of Geography and Sustainable Communities, University of WollongongHow do you support people forever attached to a landscape after an inferno tears through their homelands: decimating native food sources, burning through ancient scarred trees and destroying ancestral and totemic plants and animals?

The fact is, the experience of Aboriginal peoples in the fire crisis engulfing much of Australia is vastly different to non-Indigenous peoples.

Colonial legacies of eradication, dispossession, assimilation and racism continue to impact the lived realities of Aboriginal peoples. Added to this is the widespread exclusion of our peoples from accessing and managing traditional homelands. These factors compound the trauma of these unprecedented fires.

As Australia picks up the pieces from these fires, it’s more important than ever to understand the unique grief Aboriginal peoples experience. Only through this understanding can effective strategies be put in place to support our communities to recover.

Perpetual grief

Aboriginal peoples live with a sense of perpetual grief. It stems from the as-yet-unresolved matter of the invasion and subsequent colonisation of our homelands…….

Aboriginal people have watched on and been ignored as homelands have been mismanaged and neglected.

Oliver Costello is chief executive of Firesticks Alliance, an Indigenous-led network that aims to re-invigorate cultural burning. As he puts it:

Since colonisation, many Indigenous people have been removed from their land, and their cultural fire management practices have been constrained by authorities, informed by Western views of fire and land management……

Aboriginal peoples’ cultural identity comes from the land.

As such, Aboriginal cultural lives and livelihoods continue to be tied to the land, including landscape features such as waterholes, valleys and mountains, as well as native animals and plants.

The decimation caused by the fires deeply impacts the existence of Aboriginal peoples and in the most severe hit areas, threatens Aboriginal groups as distinct cultural beings attached to the land. As The Guardian’s Indigenous affairs editor Lorena Allam recently wrote:

Like you, I’ve watched in anguish and horror as fire lays waste to precious Yuin land, taking everything with it – lives, homes, animals, trees – but for First Nations people it is also burning up our memories, our sacred places, all the things which make us who we are………

Resilience in the face of ongoing trauma

The long-term effects of colonisation has meant Aboriginal communities are (for better or worse) accustomed to living with catastrophic changes to their societies and lands, adjusting and adapting to keep functioning.

Experts consider these resilience traits as integral for communities to survive and recover from natural disasters……..

If agencies and non-government organisations responsible for leading the recovery from these fires aren’t well-prepared, they risk inflicting new trauma on Aboriginal communities.

The National Disability Insurance Agency offers an example of how to engage with Aboriginal people in culturally sensitive ways. This includes thinking about Country, culture and community, and working with each community’s values and customs to establish respectful, trusting relationships.

The new bushfire recovery agency must use a similar strategy. This would acknowledge both the historical experiences of Aboriginal peoples and our inherent strengths as communities that have not only survived, but remain connected to our homelands.

In this way, perhaps the bushfire crisis might have some positive longer-term outcomes, opening new doors to collaboration with Aboriginal people, drawing on our strengths and values and prioritising our unique interests. https://theconversation.com/strength-from-perpetual-grief-how-aboriginal-people-experience-the-bushfire-crisis-129448?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=The%20Weekend%20Conversation%20-%201504914324&utm_content=The%20Weekend%20Conversation%20-%201504914324+CID_6dc5e263c454601de4049d9ca867c3a7&utm_source=campaign_monitor&utm_term=Strength%20from%20perpetual%20grief%20how%20Aboriginal%20people%20experience%20the%20bushfire%20crisis

January 11, 2020 - Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: