Palm Island

Three weeks ago I spent most of the week travelling around far northern Queensland. It started with a flight to Townsville to talk with a group of people about the Senate Inquiry I initiated into the Stolen Wages issue.

I also took the chance to go over to Palm Island again to give some of the locals there an update on the Senate Inquiry and also hear from them on other matters of concern to them. The people on Palm Island were among the most severely disadvantaged by the practice of underpaying, non-paying or government misappropriation of lawful entitlements. I have recently released a new postcard promoting the Democrats’ campaign for indigenous equality and the importance of listening more to the views of indigenous people about how to achieve that goal.

The girl whose face is on the front of the postcard is from Palm Island, so I also wanted to thank her and her parents for giving permission to use her photo. I think the photo is a lovely one, but I’d have to say she’s even cuter in person.

Perhaps it is understandable that many reports about Aboriginal communities focus on the negative, but it is also very misleading, as it does obscure the many positives that are present in most communities. Palm Island suffers from this more than most.

For example, the difficulties faced by the people there were recently the subject of a major article in The Observer newspaper in the UK. One should not ignore the problems, although we should not ignore the causes of them. I doubt there would be a single Indigneous person on the Island who has not had to endure multiple traumatic experiences happening to themselves or a number of their immediate family.

However, we should not forget that there are still many capable people there who are keen to build better lives for their community, and many happy children too, despite the very many traumas the people have experienced over so many years. They have ideas and knowledge about what their community needs and how best to get those needs met.

Not surprisingly, these ideas usually do not include having a bunch of bureaucrats and politicians telling them from afar what they need to do without bothering to listen to them. After all, the record of governments and bureaucrats on this issue is mostly one of catastrophic failures over many decades, so it is not unreasonable to suggest it could be worth giving a few other people’s ideas a go – not least those at community level. I hope by having a smiling girl from Palm Island on the postcard, it will remind me whenever I speak about the Democrats’ campaign for indigenous equality to mention the positive stories and people in Aboriginal communities, including Palm Island.

PS: Sadly, just a week after I was there, the Island community was hit by another death. Being continually immersed in suffering and trauma for decades on end is a very debilitating thing – the strength of spirit required to have survived all that should not be underestimated.

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9 Comments

  1. If The Government had a brain in its head they would take $2.50 out of their dole money and join everyone in a funeral insurance fund.

    I am not saying they cant do it for themselves but lets face it most of us dont do it either.
    It would be hard to arrange from Palm island with many without a phone but easy for the Government through center link.

  2. Thanks for going to Palm and talking with Blackfellas there about what they themselves think and what suggestions they have ….

  3. Palm island is the only place that i have seen where there is aboriginal staff at the counter. the cloths shop has been operating for 25 years and sell all the latest palm island fashion
    the petrol station the butcher the shops cdep and the airport, the shop the hotel and the motel is operated on aboriginal staff
    the hospital and the teaching staff and the centerlink staff and the council are all aboriginal staff the fire brigade the ambulance
    the tafe colledge the post office
    it is a loving community that helps each other and tries to do their best to provide the service to the community despite lack of fundings
    i always feel quite priveldge to see our own aboriginal people operating these services who are from the island so that they feel that some education system was working some training was working in order to give them the skills they need

    as the popluation expands their needs to be more jobs in order so these business can operate successfully and be able to train their children in that particular career
    Having suitable accomadation is a must to live in the 21st centuary people live in houses and more houses need to be available so that people can have less pressure in their lives and their children can have head space to be creative while they learn and grow

  4. kalkadoon.org presents
    Gunya Gossip

    An evening of discussion, music, poetry and dance
    Saturday August 26
    At
    INDIGE-N-ARTS
    270 Montague Rd. West End (Brisbane, Queensland, Australia)
    opposite Davies Park

    Forum begins at 7.30
    “What relevance do environment and social justice movements have to Aboriginal Australia?”

    Speakers
    Baganan Kurityityin Theresa Creed
    Director of Gunya 21 and kalkadoon.org and the principle researcher of kalkadoon.org’s “Out of the Box” reports for the Gunya 21 Link Tank.

    Senator Andrew Bartlett
    Member of Gunya 21 Link Tank. Deputy leader of the Australian Democrats and national spokesperson in indigenous issues.

    Drew Hutton
    Convenor of Gunya 21 Link Tank. Veteran environment and human rights campaigner and the Qld. Greens state spokesperson in indigenous issues.

    Bruce Lillas
    Secretary of Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation (ANTAR) Queensland.

    entertainment including
    The 2 hard basket ensemble
    featuring Baganan Kurityityin Theresa Creed and Angus Rabbit

    Entry by donation

    Gunya Gossip is the launch of the Gunya 21 Link Tank, a sustainable housing resource network assisting Aboriginal development projects on Palm Island.
    Contact homeland@kalkadoon.org

    A special thank-you to INDIGE-N-ARTS gallery and workshop for providing the venue for Gunya Gossip
    INDIGE-N-ARTS is an indigenous owned and operated art gallery that runs indigenous art and craft workshops, cultural tours and stocks a wide range of art including clothing, jewellery and ceramics.

  5. Baganan.

    Great post. Sounds perfect for tourism.

    If they were running it themselves it sould work.

    If you know anybody interested to put their ideas forward to private investors please feel free to email me through this site. http://www.halakindmeats.com

    I the mean time thankyou for your interesting and informative post.

    I hope we hear a lot more from you .

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