Put our First Peoples First

Tonight in Brisbane I am launching a campaign aimed at making Indigenous issues a much greater priority in political and public debate. A key part of the campaign is to try to ensure the voices of Indigenous Australians are heard much more frequently and prominently in those debates, so the public forum accompanying the campaign launch will feature three local Aboriginal speakers. They will give their views on how equality of opportunity for Indigenous Australians can be achieved.

The forum is happening from 6 to 8 pm in the Heritage Room at Yungaba, 120 Main St at Kangaroo Point (under the Storey Bridge). You can read more about the campaign by clicking on this link to my main website. The speakers are

  • Sandi Taylor, a Kalkadoon, Ngnwun and Yirandali woman from northwest Queensland – She has extensive experience over 20 years in service provision in areas such as Health Training, Employment and Education, Women’s Services – Domestic Violence and Legal advocacy, Youth Services, and more recently facilitating access and equity to library and information services.
  • Tiga Bayles, a descendant of the Wirri clan, Birri Gubba Nation, whose country is around Nebo, Sarina, Mackay area, in Central Qld. He grew up at Theodore on the banks of the Dawson River, South West of Rockhampton. He has been employed by Brisbane Indigenous Media Association (BIMA) for the last fifteen years. BIMA owns the 98.9 fm radio station and also trains young people in radio broadcasting. He is also on the Board of Directors of The Murri School, celebrating their twentieth anniversary this year as well as on the Board of the National Indigenous Radio Service (NIRS), which consists of a network of 130 Indigenous communities across the country with radio broadcast facilities.
  • Aunty Ruth Hegarty is an Aboriginal woman of Gunggari and Chinese descent who is well known in the Indigenous community as a staunch stolen wages advocate. She has been involved for more than thirty years in projects for the elderly and youth. Amongst other things she is a founding member of Koobara Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Family Resource Centre, she is president of the Brisbane respite centre Nalingu, and also a trainer with the Home and Community Care Resource Unit.

There is also a postcard being released as part of the campaign launch. It is aimed at recruiting people in the broader community who are interested in helping to make Indigenous issues a continuing priority in public debate, rather than just receiving attention whenever there’s front page headlines in the media.

The postcard features a photo on the front of a young girl from Palm Island named Josephine. Josephine I met her when I visited Palm again just over a week ago, and she’s even cuter in person than she is in the photo. I wanted a positive photo as a reminder that, for all the understandable attention paid to some of the difficulties and unacceptable situations, there are also a lot of positives in most Aboriginal communities, including ones like Palm Island that often receive nothing but bad coverage.

There are a lot of ideas, skills, vision and strength at community level that have to be tapped into as an essential part of any solutions. Too many times, government intervention and ‘assistance’ is actually having the effect of stifling those ideas and vision and adding to the hopelessness and frustration, rather than helping it bear fruit.

Anyway, enough from me on this. Australian politicians have a worse record on this issue than almost any other. Time to hear more views and ideas from Indigenous people.

(Copies of the postcard are available through my office, so get in touch if you would like some)

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16 Comments

  1. Andrew

    This is a step in the right direction but not if its just a deal for votes.

    HKM came up with a proposal to put jobs and training in these areas to combine federal Government grants with overseas investors.

    That covered everything from vegetable farms cosmetics [non animal tested] abattoirs tourism and many more.

    We as QLD people have asked for your support regarding this which combines jobs and animal welfare all in one sweep.

    You have shown no interest which makes me as the question.

    Why not?

    Isnt this just another case of all talk no action to get votes.

    If you are serious take another look>

    http://www.halakindmeats.com

  2. HKM – in regard to your question, it’s not for me to support commercial projects, it is for people in the community to take them up if they think they are economically viable.

    However, from what I’ve read of your project, it doesn’t look like you’ve done much work at local level to see how it could suit the market and circumstances. Aboriginal communities have had more than enough of quick-fix merchants with simplistic projects that bear no relation to reality.

    Many people in Aboriginal communities have been trained within an inch of their lives. Creating viable economic enterprises is the key challenge, and it will take time and patience.

  3. As uncomfortable as it is for me as a cynical anti-politician, I must defend this politician against cheap accusations of political opportunism and fishing for votes. It is simply not the case.

    Bartlett is the only federal politician who has consistantly pursued Aboriginal issues. Even the Greens and Peter Garrett have been slow to raise Aboriginal issues.

    Bartlett has tried very much to create platforms for Aboriginal people to speak for themselves, including behind the scenes stuff, especially with stolen wages (the enquiry into which Bartlett initiated)

    Personally, I believe Bartlett should take every opportunity to grandstand on Aboriginal issues as all the other politicians seem to be terrified of the issues. Australia needs Bartlett and others to grandstand about Aboriginal issues to counter the anti-Aboriginal hysteria of late that has fuelled the grandstanding of the likes of Mal Brough and Peter Beattie.

    I have said this to Bartlett in the past, that he should grandstand on Aboriginal issues, but he rejected my advice because he believes Aboriginal people should be given the opportunity to grandstand for themselves.

    Realistically, there would be more votes for Bartlett in silence or bleating Brough’s mantras, but instead Bartlett continues to facilitate Aboriginal perspective.

    We can criticise him for being a goth or being obsessed with purple, we can laugh at his opportunism in other areas (the bunji jumping senator looking for the bounce back – Doh!), but he should not be criticised for responding to Aboriginal lobbying the best way he can.

  4. Andrew

    We are happy to help anybody improve aboriginal peoples living and create employment
    .
    We thought free range farming of vegetables and costetics to export was a good start.

    We also thought cattle sheep goats tourism .

    However we are most interested to hear what you are putting together.

    We mean down to earth projects to get things happening not political gradstanding for votes.

    We wait with much interest for your information as to these projects of yours so we can support them.
    Fish farming is of particluar interest to us and boat building.
    However as HKM does not look good to you please tell us your projects and what we can do to get started to support them.?

  5. Wendy/HKM

    As I’ve said a number of times before, I am not a business person and it is not my role to develop and propose specific business investments. It is sometimes part of my role to assist people who want help removing unnecessary obstacles to having a viable business.

    I know there are many enterprises and business ideas that have been or are being developed by many Indigenous people – many of which would have a good chance of success if they got government support rather than government hindrance and control (or even just with governments getting out of the way if they can’t stomach providing support).

    There are already Indigenous developed and operated seafood businesses, vegetable farms, cattle properties and tourism ventures happening in far north Queensland, and the potential for much more, particularly in tourism but quite probably other areas too. There are many more elsewhere, no doubt including plenty I’m yet to be aware of.

    Indigenous people are quite capable of coming up with ideas for viable businesses – what is needed is support to overcome some of the unique obstacles and hurdles that they face which many others in the community do not.

    Developing ideas in isolation from people at community level and then wondering why it is not being picked up by them is never going to work.

  6. Andrew Bartlett:
    You said “….. there are also a lot of positives in most Aboriginal communities …..”

    My oath there are.

    Hope tonight’s function was successful.

  7. Andrew

    Your a hundred percent correct regarding if only the Government would get out of the way in some cases.
    On the other hand there is six hundred million dollars available from the Federal Government alone for regional areas for projects to create jobs and I guess we cant expect them to fork out more money unless they are secure that this time it wont be waisted.

    In order to do that it is neccessary to work with both State and federal Government if we are really going to make a difference to aboriginal people.

    In other words they cant be made exempt from working with the Government anymore than you or I can.

    Thats been tried and failed.

    What is going to help the aboriginal people is if they have overeas buyers willing to put their money and support where there mouth is.

    People who will work together with them to submitt proposal to kick off THEIR ideas.[ The aboriginal peoples] At no costs to them.

    So the request simply is if you are attending funtions where there are aboriginal people to inform them of the interest from overseas investors to look at co joint ventures with them.

    Dispite what you think Andrew the one real problem with many of peoples ideas is lack of cash to kick things off and to be able to sub for funding from both State and Federal Government.

    Much of this type of work is just too hard for people to prepare themselves so like many people aboriginal or not the or project never gets off the ground.

    The QLD State Ministers adviser for ag and Peter McGauran are interested in looking at co jointly owned farms however unless the aboriginal people are aware of it until hopefully its adopted as a policy its difficult to get it out there.

    Just recently there were Chinese Turk reps here in QLD to meet with any aboriginal people with project ideas.

    They had enough funds to really make a difference.

    I was unable to direct them to people due to the fact that I simply at this stage do not have contact with many aboriginal people.

    HKM is not a commercial business as far as myself is concerned. Anybody who has dealt with me from AFIC to John Howards is aware its to create employment in regional areas and to find an alternative to intensive farming and live exports.

    The only agreement we have with overseas investors is that once a project is up and running they donate a small percentage to animal welfare which will eventually fund a court case to get some proper animal welfare changes to a hundred year old act.

    Regarding HKM
    I provide the introductions to both parties free of charge.
    So if you know any aboriginal people or there are any reading this post please feel free to contact HKM to see if we can help you find an overseas partner.

    Its very possible we have somebody in our books already that would suite your needs.

    This also applies to non aboriginal people in regional ares.

  8. i watched message stick on the abc sunday 7th .
    now theres an insireing story .
    makes me feel that there is some fantastic ppl dowing good things that will have good results in the whole community.
    michale long and dale kickett to be admired
    i recomend you try to get a hold of the show and watch it.

  9. Thanks Red

    Sounds interesting.

    I think if we all work together this time we could see some real results.

    If nothing else the Government are worried about the outback areas and who is putting into what out there.

    When you have poverty its easy for people to be led the wrong way.

    They seem to get that at last but there has been so much damage done by both sides it will take heaps of support to get things going really well for aboriginal people.

    I will look for your story.

  10. i have a sugestion for you andrew.

    Indigenous people are quite capable of coming up with ideas forviable businesses

    they are our ppl .

    Our Indigenous people are quite capable of coming up with ideas forviable businesses .

    now that makes them part of the whole community.

    hope that makes sence mabe john could help me out there.

  11. Red
    Yes of course they are but we actually have people wanting to fund them.
    Its VERY hard to talk to people before you have met them.[If u know what I mean Red.]\

    I did ask John to tell the ones he knew and I am also asking Andrew to do likewise.

    Everybody just keeps telling me its not their job but its not mine either.
    I dont get paid for what I do I just do it because i want to help.
    If nobody wants to tell the aboriginal people we have overeas investors and funding available to look at THEIR idea then who will?
    You tell me Red
    I give up
    I offer to help.
    We could all offer to help when we are asked to help but whats the point if the ones clearly in contact with these people refuse to pass it on.

  12. i do know what you mean people.
    my daughters friend is a teacher in a remote comunity in west australia her husband has a degree in busseness they are somewhere near mt augustess in the noth west mabe i could get a contact for you if you would like.

  13. hKM is linked with A Not For P. organisation.

    This was something Amjad and myself worked to establish.
    It is to the benefit of all Australians and aboriginal people.
    It is also and most importantly to me to stop live animals exports.
    Yes we ae encouraging overseas investments to meet with the farmers and aboriginal people.
    This is NOT for personal gain.
    I thought most people were aware of that.

  14. It is very clear, to me at least, that many of the solitions and the things that non-Aboriginal people have to offer do not fit the needs of Aboriginal Australia. Whether it be an alternative cruelty industry as articulated by PALE or Howard and Brough’s send in the military attitude, CDEP, housing programs, native title law, welfare regimes etc. etc.

    Part of the problem is that mainstream Australia is informed by emotive and innaccurate media discussion that has little to do with Aboriginal Austrtalia and everthing to do with the agendas of the non-Aboriginal commentators.

    And the corollary of this situation is that Aboriginal leaders have very sophisticated plans, strategies and agendas but are constantly struggling to be even heard, let alone progress their ideas to become an action program.

    Oodgeroo Nunukul used to say “If you are too busy talking you cannot listen”. This is indeed the state of affairs of those who would like to assist Aboriginal Australia.

  15. p.s.

    I believe that by seeing Aboriginal people as the “other” will always lead to racist notions.

    In this country there is an ancient sensibility, or law, that is not just relevent to Aboriginal people but to all people who claim this country as our home. It is not simply a question of politics or ideology but a spiritual situation. Can we open our hearts to Aboriginal people and the environment because they are in fact “us”. Skin colour is not that which distinguishes between black and white, it is consciousness, psychology and ways of behaving. I hear no Aboriginal people demanding that white australians should become Aboriginal, for such would be a simple denial of truth and history. Aboriginal people are asking that we live more in accordance with attitudes of connectedness, love, empathy, compassion etc. As the Rastefari do not have a word for “we”. they say “I and I”, indicating the oneness of all humans. This oneness is the basis of Aboriginal cultures too. Such connection is what is missing in mainstream society which leads to disasters and horrors in not just Aboriginal society but to every context that western consciousness is applied.

    When we connect to Aboriginal people to mutually tackle and design the future we have a hope of progress. If our connection is welfare or charity more we simply reinforce the powerlessness and isolation of the “others”.

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