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. 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)