From National Indigenous Times:
“Govt preparing to endorse UN Declaration
Monday, 18 February 2008 3:28:37 PM
CANBERRA, February 17, 2008: The federal government is preparing to endorse the landmark United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, after opposition by the former Howard government. “
Full story url:
“Essentials for Social Justice
Between December 2007 and April 2008 the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Tom Calma, will deliver a series of key speeches setting out an agenda for change in Indigenous affairs:
Yes, but will this agenda be one which accords with the views of senior indigenous lawmen in Australia, or yet another chapter in a long modern monocultural monologue?
Will we also hear their singing voices, actively engaged as cultural partners, in setting this agenda for a new beginning?
We will have to wait and see.
While it got off to a great start, the newly sworn-in Federal Parliament does not contain an indigenous Member of Parliament, nor an indigenous Senator. That was the “White Elephant” in the House on 13 February.
After two centuries of colonisation, and after more than a hundred years of the Commonwealth of Australia, there are no individual indigenous representatives – let alone any culturally appropriate form of indigenous representation for First Peoples’ voices – in the Australian law-making body.
While the need for a bi-partisan approach to indigenous affairs is long overdue – looking back at the history of failed attempts by non-indigenous people to ‘manage’ indigenous affairs – one of the first items on the agenda has to be how to overcome this lack of representation for Australia’s First Peoples.
The newly announced bi-partisan commission announced in Parliament by the Prime Minister and endorsed by the Leader of the Opposition must include provision and recognition of the stake of the main party to any deliberation on indigenous life – Australia’s First Peoples themselves.
Getting Indigenous voices into the Houses of Parliament is far more important than housing – if we are to get the solutions right given the new beginning. Alternatively, it is just another case of trying to force indigenous lives into Western boxes – which leads all to soon to the coffin-box.
The new bi-partisan approach must very quickly move to show that it contains a spirit of cultural partnership, and is not merely another non-indigenous ‘control’ trip engaged in a mono-cultural monologue.
In any new “bi-partisan” arrangements, recognition of First Peoples as key stakeholders in their own affairs is a good indicator of the presence of this spirit – as is the funding and resourcing necessary for effective indigneous epresentation vis-a-vis those powerful few who continue to oppose recognition and full well-being for Australia’ s First Peoples.
By Tom Calma, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Australian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission
Delivered on Wednesday, 13 February 2008 at the Member’s Hall, Parliament House, Canberra
I have been asked by the National Sorry Day Committee and the Stolen Generations Alliance; the two national bodies that represent the Stolen Generations and their families, to respond to the Parliament’s Apology and to talk briefly about the importance of today’s events.
I am deeply honoured to be entrusted with this responsibility and to participate in today’s proceedings.
I am particularly honoured to do so in my capacity as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner at the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission. The inaugural Social Justice Commissioner, Professor Mick Dodson, was the Co-Commissioner of the national inquiry, along with the then President, the late Sir Ronald Wilson, that culminated in the Bringing them home report. The next Social Justice Commissioner, Dr Bill Jonas, contributed greatly to the understanding of the report and the importance of its findings.
Today is an historic day.
It’s the day our leaders – across the political spectrum – have chosen dignity, hope and respect as the guiding principles for the relationship with our first nations’ peoples.
Wednesday February 13, 2008 marks the dawning of a new beginning for life in Australia.
The apology to the members of the Stolen Generations by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd on behalf of the Australian Parliament, and the support from the Leader of the Opposition, Brendan Nelson, for a bi-partisan approach to indigenous affairs, represents a most significant and healing step.
This move should have happened in May 2000, when the country was ready to do so, but the Prime Minister of the day was not.
Eight years have been lost – as well as the two centuries before that – and there is much ground to make up.
Australia is a different place tonight than it was before 9 a.m. this morning.
Hooray for that!
ABC Radio National “PACIFIC: Push to promote regions music
The Pacific is one of the most ethnically and linguistically diverse regions in the world, with a rich musical culture. But its music has never managed to resonate around the world in quite the same way as African and Latin American rhythms. A group of Australian musicians with a long history of collaboration in Papua New Guinea are looking to change that, and perhaps unearth the next superstar of world music.
For the One Tok Foundation see
It is interesting to see, on ABC TV (Monday 11 Feb) the Prime Minister Kevin Rudd visiting farmers and talking about the need for extra assistance, but having a completely different set of standards when it comes to ‘assistance’ for those members and families of the Stolen Generations who require help to rebalance their lives.
These double standards have marred decision-making in Australia’s Parliament’s for far too long. There are plenty of calls for compensation, it is not as though the message is hard to hear.
The Apology is a good step in the healing direction – “Take the second step.”
From ABC Website:
“Tasmanian Aboriginal leader Michael Mansell has called on the Federal Government to establish a $1 billion compensation fund for the Stolen Generations. “There are 13,000 Aboriginal children who are now grown up who were the victims and I think those 13,000 should share in a billion dollar fund set up by the Commonwealth Government,” Mr mansell said.
“It should ensure that each of the states and the territories contribute their share,” he said.”
(full story – http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2008/02/10/2158747.htm)
The National Aboriginal Alliance says the Federal Government should go further than this week’s apology to Indigenous Australians and award compensation.
(full story http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2008/02/10/2158893.htm)
As someone who has spent a good part of my life travelling between New Zealand/Aotearoa and Australia, it has often struck me what a relief it is to return to my Transtasman birthplace when the pressures of seeking recognition of indigenous rights in Australia begins to get me down.
And if those pressures get me down, what is it like for First Peoples who have to face these invisible pressures (of what Isobel Coe calls the ongoing psychic war) every day, day in and day out? There often seems to be no escape, no way out.
I have personally know at least one wonderful indigenous person, with a promising legal career in front of them, to tragically take their own life. And we have all heard of other cases.
I often think we should be making sure we get a message out to young Indigenous people “Don’t commit suicide – go to New Zealand/Aotearoa for a break.” Note that this was done for Australian farmers during the recent drought.
The country of which I am a citizen (NZ/A) has had a treaty since 1840 – that’s 168 years. While life there is a long way short of perfect, it lacks the hard attitudes which have marred Australian life since 1788. A visit there is always most refreshing for our spirits.
I urge everyone to support the move to send Indigenous men and women to New Zealand/Aotearoa for a touch football competition. Read the rest of this message for how you can help by organisaing a collection on the day Parliament makes the long awaited apology. Your efforts – and your contribution – can make a real difference to the lives of these people, and thereby to us all.
As part of a Get Up campaign to send messages in support of the Rudd government saying ‘Sorry” i emailed by local Federal MP. Sharon Bird (ALP – Cunningham) – and added comments about the need for compensation.
Sharon replied, giving some detail of the measures which the ALP will be making to restore well-being to First Peoples.
In my view, the most important people who can say when compensation is sufficient to heal the damage is the people who have been directly impacted by those mistaken racist policies of the past.
Click on link below to read the rest of this entry.
From HREOC “The Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC) has produced a range of resources for the community, schools, journalists and historians, supporting HREOC’s watershed Bringing them home report of 1997.
The resources include Us Taken-Away Kids, a magazine launched in late 2007 commemorating the 10th anniversary of the Bringing them home report. The magazine represents artwork and stories from members of the ‘Stolen Generations’ throughout Australia, and serves as a testament to the resilience of Aboriginal people and their ability to triumph in the face of despair.
There is also the recently – updated Bringing them home education module: Learning about the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children and their families ; which has additional activities that complement the Us Taken-Away Kids magazine, and of course the Bringing them home report itself.
HREOC’s online resources also include:
* the Bringing them home report Community Guide (1997);
* Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the ‘stolen children’ and the Inquiry;
* personal stories from the report;
* the Sorry FAQ by Reconciliation Australia;
* content of apologies by state and territory Parliaments; and
* ‘From Dispossession to Reconciliation’ by John Gardiner-Garden, Australian Parliamentary Library Research Paper series (1999).
All resources can be located at www.humanrights.gov.au/social_justice/bth_report/
Bringing them home resources can be ordered from our Publications Officer on 02 9284 9600 or online at www.humanrights.gov.au/about/publications/
Media statements and speeches made by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner Tom Calma can be found at the HREOC online media centre at www.humanrights.gov.au/about/media/ “