• 09May

    stop intervention

    Racism and misogyny are at the heart of our two major parties.

     

    But what else would we expect from a white imperialist, capitalist, patriarchal system.

     
    Policies of both of the major parties over the past ten years have gone to new depths in their attacks on our First Nations peoples – their culture, their way of life and their very lives.

    And it is women and children who inevitably have suffered mostly as a result of these policies.

    The latest move is the threatened closure of remote Aboriginal communities.

    The threatened closure of Aboriginal communities comes as a result of the Federal Liberal coalition government cutting funding to Aboriginal communities and handing responsibility for these communities to State Governments.

    The Western Australian government has stated that it plans to close over 150 Aboriginal communities.
    PM Tony Abbott’s racism and disdain for our First Nation’s people is evident in his sneering comment in relation to the forced closure of communities.

    “It’s not the job of the taxpayers to subsidize lifestyle choices.”

    This is at a time when both Federal and State governments are rolling out the Welfare card.

     

    “Women and particularly indigenous women are the most impoverished in the world.”

    Eachone has written an excellent article about this: “Cashless Welfare to target Violence Against Women in Australia? Not in my name. Sexist, Racist and Unacceptable”

     

    On a recent Late Night Live panel heard Marcia Langton describe the situation for Indigenous women as a ‘national crisis’
    “Indigenous women are 34 times more likely to be hospitalised as a result of domestic violence than their non-Indigenous counterparts.”

    And some of the problems for Indigenous women include:
    – Reluctance to report
    – Mistrust between police and indigenous women
    – Racism within authorities

     

    The instigation of a welfare card practice leads to a greater exploitation and vulnerability for women and children.
    “Removing control of money from recipients is a dangerous practice. What the outraged or concerned media and general public call ‘paternalism’ is actually far worse. It is a means to ensure an expanding class of people vulnerable to exploitation. That the majority of the victims are women, indigenous and the young is not just an extreme act of ‘paternalism’, it is an extreme commitment to profit from the abuse of the bodies and lives of those most marginalized, by taking away what limited independence we may have.”Eachone

     

    In 2007, the federal government staged a massive intervention in the Northern Territory on the basis of the report, “Little Children are Sacred” as a result of a government inquiry into child sexual abuse in the Northern Territory.

     
    “The fall-out was a full-scale, (including army), intervention which resulted in the reinforcement of the unwavering, systemic stealing of children from their arms, to who knows where? The Department of Childrens Services have lost the files on some 8,000 children who are thus just “disappeared”.”

     
    The intervention in fact has done little to address child sexual abuse or violence against women.

     
    It is horrendous that our white male politicians use (abuse) the concept of protection women and children from violence and abuse for their own ends – mining of traditional lands is a suspect in this – whilst they go about destroying lives and communities.

    land grab

     

    “WA Premier Colin Barnett is using “child protection” as an excuse to forcibly remove entire communities from their lands, recycling the same lies about child abuse used to justify the NT Intervention. These forced closures will be systematic child abuse on a massive scale, putting families into destitution, more kids into foster care, more adults into prison.” Stop Stolen Generations

    These policies and actions have in fact had a devastating impact on our First Nations people, particularly women and children.

     
    And this is all being done under the well developed and over reported fabrication that our Indigenous peoples and communities are dysfunctional.

     
    The Eachone article highlights the racism and misogyny that these policies incur.

    The allegations of violence and abuse show no details of who and why such abuse occurs in Indigenous communities – and shows little information about how this compares to white Australia.
    Who is abusing young girls in these communities? Is it the same white men who commit violence and abuse in Australian society generally?

    “There was, and is, no acknowledgment of who does this to girls and women (men do this to them). There was no acknowledgment of more than 200 years of ongoing genocide in this country. Certainly, not a word about the prostituted as a class nor the acknowledgement of what the underlying structure of capitalism and male entitlement does to girls and women.”

    We know that young girls who are impoverished and vulnerable are more likely to be targets of abusive men – “the worst of those committing predatory behavior and violence.”

     
    Interestingly, two years after the Northern Territory Intervention, The Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs’ report Closing the Gap in the Northern Territory reveals that

    • convictions of child sexual abuse involving Aboriginal perpetrators have “barely changed”,

    Source:Creative Spirits

    This is a worldwide problem for Indigenous girls and women.
    And despite PM Rudd’s National apology to the Stolen Generation in 2008, children continue to be removed from Aboriginal families.

    “Since 1997 however, the number of Aboriginal children being forcibly removed has increased more than five times, with more than 15,000 Aboriginal kids in foster care today. In WA more than half of all children in ‘care’ are Aboriginal, despite being less than 5% of the population.” Grandmothers against Removals

    cropped-GmarMcGrady

     

     

     

     

     

    After 5 years of the intervention,Creative Spirits notes these astonishing statistics.

    The rate of suicide among Aboriginal girls has “greatly increased” since the intervention was launched. Girls accounted for 40% of all Aboriginal suicides of children under 17 years, a rate which is “the most in the Western world”. Prior to the intervention the suicide rate was “significantly lower” and in 1980 it was zero.

    There was a 69% increase of children getting taken into out of home care compared to 2007 figures.

    There has been a 40% increase in Aboriginal incarceration.

     

    Thousands of Australians marched in Australia last week against the forced closures of remote Aboriginal communities.

    stop closures                               stop closures1stop closure4
    It received little media attention – except in the Murdoch press where they were described as “a selfish rabble” – see report from Junkee 

     
    Since the British government invaded this land we have declared war on our First Nations People – and we are continuing to destroy their traditions, their cultures and their lives.

     
    This is not going to stop soon.

    We will need a revolution to stop this.

    And all Australians need to show our support for our First Nations people.

    Resources:

    SOSBlackAustralia/Grandmothers Against Removals: https://www.facebook.com/supportsosblakaustralia

    Stop Stolen Generations: http://stopstolengenerations.com.au/

    stop intervention

     

  • 04May

     

    This is an article written by Marcus Waters in The Conversation.

    I have quoted certain aspects of this article:

    “I have seen firsthand how child sexual abuse is rife in every part of the Australian community – but only sometimes is that abuse reported in full colour.”
    “The Royal Commission on institutionalised child sex abuse is shining a light on dark corners of systematic abuse of Australian kids over many generations. In the vast majority of the terrible cases we’ve heard about, the perpetrators and those who protected them have been seemingly upstanding, often senior, male community leaders.
    Old white men, in other words.”
    As human rights lawyer Anne Gallagher comments:
    “Cheap labour, cheap sex and cheap goods are woven into the fabric of our economy, our community and our individual lives within Australia.”
    “Stories like these are important. Yet too often, the fact that the abusers in these stories are not just western men, but white western men, goes unremarked.”
    “International research has shown that people who suffer the worst abuse are often in positions of helplessness or poverty.”
    “The reality is that the majority of my own Aboriginal people who have had to deal with abuse are struggling with these same issues of uncertainty, poverty and alienation that we know compound sexual violence and abuse.”
    “I can’t help but wonder: what would happen if white Australian children, women and men spoke up about the hidden abuse in their families, the way that Aboriginal people increasingly are doing?
    I honestly believe if this was to happen, the true statistics of those suffering would send shockwaves through this country.”

    Read the full article here

  • 28Feb

    “”I thought you might like to hear a man’s voice,”

    Senator Barry O’Sullivan’s voice boomed during a fiery Senate estimates hearing on Tuesday morning.”

    Sarah Whyte,The Age
    Australian Human Rights Commission president, Professor Gillian Triggs has been the subject of harassment, abuse, and bullying.

    “The Human Rights Commission recently completed a report on children being held in immigration detention in Australia.
    The Forgotten Children report examines the treatment of children under both the current Government and the former Labor Government. It makes a number of recommendations designed to improve the welfare and protect the human rights of children.” Senator Penny Wong, Mamamia

    There has been almost a hysterical response to the report with claims of political bias. All aimed at intimidation and silencing.

     

    Professor Triggs was not the only subjected to the misogynistic behaviour of the Liberal Party Senators at the Senate estimates hearing. Both Senator Penny Wong and Sarah Hanson-Young were also bullied and shouted at. They even made a bit of a joke about possibility of being accused of sexism. Because after all, they are real men – and real men are sexist, misogynistic – and they don’t care about being perceived in this way.

    “Macdonald joked with fellow senator Barry O’Sullivan about the damn ladies taking up all the panel speaking time.
    Because if there’s one problem with the current state of parliamentary politics in Australia it’s that women are given too much airtime, of course. Remember the kind of free reign Juilia Gillard was given over the airwaves? Despicable!”  Max Chalmers, New Matilda

     

    But what can we expect from this Liberal government. We all remember the treatment that our first female Prime Minister was subjected to by the Liberal government when in opposition.

    ditch the witch

    It would seem that these men just don’t like women expressing their opinions; having their say; or even, dare we say it, opposing their viewpoints. It is pure misogyny and patriarchy at work here.

    “The speed with which supposedly adult men have feverishly rushed to turn into braying schoolboys has been astonishing; they are no longer even bothering to conceal the enjoyment they take from making it known to their female colleagues just how little they respect their presence in public life, telling them instead to “settle down” (as O’Sullivan pompously did to Senator Penny Wong) and quipping with each other to be careful what they say lest they be “accused of sexism”, presumably by the silly biddies who overreact to everything and can’t take a joke.” Clementine Ford, The Age

    blue ties snakePhoto: Andrew Dyson – blue ties

    “Appointing himself Minister for Women after the LNP’s election to government wasn’t an example of his total lack of self-awareness. Rather, it served as a deliberate and final f… you to the woman who had unapologetically called out his misogyny in Parliament, and who received great fanfare from the countless Australian women who had identified so strongly with the moment.”  Clementine Ford, The Age

    And the saddest part of this is that the Human Rights Commission’s report is highlighting the dreadful inhumane treatment of refugees by the Australian government (on both sides of politics).

    “She was something far less: a woman defending powerless children with the truth. And it is for that Gillian Triggs is being punished.” Richard Flanagan

    detention

    Read those statistics again. 233 assaults against children; 33 incidents of reported sexual assault; 128 children who harmed themselves.

    Children, fleeing for their lives, fleeing from torture, violence and war. And the Australian government locks them up in detention.

     

    “For all their cant about families, this is a government with no pity and much contempt for the families of the poor and the powerless. In this government’s new Australia the strong can be needlessly and endlessly rewarded, and the weak endlessly attacked and punished.”  Richard Flanagan

    Their racist and misogynistic policies are not confined to those from outside Australia. If you have any doubts that our politicians’ policies and behaviour to asylum seekers is not racist, we need only look at their treatment of and policies in relation to our First Nation people.

     

    I would recommend this moving article about the impact on the Northern Territory Intervention byThe Northern Territory Emergency Response: Why Australia Will Not Recover from The Intervention”

     I have also written about this in a previous blog post.

     

    cropped-GmarMcGrady

    The biggest challenge for Australians is that this misogyny and racism has become the norm in political discourse today. Both major political parties are responsible for the appalling treatment of asylum seekers and our First Nations peoples.

    And as Clementine Ford has stated:
    “… the bonds of patriarchy often bind tighter than those of political allegiance or loyalty. Some men simply do not want women working alongside them; it makes them feel their naturally ordained spaces are being suddenly invaded by people whose existence they don’t really understand, other than within the realm of being mothers and wives. And so they make jibes and jeer, the bravado and entitlement growing alongside the gang of merry men willing to join them in it.”

    So whilst our media is excited and hyped up about the potential de-throning of Tony Abbott as Prime Minister – patriarchal in-fighting for power and control – they continue to use this power and control to oppress, intimidate, harm and abuse women, the dispossessed, asylum seekers, our Indigenous people.

    CartoonAIM

    http://theaimn.com/immigration-detention-try-living-life-changing-effects/ Robyn Oyenini The Aim Network

    See also:

    https://www.facebook.com/hashtag/istandwithgilliantriggs?source=feed_text&story_id=10203976645202136&pnref=story

    https://www.facebook.com/groups/106908392834476/?fref=nf – Stop Offshore Processing of Asylum Seekers

    https://www.facebook.com/CombinedRefugeeActionGroup

  • 20Jan

    Mullumbimby_Final-front-cover

    This is a lovely book. Beautifully written.
    Melissa Lucaschenko takes us into the world of a First Nations woman in Australia. Jo is a strong, independent and very likeable woman determined to make the best for herself and her soon-to-be teenage daughter.
    The essence of the book for me was the connection to country and culture. The descriptions of the land and the creatures that are a part of it frame the book and highlights Jo’s special connection to them. Melissa immerses us in this world.
    And in the world of Aboriginal cultures and beliefs.
    But no book about First Nation’s people could not also address the history of their oppression, cruelty and persecution at the hands of white, Western imperialism. As Melissa introduces us to her characters and their situations she subtly shows us how this history has impacted on them as individuals and their cultures. And the battle with everyday racism that they live with constantly.
    Even the successes such as the Mabo decision and Native Title are shown to be fraught with difficulties – dealing with the white legal system that has so little understanding of, or respect for Indigenous culture and creates division and discord between Indigenous people.
    What we do learn is that the culture and its people continue to survive. How by holding on tight to culture; by holding on to community, we have hope that our first Australians will continue to be part of their country – and enrich ours.
    Thank you Melissa.
    And thank you to my feminist friends who brought her to me.

  • 05Nov

    whitlam

    I was 20 years old when Gough Whitlam became Prime Minister of Australia.
    It may therefore be seen that this post reflects my memories of youth – of naive hope, optimism and the enthusiasm of youth.
    It was also the 1970’s when change was in the air.
    But I do think Gough Whitlam’s time as Prime Minister was monumental in Australian politics. And this definitely has borne out  in the past few weeks as Australia has reflected on his life and his contribution to Australia.
    I was very keen to watch his memorial service on television this morning.
    And I must firstly reflect on the reaction of the crowd outside the town hall as the dignitaries arrived.
    It was obviously a Labor crowd, as they cheered resoundingly for the past Labor Prime Ministers on their arrivals such as Hawke and Keating.
    And the boos for Howard – and also our current Prime Minister Abbott.
    But I was most pleased with their response to Julia Gillard. The crowd loudly showed their pleasure with her – and most impressive was the standing ovation she received when she walked into the hall.
    The contrast between the response she received and the one Kevin Rudd was received was palpable.

    As Katherine Murphy from the Guardian commented:

    “The mourners roared for Julia Gillard, and mumbled ambivalently for Kevin Rudd.”

    The blue ties might have won the round but Julia will be the historical winner.

     
    The memorial to Gough Whitlam was definitely powerful and emotive. The speakers were awesome. They reminded us of all that Whitlam achieved in his relatively brief period of office.

    Cate Blanchett reminded us eloquently of some of what he worked on
    – Free tertiary education
    – Healthcare
    – Equal pay for women
    – Supporting mothers benefit

    And the establishment of the Women’s Advisor to the Prime Minister and Office for Women.

    Mr. Whitlam discusses International Women's Year with two members of the National Advisory Committee, Ms. Elizabeth Reid and the Secretary of the Australian Government's Department of the Media, Mr James Oswin (National Library of Australia nla.pic-vn3510683, photo: Malcolm Lindsay)
    Mr. Whitlam discusses International Women’s Year with two members of the National Advisory Committee, Ms. Elizabeth Reid and the Secretary of the Australian Government’s Department of the Media, Mr James Oswin (National Library of Australia nla.pic-vn3510683, photo: Malcolm Lindsay)

     

    Noel Pearson’s speech was also passionate and commanding.

    “Without this old man, the land rights of our people would never have seen the light of day,” Mr Pearson said. “He truly was Australia’s greatest white elder…”

    “I can scarcely point to any white Australian political leader of his vintage and of generations following of whom it could be said without a shadow of doubt, he harboured not a bone of racial, ethnic or gender prejudice in his body.”

    It was heartening to see the emphasis on Indigenous Australians in this memorial. For of course one of the most iconic images we have of Whitlam is him pouring the earth into Vincent Lingiari’s hands.

    Whitlam_Lingiari_2

     
    Paul Kelly and indigenous Australian singer-songwriter Kev Carmody performed “From Little Things Big Things Grow” written by them in 1991 telling the story of the Gurindji people’s struggle for equality and land rights.

     

    I understand that real power is not invested in our  parliament but that it only operates within the parameters set by  the patriarchal, capitalist machine.  No real change can occur without dismantling patriarchal capitalism.

    But the optimism and enthusiasm, the inclusiveness and the tolerance which the Whitlam government brought to Australia is a time worth honouring.

    “He touches, still, the millions who share his vision for a more equal Australia, a more independent, inclusive, generous and tolerant Australia, a nation confident of its future in our region and the world,”

    Graham Freudenberg, Whitlam’s speech writer.

     
    It is a stark contrast to the current neo-conservative politics when fear is used to win votes; when winning the next election is the force behind governments, rather than bringing about change;when three word slogans are deemed to be enough, we are right to remember how sometimes some good can happen. And that sometimes courageous politicians can make  positive differences in our everyday lives.

    “This was the politics of real people: the people who remain engaged, the people who believe, and persist, and endure all the failings and the disrespect and the daily manipulation to insist that politics is and must be a noble cause, periodically inhabited by people of courage.”

    Katherine Murphy

  • 02Jun

    Shame, Rage –  and a great sadness.

    This is what I felt after watching John Pilger’s ‘Utopia’ on Saturday night on SBS.

    utopia

    Shame, for myself and all Australians, that our First Nation’s people live in such poverty and degradation.

    Shame for my apathy and ignorance, for Australia’s apathy and ignorance.

    Rage at the inhumane, racist treatment that our First Nation’s people are subjected to.

    And a great sadness not only for our First Nation’s people but for all Australians.

    For the dehumanisation, degradation and humiliation that we subject indigenous people to, dehumanises, degrades and humiliates us all.

    It would be beyond me to do justice to the power of this film, but I do want to document some impressions I gained from the film.

    History

    The film shows a number of ironic juxtapositions.

    One of them is at Rottnest Island W.A.

    I was ignorant of the fact that Rottnest Island was used as a penal settlement in the 1800’s and that thousands of Aboriginal men were imprisoned there.

    Pilger shows around the luxury hotel which was once the prison compound – with little indication of its dark past.

    We fail to acknowledge in our history books, our museums the horrific history of white invasion of Australia and the treatment that our First Nation’s people have been subjected to since the invasion.

    If there is no acknowledgement of this history, of these harms, how can we ever expect healing and reconciliation?

    Poverty and Housing

    On the news we often see the horrific conditions under which remote Aboriginal communities live. And so often the inference is that it is their fault.

    Pilger highlights how negligent consecutive governments have been in providing adequate living conditions for these communities.

    Another ironic juxtaposition – the luxury hotel at Uluru – and out of tourists’ sights – the asbestos-filled, derelict houses that the Aboriginal people are forced to live in.

    The Northern Territory Intervention

    Allegedly in response to ‘Little Children are Sacred’ report the Howard government instituted the NT Intervention.

    Rather than following the report’s recommendations – they sent in the army.

    An ‘invasion” as experienced by the communities.

    Pilger also underscores the role that ABC’s Lateline on 21 June 2006 titled “Sexual slavery reported in Indigenous community”. He interviews Chris Graham, founding and former editor of the National Indigenous Times who shows how this report was based largely on fiction.

    So it was all based on lies and more lies.

    One of the interesting facts highlighted by ‘Utopia’ was that the Northern Territory has the lowest rates of child abuse in Australia.

    For more information see Myths and Facts about Intervention

    Pilger shows clearly that the NT Intervention was really about controlling the people and their lands and highlights the powerful interests of the mining industry.

    And the impact was described as “Collective despair” and sense of betrayal – yet again.

    And State child protection agencies continue to discriminate in specifically targeting Aboriginal children and their families.

    There is a new stolen generation  happening today – in our time.

    Tamworth-2014-April 11

    cropped-GmarMcGrady

    Indigenous Incarceration and Deaths in Custody

    Most heart wrenching were the pictures of police brutality of aboriginal people and incidents of deaths in custody.

    No charges laid; no convictions for such atrocities.

    As stated in the film: “There can be no reconciliation without justice.”

    Connections were made between Australia’s treatment of our First People with the apartheid regime in South Africa – but there is no international condemnation.

    And there was the statement: “We are refugees in our own country.”

    Thank you John Pilger for your courage and passion in speaking out.

    And thank you to all those First Nations people who told their stories.

    We must ensure that these voices are not wasted.

    But in this current political climate this is unlikely given that the Coalition government is about to cut $534 million from the budget from Aboriginal programs.

    Abor budget

    Shame! Shame! Shame!

    UPDATE

    Read more about the continued removal of Aboriginal children from their mothers

    forced adoptions