QPAC’s annual Clancestry festival included a number of conversations curated by Murri woman Dr Chelsea Bond. This is one of the conversations featuring Professor Gracelyn Smallwood, Dr Gary Foley, Luke Pearson and Amy McQuire. It is chaired by Leesa Watego.
“From the frontier wars to the Black Panthers movement to #SOSBlackAustralia, ‘blackfellas’ have consistently and creatively resisted colonial domination since the landing of the First Fleet. This conversation examines both the old and new battlegrounds of black activism, and how the messages of the movement have influenced and infiltrated local and global agendas.
Panellists explore the future of black activism, and the role of Black Media and keyboard warriorship in mobilising the masses in the digital age.”
Rachel Atkinson is a Yorta Yorta woman from Victoria, who heads the Palm Island Community Company Limited (PICC) and is an executive member of the peak body representing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families – SNAICC. We discussed the recent Social Justice Report released by Mick Gooda, which dedicates an entire chapter to the problem of out-of-home care, and the high numbers of Aboriginal child removal.
Cree academic Kiera Lander and Anishinaabe academic Myra Tait from the University of Manitoba in Canada join Amy McQuire to talk about the ongoing crisis around missing and murdered Aboriginal women in Canada, the numbers of Aboriginal women who are incarcerated, and Australia’s framing of the debate to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in the Constitution.
Eugenia Flynn is a Larrakia, Chinese-Malaysian and Muslim writer who lives in Melbourne, but is originally from the Tiwis. We spoke about her identity as a proud Aboriginal Muslim woman, the intersections of racism and Islamophobia, and how we can build solidarity between Aboriginal and Muslims in a country intent on demonising both.
Amy McQuire speaks to Kate Galloway, a legal academic at James Cook University in Cairns, who specialises in property law. We discuss the current framing of native title reform around property rights and economic development, and what that means in an Aboriginal terms of reference. We also talk about the need for a human rights-based approach to native title following on from the enduring controversy around the Adani mega coal mine on the Galilee Basin.
We also talk about the current political environment around land tenure reform in the context of the recently-released White Paper for Northern Development. We end with the call for treaty. You can find out more on Kate’s blog – click here.
This morning on Let’s Talk, we spoke to the grandmother and uncle of Yamitji woman Ms Dhu in the first week of a coronial inquest into her death. Ms Dhu died in custody in a South Hedland watchhouse in August last year. It was revealed earlier this week in the inquest that her cries of pain were ignored by the doctors and correctional officers – who accused her of ‘faking it’ and believed she was ‘attention-seeking.’
Instead, Ms Dhu had broken ribs sustained during an altercation with her partner, and had died of staphylococcal septicemia and pneumonia. This had originated from an infection from the broken rib. She was a family violence victim and should not have been in prison, her mother has said.
Dr Chelsea Bond is a Munanjahli and South Sea Islander academic who currently lectures at the Queensland University of Technology. Her background is in health policy, but over the years she has become actively involved in critical race studies and the construction of Aboriginal identity beyond the health sector.
Chelsea and Amy McQuire spoke today about the racism that permeates Australian society, how we need Australia to have a conversation about it, and we deconstruct Buzzfeed Australia’s recent video ‘I’m Aboriginal but I’m not’ (click here to see the video.) We also discuss the Adam Goodes fallout, and why it upset ‘white fragility’.
Chelsea is also curating this year’s Clancestry Conversations held at QPAC.
Amnesty International’s Tammy Solenec talks to Amy McQuire about Australia’s second Universal Periodic Review, a mechanism of the UN Human Rights Council. Tammy just returned from Geneva where Amnesty made a submission calling on Australia to correct its human rights record to lower black jailing rates, stop the forced closures of remote WA communities, remove mandatory sentencing laws, and ensure it is committed to lowering violence against women.
Australia will have to respond to the UPR in March.
Jonathon Hunyor is Principle Legal Officer for the North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency (NAAJA). Amy McQuire spoke to him about the recent High Court decision which found the NT government’s controversial ‘paperless arrests’ laws were constitutionally valid. NAAJA still considers it a bad law, and Jonathon talks about the Territory-wide problem of alcohol, and the need to address it properly, rather than criminalising it.
Wally Stewart is a Yuin man living in Narooma, on the South Coast of NSW. He is also a strong advocate for Aboriginal cultural fishing. On the South Coast, home to a multi million dollar abalone industry, local Yuin mob are being given huge fines and even jail sentences simply for exercising the cultural rights of their ancestors. They are being locked up for practising culture, and this cycle is severely affecting the community.
In 2009, the NSW government legislated for Aboriginal cultural fishing, but six years on, it is still yet to be implemented. The Yuin mob are now looking into whether their claim for Native Title will safeguard their cultural rights to fishing, but there is also the problem of also using it for economic development, like previous generations have done.
If you would like to learn more, check out their Facebook page here.
Hayley McQuire is a Darumbal and South Sea Islander youth advocate for education. Just recently she coordinated and facilitated a youth forum on changing the conversation around education for our mob.
That resulted in a call for action Yimba(Listen) which aims to challenge the current talk around black education to be more inclusive of youth voices. Hayley is also on the United Nation’s Global Education First Initiative Youth Advisory Group (YAG), where she is the only Australian representative.
To sign the Yimba petition, click here.
Uncle Ken Canning is a well-known Murri poet and writer. During the 70s, he spent time in the old Bogga Road Jail in Brisbane and later when onto education. We spoke about what life was like in the prisons back in the 70s, whether anything has changed and how he and others campaigned for prisoners’ rights from the inside. We also spoke about what he thinks needs to happen to reduce rates of Aboriginal men, women and children in prison.
Uncle Ken also spoke about his views on Recognise and constitutional reform.
Kombu-merri photographer and anthropologist Michael Aird joined us to speak about commemorations for the Broadbeach Burial Ground on his traditional lands on the Gold Coast.
In the 1960s, soil contractors unearthed hundreds of Aboriginal remains, some of which dated back 1000 years. There was an archaeological excavation and the remains were placed in the University of Queensland’s anatomy department.
It wasn’t until 1988 that they were repatriated to the Gold Coast Aboriginal community, and reburied in a ceremony close to the original burial ground. Michael joined us to talk about the history of the repatriation. We were also joined by Aunty Lilla Watson, who worked at University of Queensland at the time, and was shocked to hear that medical students were tampering with the remains.
Tiga Bayles and Amy McQuire talk to Gomeroi woman Dr Jan Hammill about the effects of drinking in pregnancy. Dr Hammill coordinates the Collaboration for Alcohol Related Developmental Disorders. We spoke about how we have to change the attitudes around alcohol in mainstream culture, not just Aboriginal culture as a way to bring down Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD).
Dr Hammill has been working in the area since the 90s.
We also spoke about the impact of stress on early childhood development.
Paul Calcott is a Wiradjuri man, a co-coordinator for the Murri Disability Advisory Network in Queensland and is involved with the First Peoples Disability Network Australia. As a baby, he contracted polio which influenced where he is today – advocating for culturally appropriate and safe services for our mob with disability.
We spoke to Paul about the unique challenges and barriers affecting our mob with disability, the intersection with both child protection agencies and the criminal justice system, and the early roll out in Queensland of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).
The NDIS is being rolled out first in Palm Island, Townsville and Charters Towers. If you want to find out more about accessing services or about the network, contact Paul at 1800 673 074 or visit the following website.
Amy McQuire spoke to Yamitji and Noongar man Rod Little – the recently elected male co-chair of our only national Indigenous representative body – the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples. Mr Little takes over from Les Malezer. The female co-chair is Jackie Huggins, following on from the resignation of Kirstie Parker. Mr Little has been living in Canberra and is heavily involved in community work there, but hails from Geraldton in WA.
We spoke about Mr Little’s background, and the past and future barriers affecting the Congress, including how it will build relevance amongst its members, and its attempts to ‘reset the relationship’ with the Turnbull government.
Host Tiga Bayles speaks to Cape York lawyer Noel Pearson about how Aboriginal affairs will fare under Malcolm Turnbull, and the meaning of self-determination and ‘responsibility’.
Tiga Bayles and Amy McQuire talk to Uncle Michael Welsh, a Wailwan man from Coonamble, NSW who at age 8 was stolen from his family and placed in Kinchela Boys Home, near Kempsey.
Uncle Michael talks about his experiences, the impact on his children and grandchildren, and how he embarked on the long road to healing.
For more on the Kinchela Boys Home, click here.
Amy McQuire spoke to Clare Land about her new book ‘Decolonizing Solidarity: Dilemmas and Directions for Supporters of Indigenous struggles.’
We spoke about how non-Indigenous supporters of the cause can take engage in critical self-reflection, decolonize, and actively support Aboriginal people and communities.
You can find out more at her website: decolonizingsolidarity.org
Amy McQuire speaks to Aboriginal health specialist Debra Hocking about how the University of Wollongong is rolling out Australia’s, and potentially the world’s, first Indigenous trauma recovery graduate programme.
Debra is a survivor of the Stolen Generations, and only reunited with her birth family when she turned 20. Her tale of removal and the violence she encountered in foster care left her with traumas that she passed through to her children – transgenerational trauma.
Debra talks about her life, her journey of healing, and how the programme will help others help their communities overcome devastating trauma. She says we can’t close the gap until we confront the complex compounded trauma within our communities.
If you would like to get involved, please ring Debra directly on +61 417 074 696 or email [email protected]
You can find out more about the programme by clicking here.