Martin Hodgson is a Yuin man, activist and writer who works on death penalty and human rights cases from all around the world, all from his home in Bega, south-east New South Wales. He joins Amy McQuire to discuss a recent case he has been working on – that of Rodney Reed, an African American man on death row in Texas, convicted about 20 years ago for the murder of a white woman. But DNA and forensic evidence points to his innocence, and that there may be another alleged perpetrator – the woman’s fiance, who was a police officer at the time and is currently serving a prison sentence for the kidnapping and sexual assault of a woman who he assaulted while on duty.
Martin discusses the ins and outs of the case, and talks about his concerns that there may be innocent Aboriginal people in jail in our own country, and how this helps drive him in his work.
Irene Watson is a Tanganekald and Meintangk woman from the Coorong region and the south east of South Australia, and one of the first Aboriginal people to graduate with a law degree. She has a long history in examining the legacy of colonialism, and the enduring doctrine of terra nullius in this country. She joined Amy McQuire to discuss the current political environment, and her thoughts on constitutional reform and treaty. Prof Watson also discusses the problem with native title, and why we have to start revitalising our connection to country, because there is no future in the Western idea of ‘progress’.
In April 1770, Captain Cook landed on the Gweagal clan’s traditional lands on what is Kurnell on Botany Bay. His arrival signaled the dispossession and massacre of thousands of Aboriginal people from varying nations. It is now known as the first encounter. And like so many other encounters after that, it was bloody. Two local warriors approached the Europeans, shaking their spears to warn them off. This resulted in a musket being fired from the ship, and one warrior – Cooman – was wounded in the leg. He retreated to get his shield.
Joseph Banks, a botanist, wrote in his journal – “Defensive weapons we saw only in Sting-Rays (Botany) bay and there was only a single instance – a man who attempted to oppose our Landing came down to the Beach with a shield of an oblong shape about three feet long and one 1/4 broad made of the bark of a tree; this he left behind when he ran away and we found upon taking it up that it plainly had been pierced through with a single pointed lance near the centre.” But the Gweagal say that hole is most likely the result of a gun shot.
Captain Cook and his men stole that shield, as well as every hunting and fishing spear from the camp. It is now held in the British Museum, who refuse to give it back, unless it is on loan. Rodney Kelly is a direct descendant of the warrior Cooman, and first saw his ancestor’s shield at the controversial Encounters exhibition. He is now fighting to get it returned to his mob.
Rodney is running a crowdfunding campaign to support him to get over to Britain to meet with the British Museum. You can help out by donating here, or even sharing the story.
Gamilaroi man Ivan Sen is one of Aboriginal Australia, in fact, Australia’s most talented filmmakers. He is famed for films like Beneath Clouds, Toomelah and Mystery Road. He has just released his fourth feature film – Goldstone, which follows on from Mystery Road. It stars Aaron Pedersen, who continues his role as Indigenous detective Jay Swan, this time entering a remote mining outpost to search for a missing Chinese woman.
The film raises a number of themes around mining on Aboriginal lands, and the complicated relationship it poses to our communities.
As Sen says: “individual gain through positional advantage is eating at the core of Indigenous communities, perhaps like never before. Since first contact, Indigenous people have always been tempted by the trappings of the white world. Today, the stakes have never been so high, with billions of dollar sin play, and cultures facing destruction from the modern world. It is a time where culture and spirit is being challenged like never before.”
The film also stars David Gulpilil, Ursula Yovich, Tom E Lewis, Jackie Weaver and Alex Russell. It is being released in cinemas on July 7.
To see the video of this interview, click here.
Aboriginal affairs has been completely missing from the eight-week election campaign – from both major parties. That’s despite Labor having a real opportunity to provide a point of difference from the disastrous reign of the Abbott and Turnbull governments. Prof Jon Altman is a research professor at the Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation, Deakin University, Melbourne and an emeritus professor at the Australian National University in Canberra. He has also worked in Aboriginal policy over the past three decades and is one of our foremost experts on Indigenous policy.
He joined Amy McQuire to talk about the Coalition’s Community Development Programme – a ‘human rights abuse’ – that has lead to an exponential rise in penalties for Aboriginal jobseekers. Aboriginal people who have had serious breaches of the programme’s requirements are missing out on welfare payments for up to eight weeks.
We also spoke about the Minister for Indigenous affairs Nigel Scullion’s attack on NT land rights and his role in undermining the land councils.
Eva Cox is a renowned feminist, public commentator and social and political researcher. She is currently working on evidence bases for social policy with Jumbanna Indigenous House of Learning at UTS. She joined Amy McQuire to discuss the assault on the welfare state by successive Australian governments, and how it will affect the most vulnerable. The discussion also talks about the idea of a universal basic income.
For more on Eva’s work, see her articles here.
Gomeroi man and NITV journalist Danny Teece Johnson joins the programme to talk about the stories he is chasing – one of which is the troubling and tragic case of Theresa Binge, an Aboriginal mother-of-three murdered in Boggabilla in 2003. Her murder has never been solved. He also discusses treaty talks in Victoria, welfare form and the cashless welfare card, and the state of black media.
Koori Mail General Manager and Bundjalung woman Naomi Moran and Koori Mail editor Rudi Maxwell join Amy McQuire in the studio to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the paper – the only national Indigenous newspaper in the country.
Dr Liz Conor is a lecturer at Monash University, and describes herself as a Visual Historian. She is the author of a new book, a decade in the making, called ‘Skin Deep: Settler impressions of Aboriginal women’.
Dr Conor outlines in her book how the dehumanisation of Aboriginal women contributed to the racist colonial project – and how these repeated tropes in Australian and European print media – that Aboriginal women were victims of ‘bride capture’, that they engaged in infanticide, that they were hypersexualised beings for example – have seeped into Australia’s racist modern day.
Dr Conor tells Let’s Talk that these racist perceptions of Aboriginal women did two things, it reinforced that Aboriginal women were “Incapable of two things – incapable of agency, and Aboriginal women and men are incapable of any kind of love… romantic love, familial love, love for their children… and that’s the biggest constant in all of this is that Aboriginal people are incapable of love. And if you take that away I don’t know how you could dehumanize a person more to be honest.”
Amy McQuire sat down with Mohawk scholar Gerald Taiaiake Alfred and Cherokee scholar Jeff Corntassel at the National Native Title Conference in Darwin to discuss Indigenous resurgence and decolonisation. We also talk about their respective nation’s experience of Treaty.
David Lambert is a Professor at Griffith University’s School of Environment, and an expert on ancient DNA. He joined Amy McQuire to discuss in more detail a groundbreaking new study which has found Aboriginal people were the first people on this continent.
A study in 2001, arising from analysis of DNA in the samples of ancient Aboriginal people – including the 42,000 year old Mungo Man – suggested that there were people here before our ancestors. That research – 15 years ago – found that the DNA that had been attributed to Mungo Man, were not similar to other ancient skeletons, or modern Aboriginal people. Now this raised the possibility at the time, that a separate group of humans originated from South Asia, rather than the out-of-Africa theory which is currently the most accepted theory on human migration. There was a great deal of controversy. But that finding has been overturned in a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Scientists – which has used second generation DNA sequencing to re-examine the remains.
Prof Lambert and his colleagues were able to assemble two complete mitochondrial genomes from the sample taken around Mungo Man. One of those genomes, is related to modern Aboriginal people – it is the first complete mitochondrial genome of an ancient Aboriginal person. But what does this mean for the out-of-Africa theory? And what is DNA, what does it mean, and what is the scientific process involved in unlocking the secrets of our ancient history?
Check out the interview with Prof Lambert for more.
Allan Clarke is a Muruwari man from Bourke, NSW and a prominent First Nations journalist, currently writing for Buzzfeed Australia. He has been covering a lot of cases that revolve around the issue of missing and murdered Aboriginal men, women and children. He joined Amy McQuire on the programme to discuss one story in particular, the tragic case of Mark Haines. Mark was only 17 when he was found murdered on the train tracks in Tamworth. That was in 1988. 28 years on, there has never been any justice for Mark.
If you would like to read more about the story, see Allan’s reporting here.
Ellen van Neerven is an award-winning Murri writer who grew up in Brisbane – she is Yugambeh. Her first book – Heat and Light – won the prestigious David Unaipon award for Unpublished Indigenous authors in 2013, and it has since won the Indigenous Writers Prize at the NSW Premiers Literary Awards, an honour she shared with Bruce Pascoe. Ellen just released her collection of poetry – Comfort Food.
She talks to Amy McQuire about her own story, how she began writing, who inspired her and where she hopes to go with black literature. She is also a part of the black&write! Indigenous writing and editing project at the State Library of Queensland.
May 26th is the 19th anniversary of the Bringing Them Home report into the Stolen Generations. But 19 years on, there is little to celebrate. The rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care has sky-rocketed. In fact, the rates have gone up by 400 percent since 1997, when the Bringing Them Home report was handed down.
Amy McQuire spoke to Secretariat of the National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care (SNAICC) chairperson Sharon Williams about why these rates are so high, and what needs to be done to slow the escalating numbers of First Nations children who are being taken away from their families.
Dr Donna Green is a climate scientist, and researcher at the Climate Change Research Centre at UNSW. She has been researching the impact climate change will have on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples for the past decade. She joins Amy McQuire to discuss how climate change will compound every aspect of our lives – from health, housing, infrastructure, and our connections to country. She is optimistic about the next generation of young Indigenous leaders who are coming through to fight our reliance on fossil fuels.
If you want to find out more about how climate change will impact our mob particularly, see the following links:
Don Carter was born in 1943, the son of an Aboriginal mother and an African American serviceman who was stationed in Townsville during World War II. His parents were married in 1941… but a year later, his father returned to America. Because of the discriminatory laws in both America and Australia, Don and his mother were prevented from seeing his dad again.
Don’s story is one among many, and they are being pieced together by Dr Vicki Grieves, a Worimi researcher at the University of Sydney. Don and Vicki joined Amy McQuire to discuss Children of War.
For more information about the project, see the following link.
The 26th May 2016 marks the 19th anniversary of the Bringing Them Home report. 19 years on, the rates of Aboriginal child removal has sky-rocketed. More and more Aboriginal children are being taken away – in fact the numbers now reach about 15,000 nationally. In Queensland, the majority of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kids – around 62 percent – are known to ‘child protection’. The impact of child protection in all states and territories leave a legacy of trauma that spans the generations.
This morning, Aunty Karen Fusi, Aunty Cephia Williams, Aunty Karen Robert and Debbie Jones joined Amy McQuire to discuss the impact child protection has had on their families, and the steps that First Nations grandmothers across the country are taking to fight back. The Grandmothers Against Removals groups are going strong, and there is a new group – Sovereign Women United – which is aiming to provide support to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, not just in relation to child protection, but also with other matters – like family violence, housing, justice, which all feeds into this out-of-home care crisis.
Bruce Pascoe is a Bunurong and Yuin man, and author of the acclaimed book Dark Emu – which recently won the NSW Premier’s Literary Prize Book of the Year. Dark Emu has demolished the myths that Aboriginal people were hunters and gatherers by outlining the sophisticated Aboriginal agriculture methods that were used pre-invasion. Mr Pascoe is now hoping to re-vitalise those traditional techniques as a way to promote the strength of Aboriginal cultures. He joined Amy McQuire to talk about what the success of Dark Emu means – is Australia ready to own up to the whitewashing of history?
Kamilaroi lawyer Louise Taylor joins Amy McQuire on the programme to discuss the different ways the justice system treats Aboriginal victims, following on from the tragic case of Lynette Daley. You can find out more about Lynette’s story here at the Four Corners website.
Louise also discusses the complexities behind family violence in Aboriginal communities, how these nuances are ill-served by the media, and how mainstream feminism has to learn to interact with the the other factors that further impact Aboriginal women particularly. We also discuss the child protection system, and how the deep rivers of trauma that still run through our communities, has to be healed in order to move forward.
Prof Jon Altman is a research professor at the Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation, Deakin University, Melbourne and an emeritus professor at the Australian National University in Canberra. He has also worked in Aboriginal policy over the past three decades and is one of our foremost experts on Indigenous policy.
He joined Amy McQuire to discuss the recent budget and its repercussions for Aboriginal affairs, as well as the history of the Aboriginal Benefits Account, which he says has turned into a ministerial slush fund, when it was originally regarded as a “progressive institution for Aboriginal economic empowerment and development”.
For more information on the ABA, check out Prof Altman’s recent article in New Matilda, which can be found here.