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How to build a jigsaw puzzle

By Tony Andrews

Governments can throw all the money in the world at our indigenous population, but without spending on outback infrastructure or allowing the voices from the land, not just urban or intellectual voices, input and authority into how it’s spent, it’s just wasted.

Not wasted by the communities it’s meaning to benefit though, it barely reaches them and rarely in a way that it can be put to practical use.

Social problems have not occurred in a vacuum and any real change needs to be addressed without the over reliance of emotionally charged, short term fixes that ignore the real problems that remote communities face on a day to day basis.

To do this effectively, more of our First Nations people, from all areas of Australia, need to really understand the processes of royalty negotiation and rights under native title.

People from everywhere legally trained to test the concepts and apparent legal/political limits to property and land use, and have access to capital for economic investment.

Just like in any society, not everyone is capable of understanding these issues or are even interested enough to want to, but everyone’s views need to be understood and their collective rights protected if a long-term solution is to be found.

Capital investment by Industry super funds, if invested in projects that are well researched and developed as being compatible and consistent with what the area and community find viable, would provide a return on investment for members and could potentially transform the power structure between black and white Australia.

Self-determination can, I believe, only come with ownership and responsibilities.

It also must be looked at as collective self-determination, ownership and responsibility, not individual.

Too much burden is placed on individuals, the need to identify, to belong.

Almost everyone, from all backgrounds and races, seem to believe respect must be earned, instead of given freely, this places unnecessary restrictions on individuals who feel they cannot live up to the expectations of others and could, arguably, be one of the root causes of alcoholism and domestic violence issues that are found in all societies.

The strength of any group with the same objective can only be measured by how well it protects and supports those that, for various reasons, contribute less than others. Acceptance without restrictions or comparison to anybody else’s personal effort is the foundation stone of progressive leadership. Recognising this and encouraging participation without shame or favour is essential when attempting to walk a collective path.

Individuals have many shapes and forms, a lot of people with Aboriginal heritage can assimilate and integrate with the norms and structure of white society, their idea of self-determination does not represent the whole, just as those living in remote areas, speaking their traditional language and living a hunter/gatherer existence does not represent all modern-day Aboriginals either.

The same applies to remote communities. Not all of them have the ability to be self-sustainable, those that can should be responsible for “the heavy lifting”.

Economic activity that is driven and financed by the long-term investment of mining royalties and profitable business enterprises (with outside capital, preferably industry super funded finance, until royalty investment has had time to mature), not with those royalty payments as solely the source of economic wealth.

It is not sustainable in the long term and neither is being reliant on government funding … we’ve all witnessed the willingness of the previous WA government to close down remote communities that “they” consider unimportant.

Management of those royalty payments always seems to be a problem.

Short-term agendas dominate, instead of planning and investing in long term, sustainable projects that can continue to provide an income once the ore starts to peter out.

What if a percentage of the royalties were paid into an industry superfund on behalf of all Indigenous Australians?

Each individual of Aboriginal or Torres Island descent would have a retirement benefit and the financial security to “return to country”, or not, later in life, without being influenced by present personal economic circumstances or ever-changing government policies.

This would be separate to the investment of pooled resources, but would help protect and provide individual economic security without affecting the collective direction determined by First Nations people … contributing to the strength of industry super funds also provides a mutual long term benefit.

Pooling royalties and developing self-sustaining economic plans, whether it be development of mineral resources, horticulture, agriculture, traditional art, tourism or animal husbandry, just to name a few examples of potential income providing commercial opportunities that have been proven to work, can give all communities a clear path towards self-determination and a voice in government that carries some weight.

Forget state or territory borders.

Forget regional or cultural barriers or competing interests.

Nothing can be achieved without all First Nations people acknowledging the similarities and main objective of self-determination, namely, that 60,000 years of land possession is not thrown away completely by competing interests internally and non-Aboriginal decision making with limited input from those most affected.

Whether they be the views of those promoting full assimilation with white Australia, those that wish to remain completely within traditional culture or the many positions within those boundaries.

These thoughts are not meant to insult or offend anybody, though I do understand that some people will believe that I’m overstepping the boundaries and should not involve myself in these issues at all. In some ways, I agree with them, but what’s that old saying … “If we don’t all hang together we’ll all hang separately”.

The reason I believe that industry superannuation investment is a fit model to use, is because each business case can be funded or rejected purely on its own merits, without competing agendas or political motivations ever needing to be taken into consideration. Perhaps the direction of industry super fund investment could be new technology combined with techniques familiar to many of those from regional and outback areas.

TARMAC recently invented a permeable cement product that drains water almost instantly. Could this product be exclusively licenced in Australia by an Aboriginal company with industry super fund investment?

This product seems ideally suited to road building in the north of Australia and elsewhere that water drainage is an issue.

Government contracts to build roads, maybe in a partnership arrangement with other entities, can offer skills and long-term employment for many FN’s people, as well as opening up sections of Australia that, due to poor access, may be economically unviable at present.

Not only would this deliver steady wages, profit can also be ploughed back into more investment in machinery and portable infrastructure or related industries. Control of onsite production of concrete, transport, logistics, etc … As well as giving a return to the initial investor or partners.

Given a free hand not restricted by funding from various bureaucratic departments with different agendas, aspects of Tracker Tilmouth’s “food bowl” for central Australia could proceed easily with infrastructure provided by super fund investment.

The advances in solar and wind power with battery storage could, most likely, supply power needs and set an example for the rest of the country in emission reducing, horticultural practice.

Gas pipelines would, in my opinion, allow too much outside influence on the direction of community development by those with little understanding of First Nations people and a profit for profits sake mentality … unless a partnership arrangement was made in some way, with royalties trades off against infrastructure and shared ownership of the gas, with the gas price set at closer to cost, well below international market price.

Like I said before, I have very limited knowledge of the issues involved in creating a self-determined and, reasonably autonomous First Nation’s society, that is all going in the same direction as a collective of people and able to address and respond to social failings and grasp opportunities for development, independent of government.

Does constitutional recognition and a “non-binding” voice in government really provide the necessary framework to develop and foster a collective self-reliance and self-respect that the Aboriginal Australians are entitled to as much as anyone else that lives in our society?

It’s definitely a start and it’s all they are asking for, and the least that they deserve.

One day though, I believe those in power will be forced to see the Aboriginal Australians as an economically powerful group, instead of as a cost, until then, they will, depressingly, always be treated in a paternalistic manner and open to exploitation by those that wish to use them and their hard-won pieces of country, for their own gain.


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  1. diannaart

    I agree respect must be earned – when it has been lost.

    But how do we get started?

    Is not respect a reciprocal thing?

    Doesn’t work at all if one side is “respectful” while the other is judgemental and/or disrespectful.

    If the Uluru recommendation could be realised, then a group of independent indigenous people could regulate financial aid and how it is used and for whom.

    At present most money does not end up where it is so acutely needed.

  2. New England Cocky

    I think a major part of the problems that Darwin bureaucrats believe that funding for Aboriginal programmes should be used for bureaucrats and there mates rather than the intended programme recipients.

    Take the housing debacle for example. The is a concrete block making machine that can produce about 4,000 blocks per day on site at any location where suitable sandy materials occur and concrete can be delivered. This is enough blocks to build a 5 bedroom house of any design. Yet the bureaucrats refuse to countenance such “revolutions”, preferring to transport in finished blocks for the benefit of the haulage corporations.

  3. Anthony Andrews

    diannaart, I’m not sure I actually said that. Respect should be 100%, then go down or stay at that level depending on the interactions. (I’ve met people who have dropped 50% just on the handshake;)

  4. Anthony Andrews

    New England Cocky, You may be right, mate.

  5. wam

    When I started teaching 60 years ago society held high school teachers in high regard. In the classroom you started with the respect of all but a very few students. By the 70s $s mattered and automatic respect waned when the parents of children were earning more, the jobs to take those children who were out-schooled were disappearing. High school teachers often had up to 5 new classes every 10 weeks a new class to establish respect.
    That is flaming hard work but it is impossible if you cannot speak or understand the language of the school. To my experience education demands learning. If the system does not recognise the learning of its student the system cannot educate. My year 9 class 50 years ago had students from darwin, from the RAAF, from Amoonguna, Santa teresa, groote, yirrkala and galiwinku the system treated their languages as the uugga buugga of the films.
    The parents of these children had been involved in building, council work, teaching in the culture and were successful because they had automatic respect.
    Will teachers and Aboriginal elders regain automatic respect? The former needs to learn a language and the latter to run the school before respect and learning can occur.
    The last Aboriginal High School class I had was in 1985. Only one reached 60 and died two weeks later and only the groote women is over 65.Of the students who shifted in to town or are on facebook extreme christianity is the common factor.to me it is a blight because it keeps them from thinking, from questioning and from developing.

  6. Anthony Andrews

    Thanks, Wam. There’s definitely truth in what you say…

  7. diannaart


    I did not suggest your claim at all.

    Simply commenting upon how many people believe respect has to be earned at the beginning – particularly in situations where the side demanding the earned respect is in a more powerful position than others.

    Example, boss expects respect of workers but does not return that respect.

    Aborigines were never and continue to be treated as undeserving of any respect – Uluru Statement from the Heart most recent case in point. Unless, there is a perceived political advantage, for example the promotion of Jacinta Price by right wing conservatives. Turnbull et al, then claim they do treat First Nation people with respect – only those conforming to their world view.

    Have I made my POV a little clearer?

    Totally agree the first handshake may well make a difference – although handshakes differ according to culture.

  8. Anthony Andrews

    Kaye lee, that sort of stuff is exactly what the problem is, we can’t be trusted with the future of First Nation’s people… Thanks for link.

  9. Anthony Andrews

    Cheers Diannaart, now I’ve reread it, my apologies. You’re right of course, when respect is lost, it’s hard to regain.

    I agree with what you say, I wrote a piece on here a while back about the same things you’ve said, that we love our indigenous brothers and sisters, but only if they act like us.

    I wonder how many wars have started over the “wrong handshake” between different cultures;)

  10. Trish Corry

    Self Determination is a construct of right wing Liberals. This is a construct from the perspective that we are all born equal and everyone has the same opportunities as everyone else. It is designed to ignore the multiple set of factors that do not give people an equal start in life or throughout life. It is designed to hold in high esteem those who have a myriad of supports in place. Self determination is a construct designed to divide the two groups. One group almost always being rich, white and wealthy the other does not have all these factors.

    Self determination is also the underpinning construct of a curative (punitive) employment framework which punished those who don’t have the self determination to gain employment.

    It’s the construct which ties wealth to intelligence.

    Self determination is also the construct which underpins the notion that you can’t just throw money at supports. It’s the construct that is paternalistic in nature that already has a different set of rules in relation to the JobSearch framework for esp Indigenous young people.

    If First Nations people gain a voice in parliament and the Uluru statement is recognised, it will be interesting to see if self determination is their key motivator for what they will determine as a measure of success and if they will insist on this as a central construct for programs and participation in systems such as the employment framework (if they determine forced participation should occur, because I don’t believe it should for anyone. But that’s another story).

  11. Kaye Lee


    “Self Determination is a construct of right wing Liberals.”

    I’m not so sure about that. The Uluru Statement from the Heart seems to be about self-determination.

    ” When we have power over our destiny our children will flourish. They will walk in two worlds and their culture will be a gift to their country.

    Makarrata is the culmination of our agenda: the coming together after a struggle. It captures our aspirations for a fair and truthful relationship with the people of Australia and a better future for our children based on justice and self-determination.”

  12. Trish Corry

    You can believe self determination is not a construct of liberalism/ individualism. I’ll believe the theory. Self determination in that context is not individualism and shunning those who don’t achieve it. I would be surprised if it was. In my view it is about self determination as a collective people on their terms. The frames we put things in and context are important. As I said, I’ll be surprised considering there is so much protest against Govt measures which are borne from the self determination construct as it is understood in society as a whole.

  13. Kaye Lee

    Oh yes, I agree. “The right to self-determination is a right of ‘peoples’ rather than of individuals.”

    I don’t really understand when you say Govt measures are “borne from the self determination construct as it is understood in society as a whole.”

    This is what I understand self-determination to be about in a broad sense. It is from the AHRC.

    “Self determination is an ‘on going process of choice’ to ensure that Indigenous communities are able to meet their social, cultural and economic needs. It is not about creating a separate Indigenous ‘state’.

    The right to self determination is based on the simple acknowledgment that Indigenous peoples are Australia’s first people, as was recognised by law in the historic Mabo judgement.

    The loss of this right to live according to a set of common values and beliefs, and to have that right respected by others, is at the heart of the current disadvantage experienced by Indigenous Australians.

    Without self-determination it is not possible for Indigenous Australians to fully overcome the legacy of colonisation and dispossession.”

  14. Kaye Lee

    As an aside that may interest others, I have been reading some of Lorraine’s work. She has written a prize-winning book called “A Theory for Indigenous Australian Health and Human Service Work” that I have ordered and am looking forward to reading.

    This is a short blurb about it

    Indigenous ways of thinking and working are grounded in many thousands of years of oral tradition, and continue among Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people today. Lorraine Muller shows that understanding traditional holistic approaches to social and emotional wellbeing is essential for practitioners working with Indigenous clients across the human services. She explores core principles of traditional Indigenous knowledge in Australia, including relatedness, Country, circular learning, stories, and spirituality. She then shows how these principles represent a theory for Indigenous practice.

    A Theory for Indigenous Australian Health and Human Service Work offers a deep insight into Indigenous Australian ways of working with people, in the context of a decolonisation framework. It is an invaluable resource for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous practitioners and researchers in health, social work, community work, education and related fields.

    ‘In today’s global environment, where Indigenous Peoples continue to fight for self-determination, Muller’s work is an exemplary model of Indigenous self- determination. It is bound to be a foundational model of Indigenous practice in field of health and well-being.’ – Michael Hart, Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Knowledges and Social Work, University of Manitoba

    ‘Lorraine Muller’s work covers some centrally important issues for those that work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and who want to understand indigenous knowledge frameworks.’

  15. diannaart

    Well spotted Kaye Lee.

    Some work to sit along side Dark Emu?

  16. Trish Corry

    Well we can debate and assume all day I guess, Kaye. But that is all we are doing. Assuming. The article assumes Indigenous people see self determination the same as the meaning constructed by whites, you are trying to make it fit by using it along a cut and paste of the term used by Indigenous people, and I can assume it isn’t because the Govt measures underpinned by “giving people a paternalistic guiding Hand to punish so they find their self determination” like Indue cashless welfare, interventions and various unemployment program and social security measures” don’t seem to be embraced by Indigenous people. As discussed before, I have come across the north Qld program owned and operated and designed by the people in those communities and it’s not a measure forced by the Govt. The nominated people in these four communities decides who goes on it. They also see it as a short term program not a forever deal. These are the differences I see in the context of what self determination means in different frameworks. Others can try to make of it what they like. But we can only wait and see what the various voices in the Indigenous community have to say and agree upon regarding the way forward.

  17. Kaye Lee

    There are some who say they have found the Cape York Welfare program helpful but not all agree and there are still areas of concern about whether it has been successful in achieving its goals.

    “Hope Vale’s school attendance rate was 87.6 per cent in 2008, dipped to 70.2 per cent in 2013 and was 75.3 per cent in 2017.”

    Perhaps there are better ways to encourage school attendance than through income management.

    “When comparing 2008 and 2017, magistrates courts notifications remained steady at about 300, Child Safety notices halved from 109 to 48, while housing tenancy notifications increased from four to 15.”

    If the communities themselves are in favour of it, then that is their choice. My opinion is that income management should be a last resort, after provision of better targeted and more culturally appropriate services and education.

  18. Michael Taylor

    I too would be interested in reading Lorraine’s book. Judging from her comments here – which have been articulate, intelligent – she shows a clear understanding of Aboriginal Australia and I would like to explore her writings further.

  19. Kaye Lee

    She’s really interesting Michael.

    For example, diannaart and Tony have been discussing respect.

    James Cook University’s Dr Lorraine Muller interviewed non-Indigenous Australians to understand how their values and beliefs differ from Indigenous Australians.

    On respect, she found non-Indigenous people view it as something that is earnt and commodified whereas Indigenous Australians see it as something everyone should receive.

    “Respect is often linked to money, power and social strata – and Indigenous people are the lowest on the social scale,” Dr Muller said.

    She hopes her work will help non-Indigenous people better understand themselves and their relationship with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

    “There’s an ulcer that hasn’t been healed in Australian culture,” Dr Muller said.

    “People have a feeling of guilt or sadness and they want to change things, but they don’t know where to go from here.

    “My work is a way of harnessing those feelings of guilt and moving in a positive direction.”

    A woman after my own heart.

    Turnbull, Trump, Rinehart, Murdoch et al think their wealth commands respect. How wrong they are.

  20. Michael Taylor

    Kaye, she’s echoing exactly what I learned at university, but more importantly, what I learned in the field and from family.

    Like many things, respect is a different ball game in Aboriginal Australia.

  21. Anthony Andrews

    Trish, your assumption about my definition of “self determination” is false.
    In fact, one statement in my article clearly says that the meaning of self determination is different for every individual. Also, as this series of articles clearly states, on numerous occasions, “collective self determination” is what I’m suggesting. I’ve claimed no in-depth knowledge or understanding of indigenous culture and certainly haven’t put myself up as any kind of expert. Neither have I suggested anything other than giving FN’s people tools and mechanisms to allow them more control and say over their destiny.

    Previously, thanks to the AIMN, I’ve been able to muse publicly about various issues regarding the future, past, and present direction of our country… including a few ramblings about First Nation’s Australians. They may be as uninformed and off track as it appears you view this series of articles, but everyone within the framework of a collective is entitled to have their say, I consider myself (and you) as part of the collective of Australia. Its issues are my issues.
    Thank you for your perspective, it’s good for all of us to hear or read the views of other people.

  22. Kaye Lee


    None of us have all the knowledge or all the answers. Mainly we have questions. Your articles have prompted discussions from which I have learned a lot and that have made me think about many different things. I would say the same of your contributions Trish.

    It is difficult to negotiate the terrain. We cannot speak from an Indigenous perspective. We do not speak for others. But hopefully, the discussion is viewed as a respectful attempt to, collectively as Australians, heal an “ulcer”.

  23. Anthony Andrews

    Thank you, Kaye Lee.
    As with you and Micheal, I’m looking forward to a chance to read Lorraine’s understanding of the issues as well.

  24. paul walter

    Enjoyed Anthony Andrews (and others) contribution and thought the comment that “we are not be trusted with the future of First Nations people” at the core of the whole discussion.

    As long as there is a primitive LNP politics in charge, no one, black or white, is safe, as we see in example after example, week after week here , while the control freaks consolidate control.

    First Nation politics and history is a perfect exemplar of the deep cultural problem seemingly immune to reason or change that we all face. This has been demonstrated in a veiled form most recently with pensions and with the usual lies re data gathering, unreasonable access and, implied removal of identity and personal sovereignty via with the wider health system.

    The parasite class is of no use to anybody.

  25. Trish Corry

    From my perspective with initiatives designed, developed and organised by Indigenous people for Indigenous people and communities, is to allow them to define and measure what are their primary and secondary outcomes and the timeline of how they measure it.

    Is school attendance a primary outcome for example? Are the stats looked at in terms of population adjustments or just raw figures? Do they determine significant success to keep the program going? What of other targets?

    Should they be allowed the space and opportunity to conduct a risk assessment and implement contingencies and improvements as they see fit, or should the Govt look at these stats and say, not good enough, this is what should be done? Isn’t that a long standing issue? Is it an assumption they don’t have the skills to assess and improve programs or should we talk about this as the one shot only to be judged by us? Different groups are going to agree and disagree like every other group.

    The above reasons are why as a non-Indigenous person I do not see it as my place to determine if something is successful or not, unless the official reports from the leaders and participants or other stakeholders say it is. The official report asked for a continuation. The official report acknowledged there were people not happy with it. But I think these types of programs developed by and for Indigenous people deserve the respect to listen to what they say, when they say they want it continued. They also said they saw this as short term and the success will be it not being necessary.

    Believe me when I say I went into that research believing it was some horrid cashless welfare scheme pushed onto them, because it is what I was told. It’s not what I learnt. The women in the community designed it and then got Govt help after they did a trial. I am vehemently anti-Cashless Welfare, but who am I to push that belief onto others if they want it?

    We may be part of a collective but then so are men and I don’t think they have a place discussing what’s best for me.

  26. Kaye Lee


    I agree success can be measured in different ways but the reason I gave those statistics was because not sending children to school, tenancy breaches or being convicted of criminal offences are triggers for the FRC to put welfare recipients on the BasicsCard. Those problems have not improved. Perhaps there is a better way.

    And as far as men are concerned, in my opinion they have to be part of the conversation since we are asking them to change their behaviour. They are instrumental in bringing about the change we want. We need their help.

  27. Trish Corry

    I think you missed my point regarding who sets the outcomes and who measures them and who defines success. I think you also missed the point about reviews and improvements and timeline setting as well.

    If QANDA had a special on Indigenous Issues, should the panel include non-Indigenous people?

  28. Kaye Lee

    I’m not sure I would include non-Indigenous people on the panel but I would certainly have plenty in the audience, hopefully those who were in a capacity to help facilitate the reforms the Indigenous community recommended.

    If I missed your point, please explain it. These are the criteria set by the Family Responsibilities Commission who largely consists of local Elders. As for reviews and improvements and timelines, the program has been running for ten years. That is a good time frame to reassess what is working and what is not and how it could be improved. That is all we are trying to do.

    My real focus is education and I think there are much better ways to encourage student engagement than direct instruction, standardised testing, sending kids off to boarding school or threatening to cut off their parents welfare payments. I would start with community run pre-schools with as much parental involvement as possible and work my way up from there. (Or even before that with antenatal and postnatal clinics and home visits). If I start on this topic I will go on forever. I don’t mean to talk for people. I mean to listen and pass on information and offer ideas where I can.

  29. Michael Taylor

    School attendance. Now there’s an interesting one.

    ATSIC had a good program running, called Shared SomethingOrOther(?) Agreements (sorry, but I can’t remember the middle name) that among other things, improved the rate of school attendance in targeted communities.

    The community would sign a S?A agreement with the aim of improving a particular problem. For example, if one community reduced the amount of graffiti they would be rewarded with a computer. (I made that one up, but they went something like that).

    In Oodnadatta the small Dunjiba had a real serious problem with school attendance, or lack thereof.

    One day when I was in Oodnadatta visiting the Dunjiba community I couldn’t help but notice the number of kids riding around on new push bikes. Their beautiful white teeth could be seen, such was the size of their smiles.

    My colleague (who was the CDEP Field Officer) informed me that the bikes were a reward for near-perfect school attendance. The community had tried everything to get the kids to attend school. Nothing worked until the S?A. “You go to school and we’ll provide you with bikes to ride after school and on weekends”.

    End of story that had nothing to do with the post.

  30. Michael Taylor

    I would include a white person on the panel but on one condition: he or she is there to listen and learn.

    You’d be surprised at how many Indigenous Australians like telling their stories to the white folk.

  31. Michael Taylor

    Something else unrelated to the post/discussion but will have you all wetting yourself with excitement is where the word “Dunjiba” is derived from.

    It comes from the word “township,” which the local mob way back when couldn’t pronounce properly. It came out sounding something like “tunshipar” and it in turn evolved to “Dunjiba.”


  32. Mick Byron

    Michael Taylor
    Apparently the town just south of Wollongong in the Illawarra. Dapto was apparently derived from “Dab-toe”, supposedly a reference to an old Aborigine/Elder with a permanently disabled foot
    sounds like it could be right

  33. Michael Taylor

    Very well could be, Mick. 😀

  34. Trish Corry

    No, I probably would not be surprised how many like telling stories to white folk. A saying said to me not long ago was “be honest to us, but don’t speak for us”

    Kaye, I’ve already made my point. I won’t explain it further. I am pretty sure who should determine what is or what is not a success etc (First Nations people or us) is pretty clear. It doesn’t need to be muddled with ifs or buts or points being made from the data, to double down on an argument. If they state a program is valuable and want it to continue, isn’t that the progress of implementation and ownership they say should be theirs but currently isn’t?

    Anyway this post is not even about that program. I used it as an example. My only issue was the use of the term self determination, which has its roots in liberalism/individualism and should not be assumed that it’s a primary motivator for FN people, nor used in the same context by FIrst Nation’s people.

    Paul,I have no idea what your comment even means.

  35. corvus boreus

    I am relieved that when, as is often the case, various indigenous voices seem divided on the best solutions to the issues they confront, I am absolved of any need to analyse or critique the relative validity of their differing viewpoints and ideas.
    If and when a unanimous indigenous standpoint is reached on any given issue, I will simply agree with that.
    Until then, I can just sit back, a passive and silent spectator to all the different arguments that rage around various indigenous issues, with opinions being voiced from both within and without their communities

    Ps, In confession: I did recently opine to a local indigenous lass who I sometimes work with that I reckoned she should give up the smokes, mainly because they are an addictive form of poison.
    In hindsight, this was none of my business as the state of her lungs are strictly her own affair.

  36. Anthony Andrews

    Well put Corvus.

    Trish, your divisive and rock like confidence in your own perspective is interesting. Unfortunately, your historic point regarding the origin of the term “self determination” and my pointing out that the articles “self explained” my interpretation of it, didn’t move you at all from your view. You didn’t actually say what real faults in my logic or thinking that you may have found and that I may learn from.
    It’s funny, you don’t seem to have a problem telling me why discussing FN’s direction is none of my business and, I’ve learned a lot from your comments, yet, you believe I have no right to an opinion regarding women… why do you believe you have a right to discuss this issue if you are non indigenous?
    Isn’t it the same logic?

  37. paul walter

    Thanks Tony Andrews..so much more to offer.

  38. corvus boreus

    Anthony Andrews,
    Similarly, my reformed attitude to the #metoo movement is that, as a male, the only real contribution I can make is to continue to not personally murder, rape, bash or otherwise abuse women or girls.
    Fortunately, I don’t find that to be a very hard ask.
    I might, if I witnessed another man endorsing or committing such putrid acts, consider intervening in a do-goodery fashion, but, in doing so, must acknowledge that I am in no way representing either #metoo or the broader women’s rights movement.

  39. Anthony Andrews

    Thanks Paul and I agree with you Corvus, you can be a supporter without being part of the team.

  40. Kaye Lee

    I don’t want to start any sort of arguments again. I just want to say we don’t all feel the same.

    I don’t want to speak for Indigenous people but I would feel silly not taking part in the discussion. When my Aboriginal g/f comes over and the convo is about anything to do with Indigenous affairs, am I to say nothing? She would find that very odd as would I. Another g/f is the principal of a high school with a large Indigenous cohort. We often talk about strategies to improve their educational experience. Her students have done some really amazing things. My cousin taught at Cowra for years. Those kids have produced a fantastic music video recently. How can I not talk about these things.

    I also get confused about what people think about the campaign to stop workplace harassment. If we are asking for societal change then we need society on board. I don’t know the rules about twitter or #metoo – is it just for victims and not for others to express solidarity?

    We live in a world of great diversity. We have universal goals and individual goals and every part of the spectrum of shared responsibility in between.

    To achieve anything worthwhile, we must be able to communicate with each other respectfully, even when we disagree. We must be able to listen and should welcome discussion of the merit of different ideas.

    None of us are perfect and we will all make mistakes. But if we can all try a bit harder to walk with respect, we might be able to let go of the anger and division and actually work together to learn the best way to assist all to walk their own path.

    On some levels, we are all part of the same team.

  41. paul walter

    Nice stuff, but was is this g/f.

    The g/f I understand is the one I told the neighbours when they caught me loading their wheelie bin with some dry rubbish.

  42. corvus boreus

    Kaye Lee,
    When I work with indigenous folk, if they wish to discuss any of the specific issues facing their mob, I am more than happy to listen, and may sometimes even throw a few considered thoughts into the conversational mix.
    However, I am now completely unwilling to make a public quotation of any of the views expressed by Indigenous Australians, since there is no guarantee that this would accurately represent a unanimous or majority consensus from within their community.

    Ps, At the basic level, we are all part of team biomass, clinging to the surface of this rock spinning through space.

  43. Trish Corry

    Trish, your divisive and rock like confidence in your own perspective is interesting

    I don’t know what you mean. Can you please expand further?

    Also, regarding faults in your logic, do you want my opinion on the structure of the article and critique of argument or something more general? I was not aware I was supposed to offer such a thing, simply because my issue is with the use of the term “self determination”

    Why do I believe I have a right to discuss this issue if I’m not Indigenous

    I don’t. I think I’ve made that point in a number a comments that are very clear with regards to who should be the voice, decide opinion, measures, outcomes etc. My contribution is about NOT just discussing but Leading discussions but leaving it to others. And because of my stance I do find even doing that uncomfortable. I hope that answers your question.

    With regards to social media and various movements now having a platform for their voice, the overarching etiquette is to use a modern day phrase for this *sit down and listen” if you want to show support like or Retweet but don’t insert yourself into the conversation unless you have that lived experience and can identify.

    This is any movement who feels they have never had a voice and now have a platform to do so on social media. Some hashtags in this respect have had far reaching social change and possibly even (not 100% sure) legislative change.

    More and more people now respect this and listen. It’s come a long way since some of the movements led by young women of colour many years ago, where many would organise to purposefully derail the hastag conversation.

    So yes, for someone who participates by listening in these movements (or contribute if I identify) I think I see the insistence of you and others to have the right to lead a discussion, then discuss that discussion of something such as this topic a bit disjointed from what others are doing more widely.

    I’d feel the same if you felt you had a right to lead a discussion about many women’s issues because you are not a woman.

    As this is a site for opinion writers and commentary surely I too have a right to an opinion, without the accusation of a sinister motive.

  44. DrakeN

    “Ps, At the basic level, we are all part of team biomass, clinging to the surface of this rock spinning through space.”

    …and spreading across it like some kind of malignant cancer in the process of destroying its host.

    I have no opinion to present on Indiginous matters other than to wish them success in regaining some of the self respect which generations of invading administrators have determinedly eroded.

  45. Kaye Lee




    “there is no guarantee that this would accurately represent a unanimous or majority consensus from within their community”

    Passing on the views of different people within the Indigenous community helps inform us. And ya never know….a white person might even have a good idea if we hear what constraints they face and what they want to achieve. After all, we are part of the impediment so surely we need to help remove it.

    Does 100% consensus exist anywhere?

  46. Joseph Carli

    There could be an interesting legal complexity in the setting up and taking of indigenous lands from the Kaurna peoples first of all and later those many surrounding clans/tribes of the Adelaide hinterlands..For..taking in consideration, the original settlement of South Australia was done NOT by a Sovereign State , but by a private shareholders company with NO intended involvement of the British Government or Crown..in fact, the South Australian Act was framed to propose as many guards as possible to stop what was seen as a complete gang of cowboys from a rampage into virgin territory.
    The decree written and signed by the British Govt’ and the King of England…The Letters Patent…specifically stated protection for the lands, culture and persons of the indigenous people..which was completely ignored and all three conditions abused and stolen and killing occurred…So perhaps it could be charged that this private company, breaking both the original spirit and the word of the contract with The Crown, and having stole land and commodities from the first peoples ie; the original owners of the land without negotiation nor legitimate purchase, ought to be litigated for the expenses and loss of property in a most illegal manner..illegal NOT just from the violence of the rapine and murder, but also from the broken contract with the Crown.

  47. Kaye Lee

    One thing that troubles me in this discussion is how we seem to lump all Indigenous people in together. I know many Indigenous people who deservedly have a great deal of self-respect. They are integral members of my community. Their Aboriginality is just part of who they are. Obviously, people in other areas face different problems. But we mustn’t perpetuate this myth that Aboriginal people are all drunks who beat their children and are incapable of looking after their own affairs. It’s just rubbish. Some may need help. Some areas may lack services. Some may have little employment. Some may have health and addiction issues. But the problems have more than just an ethnicity component. That is a factor that must inform appropriate solutions. And there are very many wise Aboriginal people able to help advise us on how to do that. But why are we scared to talk with them?

  48. corvus boreus

    Kaye Lee,
    No doubt the inputs of paler people with extensive expertise and/or experience in relevant fields of social policy and community programmes, especially those with a thoroughly consolidated grounding in the intricacies of Indigenous relations, could potentially add some very clever ideas into discussions of ways to implement meaningful improvements to the lives of the worse disadvantaged amongst Indigenous Australians.
    I am not one such.

    Ps, No, I do not believe there is such a thing as universal agreement.

  49. Kaye Lee


    You are a smart compassionate man. And a funny one too. I am always interested in what you have to say on any topic. Who can tell where a good idea might come from. Or how a comment can make us think about ourselves and how we can do better.

    I so wish we didn’t see this as such a minefield. I certainly understand the point about giving voice to those who have been silenced and respect to people’s lived experience. But having listened, my mind automatically goes to how can we help fix it, part of which means changing ourselves.

  50. Kaye Lee


    I went a few times to a discussion group that was run by two Aboriginal women. All the other people sitting around the campfire were white. We had so many questions about a myriad of topics. They gave such wise advice, answering each of us, teaching us to look at things in different ways. They were so calm, so positive, so reassuring. They were up there with the most rewarding productive discussion groups I have ever been involved in. Why be quiet when there is so much we can learn if we talk to each other?

    PS I don’t seem to have near as much trouble talking about this stuff with Indigenous people as I do white people. Maybe our guilt gets in the way?

  51. paul walter

    Your, eh, Girlfriend, eh? Well, we must be more careful on these matters.

    TC, I think your most recent proposition is intriguing..

    No dialectic, no progress, maybe no life at an extreme.

    On the other hand, “The unexamined life is hardly worth the examination”. I certainly begin to follow the poster who informed us that we are just biomass clinging to tock and will thus consign my humanity and consciousness to the lobotomist in due course.

    It is a sad mistake to fool oneself into believing one is alive.

    “I think, therefore I am not.”

    ‘Scuse me!


    And what exactly is it that gives you the competence to decide what others may think about or question?

  52. Trish Corry

    And what exactly is it that gives you the competence to decide what others may think about or question?

    Well nothing I guess, except for my opinion as others seem to have the right to express. I have also shared what I have been asked to do by those who are the participants, with the lived experience, by sharing their quotes) I guess since the times of “this is how you behave around X,YZ so you don’t upset anyone” since I was a kid, maybe had an impact on me,

    The awkward thing is, should I share what I’ve been told as a request to be respectful do that or just walk on by?

    My values are not free speech at any cost, but discriminate free speech so not to cause harm, so I guess that answers that.

    The dilemma is when a discussion is instigated and lead by a voice not of that direct experience, it’s an uncomfortable situation for me to enter in the conversation or remain silent, regardless.

  53. Kaye Lee

    How has this conversation caused harm?

  54. Trish Corry

    When did I say it did? I simply said I adopt Marcuse’s philosophy of discriminate free speech.

  55. Kaye Lee


    I think our life experiences may have been very different. I was brought up with Aborigines but not to respect them. My mother went a long way towards changing that as did my wonderful Aboriginal nanny who we kids saw as another grandma. My adult life has been very different. I no doubt have personal guilt I am dealing with for not understanding the discrimination that surrounded me when I was young. I don’t feel like an outsider. I just feel like I want to help my neighbours.

  56. Anthony Andrews

    Hi Trish, my apologies if I’ve given you the impression that I don’t respect your opinion… I do.

    As for leading the discussions or debate regarding indigenous Australians, you’ve posted many, many, comments about how we should all just be quite and listen, but at the same time, continue to put your own perspective forward. Including asking a question about “should non indigenous people be allowed on a QANDA panel discussing FN’s people.
    To me, the question isn’t valid and is a prime example of why solutions to the big picture problems are so difficult for us all to grasp. Maybe the QANDA question should be “will FN’s people decide to allow non indigenous speakers onto the panel”?
    “Divisive” because you don’t believe anyone should discuss issues that they have no personal connection with, even though you’ve continuously told us your position on indigenous Australia. (I’m not saying your opinions aren’t valid, just that making them at all, invalidates your argument).
    “Divisive” because, if we follow your thinking to it’s logical conclusion, only women can discuss issues relating to women… only men can discuss issues regarding men… only children can discuss issues regarding children…
    that is not utilising the collective knowledge of our society in a progressive and respectful way. It promotes apartheid. (Historically, this word has its roots in racial segregation, but in modern terms, it can mean segregation for reasons other than race). That is my reason for the term “rock like”.

    Many words have origins that are barely relevant today, language is fluid. Should we all stop using the word “hysterical” because it’s original meaning was “temporary madness caused by a woman’s periods”. Created from the same root as “hysterectomy”.

    You stated that “the collective included men and they will not speak about me or women’s issues” something like that.

    That’s divisive. Thinking collectively means your views are taken into account and, if a majority are in favour of your view, it is accepted and put into action.
    Every collective contains individuals, factions (a collective of individuals within the larger collective holding a common view), and a range of experience and expertise that add to the whole. When individuals or groups within the group dominate and control collective direction, the concept of the “collective” becomes meaningless.

    It wasn’t that I wanted my efforts graded or anything like that, Trish, it’s that you have been discussing what is, which is great, I mean, I learned heaps, so thanks, but my articles were about what isn’t. Feedback on whether it was helpful or workable within the framework of indigenous Australia was what I was suggesting.

    If you think I’ve suggested you have a “sinister motive”, that was not my intention at all. I was thinking more along the lines of irony and (please don’t be too offended by my use of the term), hypocrisy…

    By the way, I’m left handed and your use of the term “sinister” has negative connotations to me and my kind. I know you didn’t mean it like that, so I wasn’t even slightly offended, however, it’s original meaning may, to some people, still hold true, the same way “self determination” has not evolved from your perspective.

  57. diannaart

    Kaye Lee – nailed it with solidarity – we don’t have to be a homogeneous group, we can all be different and still stand together for a fair go.

    Anthony Andrews

    Well said.

  58. Kaye Lee

    The Uluru Statement from the Heart ends with this invitation…..

    “In 1967 we were counted, in 2017 we seek to be heard. We leave base camp and start our trek across this vast country. We invite you to walk with us in a movement of the Australian people for a better future.”

    Walk together with respect…..

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