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Power over the destiny of others is never given up easily

By Tony Andrews

I’m coming from a perspective of almost complete ignorance about First Nation Australian people.

Land rights, native title, pan-Aboriginal relationships, history, culture, political interaction with government … in fact, I’m pretty bloody ignorant about everything, except that I can clearly see things are not as black and white as we’re often led to believe.

The first sign of my ignorance is my understanding of the term “First Nation”.

It implies to me, a united people, and, whilst that may be the ultimate goal, I believe it does not reflect the reality of Aboriginal Australia and I’ve learned recently, that the people of Aboriginal and Torres Island descent do not refer to themselves as “First Nation” in a collective sense either.

They talk of First Nations when discussing all Australian Indigenous people, First Nation when discussing individual groups, a subtle difference that’s easy to miss, but it adds a significantly different understanding of the realities of indigenous culture … We often miss the little things that are crucial when it comes to reconciliation.

We hear talk from all sides of the debate about social problems and issues that need to be fixed, but when it comes down to root causes and solutions, we all seem to chew at the skin and choke on the bones.

I’m quite happy, if it comes to a referendum for constitutional recognition, to be led by our First Nations people and vote whichever way they want me to, I’m just not sure I understand what it’s going to achieve, though I recognise that it’s important to them, so my understanding or lack of, really isn’t of any concern.

What is of concern to me, is living in a fair society that protects the interests of all Australians.

Which is the whole point of having a constitution in the first place.

Some things are still bothering me though …

Can real self-determination and control over destiny be achieved by First Nations people without mechanisms in place to enable them to achieve financial independence?

Not individual financial independence, but in the collective sense.

I’m not suggesting the removal of government funding, maybe reparations would be a more suitable term, or government funded programs that have tangible benefits for the Indigenous.

Or even money derived from mineral exploitation.

But allowing those funds the opportunity to work for the long-term instead of the present system under which First Nations operate, seems to me like it would create a more certain and independent path than anything we’ve seen so far.

Many individuals and organisational bodies work tirelessly to improve the lives of First Nations people, countless initiatives have been implemented and, while the lives of many have improved, the outcome for others has not and, overall, the divide between black and white Australia seems as wide as ever.

Constitutional recognition may be far more important than we, with a limited understanding of the issues, are led to believe by those in the media and in government.

The past and present inability to bring our two worlds together is not through lack of effort or passion from a lot of those involved though.

It also doesn’t appear to be from ignorance because Aboriginal Australia has produced many academics and intellectual voices, created well-researched and developed assessments on all aspects of their existence and are actively involved in the political process.

Mixed priorities and an unclear direction may be an issue, as is knee-jerk policy-making from governments that are under pressure to be seen to be “doing something”.

A kind of shotgun approach to self-determination, where some pellets may hit the target, with the rest flying off into the distance, hitting nothing or inadvertently striking others that have no ability to protect themselves from the blast.

One of those protections, as previously mentioned, is constitutional recognition and our Indigenous brothers and sisters have collectively agreed that this is vital to our shared existence and coming together as a society on this continent … because they’ve seen it all before.

They have always been a political football.

Whenever they’ve been ‘given’ any vestige of autonomy it’s often been taken away again at the whim of elected government.

The Prime Minister’s offhanded rejection of the Uluru “statement from the heart” is a perfect example of why it’s so important.

When we say “the Prime Minister”, we really mean the political party he leads and the vested interests that elevated him to the position of spokesperson.

In the case of Turnbull, Abbott, Howard, and others from the Liberal or Liberal/National side of politics, those vested interests are strictly commercial …

The voices they listen to are the voices of business and business does not want the rights of anybody to be set in stone, this is why they do not want the Aboriginal people to be recognised under the constitution, with safeguards that limit the extent of power that can be exerted over them.

The same limits that we take for granted, but which are, behind the scenes, continually being tested by the high flying, highly paid legal teams of the corporate world.

Make no mistake though, that rejection will not deter them from continuing to fight for full inclusion in our democracy and the right to participate in all aspects of our future direction as a country …

It was a huge disappointment though to young First Nations men and women who are passionately driven and in a hurry to see their goal of recognition and acceptance fulfilled.

Young people of all backgrounds are in a hurry, which is great and is always a positive driving force for change, but the older people that have been involved with this sort of thing before, knew it would never be handed to them on a platter …

Power over the destiny of others is never given up easily.


63 comments

  1. Pauline Westwood

    I don’t think you know what you are trying to say . Let’s leave it up to ingenous people. I believe the term “First Nations” is intended to include Torres Strait islanders.

  2. Anthony Andrews

    Thanks Pauline. This is the first of a series of articles and, hopefully, my message will become clearer… it may even align with your “let’s leave it up to them” comment. The articles are about tools and mechanisms that they may find useful in achieving their goals.
    You are correct about Aboriginal and Torres Island descent covering all first nation’s people and I mention them collectively in, I think, the third one.
    Cheers

  3. Lorraine Muller

    Tony, engaging with this huge issue with an open and honest heart means you have begun an exciting learning path. It is a step that few take, and fewer continue on the journey of discovery.
    My advice to you would be to reflect deeply on your own culture as you try to understand another’s.

  4. New England Cocky

    White Australia has a Black History.

    The policies for genocide of Aboriginals were written into the Australian Constitution following the five Australasian Constitution Conventions of the 1890s. The principal advocate was a eugenist and lawyer from Beechworth Vic, Isaac Isaacs. A check of the Proceedings mentions the strength of his advocacy. So, the Convention finally decided to extend the franchise to all women in Australia while disenfranchising all Aboriginals, especially in South Australia where both women and Aboriginals received the vote in 1892.

    In about 1906, now a High Court judge who went on to a eminent legal career, Isaacs sat as judge alone and rejected the appeal of a South Australia Aboriginal man protesting the loss of his voting rights. Check it out in the Commonwealth Law Reports about 1906.

    The historical irony of this matter is that Isaacs was Jewish.

  5. Trish Corry

    Probably get myself in the shit again for Speaking up about the same issue I had with Kaye Lee’s post. So as this is the second article in a few days where non-Indigenous people are writing for Indigenous voices, I’ll just leave this here.

    “This week is an opportune time to state the bleeding obvious but it still needs to be said. If you are not @IndigenousXLtd – don’t take space that should be ours speaking on our behalf. If you do – you are not an ally – you are a self-interested & self-promoting. Just. Don’t.”

    Natalie Cromb as host of IndigenousX via Twitter.

  6. Meg

    I agree, Trish. Just a bunch of busy-body comfortable middle-class whities deciding what’s best for our brown brothers and sisters, pontificating from their nice homes sitting on stolen land. if “Reconciliation” is the goal, let our brown brothers and sisters state the terms so we can begin to achieve it. If the aim is to maintain the misery – whether from paternalistic vanity, or profiting from it, or for sheer political activism by propagating racial division and disharmony via promoting the victimhood mentality… unfortunately most Australians are completely racist, as we know – and pandering to this significant base, a First Nation Parliament has zero chance to come into existence, unless it is funded externally.

  7. Anthony Andrews

    Hi Trish, as you mentioned, being wary of speaking out because of offending someone is why a lot of people stay quiet. Thank you for stating your position on this.

    These articles are not about taking “space that should” belong to those intimately involved, neither is it “speaking on their behalf”. It’s my opinion, that the collective voice is louder than that of an individual and if we all want to move in the same direction, we need to add to the debate, if we feel we have something to offer, and assist as allies, rather than sit back and do nothing.

    Now, I’m going to probably get in trouble too, but I believe issues like this and #metoo can never be adequately resolved if we exclude the voices of one side or the other. Yes, we need to listen more carefully to those intimately involved, but you can’t only have one side in a debate… that would be fascist;)

  8. Trish Corry

    So just like Kaye the other day, although Indigenous people – particularly intelligent, articulate, Indigenous women writers have repeatedly over a long period of time, asked people to let them speak on their own terms without interruption, you think it’s your right to comment on something that needs lived experience, when you have none. I cannot see anything gained by grasping onto that power we are already given. It’s more powerful to give it up.

    You ARE taking up their space. You ARE making assumptions about what is important to talk about in this space. That isn’t a collective voice. It’s the voice that’s always had the “authority” making suggestions about and for others who have been delegated a marginal voice.

    It’s like saying “I don’t have a disability, but here are some suggestions about what people with a disability think and here are the suggestions about what should be done. Rather than letting said person with a disability speak for themselves.

    It’s like wealthy politicians telling poor people how easy they have it. Or them telling unemployed people how easy it is to get a job. Rather than asking the poor and unemployed what needs to be done to really assist them.

    There is nothing fascist about giving an entire space to a voice for people who have been pushed into a tiny space by people speaking over the top and for them for well…since ever.

    I also don’t expect you to take anything from the other examples I gave if you think men should have a voice in the #MeToo movement.

    Sometimes is much better to wait until people have finished speaking and I do not believe they have finished speaking yet.

    I’ll finish with a quote from Shorten which is about empowering change, not telling Indigenous people what that change should be.

    Bill Shorten: my first meeting as PM will be with First Nations people to talk constitutional recognition, closing the gap and TREATY. #ACTUcongress18

  9. Kaye Lee

    Anthony,

    I agree with you. And you will hear many Aboriginal activists say, we cannot do this alone. We must bring the community along with us.

    We are not speaking for them. We are listening to them and lending our voices in support. And as you point out, there are many different opinions within the ATSI community – they are not some homogeneous bunch who all agree on the way forward.

    Would you suggest that we can’t speak up about the plight of refugees unless we are a refugee? Aren’t ideas welcome?

    It is the clash of our cultures that has caused much of the problem in my opinion. We have done things wrong in the past. We have a responsibility to try to fix that and that can only happen when we work with the Indigenous community rather than imposing control.

  10. corvus boreus

    Lorraine Muller,
    I like your advice on reflecting on one’s cultural heritage.
    This is especially helpful for people not deeply rooted in the ground on which they stand.
    (my own ancestry upon Terra australis only began with the grandparents of a grandparent, who settled on Bunjulung lands).

    I would add that, whilst this sense of connectivity with the ways of ancestors from afar can help travelers keep a strong sense of ‘me’, there are also the necessities of circumstantial adaptation, the need to connect with the new realities of different localities.
    Learning something of the local geography and history aids us in knowing where we currently stand. which definitely helps when dealing with the locals.
    .
    I currently stand on the traditional lands of the Gumbaynggirr people.
    Around the time my great-great-grandparents first arrived to the north (later half of the 19th century), other new pale arrivals were starting to squat on these lands in ever-increasing numbers.
    Authorities representing the crown of England had declared that the lands that locals had lived on since the dreamtime were suddenly deemed ‘uninhabited’, and the ensuing land grabs led to serious violence and atrocity.

    For example, around 1880, in the coastal hinterland near Corindi, a squatting shepherd was killed.
    A group of ‘mounted troopers’ (possibly NSW mounted police) decided to conduct a ‘reprisal raid’, and went on a subsequent killing spree against a group of the local people, who were camped at nearby Blackadder creek.
    The troopers opened fire on the camp without inquiry or announcement, felling people without discrimination to sex or age
    As the terrified locals fled downstream, the mounted troopers pursued, continuing to pour fire upon them.
    The chase and slaughter continued along the Corindi river and ended at the Red Rock headland, where a cornered party were driven off the cliffs, with those surviving the drop fired upon as they swam away.
    There were no charges or other legal consequences recorded for any of the troopers involved in the massacre.

    When, through work and social aquaintance, I am interacting with someone who is a long-term local, knowledge of such events can aid in understanding why Gumbaynggirr eyes (to whom such dry history is the actual spilling of their own blood), might be little jaded about the worth of the words of a gubber-man.

  11. Kyran

    It seems the more you read, the more you realise how little you know. My own thinking has been morphing for some time now and there are some fundamental truths that cannot be avoided. Well, at least truths to me.
    The first hurdle I have is that we are not comparing apples with apples. The entire conversation is approached from ‘our’ point of view. We look at our First People’s society and culture through the lens of our society and culture.
    The facts suggest that a civilisation that has not only existed, but thrived, for 60,000 years has some idea of how to adapt and evolve to accommodate the changing circumstance, environmental and otherwise. That such a civilization has been decimated in a few short centuries by murderous treachery and ‘political’ disenfranchisement is more a reflection on us boat people than our First People.
    If you are to look at the most fundamental aspects of these two ‘societies’ (for want of a better word), one is based on an inherent belief that they are a part of country, that they are merely a cog in the big picture. Our society, having evolved over a 3-6,000 year period, has an inherent belief that we are here to rule or control country.
    One culture relies on cohabiting with country in a respectful relationship, the other is built on rampant greed and consumerism, ‘eat drink and be merry, tomorrow doesn’t matter’. One society measures your worth by the number of houses you own, the other by how you care for the land on which your house is built.
    We prescribed, through vehicles such as ATSIC, how their society would operate within the confines of our benevolence. Again, the fundamental difference being that we imposed on them an hierarchical structure, when their structure is inherently collegiate.
    That, in itself, is a lesson we would do well to understand and emulate. Jamila Rizvi’s book, “Not Just Lucky”, has a passage in it about an Indian company, Tata Chemicals, which changed seating protocols at a conference from the traditional ‘face the front’ to ‘in the round’. The employees were invited to sit and participate without labels such as ‘director’, ‘shareholder’, ‘management’, ‘stores’ or ‘mail room attendant’. This egalitarian approach had a recorded and demonstrable result of increased productivity, quality control and innovation. Ms Rizvi’s book is about empowering women by doing nothing more than giving them a voice. Why is it that the process of empowerment is one our ‘masters’ have so much trouble grasping, let alone enacting?
    The precedent of sitting in the round is, of course, famously portrayed in the old King Arthur fable about the Knights of the Round Table. It was a very deliberate concept of all participants being accepted as of equal value to the conversation, completely dissimilar to our traditional European hierarchical structure, the Long Table, with the important person sitting at the head and descending importance being given to those otherwise seated. Why the diatribe? So many references to our First People refer to their meetings always being held ‘in the round’, so all participants are heard. Many of our First People refer to their cultural ‘norms’ as being matriarchal, where their sisters are not only welcomed, but their contribution is valued.
    The history of the Uluru Statement is fascinating. The voice has been a collective, notwithstanding the sovereignty of the participant Nations, a sovereignty which was respected throughout the process. How could such a disparate group achieve what our electoral system fails so miserably to do? Give respectful voice to all participants, accepting they are participating with a common goal, the common good.
    Bruce Pascoe’s ‘Dark Emu’ went a long way to explain that our First People had a sophisticated society with trade routes, commerce, law, health, all being governed by this collegiate approach. Their society was regarded as ‘inferior’ by our settlers as they hadn’t yet built fine houses and domesticated their livestock. Heaven forbid, they didn’t wear suits and dresses so their lack of regard for their modesty confirmed their savage past.
    We still talk in terms of ‘recognising’ them in our Constitution, an intransigent document that is way past its use by date. How typically out of touch we are, or rather our ‘masters’ are. The Sect 50’s of that document are as relevant as the criminal abortion sanctions are in various states. That we have ‘laws’ still on the books when even the great unwashed have moved well past those edicts and standards.
    Like the Uluru Statement and the journey to it, our regard for Treaty has many facets. The way it is viewed by our ‘masters’ is seriously out of step with how it is viewed by most Australians. And that is way out of step with how many of our First People now see it.
    Reni Eddo-Lodge has written a book “Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People about Race” which I haven’t been able to get my hands on yet but the following summary (a long read, but well worth it) will suffice for the moment.

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/may/30/why-im-no-longer-talking-to-white-people-about-race

    “I’ve written before about this white denial being the ubiquitous politics of race that operates on its inherent invisibility. So I can’t talk to white people about race any more because of the consequent denials, awkward cartwheels and mental acrobatics that they display when this is brought to their attention. Who really wants to be alerted to a structural system that benefits them at the expense of others?
    “I can no longer have this conversation, because we’re often coming at it from completely different places. I can’t have a conversation with them about the details of a problem if they don’t even recognise that the problem exists. Worse still is the white person who might be willing to entertain the possibility of said racism, but who thinks we enter this conversation as equals. We don’t.”
    The conversation we are having is quickly heading for the same title as our ‘masters’; irrelevant. We are still talking in terms of ‘how much voice should they have’, not for a second thinking about just listening to them. This is not dissimilar to Natalie Cromb’s article, in which the concluding paragraphs speak directly to the problem.
    “Each and every non-Indigenous Australian benefits from the special racism reserved for the First Nations population — one which denies our history, rebuts our voices when we speak against racist oppression now and implements policies to maintain the subversion we have experienced for over 200 years.
    Now is the time for you to own your place, move aside and let us claim ours with your full support. If you do this — you are owning your privilege and using it to smash the colonial system of oppression of otherness.
    We are strong. We have proven our resilience to still be here but enough is enough. No human beings should have to continue to contemplate the reality of living in racist Australia.”

    https://independentaustralia.net/life/life-display/drowning-in-white-privilege,10549

    The SA Treaty has been shelved, thanks to the ‘new’ SA government. Gunner in the NT is gunna talk about Treaty. In Victoria, the government has enshrined the Treaty process in law to ensure that that Guy guy can’t get his grubby little hands on it in the event he wins the election in November. One of the stumbling blocks in the Victorian process has been to recognise that there are different voices to be heard. Our ways recognise our First People as a collective, with little regard for different ‘mobs’, with their own languages and subtle cultural differences. We will continue to force that square peg into our very round hole.
    Our ignorance is so entrenched, a web site was started in Victoria to dispel those fears born and bred in ignorance.
    “This is your opportunity to learn from the oldest continuous culture on earth. It’s anonymous, so don’t be shy. All questions and answers have value.
    So, what will you ask?”

    https://deadlyquestions.vic.gov.au/

    The more I have read, the more comfortable I’ve become with my ignorance. I can only wish you the same on your journey to understand. As others have commented, it is not incumbent on me to define what is appropriate for our First People. That is an arrogance suitable only for our ‘masters’. It is incumbent on me to sit down, shut up and listen. As Ms Corry stated, there are so many issues that have the same underlying conflict. If you have had the time to read the link to Ms Eddo-Lodge’s essay, I would invite you to reread it with a sub-text of gender instead of race.
    I’m totally comfortable with my selfishness, too. The advancement of these ‘causes’ don’t preclude me, they empower me just as much.
    “Now is the time for you to own your place, move aside and let us claim ours with your full support. If you do this — you are owning your privilege and using it to smash the colonial system of oppression of otherness.
    We are strong. We have proven our resilience to still be here but enough is enough. No human beings should have to continue to contemplate the reality of living in racist Australia.”
    I’m comfortable trusting them with nothing other than my full support.
    Apologies for taking so much space to say I don’t think I should say anything.
    Thank you Mr Andrews and commenters. Take care

  12. Mick Byron

    Trish Corry
    July 19, 2018 at 8:41 am
    In another article I mentioned the comments of an articulate young indigenous woman who works tirelessly with at risk young people in her community and her culture in general..
    Her tacit approval of the “Welfare card” and the side benefits of protecting women from bashings,feeding kids, enabling them to undertake schooling etc and the avoidance of the pissed witless male perpetrators of the abuse had her branded as an “Uncle Tom”
    I showed her {a decendent of the last King of the Wreck Bay Tribe} the comments and a few of her large extended family who were present at the time.
    Her response was to just laugh and say she’d heard it all before, for most of her lifetime
    “Until the white do gooders who are certain they know best sit back and allow us to “OWN” the problem of abuse,alcoholism, to an extent, with 50% in fostercare-the abandonment of of young and all that is wrong WITHIN our Culture at present nothing will change. The white do gooders, the Bureaucrats,the Politicians can dream up band aids as they have before and they have healed nothing.
    We need to OWN the problems our culture faces,we need to accept responsibility for such and from thereon address the issues otherwise we will have the offspring of the current do gooders finding excuses for our problems next generation as well”

    I assume she will gain be branded an Uncle Tom :-{
    and me? probably cop a racist tag for agreeing with her

  13. Mick Byron

    An interesting aside to the comment above
    An Elder who was sitting in on the conversation pondered a while and said “If they call her an “Uncle Tom” we’d prefer the gender was right and had her as Auntie Tomasina” to a whole bunch of chuckling from the others gathered.
    Then on a more serius note the Elder made the comment, “She’s our Uncle Tom, not one of the Plantation owners trying to run the show”

  14. Kaye Lee

    Mick,

    Do you think white people have in any way contributed to the problem? I am not just talking about colonial history. I mean today. Do you think there is an understandable distrust of officials? Native title seems under continual threat from corporate exploitation. It is usually white people selling the alcohol and the drugs. It is white people that fight to have more poker machines everywhere and to make gambling even easier. And sadly, it is often white men involved in the sexual abuse of young girls. We, too, have to clean up our act.

    There has to be some thought as to the causes to help find the solutions which may well be very different for different individuals and communities.

    I commend your friend for the work she does but I think she is letting white people off too lightly. We are part of the problem.

  15. corvus boreus

    Trish,
    Me thought that #METOO was principally a united expression of honest solidarity by people who have suffered sexual abuse, of whom the vast majority are females abused or assaulted by men. .
    Apparently, though, it is a gender exclusive brand, and, whilst you are not specific about the right of women who have not suffered sexual abuse to speak upon the subject, you have definitively and arbitrarily excluded all males., even those who have suffered serious sexual abuse (again, usually at the hands of males).
    Thus, a female executive who was once groped at Christmas drinks may speak against sexual violence within power imbalance,, but an altar boy raped by a priest may not.
    Such arbitrarily prejudices automatically alienate !/2 the population, who are left with the options of silence or opposition.

  16. Kaye Lee

    As for the cashless welfare card, the evidence does not support the idea that it is helping.

    there was a consistent decline in alcohol related pick-ups over time, not just over the trial period. There was a decline from April 2014 to August 2014 (61.7 per cent); with further declines shown from April 2015 to August 2015 (35.4 per cent) and April 2016 to August 2016 (36.1 per cent).

    there was a 17 per cent increase in St John Ambulance call-outs from April to October 2016 when compared to the previous year.

    school attendance declined by 1.7 per cent for indigenous students, after the implementation of the trial compared to the same period (between May to August) in 2015.

    “Forty-five per cent of the of the users surveyed found they were better at saving. Less publicised was that 50 per cent found they were not. Twenty-three per cent said it had made their life better. Less publicised was that 42 per cent said it had made their lives worse. Forty per cent said they could better look after their children. Less publicised was that 48 per cent said they could not.”

  17. Kaye Lee

    cb,

    I thought the whole point of #metoo, aside from solidarity, was to change male behaviour. Not sure how you do that if you don’t let them be part of the movement. I thought we were asking men to join us in saying enough is enough.

  18. Mick Byron

    Kaye Lee.
    As I said days ago, I personally do not know enough about the problems faced by our Indigenous citizens, I based my comments on the responses of a young Indigenous woman and her friends
    I would not be presumptuous enogh to offer personal opinions on issues I know not enough about of have lived through, that is why I listen to those who have lived it and are trying for change
    {and because it doesn’t meet with somes impressions, get branded Uncle Toms” for fighting for what they best believe is right for their culture}
    “Do you think white people have in any way contributed to the problem? I am not just talking about colonial history. I mean today. Do you think there is an understandable distrust of officials?”

    From what I have personally read and from the young womans comments I am certain they have ample reason to distrust officials and as she puts it, “the white do gooders who keep interfering”
    I actually just read sections of the Indigenous Community,although in the main supportive of the card, call it
    The White Card

    “We’ve got to start somewhere in terms of rebuilding our community, and it means doing something about welfare, alcohol and drugs — and things like the cashless debit card are the tools to try to help achieve that,” the Wunan Foundation executive chair said.

    “I think there’s a silent majority locally that is in absolute agreement with what we’re doing.”

    He warned the growing gulf between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people was fuelling racial tensions — and the risk of violence.
    About 1,200 people currently have their spending of welfare money restricted in the towns of Kununurra and Wyndham — and three-quarters of them are Aboriginal.

    communities remain deeply divided over impact of the ‘white card’ — so called by some critics who say it has become a symbol of state intervention over people’s lives”

    This is a learning experience for me and I believe my best education will come from Indigenous people themselves

  19. corvus boreus

    Kaye Lee,
    I lack the essential credentials to give a ‘welcome to country’, but I can at least acknowledge traditional ownership (ie state a fact).

  20. Kaye Lee

    Yes, I have read about Mr Trust’s support for the cashless welfare card before.

    “Recently, a staff member at Coles Kununurra told one of Wunan’s senior staff, without any prompting, that she is definitely seeing some positive changes since the card.”

    His main thrust is to break the dependency on welfare. I would like to see some statistics to see if this has led to more people being employed.

    I would be interested on your friend’s thoughts about the cost of the scheme. Surely $10,000 per participant could be spent better?

  21. Trish Corry

    Progress of inclusiveness and empowering equality is not always about grasping for dear life at the right to power some people are already inherently given (depending on the topic – let’s call them the oppressors).

    It isn’t fairness insisting that the voices who have suppressed the marginal voices have the power to speak, to combat, to suggest, to impose, to interrupt. All that does is assumes equal power. Even when marginalised people get a platform the power is not equal. There are people with inherent power or what is referred to as privilege waiting to dismiss, to speak louder to “have the right to their say” to place said person speaking up in a defensive position and the system already makes any defence fought on unequal ground. The argument becomes more about the rights of the oppressor and their voice, rather than just quietly listening and contemplating the voice that is not often heard.

    That’s not empowerment, it’s disempowerment. It’s more powerful to let go of that power and just listen.

    My question is, the quote from Natalie Cromb makes me shut up, and look at myself. It makes me commit. Why does it have the opposite affect on others who only double down on their right to speak on topics they have no lived experience about, when the topic actually needs lived experience to be understood and needs lived experience to direct all the outcomes.

    I will end with a qualitative tool in phenomenology called Epoche where all pre-conceived ideas are bracketed and set aside and the interviewer (listener) respects the ideas from the person with the lived experience. The truth is only constructed via feedback that the listener has understood and has shared meaning with the teller of the story. Only the teller of the story has the power to confirm shared understanding. This is crucial when trying to understand and learn about another person’s lived experience.

    Surely, even for the selfish motivation of developing new knowledge, that is more important than grabbing onto the power given to us by default.

  22. corvus boreus

    Tony Andrews,
    You made a lot of salient points in your article, but for me the most notable was the hazards of a generic and homogeneous ‘shoehorn’ approach to ‘Aboriginal affairs’.
    As well as the scope of diversity within humanity, there is blatant variability of circumstances and environments .
    Whilst I, a whitey living on the lush coastal strip, might have glimpsed some of the disadvantages faced by local Koories, this gives me little inkling into the lives of the marginalized in the parched dust-scratchings of the far-outback.

    Incidentally, the only time I have heard a longer-term local style themselves ‘first nation’, was in the context of expressing broader solidarity with traditional ownership, when a local elder was heading off as a Gumbyinggirr representative to the Black Hills pipeline protests.

    To even be classified as ‘Indigenous’ (Aboriginal/Torres Strait Islander) is, technically, a personal choice available to some individuals (or their parent/guardians), rather than a mandatory label that can be applied by outsiders.

    On the subject of addressing the various issues afflicting the local ‘first nation’ community (underlying causes and possible solutions), the best lived experience I can offer is relation by proxy of the words of a Gumbaynggirr jindi on the subject.
    We (my crew and hers) were sitting down for lunch at a shared site. The men of the Indigenous crew were off doing a ‘cultural assessment conducted with sensitivity to Indigenous traditions (ie off checking out a men-only site),
    In a broader discussion of general woes, she said on the subject of her own sub-community (par-quote from memory) ;
    “t’s just easier to get shit done at home without the fellas hanging around.
    Bored and lazy gets drunk and cranky, then he takes it out on the family
    If you can keep them out and busy, they usually come home happy. ”
    Policy-wise, I took this to mean that she was advocating greater employment incentives for indigenous males.

  23. Kaye Lee

    Trish,

    I agree with what you are saying about listening. We need to learn so we have to pass on what others are saying and doing – the differing opinions and approaches in the Indigenous community and opinions and evidence about what works and what doesn’t.

    Those who have been historically denied a voice – women, Indigenous people, victims of abuse, for example – must be heard. Their experience must inform us on the changes that must be made.

    Change is best made when we all work together. Are we to divide into silos of our own experience? Or can we sit down together to listen about what the problems are and then offer support in solving them? Don’t we need each other’s help to actually bring about real change? Aren’t ideas worthy of consideration if they have merit, regardless of the source? Surely the combined knowledge of the group is greater than the knowledge of its parts.

    I don’t think you should shut up. I think you should listen to those who are telling us what is wrong and then use your considerable public voice to advocate for the changes that will make a difference.

    cb,

    Strong Aboriginal women are making a big difference in leading change. But most women would agree, you have to keep the boys occupied. (PS I fixed the author)

  24. Lorraine Muller

    Rather than seeing this article as speaking for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, I read it as a non-Indigenous person trying to gain a better (hopefully more respectful) way of understanding issues of importance to Indigenous Australians.

    When I researched non-Indigenous mainstream Australia culture, from an Indigenous perspective, it was fascinating to see how little thought and insight they had into the values, principles and precepts that inform their very Western-biased culture. Greater self reflection will enable a person to challenge some of the deeply entrenched, assumptions and racisms that they were enculturated with as part of belonging to the coloniser mainstream culture. Sometimes such attitudes and beliefs are deeply buried and hidden from a person’s consciousness, but they still influence their actions and thoughts.

    I agree that a person can only speak for themselves – this article does that. The author speaks for himself and his efforts to understand.

  25. corvus boreus

    Lorraine Muller,
    Can I take it that you tick the ‘yes’ box for A/TSI identification on official forms?

  26. Lorraine Muller

    corvus boreus,
    I am sure a quick google search will answer your questions, and maybe some you haven’t thought of yet.

    Gaining some understanding of mainstream culture, I now ‘get’ why ATSI is used instead of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander. (The acronym is not liked and sometimes offense is taken when used). Non-Indigenous mainstream Australians love acronyms – I was met with approval when I used NIMA a few times to check the validity of my reasoning.

    To answer your question, it depends on who is asking and how cantankerous I am feeling. Most times I do tick the relevant box/s

  27. Kaye Lee

    Lorraine,

    Your work sounds very interesting. I appreciate your informed input.

    “Dr Muller hopes her findings will not only offer Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people greater insight into what makes non-Indigenous Australians tick, but also help non-Indigenous people better understand themselves and their relationship with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

    “It’s about opening a conversation,” she said. “I do think most non-Indigenous Australians want to find a way to live in harmony and respect – to engage in decolonisation. It’s very clear we need to harness that. My work provides a framework to encourage that process.”

    More power to your arm. We sure need it.

  28. corvus boreus

    Lorraine Muller,
    oops, blush.
    One quick google (yes, it’s a verb), and your credentials are suddenly crystal clear.
    Sorry about that, it was partially a disinclination to cyber-stalk, but mostly just lazy minded me.
    Similar applies to my abbreviation of an entire swathe of humanity into the letters ‘A/TSI’. I was unaware that the application of such an acronym was irksome to some, but, upon reflection, I really shouldn’t be surprised. Apologies.
    Why I enquired as to whether your geographical roots ran deep was that question has been raised about the relative validity of non-Indigenous inputs (a valid concern), and I wanted to ascertain how much of your input could be regarded as lived experience.
    Having googled a glimpse into where your opinions are coming from, I shall definitely read a lot more into what you have to say.

    Ps, In so much as I understand the meaning of the concept, I offer you my respect.

  29. paul walter

    Oh, that is interesting. Someone with a doctorate no less, not just little Lorraine Muller from the subs making a quick observation or two.

    I thought your comments here and elsewhere seemed intelligent and now we know you must have brains in spades and the addition of an interesting standpoint from which observe, analyse and add to the sum of knowledge.

    You are someone we can learn from.

    But be patient with us, not all of us have such reserves of intelligence and have our own cultural fogs to navigate.

  30. paul walter

    I should say something similar re Trish Corry.. intelligent and educated, but there also seems an intolerant streak.

    If someone asks a question or queries something you are proposing, don’t react so defensively but take a moment to explain and you may find your job gets easier as well as others.

  31. corvus boreus

    paul walter,
    Dr Muller pointed out to me that the acronym ‘A/TSI’ (Aboriginal/Torres Strait Islander) pisses some people off.
    Granting that, how might the term ‘uncle Tom’ be viewed when slung as an epiphet towards Indigenous conservatives?

    I have not read Harriet Beecher Stowe’s 1852, novel but I do have a vague grasp on the basic plotline and themes, and understand some of it’s implications and ramifications upon a socio-historical landscape where the use of racism to justify generational human enslavement was a legal/cultural norm.
    ‘Uncle Tom’ is not a term I would choose to use flippantly.

    By the way, the character of Uncle Tom, though subjected to enslavement not of his own choice, and endlessly assailed by indignities and upheavals beyond his ability to influence, himself chooses, in all his dealings, to act according to the best guidance of his faith and conscience,

  32. helvityni

    corvus boreus, do not worry, Allan Tudge is promoting Oz overseas, differing voices are silenced soon enough…

    For the fear of offending anyone here, I’ll go and watch the black couple dancing on Joe’s blog…oops read ‘the couple’, no’t ‘ the black couple..’

  33. corvus boreus

    helvyni,
    Enjoy the dancing.

  34. Lorraine Muller

    corvus boreus,
    Lorraine is fine. I am a bit of an accidental academic – started studying and forgot to stop until recently.

    While there are a number of derogatory names used, like the one you ask about, they are designed to offend. While some may be somewhat justified, especially in the name-caller’s mind, sometimes they ignore that the person targeted may be one of those vital (often peace-seeking) people who keep the doors open, and often open new ones for Indigenous Australians. Of course there are those who want to be the messiah – but you get that. The problem that the messiah types face is that they will only be lauded and promoted while they sing the tune pleasing to their master’s ears – it’s a price some are prepared to pay for the glory. A difficulty for non-Indigenous people is determining who fits what category because black politics is exceptionally complex.

    Paul, you say “not all of us have such reserves of intelligence and have our own cultural fogs to navigate”, when it is not a case of smarts, but of commitment to learn and grow. The key thing is to peer through the cultural fogs to get a clearer picture. This is why this article is so interesting – it indicates a desire to learn more, respectfully.

  35. Michael Taylor

    Lorraine, I’m glad you mentioned “Black Politics.” It’s something so hard for non-Aboriginal people to understand.

    In my regional ATSIC office we wouldn’t put a person from a certain nation in a team with a person from another nation if those nations were fighting over native title in order to get mining royalties. You just didn’t.

    In Canberra I just couldn’t get things like that through to people. City people (Indigenous or non-Indigenous) have no idea.

    As my brother in Port Augusta said: “We hate those city blacks. They don’t know jack shit. They don’t know what it’s like to be a black fella, yet they’ve all got some chip on their shoulder.”

  36. corvus boreus

    Lorraine,
    I’ve learned enough about endemic Indigenous culture to understand that the prenom of ‘uncle’ would soften the impact of any slight (intended or perceived) anyways.

    Regarding ‘messiahs’, I have a special distrust of the breed who use favourable media amplification to build a personal populist platform based on constant re-articulation of simplistic ‘solutions’. Small-word big-message media darlings of every stripe.
    Add to this the sways of political party puppeteering and the constant prodding by corporate, all of which exerts corrupting influence over any intended integrity within the basic ambition.

    Having said that, I acknowledge what you say about people often having good intentions and values (as well as reasonable working brains) that can be shrouded from our perception by bias over differences in ideology (or brand thereof).
    For example, before she was booted from the senate for having a Scottish relative, Indigenous Senator Jacqui Lambie, a person who has said and done some things that absolutely appalled me, also sometimes surprised by making sensible statements and joining in principled opposition to corrosive legislature,
    People can surprise.

  37. paul walter

    Michael Taylor, that hit me like a house brick also and adds a big new layer of complexity usually not fully appreciated including by this writer.

    Colonisation smashed an immensely complex strong and delicately balanced cultural ecosystem and survival mechanism.

    But the notion both as in apparatus bestowing of cognitive compass, if you like and as a factor in understanding modern complexity that complicates and ensures the failure of previous white attempts at remedy is not fully understood by many people who just think of the end results of colonisation without understanding how it has worked and the experiential human cost involved.

  38. Kaye Lee

    I too want to be told if I am being unintentionally offensive. I want to know how to discuss things without showing disrespect.

    I don’t think bowing out of the conversation is the best way.

    Tony wants to learn. So do I. So do most people here.

    We need people like Lorraine to help us.

    Michael,

    I think that is the whole point. Aboriginal people are individuals with individual needs, opinions, circumstances. Just like all of us. If certain groups in our society are facing specific challenges, then we should work together to help address them. But increasingly, we seem to be dividing into silos.

    Tony, I thank you for prompting this discussion.

  39. paul walter

    Kaye Lee, I am always told I am being offensive whether it is (usually) unintentional, or not. As is yourself.

    I find it a nauseating tactic, passive-aggressive psychotic stuff, reactive ad hominem, but understand that people are at different stages of their life journey, probably damaged but that people can change as experience informs more clearly.

    Trolls are sad.

    Sometimes you take the bait through deficiencies in your own makeup, little wounds that don’t like having salt rubbed in them and most of us, like the trolls, have button push points identified soon enough by a certain pathology although I do believe that most people do not have the problem to the point that it is obviously and irreversibly ingrained and on the way to sociopathy.

    I get the perception that Lorraine is more mellow and open to the enjoyment of the real deal, but If she is like me she probably finds it hard not to be weighed down by depression at times when a glimpse of the worst of things is offered up by life. I sense she is here to converse, not lash out and is a welcome relief on this score, therefore.

    Never mind..we will see what we will see. Must read some more postings and comments, since it looks like I’m doomed to a night in.

  40. Kaye Lee

    paul,

    I have just been away with two dear girlfriends from school (friends for 50 years) to visit a cousin I love dearly. It helps, when all the problems weigh us down, to remember how wonderfully caring, and resilient, people are.

    None of us are perfect. We all say and do things that are wrong. But we learn to do better. We learn how to better help, support, and communicate with each other.

    In that respect, life is a magnificent evolving beast that we ride as best we can in an everchanging landscape of learning

    As Lorraine reminds us, with a humility her credentials and wise words defy, none of us are the messiah.

    .

  41. paul walter

    The very word…humility.

    I like the flexibility that is involved with humility. I can only aspire, but at that sort of level is where I would like eventually to be at. Time will tell if the character is there or not, as things run their course.

  42. Lorraine Muller

    Paul, I am a little bemused to be called mellow, just as I was when another person referred to me as a peacemaker.
    Some people will say they are a little cautious of me because I do speak my mind. So rest assured Kay that I would point out of I thought you or others were out of line.

    Sadly the pervasiveness of being acculturated into mainstream society (white European apparently) can sometimes result in accidental racism. That is the unintended, and unwanted, stereotypes and assumptions that are ingrained and often go unchallenged.

    I am not sure how much I have to offer in the learning stakes, because that really comes from within a person. I can certainly guide, advise, point out resources for learning, but the most important thing is to keep going and if a mistake is made – apologise quickly and ask respectful questions.
    I don’t spend a lot of time on this site, mainly a quick scan and read a few articles. Occasionally I comment, under a different tag, but this particular thread I liked because it showed the author was trying to gain understanding. Or at least understand a way to walk alongside. There are less trolls on here than on The Conversation, and I have appreciated the open-mindedness.

    I certainly do not want to dominate these discussions, because that would hinder things. If you want to contact me, I am sure one of your google searches will show up my email address.

    For me it is reaffirming to see a non-Indigenous person discussing how to work more respectfully with Indigenous Australians.
    Respect always
    Lorraine

  43. paul walter

    Thanks, Lorraine . Yes, indeed I am well acculturated, as if to the Cosmic Hum. Many remind me here and elsewhere of the consequences of this acculturation, but I will gradually grow a thick hide as the assailed tissue hardens.

    The Conversation is a good example of how effectively the authorities have succeeded in dumbing down the internet as well as other media. This dumbing down through petty regulation, starvation of funding and denial of access to pertinent information is a useful tool in reinforcing acculturation of the sort we also see as to the asylum seeker issue. We also see this with the issue in reportage of Gaza and Israel, and the characterisation of questioning as inherently “anti-Semitic”.

    “Othering” is the order of the day and knowledge has been prostituted or pressed into service in its cause.

    The spectacular herald for the new times was never more clearly and dreadfully created and witnessed as in the diametric misrepresentation of the research, aims and conclusions of Little Children are Sacred, employed as means by which to smash aboriginal resistance since Wik / Mabo. Installed a template solidified by a timid Labor refusal to make amends on basics, it has since been rigorously adhered to or been employed, loudly promoted by the Murdochite noise machine, involving assertions of “unworthiness” in a climate of orchestrated emotion and information denial, especially since Abbott, for the treatment of most everyone else not of the charmed but greedy and arrogant conservative inwards-looking circle.

    Little children are Sacred and the Intervention also served as a desperate last-minute attempt at wedge by Howard of the Tampa Kids Overboard type but for once the public was ten times bitten, eleven times shy.

    We cheered Kevin 07, gleefully confident we were seeing the final consigning of the Hansonists and troglodytes to the Wilderness. After Rudd’s Meltdown triumph all seemed well, but Labor politicians got bored, Rudd became erratic and they started fighting with each other over the spoils of what turned out to be defeat, with a new Dark Age descending after 2013.

    My idea is, that the public never grasped the implication of two things above all else; Aboriginal policy and Asylum Seeker policy allied with the Terrorism bunkum. Now I despair of a rollback occurring and celebrate my relative closeness to the grave compared to the rest. Channelling Nietzsche a little, I say hopefully I am gone before the consequences of Australian political life over the last twenty years set in earnest.

    Two legs good, four legs bad…

  44. corvus boreus

    Mick Byron,
    Mr Andrews has offered an article based upon a personal refection on his non-indigenous attitudes to indigenous people(s).

    Dr Lorraine Muller has offered us some insights from both from both an indigenous and a qualified academic perspective.

    The rest of the discussion has all been do-gooder gubba jibber, with the occasional proxy quotation of an indigenous voice.

    I (and doubtless many others) would be very interested to hear more of the lived experience and viewpoints of your socio-politically engaged friend from the Wide Bay Tribe, especially if they were expressed directly by the young lady herself.

    Ps, (note that, despite your expressed concerns, you have not yet been branded a racist)

  45. corvus boreus

    Pps, I meant ‘Wreck’ rather than ‘Wide’ bay.
    No offense intended.

  46. Kaye Lee

    “The rest of the discussion has all been do-gooder gubba jibber, with the occasional proxy quotation of an indigenous voice.”

    I think that is a bit unfair cb. We may be clumsy in the way we express ourselves. We may disagree about things. We may indeed be ignorant. But I think everyone here has good intentions and are motivated by wanting to understand better and do better.

    It perturbs me that terms like “do-gooder” are thrown around perjoratively. Just like “feminist” and “socialist” and “greenie” are now used as put-downs.

  47. corvus boreus

    Kaye Lee,
    I understand and respect the varying value and validity of all the non-indigenous contributions that have been made to this discussion of attitudes to Aboriginal affairs, but, within this context, it still also qualifies as mostly ‘gubba-jibber’.
    I do not exempt my own contributions from this clumsy categorization.

    As for the term ‘do-gooder’ being used as a pejorative, I share your view, but included the phrase because it had been repeatedly cited as a relevant term by the person I was addressing..
    For me, the enacting of deeds based upon positive intentions is not in itself an arbitrary negative, and besides, all outside interventions, even those with serious potential for mis-exploitation, tend to claim altruistic motivations.
    For instance, the Federal Government are seeking to legislate for welfare in selected communities to be managed through a card solely issued by the Indue corporation, and this, something mostly dreamed-up and done by whites in suits, is being framed as something done purely for the benefit of Indigenous people.
    Under linguistic parameters, all paler outsiders seeking to implement or influence such a programme, be they in support or opposition, are, by definition, ‘white do-gooders’.

  48. Kaye Lee

    I understand your point. I don’t think we “do good” by imposing our personal beliefs and values on others and I agree that many despicable things have been done with the “best intentions”.

    But even as we ‘pale outsiders’ discuss things, it can make us question our own opinions and our culture and how we measure success.

    We are fortunate to have some here to share their opinions and experience from an Indigenous perspective.

    But in ways, I don’t feel like an outsider. These are my fellow Australians. These are my neighbours and my friends and my children’s friends. They are my customers. They are my students. They are my teachers. They are my workmates. I certainly have no experience of remote communities and the challenges they face. But I can listen and learn and discuss ideas.

  49. corvus boreus

    Trish Corry,
    Your Natalie Cromb quotation (19/7 @ 7:32) where she urges non-indigenous people not to usurp conversational space from indigenous voices was, as you say, delivered in the context of her role as the host of IndigenousX(Ltd), which is a forum specifically and exclusively devoted to the provision of a voice for Indigenous Australians.
    As such, her comment should be taken as ‘ take it elsewhere, white-eye’, not be automatically read as a blanket condemnation of non-indigenous people expressing any interest or support for the cause of Indigenous people.
    That is, of course, unless you have any lived experience or supportive evidence to the contrary.

  50. Trish Corry

    Corvus. I quoted elsewhere on here, a local, respected Indigenous, woman leader who addressed us at a forum. She said before we (white folk) take up a cause or speak up on issues, check with the Indigenous community if it’s something they want us to speak up about and if it’s in their interest.

    Another point she made was, there also might be others with the actual lived experience to speak to these issues.

    Another point was about framing. How when white folk address an issue, we approach it from a white frame.

    To me, the Professor and Natalie are saying similar things.

    Even when I first started writing years ago, I did an article about legal discrimination and discrimination by default women face. This included further disparity experienced by Indigenous women. I ran it by a woman leader/manager in a local Aboriginal organisation here to ensure my article was culturally appropriate and was there anything I should remove or add, before I published it. She thanked me for that.

    This is not some new thing I’ve jumped on. In another aspect of my life, I favour qualitative, lived experience, phenomenology and personal recounts as critical to tell stories. So for other reasons, I don’t hold dear the same free speech or right to write about all topics as others do.

    I think I’m also particularly passionate about this because on Twitter, I see similar messages to Natalie’s said quite a bit.

    And as this is the AIMN commentary where I’m pretty much loathed and ridiculed; it should not matter what I think anyway. I haven’t written in over a year and I hardly comment, but I felt compelled to say something on this issue, so take my 2c how you like.

  51. Kaye Lee

    Trish,

    I wish you felt more comfortable to speak here. You aren’t loathed or ridiculed.

    Your approach is sometimes overly defensive in my opinion but I think you have an informed point of view to add to the discussion. I know you think we disagree about everything which is odd to me because I have always felt we were on the same side (maybe not about coal mining).

    I do listen to what you say but you take any questioning terribly personally. It isn’t meant that way. I pissed off my teachers and lecturers with questions too. There isn’t just one way. Communication is so important.

    A dear friend of mine once said I had anticipated tension about another friend of ours, which made me ready to argue. She was right.

    “This is not some new thing I’ve jumped on”

    I don’t think that is the case for any of us. I have my own memories I am dealing with that have nothing to do with twitter and everything to do with my lived experience. We all have our individual experiences that no doubt shape our thinking. But it’s not about any one of us. I think I am scaring Lorraine by seeming to ask for a teacher/counsellor/fixer. No one person can be that. This is just a conversation with other Australians. All voices welcome.

  52. Lorraine Muller

    Kay, you haven’t scared me. Lol.
    Life is busy and I wouldn’t want to dominate the thread.

    Trish, your comment is part of the reason I commented. You are right, and people should only speak for themselves.
    I once gave this advice to a colleague who works alongside Indigenous Australians. She listened and is now highly regarded by Indigenous and non-Indigenous academics and workers. She speaks about her experiences on gaining understanding. When and if she errs, she quickly apologises and asks for guidance – she is very respectful. In this article I saw a similar approach – a non-Indigenous person discussing their trying to gain greater understanding. Just as you have demonstrated that you have taken advice and guidance.
    It is time that non-Indigenous people made the effort to gain some understanding – respectfully and not demandingly.

  53. Kaye Lee

    Scared was the wrong word. And not dominating the thread is a lesson I should learn too. But I do think your particular area of expertise is very relevant to this discussion.

  54. Lorraine Muller

    Kaye,
    be careful what you wish for. 🙂
    For you and other readers might find it daunting, but if your aim is to walk more respectfully alongside Indigenous Australians, and even amongst your own, you might find it worth the effort.

  55. Kaye Lee

    I already find many things daunting. But it hasn’t made me turn away. My aim is to walk more respectfully in the world and home is a good place to start.

  56. corvus boreus

    I shall continue to learn snippets of local culture and history from the Indigenous people with whom I sometimes work, and might even take time to read some of Dr Mullers writings on how to further decolonize my mind..
    However, as far as voicing any public opinion on the various ongoing societal disadvantages and injustices suffered by Indigenous Australians, I shall henceforth, as a non-vested party, defer from participation in any further discussion of the subject.

  57. Kaye Lee

    How can you be a non-vested party? If we are contributing to disadvantage and discrimination, if we are promoting a culture of alcohol and gambling and porn, if we are denying services to regional areas, if we are cutting funding to programs that have the potential to help, if we care about what happens to others, then we are vested parties.

    I look forward to your comments. They make me think.

  58. Lorraine Muller

    corvus, it is not like you to be so coy. I am sure your silence would be missed. And please call me Lorraine.

    If you comment on such topics, then you simply speak only for yourself. Eg. Grappling with trying to gain an understanding of who are non-Indigenous Australians, using the same point system of requirements as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders was an ideal answer. Now I know that those who identify as, and are recognised within their community as part of mainstream culture, are basically white European heritage. Some people had migrated here as adults!
    So, you can see that by this example, I did not speak for, but relayed my understanding.

    It would be a shame if you did not feel free to comment, and if you do engage with decolonisation more your comments will demonstrate it.

    If you are keen to learn more about decolonisation here is a link to book chapter that has a bit on it. I have built on it since, but it gives a bit of an idea of the different stages people may encounter as they work through it. You might need to get your library to chase it down, unless you are interested in buying a book on social work 🙂 in which case it is available online.
    (2016) Muller, L., Preparing to work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island peoples: Decolonisation for social work practice.in J. Maidment & R. Egan (Eds.), Practice Skills for Social Work & Welfare (Third Edition). Crows Nest, NSW: Allen & Unwin.

  59. corvus boreus

    Lorraine,
    I call you Lorraine when addressing you directly, but tend to transfer to a more formal title when referring to you 3rd person.
    An idiosyncrasy born of courtesy.

    As for making further commentary on the subject of Indigenous affairs, I have so much to learn and very little to offer, especially in a field where sympathetic interest is so readily interpreted as patronizing interference.
    I am not so much turning my back on all indigenous Australians as scaling back from wider engagement to concentrate on developing more meaningful relationships with my immediate Gumbaynggirr neighbours.
    Take care, and thanks for the tips and talks.

  60. corvus boreus

    Kaye Lee,
    So many ills are done in my name with so little of me to address them all.

    Indigenous Australians have their own voices, and, by report, seem to majorly resent outside advocacy.
    Native vegetation has no voice, and doesn’t display resentment over the support of non-photosynthesizing do-gooders.
    I shall therefor focus my attention and efforts towards areas that might actually do some good.

    Bowing out of the subject,
    corvus.

  61. Kaye Lee

    Fair enough cb. And more power to you. Trees need friends too.

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