News December 2013

Our Generation

‘The history talks about that our culture, our law, has been raped. It’s a sad story. But that sad story needs to be told, so that the world can understand, that the world can know, that what is happening in the other corner of the world… has to be publicly known and proclaimed.’ (Rev. Dr. Djiniyini Gondarra, Golumala Clan Elder)

This month I would like to take you back to where it all began for me. Over 20 years ago I first had contact with Aborigines, the Indigenous people of Australia. I experienced and was told their story and made a promise to ‘go and tell my people’. Now, in 2013, the people still have the same message. This month I would like to let them ‘speak to you’ themselves. (All quotes are taken from: ‘Our Generation’, Winner ‘Best Campaign Film’ at London International Documentary Festival 2011)

‘Our culture is alive and well to this day. We are not here to fade away. We are not here to die out slowly. But we are here to retain our heritage, our beliefs, our spirituality. And that’s the way our old people have kept it. And that’s the way they are handing it down to us. And that’s the way we will hold to hand down to our generation.’ (Marcus Mungul Lacey, Dhalwangu Clan)

‘It wasn’t our dream to come to the yard (mission). It wasn’t our dream to come and eat at a white man’s table. It wasn’t our dream to come and wear white man’s clothes. It wasn’t our dream to work for the white man as a slave. We were free people.’ (Rev. Dr. Djiniyini Gondarra, Golumala Clan Elder)

The Northern Territory Intervention in 2007 required the suspension of the Racial Discrimination Act. (Created in 1975 to protect all Australians from racism.)

‘What are my people? Who are they? Are they human beings? Have they got pride and dignity just the same as a man or a woman or a child living in the city? (Rev. Dr. Djiniyini Gondarra, Golumala Clan Elder)

‘We can see their westernised world. They are heading into destruction. We are seeing it being done in our community. And their way is not of our ways.’ (Guymun Dhamarranydji, Djambarrpuyngu Clan Elder)

In April 2009 the Government signed the United Nations Declaration on the rights of the Indigenous peoples, one of the last 3 countries to do so. The Government has since breached most of the articles in the declaration. Australia’s violation of the human rights of its Indigenous people is legitimised by its legal system. Australia remains the only western democracy without a bill of rights. And its constitution does not have any provisions to protect the human rights of all Australians. Australia remains the only Commonwealth country not to have signed a Treaty with its Indigenous people.

‘Until the issue of a Treaty is looked at and solved, until that negotiated settlement has occurred, the question of legitimacy is always going to be hanging over Australia. So they perhaps need a Treaty as much as Aboriginal people do.’ (Prof. Larissa Behrendt, University of Technology Sydney)

‘We have an opportunity to understand the oldest living culture in the world… and we seem uninterested. As if it has nothing to offer us. It’s an opportunity that no one else has in the world, apart from Australia.’ (John Greatorex, Charles Darwin University)

‘I have a body. And I have a shadow. That shadow is my culture, and it sticks to me. If my shadow goes away, I’m sad.’ (Djanumbe Gurriwiwi, Galpu Clan Elder)


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