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Byron Shire
May 18, 2021

Call for global support against Indigenous community removal

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SoblakAction group SOS Blak Australia is calling for a stop to the Western Australia government plans to close down remote Aboriginal communities.

‘We who live in the remoter areas of Australia do not believe it is a lifestyle choice but an intrinsic fundamental human right to live in our own communities and our own country,’ the group said in a media release.

‘We hold significant cultural obligations to our ancestors to maintain sovereign ties to our lands.

After successive breaches of human rights conventions and the forced removal of the Aboriginal community of Oombulgurri in 2014, we maintain a vote of no confidence in both the incumbent state and federal governments in their actions toward Aboriginal people.

‘On Thursday March 19, Australians across the nation are being asked to celebrate Close the Gap Day, but for many of our countrymen the gap has been significantly widened, placing increasing pressure and trauma on our people.

‘Starting in the Kimberley at 10am, we will march not for this government agenda but instead to show our objection to the threatened proposed closures to Aboriginal communities.

‘We ask the national and international community to stand with us in this action, and the subsequent actions that will ensue as we mobilise effective campaigns to secure our cultural right and entitlement.’

See more at www.sosblakaustralia.com.


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18 COMMENTS

  1. I feel we are literally being spat on by the Abbott government they have no respect of our way of living and our way of life I am not living on my country I am in the city and i hate it but I would drop it in a heart beat because being on country is our way of life and the very essence of our culture

    • I am so sorry, and SO angry at any attempt by ANY GOVERNMENT to dare to further distress or displace our indigenous people.

      This is a disgrace that (I feel) has taken us back a 100 years and more !!

      NO MORE………. NO MORE disrespect of our original land owners

      ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!!!!!

      Say F^$*%kin sorry and BLOODY MEAN IT !!!!!!

  2. Well, Matthew,
    That is the whole point, we’d all be sitting around in the country if we could. However the reality is most of us have to work for a living. Real Australians can’t just go bush and expect the services, that are available in the city ( to those who can afford them ! ) To be provided gratis and on demand.
    Aboriginal life expectation has been doubled, since civilisation arrived and this should be appreciated along with all the other indispensable aides to ‘traditional culture ‘ like Toyotas, TVs, laptops, telescopic sights and tinnies.
    All Australians are equal and aboriginal people are no special case.
    G”)

    • Ken – there is a great difference between Aboriginal people living in the bush and us westerners going bush to take a break. And as for equality . . . when you have experienced equal bullying, put downs, cultural and social genocide, murder, rape and pillage; when your children have been ripped from you and placed in hostile homes as servants; when everything you believe and believed in has been torn from you – then you can claim equality.
      This is their Country – not just their country. They are part of it, not just living on it, they are owned by it – they don’t own it. They have been deprived of their way of life by the western way of owning and enslaving the earth – fencing land, putting animals on it – forcing the land to work for us, where they have traditionally lived lightly on the land with great respect.
      They are not asking for more charity – their website calls for us to “support the Aboriginal communities in Australia to remain in their homelands and on country & enable them to self-determine their own futures”
      One of the points they make on the website is that the cost of closing remote communities is greater than tackling issues. And they want to tackle the issues. They have had handouts – they have not had help.
      If they are sent into town, they’ll still be on welfare but with the added humiliation of being out of their environment in a hostile white environment that does not understand their ways or have any respect (just go to Alice Springs, Tenant Creek, Darwin or any of the NT towns to see what they still put up with. Most of the people in NT gaols are Indigenous – that tells me that we have let them down badly.
      Last night we had dinner with a NZ couple who spoke of their inability to understand the way we don’t value or respect the Indigenous peoples of Australia. Maori culture, language and mores are taught to NZ children.
      I believe we need to learn about their culture and their ways – not try to finish the genocide that was started in 1788.

      • Liora,
        I not only claim equality, I demand it. If you or anyone else thinks otherwise that is racism !
        My ancestors were French/ Irish/ Scots and were subject to “bullying, put downs, cultural and social genocide, murder, rape and pillage; when your children have been ripped from you and placed in hostile homes as servants; when everything you believe and believed in has been torn from you –” and then exiled to the ends of the Earth, you begin to understand the experience of colonial Australians.
        The last two hundred years have been an horrendous era for millions worldwide and Aboriginals are nothing special. What happened here was British Imperialism, the same as in Africa ,India,America,China and the Middle East etc. it was terrible but it was two hundred years ago.
        The future is the only time that matters and it’s about time to realise we are all in the same boat and all equal.
        G”)

        • You’re ancestors Ken? not yourself or your mother or father and probably not even your grandparents. It is not a comparison. We were only made citizens about 40 years ago! The Governments made all Aboriginal people wards, forced onto welfare, onto reserves and children still being illegally removed in the late 70’s. this is NOT 200 years ago as you try to make out it is very very recent.
          You wish for an Australia without a strong Aboriginal presence? What will Australia be if without it’s first peoples of this country if we are all assimilated as you suggest? We’ve already lost so much.
          Do you think it is not appropriate to live within a double existence? Is culture and tradition stagnant in your mind? Because in reality it isn’t and never has been. Do you think that Aboriginal traditions, customs and technologies have remained exactly the same since the beginning of time? Cultural survival is based on evolution, adaptation to change. Just because you drive a car doesn’t mean your heritage or family and country connections have changed. It doesn’t mean your history has changed, it doesn’t actually change anything about a person and their kinship systems or country of belonging. It simply means they’re driving a car. We are using technology to revive and maintain culture, share knowledge and learn e.g. Aboriginal languages. Do you think it is not appropriate to learn or teach Aboriginal languages via a classroom or internet? Is that not ‘cultural’ to you? It is about the language and the nations of that language. It’s obvious that you don’t quite get that concept due to your stereotypes of how we should look and be to you in the 21st century.
          Get a job, become a ‘real Australian’? I’m sorry but that mentality doesn’t and won’t fix anything at all.
          Have you ever stopped to wonder why this and previous Gov’s haven’t actually made any advancements for these communities? They haven’t poured money into these communities in sustainable ways, there’s no long term commitments to produce long term outcomes, every few years things change and are disrupted. Services closed or defunded, new one’s established and the cycle starts again. 1/3 of ‘Aboriginal expenditure’ doesn’t even leave Canberra and the majority of the rest is funneled through mainstream services who produce minimal outcomes. These communities are not being FUNDED as you are led to believe. Less than 20% of funding actually reaches the ground for these communities and what a strategic move that is to portray immense investment in these communities, what a bunch of smoke and mirrors!
          Did you know they also include imprisonment costs and native title court cases as ‘Aboriginal expenditure’? How is that an expenditure on Aboriginal communities?
          Example: They built 10 houses in one community, flew in tradespeople paid them $4000 (Minimum!) a week whilst locals were left untrained, unskilled. This happens everywhere because Gov’s want stats now, they want to show they’ve done something, produced something in their short term. Generally they do NOT invest in sustainable approaches for communities, they do NOT invest in and up skill people in these communities. They bring ‘services’ in and then they take them out.
          All Australians are not equal, even Australian men and women can not be stated as equal let alone Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians.

          • “You wish for an Australia without a strong Aboriginal presence?”
            “It’s obvious that you don’t quite get that concept due to your stereotypes of how we should look and be to you in the 21st century.”

            Leaping to accusations of prejudice when faced with dissenting opinions is not an admirable quality.

            Infantilizing the Aboriginal peoples of Australia by suggesting that they are helpless without training is also an unflattering maneuver.

            “What will Australia be if without it’s first peoples of this country if we are all assimilated as you suggest?”

            Your undue self importance is showing. You could remove anything you liked from Australia and it would still be Australia, and it is an immensely egocentric view to suggest that any human group defines it instead of the land itself.

        • 200 years ago? This is precisely the point. It’s STILL GOING ON, we just have ‘nicer’ ways of doing it now. I’ll be marching today to show my support for Aboriginal communities. I could easily claim no responsibility – I’m a first generation Australian – but we are all here because it happened and we turn our backs while it continues to happen. Every single Australian is responsible for this, and until we fix up this mess and learn the basic tenet of respect, we will never progress as a nation. We have much to learn, much to do, much to ask forgiveness for, and much to be sorry for.
          The only country I want to live in is this one, but I want it to be fair and I want it to be equal. I fail to see the equality in this.

  3. I think people should remember that there was no such things as poverty or the term remote area until we invaded this country and slaughtered traditional culture here.
    Extending benefits and “privilege’ to “remote areas” is the least we can do. Saying sorry wasn’t even close.

  4. I hope this moves everyone to vote this government out at the next election.
    If each Shire, school, service group and church etc. in Australia were able to form a sister city/school relationship with these communities and support projects as we do to support international communities we should be able to find solutions to creating sustainable, vibrant, productive and healthy communities that can stand against such horrid ‘gubba’ attitudes.

  5. It might surprise Ken to know that people living in Scotland NOW are supporting the protests because they see this British born PM’s push to remove people from their land & their culture as a continuation of the British colonial attempts to commit genocide here in Australia & in Scotland during the Highland Clearances.

    Did you know Ken that after the atomic testing at Maralinga the survivors were rounded up & sent to a mission, then the govt moved them again to a place called Coonana. If anyone has a right to the full support of the Australian govt & people, the people of Maralinga do. But Coonana had their water cut last week. Just like Oombulgurri & many other communities, the govt withdrew programs, stopped maintaining & repairing infrastructure. They closed down the health clinic so the sick & elderly had to leave.

    They shut the school so families had to leave or face having their kids removed. Then, when many have been forced out due to govt action, the govt calls the town “unviable” & says there aren’t enough people left to justify water supply etc – they ignore the hundreds begging to return home & bring in the police to forcibly remove anyone who holds on. Look up Oombulgurri – they did exactly the same there. People were threatened with prosecution for trespass if they tried to visit & the govt came in & bulldozed modern health centres, everything & then literally buried the town.

    In one part of WA there’s 3 remote communities – same size, same issues, same costs. 2 are Aboriginal communities, 1 is white – guess which 2 are being closed. Have you ever lived in a town that had all govt services withdrawn? It’s water, sewer, elec services cut off? Can you name a single white person who experienced this? Even in Bulga NSW the govt is at least communicating with residents & offering to relocate the town – they’re not booting people out homeless & bulldozing their homes & possessions.

    You say you want equality Ken, you say it like YOU are missing out on something, but you want to be careful what you wish for because getting THIS equality is going to be a long fall down for you.

  6. I urge you if you feel strongly that this is wrong do not wait to vote this government out but go to your federal member now. March if you are able. Share posts, talk to people!
    Please let them know they do not stand alone and ignored.

  7. My question is …………………………….. where is ALL the Government managed land rights funds gone ???????? Where is all the money from mining royalties ??????? where is all the leasing money gone…… that OUR Government manages for our Indigenous people ????????????????????? where the bloody money abbott !!!!!!! No wonder our Indigenous people think most all white people are stinking lying bastards …… makes me SICK to my stomach !!!!!! and ashamed that we are going backwards ….. stunned sick & ashamed

    • You don’t see the where the money goes because you are too busy looking for it in the wrong places. The company that I work for has a $250,000,000 contract to provide services to Indigenous communities. That money didn’t appear in the governments pocket, it is tax from mining, from workers, from everywhere. Now we are a very small company. There are many other company’s involved in running and servicing communities. It is unsustainable for the government to keep funding the entire costs of these places. If you have anything to do with remote Australia then you know that working stations from the Kimberly to the Barkley to Central Queensland must be largely self sufficent; pay for their own operation. They pay for the diesel for their generators, for the trucks bringing food, for everything. There are still services available to them, but they are much less frequent. And before you vehemently comment about how I don’t understand blah blah blah, remember I said I work servicing indigenous communities. I am trying to help
      make a very small difference. But I also know the realities of life at the coal face and they are not pretty. The future of anyone is in the end their own responsibility.

  8. Joanna has asked very important questions – we are a seriously malfunctioning democracy – what to do about it?

  9. I don’t see anyone offering a viable solution.

    In order to continue services, the waste must be curtailed. The top down method of supply is rorted to an astonishing degree, with people with their snouts in the trough at every level.
    Control and accountancy must be given to the communities to fix that problem…but that will lead to an even worse scenario, from my limited but stark knowledge.

  10. Amazing. The local indigenous population continues to experience openly bold faced colonialism and some of the off-spring of the first colonizers justify the same colonial attitudes as if it were their inherent right to rule over the lives of the original inhabitants.
    Also, someone’s comment about “civilization” bringing better living standards leading to longevity needs to stop comparing today’s health and social standards to the one that existed two hundred years ago. “Civilization” learned plenty from the peoples they colonized, so it is also possible to say that the strides in “civilized” living standards have come from interactions with New World societies. Europe would’ve stagnated into irrelevance that affected China after it withdrew into itself in this same time period of exploration and expansionism.
    Sadly, the ones who to this day benefit most from colonialism refuse to realize the damaged done to the colonized.

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