Monthly Archives: April 2012

Mark Mullins: An ally to Aborigines

In a post published by a fellow Aborigine Equality Advocate blogger, Mark ‘Bakchos’ Mullins explains not only what’s wrong with Australian media as it pertains to social issues concerning natives, but the problem with mainstream media in all countries. Obviously, with his background he is much more informed on these subjects than I, but as a student of media, I felt informed and educated after reading his post.

He says, “While my current focus is on Indigenous Australians, the wider community needs to remember that what happens to one section of the community can happen more broadly.” -Mark Mullins

Even though my blog is a class project and exists on a rather small scale, I believe this ability to publish my thoughts and opinions and learn through those of others is a tremendous privilege and I never for a moment take it for granted. When enough of us feel this way, we are able to fight for this ability to make it not only a privilege, but a right shared by all in order to contribute to the free market place of ideas and better our communities, our nations and the world as a whole.

People like Mr. Mullins who use their background and beliefs to inform the public through their blog are a huge player in creating change where it is needed most. As he pursues his PhD focused on “Corruption and Racism in the Australian Federal Police and the death of Australia’s democracy,” his work will most definitely attract the attention of concerned allies to the aborigines. If a lowly student like myself can stumble upon his work so easily, imagine the good that can come from his collection of ideas once in the hands of powerful people who share the same perspective.

The most shocking story I’ve come across while writing this blog is what Mr. Mullins witnessed while dining in an Australian cafe in 2005. Below is an account of the events that took place at that time.

“In late November or early December 2005 I was walking past the Waldorf Cafe in Civic at around lunch. When passing the cafe I heard a verbal exchange and the following words were said “… you’re nothing but a fucking boong cunt … Further I heard the same voice say “… you’re a whore who fucks boongs …” – Mr. Darren Bloomfield, who witnessed the incident and attempted to report it to the Australian Federal Police.

“Mr. Bloomfield, the Anglican minister and the third witness accompanied me and the lady concerned to the nearest Australian Federal Police station to report the incident. The officer on duty would not take our complaint.

Even though the lady concerned had her glasses broken, her dress ripped and her right eye blackened by her assailant in an unprovoked racially motivated attack, we as Aborigines were denied our rights, because our assailant was white and a so called ‘identity’. The Commonwealth Ombudsman looked for every excuse not to investigate and to this date has failed to take any action. AFP internal affairs excoriated themselves even though they took no statements and made no approaches for statements to the victims or the witnesses.

Subsequent to this assault my house was broken into and my dog and cat were killed which was followed by a message indicating that it was in retaliation for making a complaint to the AFP regarding the assault. A contemporaneous grievance was raised about these issues by the bank executive who was one of the victims of the Waldorf Cafe assault, with a then member of the ACT Legislative Assembly. Although sympathetic, no action was taken.

This encounter and the stonewalling we as victims were meet with from Australian, ACT and AFP officialdom spurred me to investigate the full extent of entrenched and systemic racism within Australia’s police services and government departments. I was particularly interested in identifying incidents where serving police officers had refused to investigate crimes committed by ‘white’ Australians against ATSI Australians.” -Mark Mullins

So, you see, this issue affects not only the integrity of the Aborigine people, but also their safety and that of anyone who chooses to be on their side. I only hope that the work of Mr. Mullins can bring some justice to those who are seeking it.

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Current Controversy

While searching for some current events going on in Australia with the Aborigines, I was shocked and saddened to find this article.

“A mining company has been accused of deliberately desecrating an Aboriginal sacred site in central Australia by setting off an explosion that split the rocky outcrop containing the site in half.” -reported by Natasha Robinson

So, according to http://www.TheAustralian.com, a mining company that digs for manganese was carrying out their business in an area in central Australia that holds cultural significance to the country’s native people. The official name of the site, “Two Women Sitting Down,” is said to be inspired by two spirits, Bilgara and Kaladaku. These two female spirits are believed to exist in dreams where they fight with one another. Natives also believe that the color of the rock and sand in the area of destruction is red because of the ‘bloody battles’ between Bilgara and Kaladaku.

Now, I’m not a scholar when it comes to mining practices and guidelines. But from this article I am able to gather that there are, in fact, Aboriginal liaison committees that require corporate and commercial cooperation – alliteration not intended. The mining company, OM Manganese, was “issued a clearance” to mine among the sacred sites, but only because of certain restrictions that they were supposed to operate within while working in those areas. Apparently, they acted outside of that agreement and wound up making a huge crater where a very special site now used to exist.

It seems to me that corporations and bureaucratic organizations, when given an inch, always take another mile – and then blow it up, either figuratively or, in this case, quite literally. It’s unfortunate for those who are hurt by these actions, but at the same time, it serves as constant motivation to form an opposition and work toward honorably upholding a unique and meaningful culture.

A Sleeping Banjora Awakes

My sister was lucky enough to visit Zoo Miami in South Florida this past week and snapped some great photos while she was there. I was instantly taken by this picture of a little koala bear taking an afternoon nap that, I’m sure, was much needed. 

It reminded me of why I was inspired to choose the topic of Aborigine equality for this blog that I am writing for an international communications class. I knew I wanted to write about Australia because I didn’t know much about it. I looked at this as an opportunity to explore and learn about a place that I was not very familiar with. But as a kid who loved animals, I learned that koala bears are native to Australia. And, they are extremely cute and awesome little creatures. Therefore, Australia must be pretty cool! (Yes, at times, I am that simple minded.)

While the nature and wildlife is without a doubt interesting, diverse and beautiful, I feel that it is almost superficial to solely focus on the happy, fun parts having to do with a country. In Australia, there is too much going on with the native people and their culture to turn the other cheek and ignore it – especially when the United States has, within the past 50 years, dealt with very similar issues that shaped our nation and the lives of everyone who lives in it.

Currently, there are lawsuits and petitions that have to do with the rights of aborigines that arise on a regular basis. An article I read just the other day explained that in West Australia, there is a ‘blatantly racist law’ that dictates that a deceased Aborigine without a will must relinquish all their wealth to the public and cannot pass it on to their next of kin. This law does not exist for white Australian citizens.

“Indigenous Affairs Minister Peter Collier yesterday said he had previously ordered the Department of Indigenous Affairs to finalise a proposal to amend or repeal the act.” -reported by Nicolas Perpitch

This discrepancy is just another way in which the natives are held down and forced to live with injustice. But, with the help of petitioners, Social Justice Commissioners and those who have a deep respect for equality across Australia, these laws are in the process of being reversed.

A Culture of Song and Dance

This video I found of Aboriginal dances exhibits the essence of the culture of Australia’s native people. I was intrigued by this video in particular because of the caption that accompanies it.

“Australia’s Aboriginal people have no written language. The legends and the stories of their past have been kept alive in song and dance. This video contains two films that provide a beautiful and valuable record of Australian Aboriginal dance.” – written by the folks at Youtube’s iDIDJ Australia Didgeridoo Channel

No written language! In our world today, it is really difficult to try to imagine going the length of just one generation without being able to communicate through the written word, let alone centuries. Granted, as a people who are addicted to the internet, we are so linked through our written language that it would be virtually impossible to live without it. The Aborigines never had it to begin with, so their story is a little different.

Watching the dances the Aborigines use to communicate with each other is no doubt entertaining because everything about their people is very foreign to me. Their dress, their traditional face paint, etc. Watching this guy hop around like a kangaroo seems a little silly at first, but then after a few minutes worth of deeper consideration, I see him as a free, endearing person relying on his basic skills to communicate about animals, hunting, and, ultimately, his survival.

This video was filmed in Cape York which is a peninsula that juts out from the far North of Queensland, Australia. It is said to inhabit up to 5 communities of Aboriginal tribes and has some of the most untouched nature left in the world.

What’s going on here?

To me, Australia has always been a place of mystery. When I think of the great down under I imagine kangaroos, koala bears, sharks, crocodiles, Nicole Kidman, you know, just the archetypal figures.

When I had to choose a country to study for my International Communications class at Flagler College, I instantly wanted to study Australia. At first, I thought I’d focus on popular forms of culture in the big metropolitan cities. I did a little research on the history of Australia’s settlement and government in order to gain some perspective on just what kind of country I was going to be dealing with. It all sounded a lot like my native country – the United States; settled by the British, ruled from a far. But it eventually gained some autonomy and became a constitutional monarchy. It kind of has the best of both worlds: awesome Brit-like accents and gorgeous beaches.

But once I learned about the glamorous side of Australia, I delved deeper into the struggle of its native tribes and their fight for rights among the rest of the white Australian population. I remembered a film that I saw in the theater a few years ago titled  Australia directed by an aptly Australian filmmaker, Baz Luhrmann. It may have been a big, glossy Hollywood production, but I’ll never forget how its story resonated with me and made me contemplate the position of the Aborigines throughout history. There’s a struggle going on now for them to gain the same rights as everyone else. They are the heart and soul of Australia’s land and need to be respected as equals, not lesser citizens just because of the color of their skin. The diversity of their tribes offer a wealth of history, culture and a meaning of life that contributes to the betterment of the world. The purpose of this blog is to showcase why this statement is true. So that’s what’s up.