I had the opportunity this morning (5:30am my time!) to participate in a live discussion on Al Jazeera with John Pilger, the famous Australian investigative journalist, supporter of Julian Assange, and documentarian, about his new documentary “Utopia”, which looks at the current state of Australia’s treatment of our indigenous population. Although I barely got to speak to him (my one question comes in at the 30 minute mark), it was terrific to listen to him explain what he believes is the role of journalism and, in particular, investigative journalism. I want to be him when I grow up.
They were called “Kanakas“. Growing up in Bundy I was taught that they were “workers”. Wikipedia claims “Of the more than 60,000 Islanders recruited from 1863, the majority were to be “repatriated” (that is, deported) by the Australian Government between 1906-08 under the Pacific Island Labourers Act 1901 legislation prompted by the White Australia policy.”
Or, as the above story suggests, just murdered and thrown into mass graves.
I’ve started a brand new podcast series with David Cole called “The Dreaming”. It’s going to be a long series focused on indigenous affairs. We plan to talk to historians, anthropologists, academics, journalists, politicians, artists and every day people about Australia’s aboriginal people.
I’m re-reading The Fatal Shore by Robert Hughes and thinking about the great irony that King George III punished thieves by sending them out to Australia while simultaneously stealing the entire country off of its traditional owners.
Steal a loaf of bread = five years hard labour in Australia.
Steal an entire country with incalculable wealth = it’s good to be the King.
Of course, he did go mad, have to deal with the American revolution and Napoleon. Karma is a bitch.
I wonder how many of you are, like me, feeling terrible about the indigenous affairs situation in Australia.
My guest today is Justin O’Brien, Executive Officer of the Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation (www.mirarr.net). The Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation (GAC) represents the Mirarr traditional owners of the Ranger uranium mine area, the site of the proposed Jabiluka uranium mine, much of Kakadu National Park and parts of Western Arnhem Land. They are the royalty receiving entity for the Ranger uranium mine and intimately associated with the political and social advancement of Indigenous rights.
We talk about some of the factors relating to indigenous youth suicide and the general need for more non-indigenous Australians to spend time with our indigenous citizens so we can better understand their situation.
Young Aborigines are four times more likely to commit suicide than non-indigenous Australians. Experts and aboriginal elders believe a variety of reasons drive aboriginal youth to suicide, including a disconnection from traditional culture and land.
In Western Australia’s Kimberley region suicide has reached epidemic proportions, with one suicide every week on average since the end of December 2011.