Suicide of young Aboriginal Australians at epidemic rate.

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.

(via AlJazeera)

Watch This Great Mini-Documentary On Aurukun

This morning I watched this powerful mini-documentary on Al-Jazeera called “Aurukun: Mining For A Future“. Filmmakers Nick Ahlmark and Nicole Precel (@Storytime_Films) examine the lives, challenges and opportunities of some of the Wik tribe living in the  Indigenous community Aurukun in far northern Queensland.

The documentary follows Gina Castelain, CEO of Wik Projects, an aboriginal businesswoman from Aurukun who is trying to make a meaningful difference in her community by providing skills and economic opportunities for them.

I’m not sure when it was filmed, but it looks like the Aurukun mine they are talking about didn’t happen, which is a great shame, as it appeared to be a chance for the Aurukun community to re-build their economic base.

Another interesting follow-up to their brief comments about the poor state of schooling in Aurukun is this puff piece in the (beware – it’s a Murdoch site) from June 28 claiming that Aurukun was one of the far north QLD schools to get “top marks”. I say it’s a puff piece because it doesn’t have any balancing opinions in the story.

Anyway, it’s a great documentary, worth 25 minutes of your time.

Australian Aboriginals On “Bottom Rung”

Via @mikeb476:

A new international report has ranked the life circumstances of Aboriginal Australians at the “bottom rung” and warned that Aboriginal children are “23 times more likely” to face jail than non-Aboriginal children.

The report also notes that federal government programs still falling short to address extreme hardship within Aboriginal communities.

The London-based rights organisation, Minority Rights Group International, in its latest annual survey of Aboriginal communities globally and released in Bangkok, says Australian Aboriginal communities “occupy the bottom rung” of a range of social indicators.

Aboriginal Australians are also over-represented in the criminal justice system and are 14 times more likely to be sent to jail than non-Aboriginal people.

Read the full article here.

As Mike tweeted, it’s a “proud day for Australia”. I’m certainly not an expert on the challenges we face as a nation improving the living conditions of the original inhabitants of this country, but I’ve been trying for years to get my head around it. Recently I’ve been reading “The Politics Of Suffering” by Peter Sutton, an excellent primer, and I’ve tried to get a podcast series up and running on the subject for many years. The recent news that the government has extended the NT intervention for another decade is very disturbing, even though Sutton seems to have changed his mind on the original intervention by the Howard government and believes it was necessary to prevent further decline. I really don’t know enough about it, but it disturbs the hell out of me and I’m embarrassed as an Australian that the oldest civilisation on the planet is suffering like this on our watch. What disturbs me even more is when I talk to fellow Aussies about it and I get, more often than not, the impression that many of my country folk have just washed their hands of the issue and seem to believe our fellow citizens somehow deserve the situation so many of them are in. What does this say about us as a people?