Once again: recognition referendum

8-1-2015 Abbott went to the 2013 election promising to release a draft proposal for constitutional change within 12 months of taking office. This deadline passed in September with some progress, but no settled proposal. At the moment plans are to have a referendum in 2017. Many advocates of the referendum acknowledge the risk of defeat. That might be the real reason behind the current delays. Aboriginal activists also are against the referendum because “I don’t want to be in that fucking constitution. I don’t want to be Australian.” (The Guardian)
It also seems that the contents of the referendum is changing. The SMH writes that maybe two votes will be happening. One is the non-indigenous people saying ‘we understand you were here first,’ and the indigenous people saying ‘we understand you’re not going anywhere, so welcome aboard’.
Comment from Wake Up Time: A referendum leading to abolishing any form of discrimination will most likely receive, for good reasons, overwhelming support. In Wake Up Time it is shown that in the 2014 proposals for the referendum also clauses were included that would create new discrimination, by allowing governments to make special legislation for Indigenous people.
We reckon that this is the main hurdle in the background, because Australians might vote that down. The proposals as quoted above make more sense: the referendum becomes a form of reconciliation.

45 times more Domestic Violence

1-1-2015 Aboriginal women in remote areas are 45 times more likely to face domestic violence than non-Aboriginal women. For Aboriginal children that is ten times. Aboriginal child under 5 years is five times more likely to die as a result of assaults than their white peers. In 2007 Alice Springs was said to have the highest number of stabbings in the world. Most stab wounds were in the thigh due to cultural practices.
The – regularly updated – report on the Creative Spirits website reveals many details on the shocking reality of domestic violence in remote communities. More on Wiki
Comment from Wake up Time: Anyone who has traveled to remote communities experiences first hand the complete and utter dysfunctionality of those places. No money in the world, and no health services, will be able to restore this disgrace other than fully restructure these settlements. The locals need to take charge, create safe environments for their kids, or abandon the places and move to healthier environments. Many of these towns are simply hell holes.

The Uluru Resort $ disaster

25-12-2014 The purchase of the five-hotel Ayers Rock Resort by the Indigenous Land Corporation is to be investigated by the federal government. Finance Minister Mathias Cormann has been convinced of the need for an inquiry into the $320 million acquisition in 2010. It’s a shame the ILC hasn’t used the resort as a springboard for more indigenous involvement in tourism, says David Baffsky, former ILC director.
The new board of the ILC, led by chairwoman Dawn Casey, has complained that the acquisition has burdened the corporation with debts of $200 million. The value of the resort has been written down by $120 million. Dr Casey has described the deal as “perhaps the largest single evaporation of public money in the indigenous policy domain, ever” and ILC chief executive Mike Dillon told a Senate committee last year the purchase was “inexplicable and inexcusable”. More in the SMH
Comment by Wake Up Time: FINALLY! It’s time the government finally looks into this mess. In Wake Up Time the hard facts about this disaster were revealed in mid July 2014. Apart from looking into this issue now, and finding a solution, the government should seriously consider the autonomy of the Land Councils.
Tax Payers Money deserves much better scrutiny.

New Basics card under fire

18-12-2014 Proposals by mining magnate Andrew Forrest are labeled ‘demeaning, invasive, unworkable and bureaucratic’ by 37 Aboriginal groups in central Australia. The cashless welfare card, replacing the current Basics Card, would send the message that the poor cannot be trusted with cash. They called on the federal government to reject the recommendation from Forrest. The card can only be used to pay for essentials, like food, school, clothes and petrol. The Australian Bankers’ Association also objected to the card, for technological reasons.
The groups welcomed the “increased investment in many other services for Aboriginal people”.
Forrest also recommends that Indigenous people should work five days a week to get the dole.
More on The Guardian, 14 December 2014
Comment by Wake Up Time: if discrimination would be banned in Australia, as it should, and rules are applied similarly to every citizen, then the welfare card should be introduced either not, or Australia wide. The same applies to proposed extra services and extra conditions for receiving ‘the doll’. Problems will not be solved as long as we keep making a difference between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. It is crucial to stop discrimination and to stop the seemingly unlimited streams of money going from hypocritical miners to Indigenous communities.

NSW starts Recognize campaign

11-12-2014 NSW becomes the first state to back referendum on Indigenous recognition by launching the ‘Recognise’ campaign. The Federal ALP, Greens and Conservatives have already given verbal support.
In the video that accompanies this announcement an Aboriginal girl tells that Aboriginal people are the oldest living people on earth. She also explains that this fact is not mentioned in the Australian Constitution, suggesting that this is an ‘obvious omission’. The video does not explain why mentioning Aboriginal people as a special group in the Constitution is important. More on ABC
A self declared ‘black feminist’, Celeste Liddle, has a clear reason to oppose this Recognition movement: “The longer the Recognise campaign goes on, the more I feel it proves itself to be little more than a government-sponsored ad campaign removed from grassroots Indigenous opinion, (…) little more than corporate endorsements and photo opportunities for powerful figures to prove how much they like us. It’s a shame that I don’t like a good many of them in return.”
Wake Up Time comment: the obvious necessary changes, especially the removal of racist clauses in the Constitution are undisputed, but re-instating other legislative procedures based on race are simply as wrong. Therefore the proposals should not pass the referendum. It is time to end discrimination for 100%, including preferential treatment.

Wake Up Time launch

Writing Wake Up Time, somewhere in the Outback

Writing Wake Up Time, somewhere in the Outback

4-12-2014 After three years of extensive traveling on board our bus “The Spirit of Curiosity”, mainly on the ‘less traveled’ tracks, Liz and I are is back in our community on Tamborine Mountain. During a vibrant one hour slide show, I will share my thrilling experiences of living on the road, mostly in the Northern Territory.
The encounters with people of all kinds, the time spent in remote Aboriginal communities in the Tanami desert, the amazing variety of landscapes, fauna and flora, the challenges of dealing with life in floods and in scorching heat, the severe breakdowns in the middle of nowhere and many more unexpected experiences, make up the main part of the presentation.
In complement, inspired by these unique experiences, I wrote a book called ‘Wake Up Time’. It focuses on the challenges faced by remote Aboriginal communities. Signed copies of the book will be available for sale.
At the premises, you will also have the opportunity of admiring The Drift’s stunning collection of Aboriginal Art Works from North East Arnhem Land.
The presentation will take place on Monday 22nd December from (9.30 am for) 10am till 11.30 am at Drift Cafe/Restaurant, 12 Main Western Road North Tamborine.
No entrance fee.

Not them and us anymore, just us

27-11-2014 Prime Minister Tony Abbott reckons that it has been the most serious failure as a nation that the Indigenous Australians that were displaced are not acknowledged in the Constitution. He confirms his support for Indigenous recognition in Australia’s constitution. At an event in Sydney the prime minister says he wants to get rid of the ‘them and us’ labels dividing the country and concedes that middle-class Anglo-Australian males have had a ‘magic carpet ride through life’. (The Guardian)
Wake Up Time comment: Once again a political leader does not advise how and what ‘recognition’ means and how it will be worded. So far it seems, that ‘Constitutional Recognition’ is probably the best way to create ‘us’ and ‘them’, instead of creating simply one ‘us’, because of -for the first time – defining the ‘them’ as separate from the ‘us’!

First Contact

20-11-2014 If you did not watch it live, the TV-series (reality tv show) ‘First Contact’ is still available online. A group of 6 Australians, of whom one left halfway being bored, who never had any real contact with Aboriginal Australians were taken to Aboriginal people all over Australia during a journey of 28 days. The show was meant to challenge preconceived ideas (prejudice) about Indigenous people. Some participants changed their views slightly, most stuck to their either positive or negative ideas about Aboriginal Australians. Watch the series online on SBS.
Wake Up Time Comment: the show did not rise above the level of Big Brother. Eating grubs, killing a sea turtle or being in a prison has nothing to do with the essentials of the problems of Indigenous people in Australia. At best it has to do with white people (red neck) prejudice, at worst it is stupid reality tv. The real issue is why Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians cannot solve the divide. Wake Up Time suggests that the main reasons are legal distinctions between the groups, an overkill of available money resources and narrow mindedness, too much political correctness and lack of Aboriginal responsibility to face and address their own problems. Ray Martin has missed a great opportunity given to him.

Indigenous job hopes jeopardised by NSW gas overhaul: land council

13-11-2014 The NSW State Government has announced it will extinguish all 16 existing petroleum exploration licence (PEL) applications as it works on a new framework for gas exploration. This includes six applications by the NSW Aboriginal Land Council for exploration in parts of the state’s far west and Riverina region.
The State government reckon that this process will enable them to identify the most appropriate areas for gas extraction, ensure community consultation is conducted upfront and put the title area out for public expressions of interest. A few days after the initial decision the State government decided the New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council will receive the first right to re-apply if it falls within the new approved zones for gas activities. Read the articles on the ABC on 19 and 21 November
Wake Up Time Comment: The criteria in decisions to withdraw existing processes and implement amendments should be whether the law applies to every Australian in the same way. If the 6 licenses of the Aboriginal Land Council are treated identically to the ten other existing licenses, than that is fine. In that case, these articles should be written as ‘gas exploration’ articles. Not as Aboriginal subjects. If there is a difference, than the law is racist.

End to funding of Aboriginal interpreting service

6-11-2014 The Kimberley Interpreting Service (KIS) plays an important role in helping Indigenous people who are accused of crimes understand complex court proceedings and police interviews. It has around 100 interpreters who speak over 30 Indigenous languages. The WA Government said it was not in a position to provide any more funding.
Translators play a role in any case where non-English speakers are involved. A special issue with Aboriginal languages is that finding appropriately qualified interpreters might be a problem, because most of those speaking the language can have a conflict of interest arising from their association with the accused, the victim or one of the witnesses. A lack of trained interpreters may compromise the justice system. More on ABC
Comment from Wake Up Time: if the ‘Aboriginality’ of this topic is taken out of the equation, then two issues are left: (1) translators need to be available for anyone whose first language is not English and (2) if specific issues arise for cultural or other reasons (for instance a very small language group in Australia be it Gula’ala of Solomon Islanders or Pertame of Aboriginal people South of Alice) then for those incidental situations specific solutions need to be found. There is no need for a specific Aboriginal solution.