Indigenous Law Bulletin
compiled by Jacqui Houston
The Yorta Yorta people have reached an historic agreement of partnership with the Victorian Government. The Yorta Yorta Cooperative Management Agreement allows the traditional owners a voice and a vital role in decision making via an eight-member body (five Yorta Yorta people and three government representatives) which will directly advise the State Environment Minister.
Richard Frankland has called on Indigenous Australians to form a political party. Mr Frankland has discussed the issue with political parties and prominent Indigenous Australians with a view to returning a political strength to Indigenous and non-Indigenous people disenfranchised by current government policies and legislation. ‘We live in dangerous times, and those time are, to my mind, reminiscent of when I was a boy and we lived in a similar apartheid world in Australia.’ Those interested in Mr Frankland’s proposal can contact him via www.goldenseahorse.com.au.
Indigenous and non-Indigenous people have gathered at Risdon Cove in Tasmania (‘Tas’) to honour the many Mumirimina people killed there in 1804. The massacre has been the subject of debate among historians as to its extent however the day of contemplation was a symbol of survival for Tasmania’s Aboriginal people. Members of the Lia Pootah community held a healing service and the monument to Lieutenant Bowen at the site, considered offensive to many Tasmanian Aboriginal people, was covered.
It has been revealed that in March, Queensland (‘Qld’) Police arrested an 11-year-old Aboriginal boy in Normanton for property offences, held him in custody, transported him 500kms in a police utility cage and then detained him overnight before a court appearance in Mt Isa. Police Minister Judy Spence asserted that police had followed protocol, despite the actions contrasting with the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody. The boy’s parents were not notified of the arrest until he arrived in Mt Isa where a Legal Aid lawyer successfully applied for bail.
Mt Gibson Iron’s Tallering Peak mining operation in WA has been officially opened following extensive consultation with the land’s traditional Indigenous owners. Yamatji Land and Sea Council have noted that the project which resulted from the consultations will benefit traditional owners as well as the local community.
The Combined Swan River and Swan Coastal Plans Native Title Claimants have written to WA Premier Geoff Gallop to assert that the Comprehensive Regional Agreement between the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and South West Aboriginal Land and Sea Council (‘SWALSC’) is invalid. ‘We had no knowledge of it, we have not been consulted over it, we signed no papers, we have given Darryl Pearce the Chief Executive Officer [of SWALSC] no authority to speak... on behalf of us.’
A New South Wales (‘NSW’) Parliamentary Inquiry will commence today into policing in the suburb of Redfern in the wake of the death of Thomas ‘TJ’ Hickey in February. The Inquiry of the Upper House is set to look into policing strategies and the provision of services and programs in the area. Over 60 submissions were made to the Inquiry with an interim report expected by late-July.
The WA Government has decided to overturn its previous rejection of a Children’s Commission and will establish one by 2005, subject to approval of funds from the WA Treasury. An independent Commission was a key recommendation of the 2002 Gordon Inquiry into Abuse in Aboriginal Communities.
A review into child protection in Victoria has recommended that the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child be explicitly incorporated into the State’s child protection laws. Aimed at giving strong recognition to human rights, the review panel recommended significant legislative reform and a statewide summit on Indigenous child welfare.
Female Elders in the ‘dry’ Cape York community of Wujal Wujal have established their own roadblocks to enforce the town’s alcohol management plan due to a lack of police in the region. The community’s nearest police station is in Cooktown, over an hour away.
Today is Sorry Day, a day established in 1998 following a recommendation of the Bringing Them Home report. This year’s theme of ‘Unfinished Business’ saw several activities planned throughout the country in recognition of the stolen generations. The Australian Medical Association (‘AMA’) renewed its call for increased funding to ‘bring the health of Indigenous Australians up to the standards of the developed world.’
Indigenous Australia has lost one of its greatest leaders. Former ATSIC head Mr Djerrkura died in East Arnhem Land, NT. A senior Elder of the Wangurri clan, he was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia in 1984 for his service to the Aboriginal Community.
On this, the first day of National Reconciliation Week 2004, the Federal Government has formally started the process of abolishing the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (‘ATSIC’). Programs of ATSIC will be transferred into mainstream government agencies on 1 July while the Regional Councils will remain in existence for another 12 months.
The Anti Discrimination Commission of Qld has submitted an objection to Townsville City Council’s application to extend move-on powers in the region. The objection was founded on six key areas, focusing mainly upon the cultural significance for Indigenous people to meet in open places, the existence of sufficient powers to deal with unlawful public behaviour and the continued destruction by development of areas for Indigenous people to meet.
An Aboriginal ceremony at the Melbourne Museum has formed the first step in a call on the British Museum to return Aboriginal bark etchings made by the Dja Dja Wurrung tribe 150 years ago. Chairman of the North-West Aboriginal heritage board, Gary Murray, has called on the Prime Minister to request that the etchings, currently on display in the Melbourne Museum, and 500 Aboriginal remains still held by the British Museum, be returned.
The Victorian Government will give acknowledgment to the State’s Indigenous people in an amendment to Victoria’s Constitution. The amendment will ‘acknowledge that Victoria was established and the Constitution passed without proper consultation, recognition or involvement of the Aboriginal people of Victoria.’
A memorial to the stolen generation has been unveiled in Reconciliation Place in Canberra, Australian Capital Territory (‘ACT’). Another memorial, to land rights pioneer Vincent Lingiari and the first Aboriginal member of federal parliament, Neville Bonner has also been dedicated.