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Newman, Samantha --- "Recent Happenings" [2004] IndigLawB 49; (2004) 6(4) Indigenous Law Bulletin 24

Recent Happenings July 2004

compiled by Samantha Newman

July 6

The Cape York Institute was opened today in Cairns. The facility has received $5 million over the next five years from Federal and Queensland governments and is designed specifically to identify and train future Indigenous leaders. The institute is an adjunct to Griffith University and students will develop skills in policy development and implementation. The director of the Institute, Noel Pearson, says the future lies in educating and nurturing young Indigenous Australians.

July 7

Alcohol management plans in the remote Indigenous north Queensland communities of Aurukun, Doomagee, Lockhart River, Mornington Island, Pormpuraaw and Wujal Wujal have seen alcohol-related injuries and assaults halved. Alcohol-related injuries have dropped by 48 per cent and presentations for assault dropped by 54 per cent.

July 7

Chief Minister Clare Martin has announced that petrol sniffing will not be criminalised in the Northern Territory. She has said that it is more important to improve education, housing and health issues and that it is not productive to put young people in prison for the habit. The Labor Government will be introducing legislation later this year to reduce the debilitating habit in Aboriginal communities.

July 11

A case being heard in the Narooma Magistrate’s Court concerning abalone fishing has seen 11 Indigenous people from the NSW south coast being prosecuted by NSW fisheries for abalone poaching. The accused argue they were exercising their religious rights, constitutionally protected under s 115. Constitutional and human rights lawyer, Bruce Levet, argues that the NSW government was not entitled to overturn commonwealth protection for practising religious beliefs when it took control of coastal waters below the low water mark.

July 13

A $4.6 million cultural and development centre on a farm south of Griffith in NSW is being designed to reduce the number of young Aboriginal boys in juvenile gaols. The initiative is being called Tirkandi Inaburra and will house 15 to 20 boys on a voluntary basis for three to six months at a time. It is hoped the cultural centre will open late next year.

July 14

A landmark case is being heard in Botswana to determine the fate of the San Bushmen. It is an appeal against the Government’s policy of evicting Bushmen from their desert homes by cutting off water supply and depriving them of mobile health clinics, food rations, orphan-care schemes, pensions and hunting licences. The Bushmen are asking the court to allow them the right of return. However a senior Government source has stated that if the Government lost the case, the relocation of the Bushmen would continue, even if this means changing the law or amending the constitution.

July 14

The National Coalition of Aboriginal Organisations was launched in Melbourne. The coalition includes national Indigenous health, childcare, legal services and justice agencies and was formed out of concern for the way the Federal government and the Opposition were viewing Indigenous affairs. The group will lobby the Commonwealth on Indigenous health, childcare, justice and legal issues.

July 17

A hand back ceremony took place today at Mt Grenwell, west of Cobar, which marked the return of an important historic site to the traditional owners, the Ngiyampaa Wangaaypuwan people. The ceremony was attended by the NSW Attorney General, Bob Debus, National Parks and Wildlife representatives, Cobar Land Council members and 200 guests and visitors. It is only the second hand back of land to its original owners in NSW.

July 19

Lane Cove council have become the first council of Sydney’s north shore to sign a ‘principles of cooperation’ agreement with the Metropolitan Land Council. The agreement provides for formal communication, consultation and negotiation processes between the Land Council and Lane Cove Council. It further opens the ay for possible future cross-cultural training and joint community development initiatives.

July 21

A leaked cabinet document has revealed that the Queensland Beattie government knew that it owed Aboriginal workers more than $70 million in under-award wage reparations. In spite of this, they offered merely $25.4 million as a way of ‘smoothing the path to reconciliation’.

July 22

Crucial services for children abused, neglected or suffering addiction problems are potentially to be withdrawn in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Lands following State Government funding cuts to the Youth Court budget.

July 23

Twenty Indigenous Victorians are today beginning their traineeships in public land management. The course is part of a two-year study program in Conservation and Land Management at the Northern Melbourne Institute of TAFE. Participants will be trained to become field service officers, visitor service officers and park rangers.

July 24

Traditional owners of Jabiru and surrounding areas of Kakadu National Park are angry at the Federal government’s decision to abolish park entrance fees. The Mirrarr people say the announcement undermines the joint management of the park and that traditional owners were not consulted. The Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation would like to hear from the Commonwealth as to where funding for the park will come from without park entrance fees.

July 26

Richard Frankland, an Indigenous playwright, film director and musician, has won Sunrise Channel 7 Sponsorship to run a campaign for a seat in the Senate at this year’s Federal election. The political party he is establishing is called ‘Your Voice’ and Mr Frankland is advocating for a Bill of Rights.

July 27

Indigenous peoples from across South Australia are meeting today to set up the new natural resource management (‘NRM’) projects for the next two years. The chair of the Aboriginal Lands NRM Group, Charlie Jackson, has said this involves strengthening the bush foods industry to benefit Aboriginal communities.

July 27

A new report released by the National Health and Medical Research Council has indicated that palliative care facilities are failing Indigenous Australians. Of most concern is that currently, some Indigenous people who have never left their community are sent to major metropolitan hospitals for the remaining years of their lives. The report recommends that changes are made to the provision of health care for older Indigenous people, including that they remain with their families.

July 27

The Dja Dja Wurrung, an Aboriginal community from central Victoria, have secured an emergency declaration order under Australian Aboriginal heritage laws preventing the return of Aboriginal artefacts loaned from the British museum to Museum Victoria in March. The order can be extended indefinitely, however the Dja Dja Wurrung peoples are seeking a permanent order securing their rights to regain possession over artefacts with significant spiritual and physical significance for their tribe.

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