Indigenous Australians are undeniably the First Australians. There is no doubt that these people have struggled under colonisation. The current socio-economic circumstances of many Indigenous Australians reflect the poor treatment and lack of consideration by past and present governments.
CountryMinded acknowledges the many appalling injustices that have been inflicted on the Indigenous people. However, while there is awareness of these issues, the strong and determined focus must be on improving the circumstances and opportunities for Indigenous people now and into the future.
CountryMinded is also mindful that there is no singular Indigenous culture in Australia. There is an extraordinary diversity of culture, language and heritage within the broader national indigenous group. This adds complexity to resolving indigenous issues, particularly from a central government perspective.
It is clear that the welfare system and the subsequent culture that has become entrenched in many communities have reinforced the decline of Indigenous culture and communities.
The simplistic governmental 1964 wage decision that resolved equal pay for Indigenous people resulted in general unemployment for many Indigenous people and entire Indigenous communities being displaced in pastoral areas. Subsequently these people have collectively lost their purpose and often their connection to their land.
Poorly considered legislation to address wage discrimination resulted in subsequent employment discrimination that has had a massive unintended consequence that will likely take generations to resolve. It is imperative that subsequent legislation contributes constructively to addressing the complex and dire issues facing indigenous communities.
It is highly unlikely that the serious issues facing Indigenous communities will ever be resolved by non-Indigenous bureaucrats and politicians living in capital cities delivering edicts in legislation that simply have no everyday relevance to the people in the affected communities. Tony Abbott’s comments suggesting that being part of a remote Indigenous community is a “lifestyle choice” highlight his and, by default, the Government’s disconnection from, ignorance of and disregard for the problem.
CountryMinded is committed to addressing the serious socio-economic issues facing many Indigenous communities across Australia. This can only be done by rebuilding social and cultural structures within Indigenous communities. This will be best achieved by working with the elders and community leaders to empower their community structures to determine their own future.
CountryMinded does not support the federal intervention because the program is discriminatory and exacerbates the alienation of people who desperately need to regain a sense of self-worth and dignity. It is undeniable that the government has an obligation to protect those who are most vulnerable in our society, but this protection must be provided respectfully and genuinely with the input and endorsement of the local community. Anything else is little more than a forced occupation.
CountryMinded is concerned that Indigenous people apparently “own” over twenty per cent of Australian lands, but still do not enjoy the same title of this land as other Australians. Indigenous culture relies heavily on a connection to land and while this cultural connection is not always defined in the modern context of legal title and tenure, it is essential that all Indigenous lands are able to be held under individual or collective title deeds. It is essential that Indigenous people have the opportunity and incentive to operate their land profitably and with purpose to achieve some economic prosperity for future generations.
CountryMinded is committed to programs of support that engage Indigenous people constructively in the broader Australian community and economy with equality.
CountryMinded will pursue policies that:
- provide inalienable title over Indigenous lands either collectively or individually to Indigenous people;
- foster cultural and social structures in Indigenous communities to empower local community based problem solving and governance arrangements; and
- extend Remote Jobs and Communities Programs or variants to engage Indigenous people in civil construction and community based projects including building and maintenance of housing for their own communities.
- extend programs like the Aboriginal Employment Strategy www.aes.org.au founded in Moree NSW