Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (ATSI) peoples are the first Australians, yet they have for several generations been treated as either animals or as third class citizens. The Darwin area sits primarily on the Larrakia Nations Land. It is unconscionable that today, in 2017, ATSI still do not always have the right to decide on important issues that affect their communities.
Whether you agree with ATSI sovereignty or not, Australia must move away from this relationship of paternalism and control towards one of respect and support. Australia has a duty to ensure equal opportunities and justice for all of it’s people, including the 500,000 ATSI people that share this land. It is obvious if you drive through any area of Darwin today that this is not the case today.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (ATSI) continue to face appalling levels of inequality and systemic injustice. In the Darwin Area, upto and over 80% of those in our prison system are ATSI. Up to 80% of our youth suicides were indigenous in 2010. One in Five ATSI are living below the poverty line, one in four are living in overcrowded accommodation. The medium income for ATSI is just over half $465 per week compared to $869 (2011/13).
Although Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians make up only 2.3 percent of the adult Australian population, they accounted for over a quarter (27.4 per cent) of the adult prison population in 2013. Indigenous adults were imprisoned at 13 times the rate for non-Indigenous adults. The daily average detention rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people was around 24 times the rate for non-Indigenous young people and almost half of Indigenous males (48%) and 21% of females aged 15 years or over had been formally charged by police (over their life time).
Most federal programs for our first Australians are underfunded, which has led to inadequate housing, healthcare, education, and law enforcement. ATSI have a much lower life expectancy some 10 plus years less.
Although our federal government has attempted to provide some forms of rights and self-governance through programs and organizations like ATSIC in the past, these organizations have been focused on Land, power and money as opposed to self-determination, education and employment.
Although the thought of recognition has been accepted over Treaty the reality is that Aboriginal and Torres strait peoples won’t feel the warm embrace of freedom until they have the Autonomy and Authority to protect their own peoples and that requires Sovereign recognition and Treaty.
What can we do about it?
Support ATSI Sovereignty and any treaty negotiations that take place, either through voice, vote or by movements. The ATSI need to have the ability to create an aboriginal Department of Justice and create the ability for the first Australians to recognize tribal law for both civil and criminal purposes.
Support integration of First Australian languages in our schools. Communication is the key to recognizing and creating compromises on both sides for progressive solutions.
Improve Housing: fight for increased local control over the administration and operation of ATSI housing programs and for full funding ABI housing development programs.
Strengthen Education: In order to create economic opportunities, we must invest in education from early childhood through higher education. Over 70% of non-indigenous think that ATSI people are paid to go to school and have free education even though they don’t. If they did we would not have the many of the problems we have today. We need to ask the federal and territory government to fully fund comprehensive education programs for Aboriginal and Torres strait islanders from early child hood to university.
Economic Development: we support economic development in first Australian’s land and believe in investing in infrastructure. We believe we should investment to upgrade our roads and bridges, drinking water and wastewater, freight and passenger rail, and electric, telecommunications and broadband networks, and more. This effort will create and maintain millions of jobs across the country. The investment would go a long way to address the “digital divide,” because lack of internet access means Aboriginal communities are at risk of falling even further behind in their ability to access employment, educational, and other opportunities made available by modern information technology.
Protect Sacred sites and increase the amount of education hubs and tourist, public outposts to give an educated perspective on the land we share with the Larrakia nation.
Fight Racism: end the scourge of bias and discrimination against ATSI people. A good place to start is by eliminating offensive behavior in schools.
Fight Climate Change and Promoting Environmental Protection. Electric cars, solar panels etc.
What can the Darwin City Council do about it?
The ATSI community make up over 30% of our population so we should ensure that this figure is reflected in our employment programs in the Darwin Area.
Work hand in Hand with Larrakia Nation through funding and programs to provide better support and safety to our first people’s.
Provide community programs and activities that promote our culture and provide a looking glass both locally and internationally to the world on our pride and respect in our first Australians.
Provide cultural centre’s Hubs where locals and tourists may be educated on the foundation of suburb names and the cultural identity and connection to the land.
Provide access to fitness equipment in the parks to allow the youth to have the opportunity to practice good health fundamentals.
Provide access to community gardens growing an assortment of traditional fruits (jack fruit, custard apple, mangoes) that can be seasonally accessed by the community.
Provide several safe and secure bathroom and hygiene facilities in and around the Darwin area.
Provide greater access to benches and parks and shelter for the use of both local and foreign visitors to enjoy our unique and shared lifestyle.
Provide funded public access education courses in First aid, Typing and speed typing skills, Computer use and access and a youtube/ DCC Chanel that promotes our cultural identity and that of the progressive society we are creating.
Remember if you want to help me help you, please share your voice and vote for Sam4Rishardson this coming August.
Written and Authorized by Sam Wilks. The views included may not be those of others mentioned in the article but are those of Sam Wilks. If you have other idea’s feel free to comment below. Idea’s and differing opinion is recognition of a free and just democratic society. A Society I am happy to live in. Please however try not to be abusive or discriminative, you may be. But if I feel that your opinion may be harmful or is reported as being harmful, I will delete it.