The following is an open letter to Western Australian Premier Colin Barnett by Aboriginal campaigner Iva Hayward-Jackson.
Recently the Premier of Western Australia, Colin Barnett, committed to closing down approximately 150 remote Aboriginal communities in Western Australia.
The premier has claimed that the closures would be in the best interests of Aboriginal people in Western Australia. He has followed the old uninformed line that demonises Aboriginal men by insinuating that Aboriginal women and children are under great threat by the men in the communities.
This is all brought on by the [Tony] Abbott government’s withdrawal of funding of countless Aboriginal issues, including Aboriginal communities.
A small amount of the revenue from the mining sector alone would cover the cost of this and other improvements. It is only fair to share in the richness of the land with the idea of equality in the treatment of Aboriginal people. After all, Aboriginal people are the traditional "owners" of the land and waterways that hold all of the precious resources that made Australia a rich and wealthy country in the modern world.
We must remember that Aboriginal people belong to the oldest continuing culture on the planet. Aboriginal people were slaughtered, enslaved, raped, pillaged and plundered by the British colonisers. Surely in this day and age, we must listen to them and act seriously on Aboriginal people's concerns.
Instead, Barnett and Abbott are hell-bent on destroying the Aboriginal race of Australia, however well-meaning their intentions are. When will this madness stop?
A rally in Perth protesting against the WA government's plan to close 150 Aboriginal communities. Photo Alex Bainbridge.
It is as though Aboriginal people have no human rights to sustain Aboriginal culture — to protect and preserve our sacred sites, including the sacred lands and waterways that are left over from the destruction and desecration of the past two hundred years since the invading colonisers came to our sacred lands and waterways.
Many non-Aboriginal people and some Aboriginal people keep making the same point over and over. They say that the answer is "education" of Aboriginal people.
Perhaps they are right, however they mean non-Aboriginal "education" so that Aboriginal people can live in the white man's world by the white man's laws. But if we are to be fair and equal then there must also be "education" of Aboriginal lore, customs and traditions for Aboriginal people and equal time to study and learn both cultures’ education systems.
Aboriginal people must be compensated as is the right and proper thing to do for a people who were wrongly dispossessed of their land, culture and belongings. This is the least that can be done, instead of dragging a people into a future that offers only death and destruction of them and their culture.
How cruel and inhuman is it to force Aboriginal people from their sacred lands and waterways only to end up at the colonisers’ rubbish tip or outside the bottle shop at the hands of unscrupulous people with evil intentions. If that is not enough, then Aboriginal people will be caught by the authorities and imprisoned where they will more than likely "never make it out alive".
Australia has the highest incarceration rate and the highest suicide rate of Indigenous people on the planet. Many of us were forced into this position by alcohol, drugs, prostitution and other evils introduced by you, the colonisers. This is the reality for Aboriginal people in Western Australia — no hope, no future. The reality is that Aboriginal people are never listened to and our thoughts are never acted upon. Not even the so-called free and open media will help us anymore. We are left to the genocidal politicians to devour our corpses.
Non-Aboriginal Australia only wants to hear what makes them feel good, like they belong in the sacred lands and waterways of our Aboriginal ancestors. Non-Aboriginal people only want to hear solutions that make them feel comfortable. Non-Aboriginal people only want to hear what makes them feel like they have accomplished making a fair and open society on the back of British colonisation.
Non-Aboriginal people believe that Aboriginal people of Australia are as lucky as they are, if not luckier, because Aboriginal people were colonised by the British and not others such as the Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch or French. The truth is that the British empire colonisers were just as, if not more, brutal than others in some cases.
Australia just refuses to look back at the atrocities of the past and acknowledge the rape, pillage and plunder by the British empire upon the Aboriginal nations of this continent and surrounding islands.
Why have we never been treated as equals? And why have you, the colonisers, not shared with us so that we may have all prospered on the sacred lands and waterways that have belonged to Aboriginal peoples and our ancestors since the beginning of time? Why are you so greedy that you will direct us all to a future of poisoned land and waterways that will not sustain us all into the future?
Aboriginal ancestors instilled in us to protect and preserve our environment for future generations. Why do you have a society that is selfish and is built on lies and dishonest explanations of the past? Why does your culture give a few much wealth and many little or nothing?
Nyungah Warrior Yagan once said: "You came to our country. You have driven us from our haunts and disturbed us in our occupations. As we walk on our own country, we are fired upon by the white man. Why should the white man treat us so?"
The old people once said: "Jangga Meenya Bomunggur" —“The smell of the white man is killing us”. Perhaps they mean Premier Barnett and Prime Minister Abbott?