Emma Murphy

Thirteen years after launching their land claim, the Mithaka people of south-west Queensland were granted native title over more than 33,800 square kilometres of their land and waters on October 27. This is one of the largest successful native title determinations in Queensland history: the claim area covers land and waters in the Diamantina and Barcoo shires, and in the expansive Channel Country of outback Queensland.
This is part of a series of articles detailing the policies and platform the Socialist Alliance will be taking to the Federal election. * * * For tens of thousands of years, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples of this continent and its islands looked after the diverse ecosystems, developed complex languages and cultures, and traded among themselves and with visitors from overseas. They were strong, proud peoples.
Disturbing allegations came to light on September 21 about the trouble-plagued Northern Territory juvenile justice system. Fifteen-year-old Travis, who spent time at the Don Dale Youth Detention Centre last year, told a youth justice forum about the humiliation and depravation inside the centre. According to the ABC, Travis said staff at Don Dale made young people fight and eat animal faeces in exchange for extra junk food.
A delegation of Garawa people from Borroloola and their supporters gathered on September 2 at Parliament House in Darwin to present the NT government with a petition. The petition, signed by 3600 people, calls on the government to shut down and clean up Glencore’s McArthur River lead and zinc mine upstream from Borroloola. Freedom of Information documents recently revealed that several government departments had been aware of the high levels of heavy metals leaking into the waterways for 18 months.
A 59-year-old Aboriginal man died in Darwin on May 21 while being held under controversial new “paperless arrest laws”. These laws give police the powers to arrest people for summary offences — such as “obscenity”, undue noise, offensive language — and hold them for up to four hours at a time. In NSW, a program that has been proved to prevent Aboriginal deaths in custody has lost funding under the federal government’s ironically named Indigenous Advancement Strategy.
More than 100 people gathered in a park in Katherine on March 24 to launch the Frack-Free NT Roadshow, a group of pastoralists, traditional owners and environmentalists doing community education and outreach in the Roper and gulf country.
Last week, as mainstream media across Australia reported on recovery efforts in Queensland following Cyclone Marcia, thousands of Aboriginal people displaced by a different cyclone in the Northern Territory were all but ignored. *** DONATE TO THE CYCLONE LAM DISASTER SUPPORT CAMPAIGN ***
On February 9, the Grandmothers Against Removals joined a national sit-in protest at Parliament House in Canberra. This group of Aboriginal women has campaigned tirelessly to raise the issue of what they call the “Stolen Generation of the 21st Century”. Despite the official policy of child removals being over, Aboriginal children are today placed in “out of home” care at record rates.
A popular argument suggests Aboriginal people always burned country so non-Aboriginal Australians should too, albeit for modern purposes, such as fuel reduction burns. Historian Bill Gammage argued this in the popular and influential book The Biggest Estate on Earth (2011). Remarkably, the book has attracted the praise of writers from both the left wing Green Left Weekly and the far-right Institute of Public Affairs (IPA).
Fifteen people gathered outside the Department of Immigration and Border Protection in Darwin on January 19 to show support for asylum seekers and protest against indefinite mandatory detention. The vigil was called by the Darwin Asylum Seeker Support and Advocacy Network. It was an opportunity to voice concern about the deteriorating health of an Iranian man in detention in Darwin, who had been on hunger strike for more than 50 days, and the ongoing hunger strike, protests and violent clashes inside the Manus Island detention centre.

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