Ken Canning

Sydney rally condemns Aboriginal deaths in custody

Jim McIlroy

Sydney

The July 19 anniversary of the death in custody of Aboriginal woman Rebecca Maher was marked by a march from Hyde Park to Parliament House. The march also protested the recent death of Indigenous man Eric Whittaker, a prisoner in Parklea Prison. The action was organised by the families and the Indigenous Social Justice Association (ISJA).

The rally condemned the continuing killing of Aboriginal people in police and prison custody, with no one ever convicted of these crimes.

Twenty years after the original Bringing Them Home report was released, Aboriginal children are still being taken from their parents — in greater numbers than before.

Commenting on the impact of Bringing Them Home — which documented evidence about the Stolen Generations of Aboriginal children — Murri elder Sam Watson told Green Left that “it is beyond dispute that Aboriginal children were removed in significant numbers”.

“Every single [Aboriginal] family was affected,” Watson said and this “dated back to the first years of European invasion”.

“This brings pride to our people. This is a turning of the tide!”, First Nation’s activist Ken Canning told the thousands on the streets for the Invasion Day march from Redfern to Chippendale on January 26. 

Indeed, it was. 

Ken Canning at UTS

The Jumbanna Indigenous House of Learning at the University of Technology Sydney has named a meeting room after Aboriginal activist, poet and playwright Ken Canning.

Canning has a long history of political struggle and activism.

His fight for equal rights for Indigenous people led him to education in the 1980s.

In 1988 he became the first Aboriginal graduate at UTS with a BA in Communications.

A defiant action was organised on October 22 to protest the recent murder in custody of Wayne “Fella” Morrison.

Morrison died at Royal Adelaide Hospital on September 26, three days after a beating by prison guards at Adelaide’s Yatala Labour Prison left him brain dead.

While the New South Wales government's disastrous WestConnex tollroad project is facing new challenges, the public campaign against the $17 billion privatised road network continues to grow.

The latest headache for the government came about when chief commissioner for the Greater Sydney Commission (GSC) Lucy Turnbull triggered a public outcry after stating she was unaware of any large-scale destruction of houses in the heritage suburb of Haberfield, precisely as homes were being demolished in the inner-western Sydney suburbs.

This election was very tight. I don't think any party can claim a mandate. Malcolm Turnbull barely fell over the line. There is no mandate in that.

Turnbull claims to have a mandate — to not tax the rich and keep giving it to Blackfellas. That is his mandate, and it would be the same if Labor had won.

Another disappointing factor is that in the lead-up to the election, and in the post mortem, we have heard nothing about First Nations people. We are still dying in great numbers and they are arguing about who got the most votes in what seat.

First Nations Socialist Alliance Senate candidate for NSW Ken Canning visited the Bankstown campus of Western Sydney University on May 9 to inform students about why we need a people's movement. The meeting was organised by the Resistance Club.

He raised several key issues including the fact that despite former Labor PM Kevin Rudd's “Sorry” speech Indigenous children are still being forcefully removed at a higher rate than ever before.

There is a growing tide running against the major parties in this federal election, helped by five Labor and Liberal candidates who have resigned or been forced out, including now former Labor Senator Nova Peris in the Northern Territory.

In the seat of Whitlam (formerly Throsby) in the Illawarra, this tide has become painfully clear. Carolyn Currie, the Liberal candidate for the safe Labor seat, quit during an interview on ABC Local Radio Illawarra.

About 3000 people, young and old, women, men and children, kayaked from Horseshoe Beach and blocked Newcastle Harbour to stop the coal ships on May 8. Organised by 350.org and other climate change campaigners, the Break Free event was a great success and also fun.

There was a large contingent of First Nations people from all around Australia and internationally, from Samoa and other Pacific islands that could disappear due to rising sea levels.

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