Indigenous

This year, the First Nations suicide crisis has not only continued its dramatic escalation, but the lack of adequate response only worsens as the rates rise and it remains relatively unacknowledged, writes Paul Gregoire.

"The family just want the truth to come out," Leetona Dungay told supporters and the media outside the New Coroners Court on March 4. Dungay is the mother of Aboriginal man David Dungay Jnr, who died in Long Bay Jail as a result of assault by prison guards in 2015.

Members of the Dungay family and supporters had gathered at the entrance to the court to express solidarity with Leetona in her quest for justice from the NSW legal system at the coroner's inquiry beginning that day.

Grandmothers Against Removals rallied in Sydney on February 13 against new state laws that are set to further raise the rate of forced removals.

Aboriginal children are currently being removed at five times the rate they were in 1997, the year when the Bringing Them Home report was brought down by the National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from Their Families.

TJ Hickey’s mother Gail Hickey led a march through Redfern to NSW parliament on the 15th anniversary of TJ’s death on February 14.

February 4 marked the 80th anniversary of the little-known 1939 Cummeragunja Walk-Off, when 200 Yorta Yorta people left the Cummera mission in southern New South Wales in protest against their mistreatment by mission bosses and the theft of their land.

Dr Wayne Atkinson, an elder of the Yorta Yorta nations of the Murray-Goulburn region, was one of a number of people who addressed a gathering of the strikers’ descendents at Barmah on the banks of the Murray River in Victoria.

A bucket of dead fish was emptied outside NSW minister for regional water Niall Blair’s office on February 7 as part of a protest to demand swift action on the water crisis affecting regional communities. The protest was organised by Fighting In Resistance Equally (FIRE).

Several hundred people from the Yuin nation and their supporters gathered next to the fishing trawler wharf for Survival Day on January 26 and listened to poetry, rock bands and several solo musicians including a didgeridoo player.

Organiser Rodney Kelly told Green Left Weekly he wanted to bring the NSW South Coast Aboriginal and the wider community together to promote the South Coast Aboriginal community, its history and what it means to be Aboriginal in the region.

Celebrating January 26 is a state-sanctioned exercise that rubs salt into the wounds of Indigenous Australia. It proclaims, “You lost, we won. Know your place.”

But the desire for an honest conversation about modern Australia's origins in the violent and ongoing dispossession of Indigenous people is not going away.

Across the country Invasion Day marches were both bigger than ever, and took place in many more places. More local governments have dropped their January 26 activities and finally the ABC allowed Triple J to shift its Hottest 100.

Staff at the Rorkes pub in Darwin walked off the job on January 22 after refusing to follow the owner’s orders to ban Aboriginal patrons from the premises.

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