Faith Doing Justice
Home Issues Catholic Social Teaching What's On Newsletter Links About Us Contact Us Subscribe Free
Indigenous Australia Environment Poverty Refugees & Asylum Seekers The Death Penalty The Political Community Trafficking in Persons Peace Work Human Rights

Text size: A A A


The Australian community has developed a deeper appreciation of the unique place of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in our community, but the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people remain over represented among the most economically poor and socially excluded people in Australia.

From Borroloola to the bush capital
Malarndirri McCarthy has had a whirlwind career. She began as a journalist, before entering politics in the Top End. Then she returned to her first love of story-telling, but now she's back as a politician but this time in the federal arena. 

More support services for first Australians
The coalition government is to put nearly $330,000 into providing more social services for indigenous Australians in Blacktown, New South Wales. The funds will enable Marist180 to provide wrap around support for 30 families per year. The program helps young people at risk of dropping out of school by engaging families using culturally grounded techniques like yarning circles alongside case management. 

Triumphant songlines at the national museum
The shortcomings of the English language are never more apparent than when it is used to translate indigenous Australian beliefs customs and culture. How could a museum even contemplate an exhibition about something as central to 60,000-plus years of Indigenous life on this continent as “songlines” – paths of Indigenous knowledge and creation history that crisscross land, heaven and water? writes Paul Daley for The Guardian. 

Community torn over Kimba nuclear plan
On Saturday 19 August in Port Adelaide, two modern beleaguered groups, one Aboriginal, one non-Aboriginal, shared their current experiences in striving to protect their own lands and ways of life. Their struggle is with the federal government and with the nuclear industry. In contrast to the Gurindji struggle however, these communities are being torn apart amid enticements and pressures, writes Michele Madigan for Eureka Street.

Aboriginal healing that starts with deep quiet listening
From the tiny community of Nauiyu, south of Darwin, Miriam Rose Baumann is preparing to meet her next group of interstate visitors.
"It's not a tour where you have to pack your bags and get ready to jump on a bus that's going to be leaving at 6:00am in the morning, to take you to places and be there at certain times to do things," Ms Baumann said.

‘White fella’ draws up treaty with traditional owners for his land
A non-Indigenous family in New South Wales has voluntarily signed over its land to the traditional owners in a unique treaty.

Not hunter-gatherers: Bruce Pascoe on story-telling, history and cultural pride
I think it’s going to be great for Australia. Aboriginal people have always had a story to tell and have always been storytellers and artists and singers and dancers and we’ve just brought this into the general Australian culture and non-Aboriginal Australians enjoy it and are starting to embrace it. I’m hoping that this is the start of a better conversation, says writer Bruce Pascoe after winning the Premier’s award.

Walking Australia for indigenous justice
For the past 50 years our people have been fighting for rights, but it's like it has just gone down the drain too many times. So, I decided to go for a big massive walk across the country to find the truth of what's going on. What I've seen and experienced this way is that our people are living in developing world conditions. 

Poisoned chalice: global water contamination
If a baby is fed unsafe water contaminated with chemical nitrates, the child turns blue.

When deep-well bore water arrived in Australian bush communities people thought the big thirst was over. Jeff McMullen reports in New Matilda that a decade long study shows unsafe water is now cutting lives short.

NAIDOC from its beginnings
As we celebrate another annual NAIDOC Week, let's take a moment to look at the steps taken to get us where we are today.

Growing up under the intervention
Last week marked the 10th anniversary of the controversial Northern Territory Emergency Response, better known as the intervention.
Kylie Sambo, a 24-year-old Warlmanpa and Warumungu woman from Tennant Creek, was only 14 when the intervention was introduced and the military turned up in the Northern Territory.

Today she is an activist, a hip hop artist, and a full-time carer for her nephew.

Uluru: take time to get this right
Indigenous Australians want substantive constitutional change and not just symbolic or minimalist change. The question is: How much should we attempt to put in the Constitution now, and how much should we place outside the Constitution, or delay for constitutional inclusion until another day? Writes Frank Brennan for Eureka Street.

Another stolen generation?
The NT Government is creating another Stolen Generation by removing children from communities without parents knowing why, an Indigenous author and language specialist says.

See also Not home yet: The crisis of indigenous kids in care

Why Aboriginal people with disabilities crowd Australia’s prisons
Australia imprisons thousands of Aboriginal people with mental and cognitive disability each year. A widespread lack of understanding - and action - underpins this shameful breach of human rights, write Eileen Baldry, Elizabeth McEntyre and Ruth McCausland for The Conversation.

Moving truth: Six years of Anzac Day frontiers wars
Commemorating the frontier conflicts, massacres, frontier wars and murderous killings with genocidal intent that covers the continent.

Indigenous affairs: no steps forward, two steps back
The landscape in Indigenous Affairs across Australia has changed so much in the last two decades that 'not losing' is now the same thing as 'winning'. Luke Pearson writes about how this may impact on our ability to achieve positive outcomes for self-determination and Indigenous advancement in everything from eradicating racial discrimination to Closing the Gap.

Indigenous Australians know removing race from constitution is pretend change
While black and white Australians have at times fought each other, delegates also remembered times we have fought side by side, as allies. We recalled our Aboriginal countrymen who fought for Australia in the Vietnam and other wars, but who remain unrecognised for their service. They were denied the rights of other veterans because they were black, write David Ross and Barbara Shaw for The Guardian.

Boosting the number of Aboriginal teachers in schools
While Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander teachers are significantly underrepresented in schools and universities, encouraging initiatives are aiming to bring more diversity in our classrooms.

What constitutes real indigenous policy reform? Some clues:
We are at a crucial point in the debate about Indigenous constitutional recognition -11 out of 12 First Nations regional dialogues have now been conducted and each has rejected a purely symbolic or minimalist model in favour of substantive reform, write Jill Gallagher and Nolan Hunter.

Don’t call them disadvantaged
It was probably the single largest collection of Indigenous millionaires ever assembled in one room, writes the ABC’s indigenous affairs editor Stan Grant.

They were there to celebrate black business. It was a conference organised by Supply Nation, Australia's leading directory of Indigenous businesses.

Book: The Intervention: an Anthology
In this historic anthology, award-winning writers Rosie Scott and Dr Anita Heiss have gathered together the work of twenty of Australian’s finest writers both Indigenous and non-Indigenous together with powerful statements from Northern Territory Elders to bring a new dimension and urgency to an issue that has remained largely outside the public radar.

To order go to

Abuse survivors welcome settlement over Retta Dixon home
Compensation for years of physical and sexual abuse at a notorious home for Aboriginal children will provide relief but will never erase the trauma of what happened, former residents say.  

Detainee recounts journey from bush childhood to Don Dale
"I'd changed a bit. I thought Don Dale was going to make me better, but I think it just made me tougher. I was on the streets and I was mad."
The vulnerable witness, known only by the pseudonym AU, gave evidence to the Royal Commission into Youth Detention in the Northern Territory on March 23, writes Ben Millington for the ABC.  

Bid to ban the sale of fake indigenous art
Indigenous artists and copyright advocates in Australia are rallying behind a proposed private member's bill to crack down on the sale of fake Aboriginal trinkets and souvenirs in the country.

A smarter, more humane approach to crime that saves lives and builds safer communities.
Australia's First Peoples are dramatically over-represented in prison statistics. ANTaR is campaigning to change this unacceptable situation and to end Aboriginal deaths in custody. Join us!  

First Contact: Poverty, porn and trauma TV with bonus celebrities
In this series, Aboriginal people are portrayed as people who have bad things happen to them. They are seen as shallow caricatures to which non-Aboriginal people can glean ‘experience’. Trauma of both the past and the present is a pit stop on the ‘journey of discovery’... . There is no further discussion of why there is a prevalence of suicide, just as there is only limited discussion of the trauma that underlies alcohol and drug addiction. They cry, but they move on, because this is just one stage in their journey, writes Amy McQuire for New Matilda

See also Aboriginal workers still slipping through the gaps

The road to a treaty
Our nation’s future lies in settling the demons of our past. A Treaty with Australia’s First Peoples is the best path to get us there, writes Jeff McMullen for New Matilda.  

New opportunities in return of land for Cape York owners
The handback of 37,000 hectares of land in Cape York to the Balnggarr, Muundhi and Magarmagar peoples will help traditional owners create new cultural and economic development opportunities.  

Giving kids a life not life in prison
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander advocacy groups have called on the government to listen to First Peoples in order to address crisis levels of incarceration of their young people. In NSW, more than half the children in jail are Aboriginal. This costs $800 per child per day.  

Thousands commemorate birth of indigenous land rights battle
In droves, they flocked to the remote Aboriginal community of Kalkarindji last month to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Wave Hill walk-off. Years of exploitation, violence and murders of Aboriginal people in the region and in protest against poor conditions, meagre wages and rations in return for hard work, Vincent Lingiari led 200 people off the Wave Hill cattle station laying the foundations for the Indigenous land rights battle.  

See also  

Treaty holds key to robust environmental law
When I read this week that Tony Abbott and John Howard will hear no talk of a treaty with Aboriginal Australia, my first thought was 'Who listens to these blokes from ancient political history?' writes Bronwyn Lay for Eureka Street.  

15-year-old's suicide result of punitive NT culture
The public outcries come and go but the broken and ruined lives of Aboriginal children in detention in NT and WA continue to mount up. Gerry Georgatos warns the toll may eventually become insurmountable.  

Freedom of speech ... racism by any other name
We are one of the few countries in the world that pretended legally that those living in this country before white people arrived didn't exist - paving the way for early colonists to shoot, kill and steal the land of the first Australians, writes Craig Thomson in discussing "Australia's ugly immigration policies" for Independent Australia.  

Down the radioactive rabbit hole
Adnyamathanha Elders are "shattered" that, of the six sites shortlisted by the Federal Government for a national nuclear waste dump, the one on Wallerberdina Station in the Barndioota region of South Australia, is now the only one pegged for further assessment, writes Nat Wasley for New Matilda.  

What Nakba Day means in Australia
Australia Day marks the date of the colonial invasion by the First Fleet. Thus, while many Australians celebrate the day, many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples mourn it as Invasion Day or Survival Day. The creation of Australia meant their dispossession, and the devastation of their peoples and cultures. Likewise, Israel’s founding is celebrated on Yom Ha’atzmaut. This is held on the Jewish calendar’s equivalent of 14 May, the anniversary of the day in 1948 when Israel declared independence.  

In the absence of treaty
This book explores the current inadequacy of the process used in engaging with Aboriginal people, which results in control slipping away from them. It provides concise but incisive account from recent reports about the reasons for the ongoing and growing frustration of many Aboriginal people in the NT. In doing so it hints at possibly the only solution - treaties. 

Land Rights News
The NLC says a government minister should not have the legal right to override a decision of the Aboriginal Areas Protection Authority (AAPA). The NLC lays out its case in a wide-ranging submission on the Northern Territory Aboriginal Sacred Sites Act. 

Uluru decision highlight’s what is wrong with indigenous policy
On 12 April, environment minister Greg Hunt said he would not ban the Uluru climb. Northern Territory chief minister Adam Giles later supported this decision. In 2009, Hunt argued that closing the climb would “end one of the great tourism experiences in Australia”. The Northern Territory government and the tourist industry raised similar concerns during the negotiations that led to the return of Uluru and Kata Tjuta to the Anangu people in 1985, writes Harry Hobbs for the Guardian
See also

Locking up indigenous kids costs $236m a year
Jailing Aboriginal children costs Australia almost a quarter of a billion dollars a year, according to new figures compiled by Save the Children and released on the eve of Close the Gap Day. On an average day last June, there were 480 Indigenous young people behind bars, with each young person costing authorities $1355 a day. 

Facebook suspends users over "nude" photos
Facebook has suspended the profiles of people who shared an article about Aboriginal feminism, because it contains a photograph of two Indigenous women in traditional attire. 

When the river runs dry
It was not the country that I grew up in. I waited for it to come. And so it did. The guilt. Following the guilt there was the shame, the despair, and then the anger. After that the self-questioning began. How could Australia's indigenous people be reduced to such desperation and bleakness, asks Jack Picone for Al Jazeera.  

Kumanjayi Langdon's death in custody
In the second in a two part series, Michael Brull analyses the laws that led to another Aboriginal death in custody in Darwin.
The implicit message from the Government and senior police command was that Aboriginal people drinking in designated public places could and should be taken off the streets and detained...
Coroner Cavanagh writes that there was no need for Kumanjayi to be arrested. The maximum penalty for the offence he was suspected of committing was a $74 fine (with a victim's levy of $40).  
To read part 1, click here  

Indigenous X review: The Little Red Yellow Black Book
Anyone reading the "Little Red Yellow Black Book" (LRYBB) should expect to have their perspectives and understanding changed. It will surprise you, in all the right ways...  

Flinders new name recognises traditional owners
The Flinders Ranges National Park has been officially renamed to recognise the spiritual and cultural significance of the area for traditional owners.  

Handback of Uluru to traditional custodians commemorated
A ceremony to mark the 30th anniversary of the return of Uluru to traditional owners has heard that they are struggling to make a living, despite the tourism icon generating strong income.  

South Australian Aboriginals face new nuclear test
The budget for the 2015 Indigenous Advancement Strategy funded South Australian Aboriginal communities less than ten per cent of what they required, and some received nothing at all. So with the prospect mooted of the state hosting a depository for the world's high-level radioactive waste, it's a very relevant concern that some communities might be enticed to offer themselves as a site. This is not only a justice issue for those communities; the environmental implications are far- reaching, writes Michele Madigan for Eureka Street.  

A call for change in honour of first peoples
“a significant change is required, a change in the law, a change in the constitution and a change in our hearts. All of this is doable too. We have the wealth but we need the will to shift empowerment to Aboriginal people, says Jeff McMullen in his Vincent Lingiari Memorial Lecture 2015.  

Solidarity on the road to justice
“It is simply amazing how it ... is always the poor who pay to rectify the fiscal shortfall. The money needed to sustain the remote communities into the future is a paltry sum. The social and financial costs caused by uprooting remote peoples from their homes and pushing them into towns, where often basic services are lacking, is overwhelming...”  

A retrogressive indigenous advancement strategy
This month (July) sees the new budget allocations for Aboriginal communities take effect, with deep soul-destroying cuts being spun as 'advancement'. They reflect a redefinition of reality faced by many Australians, with indigenous people unsure how they have benefited from the Tony Abbott declaring himself the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and putting the Indigenous Affairs Office within his own Department, writes Michele Madigan for Eureka Street.  

NT intervention condemned
"The Intervention to us was like Australia declaring war on us and in the process they demonised and dehumanised Aboriginal men, women and children."

Rosalie-Kunoth Monks, Elder and Northern Territory Australian of the Year.  

In search of the good life: a black perspective
Aboriginal aspirations rarely accord with government policy, and that's particularly the case with the Kuninjku, writes Professor Jon Altman for New Matilda.  

See also Lifestyle choice? the land is part of us
In this documentary shot several years ago, Yolngu people of northeast Arnhem Land explain why they live where they do.

A Maori leader's message for Abbott
The Mana Movement leader Hone Harawira is accusing the Australian Prime Minister of ignoring the plight of remote indigenous communities in Western Australia.  

See also

Threat impacts all indigenous communities
A Maori researcher says the threat of shutting down remote Aboriginal communities impinges on the rights of all indigenous people around the world.
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced his government could not afford to keep funding indigenous communities that were too far away from amenities, such as schools or hospitals.
Opposition by tangata whenua was painted all over social media.  

What choice for Aboriginal peoples? - ACBC
"What choice?" the Bishops Commission for Relations with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders has asked Prime Minister Tony Abbott after his comment that Aboriginal peoples are living in remote communities as a "lifestyle choice".  

Aborigines and land
Aboriginal Peoples all know that this land belongs to them. The land was never ceded nor has any government ever attempted to seek a settlement or treaty with its owners.
It is time to talk Treaties!  

See also New Zealand's Treaty of Waitangi

New hope on stolen wages
The election of two Aboriginal candidates to the Queensland parliament will hopefully mount pressure on Labor to move on an issue that has plagued the state. Amy McQuire reports for New Matilda.  

South Australia appoints administrator for remote APY lands
South Australia has passed laws allowing the appointment of an administrator to remote traditional lands.

Read more 

Greens blast remote dole rules
THE Greens have called "discriminatory" a new policy imposing full-time work for the dole in remote communities, saying the Abbott Government plans to make different rules for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in such communities for accessing welfare.

Read more 

Bowraville: report bolsters hopes for justice
On an incredible day of bipartisanship and emotion, the NSW Parliament vowed to deliver justice to the families of three Aboriginal children murdered in the early 1990s. Amy McQuire reports for New Matilda.

Read more 

Aboriginal leader thanks PM
Indigenous leader Djiniyini Gondarra, from northeast Arnhem Land (Galiwinku), who speaks for the Yolngu Nations Assembly, has written to Tony Abbott expressing his "sincere gratitude" for his "courage in publicly acknowledging the terrible impact on Aboriginal Peoples as a result of early British settlement".

Read more 

Tutu: lay bare the horrors of the past
South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu has supported calls for a truth and justice commission to expose "the horrors of the past" suffered by Aboriginal Australians. In a statement released for World Peace Day on Sunday (21 September), the former Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town said it should be followed by a "national healing process for all Australians".

Read more 

See also 

Aboriginal people call for treaty
Meanwhile calls are mounting among Aboriginal communities for a formal and binding agreement with the government. Aboriginal Peoples have waited more than 200 years to have control over their lives and to determine their futures through legal agreements, compacts, covenants or treaties established in law and enforceable through the courts.

Watch this video for more 

Maori elders speak of treaty dishonour
Failure to honour the laws which iwi set down in their various areas resulted in swift action. For example, French explorer Marion du Fresne ignored an environmental ban and was killed with his 26-man fishing crew when they arrived in 1772 in the Bay of Islands. The ban or rāhui had been placed on Manawaora Bay after a drowning.  

See also

Women pioneers of Aboriginal Catholicism
The Church has taken some enormous steps towards making its ceremonial life more meaningful to indigenous members, writes Mike Bowden in Eureka Street. Frequently it has been women who have pioneered this work. But today many of these women in Central Australia, Arrernte and non-Arrernte alike, are ageing or becoming tired and jaded from lack of recognition.  

Social Justice and Indigenous Wellbeing
In Social Justice and Wellbeing, Mick Gooda, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner presents a human rights approach to Indigenous wellbeing.  

"We have to be worthy keepers of our New Dreaming, just as our Ancestral Dream Keepers were strong and trustworthy in their belief that the true spirit of the land came from the Great Spirit of all creation."
Elizabeth Pike
"Thanks to the Australian Government's courageous decision to acknowledge the injustices committed against the indigenous peoples in the past, concrete steps are now being taken to achieve reconciliation based on mutual respect."
Benedict XVI, WYD Welcoming Address,2008.

Catholic Social Teaching  

Stories And Reflections  

Discussion Guides  

Prayer And Liturgy  

Background Information