Tag: Indigenous affairs

Australia – Third World Country – » The Australian Independent Media Network

Australia’s Shame

I stepped off the plane this week, finding myself in an oppressive third world country. It was dirty and I felt shame seeing the suffering continue and I was gob smacked when I received the water bill. Whilst I was away and my house was empty I accumulated over $200 worth of charges which included shifting my ‘shit’ at $38 and services charges of almost $130. I also saw my regulars struggling, received numerous phone calls for assistance and watched another family fall apart. On the bright side a highly respected veterans advocate friend of mine saved a veteran’s life.

I was back in a third third world country – that country was Australia, my Australia!

Source: Australia – Third World Country – » The Australian Independent Media Network

Dozens of children still locked up in Don Dale over festive period

Dozens of children are likely to spend Christmas behind bars in the Northern Territory’s infamous Don Dale youth detention centre, four years after the government agreed to close it. Inmate numbers climbed to 44 in recent months after the NT government toughened youth bail laws earlier in the year. Darwin lawyer John B Lawrence SC is representing an 11-year-old Indigenous boy on remand in the former men’s prison. “It’s disgusting that a child so young is in custody and away from his family over the holidays,” he said on Wednesday. “But it’s a fact and it’s appalling that we accept and let this happen in Australia”.

Source: Dozens of children still locked up in Don Dale over festive period

Old Dog Thought- Liberals and Nationals are abandoning ship like Republicans are the GOP. Morrison is turning to War as Conservatives always do to save their ass

Fighting Fake News with REAL 29/9/21; Morrison Morrison John, go to the end of town and piss off; Indigenous Australia knows what a virus is but..; Morrison everyone is there to blame

Closing the Gap: Indigenous suicide and incarceration rates rising

Just three of the 17 new Closing the Gap targets are on track to be met.

Indigenous people are still far more likely to be jailed, die by suicide and have their children removed than non-Indigenous people a year after the new Closing the Gap agreement was signed, according to the Productivity Commission.

Source: Closing the Gap: Indigenous suicide and incarceration rates rising

Most Australians support First Nations Voice to parliament: survey

Now, the 2021 Australian Constitutional Values Survey by CQUniversity and Griffith University shows over 60% of Australians remain in favour of a First Nations Voice to parliament in some form.

Source: Most Australians support First Nations Voice to parliament: survey

‘Twiggy’ refuses to rule out destruction of Aboriginal sacred sites

And so, there are mining companies and then there are mining companies. If the sacking of executives at Rio Tinto was an act of contrition, it was at least a step in the right direction. It won’t, however, solve the power imbalance with Indigenous community relations. But FMG’s latest decision is incredibly tone-deaf. It speaks to a parochial desire to deny the sanctity of this place, which many traditional owners recognise and which many non-Indigenous citizens also support.

‘Twiggy’ refuses to rule out destruction of Aboriginal sacred sites

An Australian Outcry – » The Australian Independent Media Network

Appreciation for Aboriginal art, music and other cultural values has already spread the world over. Might opening these doors wider offset the losses felt by mining giants from denying the destruction of Sacred Sites? Please join your voice to the outcry and help our great country finally save our First Peoples’ Churches, Political Offices, Historical Libraries and Burial Grounds for future generations.

via An Australian Outcry – » The Australian Independent Media Network

Anger over Tony Abbott’s Indigenous envoy role: ‘Haven’t we been punished enough?’ – Politics – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

National Congress of Australia's First Peoples co-chair Jackie Huggins speaks.

Aboriginal leaders say they are dismayed and disappointed by the proposal to appoint Tony Abbott as special envoy on Indigenous affairs to the Federal Government.

via Anger over Tony Abbott’s Indigenous envoy role: ‘Haven’t we been punished enough?’ – Politics – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

A New Low: Channel 9 ‘Does A Sunrise’ On $30m Palm Island Uprising Payout – New Matilda

You can read the story here or watch it below, but do it on an empty stomach. In the meantime, here are the facts that Arfier left out of the story, all of which I and many others have reported countless times over the last decade, apparently to limited affect.

Mulrunji Doomadgee was beaten to death on the floor of the Palm Island police station on November 19, 2004 for singing ‘who let the dogs out’ at Senior Sergeant Chris Hurley, the most senior officer on the island and a man almost twice the size of Mulrunji (Hurley was six foot six and weighed 115kg, Mlurunji less than 80kgs).

As Mulrunji lay dying, another Aboriginal man in the cell tried to comfort him and yell for help from Hurley and other officers. His screams were ignored.

When Mulrunji’s family arrived at the police station later that morning to enquire why he had been arrested, he had already been dead for hours. Hurley lied to the family and told them he was fine, but unavailable.

via A New Low: Channel 9 ‘Does A Sunrise’ On $30m Palm Island Uprising Payout – New Matilda

Government’s institutional brutality (Part 5) – » The Australian Independent Media Network


Mr Pearson said: “We’ve made progress in the last 50 years but some of the profound indicators of our problems – children alienated from parents, the most incarcerated people on the planet Earth, and youths in great numbers in detention – obviously speak to a structural problem.” [Emphasis added].

Is that right?

Australian Bureau of Statistics data show that the Indigenous incarceration rate in 1991 was 14.4 per cent. It was 27.4 per cent in 2015. It was even higher during 2016: 28 per cent.

Indigenous People still amount to 3 per cent of the population in Australia.

via Government’s institutional brutality (Part 5) – » The Australian Independent Media Network

Lest we forget, again, our violent frontier past

Anzac Day is an opportunity to confront our violent frontier past and its shadow today, writes Dr David Stephens.

YASSMIN ABDEL-MAGIED, a young Somali-Australian Muslim woman, was driven out of Australia last year after she implied that the Anzac sacred cow might be ready to graze new territory.

She wrote:

‘Lest. We. Forget. (Manus, Nauru, Syria, Palestine … )’

I thought she was on the right track and I said so, copping some of the bilious and vicious response that she herself received. Yet surely, after a century, we can move beyond dead soldiers and broaden the remembrance focus to other weighty matters, where Australians bear some responsibility and where they should have some interest in making things right.

Such a matter is right in front of us.

via Lest we forget, again, our violent frontier past

Government’s institutional brutality (Part 3) – » The Australian Independent Media Network

Amnesty is highlighting state and territory laws and policies which violate the rights of children, like mandatory sentencing in Western Australia. Amnesty has already successfully fought for changes to the law in Queensland which restores the detention of children to a last resort and ensure children are not held in adult prisons.

via Government’s institutional brutality (Part 3) – » The Australian Independent Media Network

Abbott government bungled Indigenous funding overhaul, major report finds – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

Find the snake in the grass

The Abbott government bungled its overhaul of billions of dollars worth of Indigenous funding, a major report finds.

Source: Abbott government bungled Indigenous funding overhaul, major report finds – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

Andrew Bolt , Gerard Henderson and News Corp tell us regularly that this is Social Welfare…. you know their right. Abbott is the MP

Seeking justice: Sandra Kitching stands on the remains of the Retta Dixon home where she once lived.

Sex abuse and violence: Secrets of Retta Dixon home for Aboriginal children laid bare at royal commission

Darwin’s Retta Dixon home was supposed to be a place of God, but that is far from how it was portrayed at a royal commission.

During eight days of hearings in Darwin, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse heard graphic testimony of what went on at Retta Dixon, a facility that operated from 1946 until 1980.

It was enough to cause some in the gallery of Darwin’s Supreme Court to shudder. Others shed tears.

A child at Retta Dixon who suffered seizures was allegedly tied up like a dog to a bed, and fed on the ground with an enamel plate.

Children at the home were raped, the inquiry heard, including some so badly they were forced to go to hospital where they were watched by their abuser to make sure they did not alert authorities.

One man told the inquiry of having to wear nappies to school as a boy to stop the bleeding after being sexually assaulted.

Other children were allegedly flogged with a belt until they bled.

The facility housed mainly Aboriginal children, including many who identified as being part of the Stolen Generations, and had been taken from their families far away.

It was run by Aborigines Inland Mission, a religious group now known as Australian Indigenous Ministry (AIM).

More tears were shed when the royal commission took those who lived at Retta Dixon down to the site where the buildings once stood.

Alleged victims at Retta Dixon are now looking for answers, hoping to see perpetrators brought to justice and trying to make sure the errors of the past are not repeated.

Allegations included rape of children

In the 34 years it operated only one worker at Retta Dixon – Reginald Powell – was ever convicted of crimes allegedly committed there.

Powell admitted molesting a 10-year-old boy and two 13-year-old boys in early 1966, but blamed weariness, work pressures and Darwin’s climate for his actions.

He said in statements to police that the affections of the children were “more or less encouraging” him and after apologising for what he did he was handed a $250, three-year good behaviour bond.

But there were numerous other allegations made over the years.

Scores alone concerned one man – paedophile Donald Bruce Henderson – who worked as a so-called “house parent” at Retta Dixon during the 1960s and 1970s.

“Once I was taken to the old Darwin hospital with a bleeding anus from being abused by Henderson. I was about nine years old.

“I was not allowed to speak to the hospital staff as Henderson was standing next to me.

“Sometimes we had to wear diapers to school so the blood didn’t come out on the school uniform.

“Some of the other kids at school knew and we used to protect each other if the other kids teased us.”

– Kevin Stagg statement to the royal commission

Mr Henderson twice had court action against him for sexually abusing children dropped, once in 1976 and again in 2002.

He was convicted in 1984 of molesting two boys at Darwin’s Casuarina Pool, long after Retta Dixon had closed, but was freed on a $500, two-year good behaviour bond.

A police document showed 86 counts against Mr Henderson that included charges of buggery, sexual assault and indecent assaults between 1966 and 1973, were withdrawn by authorities.

References were made at the royal commission to Mr Henderson adopting two children from Retta Dixon, and a note on a police file indicated the sex offender may have been linked to the YMCA.

Other allegations of sexual assault were levelled against Retta Dixon house parents and by younger kids against older ones.

None of the allegations have so far led to convictions.

The royal commission heard that despite some people who worked at Retta Dixon being concerned about mistreatment of the children, police who spoke to a manager at the facility were told he was unaware of the claims.

Resident ‘chained like dog’

Lorna Cubillo, 76, lived in the home for about nine years until she was 16.

She told the commission about being groped by house parent Desmond Walter, and then beaten for refusing to clean his residence.

One of the disturbing allegations from Ms Cubillo was that a friend of hers, Ruth Dooney, was chained up like a dog to her bed, from where she was fed on the ground and forced to use a bucket as a toilet.

“Ruth used to have fits and was chained up with a dog chain to her bed because of the fits,” Ms Cubillo said.

“[She] often had bad chaffing around her ankle where the chain would rub.”

Faeces rubbed in face

There were numerous other types of mistreatment of children at Retta Dixon described during the royal commission.

One witness, known only as AKV to preserve anonymity, said their sister was punished by being tied up and having faeces rubbed in her face.

“My sister would sometimes be tied to the clothesline, or have faeces rubbed in her face, maybe just for looking at Ms Parker the wrong way. [The sister] was very young at the time. I remember one time she was deliberately burnt with hot water by Ms Parker.”

– Evidence from AKV to royal commission

Several witnesses talked about being physically abused.

Ms Cubillo said she was usually hit with a belt across the legs as punishment.

She told the commision that when she was 14 years old, house parent Desmond Walter made her bleed.

“He hit me on the legs, hands and back. He hit me with the buckle end of the belt and it cut me on my breast, near the nipple,” Ms Cubillo said.

Another witness at the hearing, 64-year-old Sandra Kitching, said as punishment for confronting a house parent she was stripped of some of her clothes and chained up in a spare room by a house parent called Mr Pounder.

‘Mistakes’ in investigation, prosecution

The royal commission heard details of how allegations against Mr Henderson took a long time to be investigated and, despite solid evidence to support the charges, they were dropped by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

Former police detective Roger Newman began his investigation into Mr Henderson in the late 1990s and came under fire in the commission for taking too long to find out that Mr Henderson had abused other children in the past.

John Lawrence SC, who represented some of Mr Henderson’s alleged victims, grilled the former policeman for not following up witnesses for statements.

“That wasn’t something, that wasn’t the line of inquiry that I was following and if I’ve made a mistake now, so be it,” Mr Newman said in evidence.

The inquiry also heard that once the investigation had been completed there were problems with the way it was handled by the DPP’s office.

Current NT magistrate Michael Carey worked as general counsel to the DPP in November 2002.

He was the one who at the time gave pivotal advice that saw charges against Mr Henderson dropped, shortly before the trial.

“In my view there is no prospect of having this matter go before the jury, let alone obtaining a conviction.”

– Former general counsel to DPP (now NT magistrate) Michael Carey in 2002 memo

At the royal commission he said he had no “independent recollection” of the advice, which he admitted did not meet prosecutor guidelines.

The guidelines showed it should have had a reference or analysis for new trials for Mr Henderson, and include references to Mr Henderson’s history as a convicted sex offender.

Neither of those were done.

The advice was contentious as the 15 allegations against Mr Henderson had already passed the committal stage of the court action, meaning they were found to have enough evidence to take to trial.

Mr Carey also admitted the decision in 2002 was made within 24 hours of getting the file on Mr Henderson but could not explain why it was done in such haste.

Commission chair Justice Peter McClellan said there was “crystal clear” evidence to support charges against Mr Henderson.

“In these cases from what you have read there was plainly evidence to support the charges.”

– Royal commission chair Peter McClellan to current NT DPP Jack Karczewski

The NT’s current DPP, Jack Karczewski QC, said if the charges came before him, he would pursue them.

Where to now for former Retta Dixon residents?

Some alleged victims of Retta Dixon say they are determined to get redress for what they went through, and are seeking fresh charges to be laid against Mr Henderson.

At least one was angry alleged perpetrators did not appear, and thought they were getting off too easily.

After the royal commission wrapped up its Darwin hearings a group formally complained to police to try to get new charges against Mr Henderson laid.

The ABC understands that an NT policeman with the Sex Crimes section sat in on some of the commission hearings, and has been in touch with at least one alleged victim.

Some people who were housed at Retta Dixon are also seeking financial compensation.

The commission heard that one former Retta Dixon resident has been paid nearly $27,000 for abuse suffered in 1975, although the money was said to be for events unrelated to their time at the home.

There is nothing to stop alleged victims at Retta Dixon from claiming Victims of Crime compensation, even though their allegations have not been proved in court.

Such claims are decided on the balance of probabilities, not the tougher test of beyond reasonable doubt, which court cases rely on for convictions.

Some former Retta Dixon residents have pointed the finger at AIM, which ran the home, and want them to pay compensation.

The current head AIM, Reverend Trevor Leggott, apologised at the royal commission for the sexual and physical abuse people suffered at Retta Dixon, but has indicated his group cannot offer money to the victims.

He said to do so would jeopardise the group’s current work.

“I know there can be recompense in terms of money, but I know the hurt that has been caused to these people is not going to be fixed by money.”

– Reverend Trevor Leggott, general director of AIM

Documents handed to the inquiry showed AIM had net assets of about $4.4 million last year.

Some have said the assets should be sold off to pay for compensation claims, but Reverend Leggott indicated properties were mostly held by trusts and local churches, not by AIM itself.

The inquiry also heard that the Commonwealth Government, not AIM, may have been ultimately responsible for the welfare of children at Retta Dixon.

Other legal options being considered involve civil action against the 78-year-old Mr Henderson.

At the royal commission Reverend Leggott said the proceedings had driven the name of his organisation into the ground.

The Retta Dixon home was levelled by Cyclone Tracy in 1974 and the site where the facility once stood is now a fairly barren public park.

A group of Retta Dixon survivors say they will push to have the land returned to them.