It was the best of times; it was the worst of times. Australia in 2021 is a Dickensian periodical morphing into a ‘choose your own adventure’ where the state of things is entirely open to your worldview.
When late in 2020, the Government introduced legislation to extend the Cashless Debit Card (CDC) in all existing sites and provide for the transition of income management participants across the Northern Territory and Cape York region to the CDC, it became known that an evaluation of the Program had been completed but was not being made public.
Focus has rightly been on the very serious issues of sexual violence that have been raised regarding the Federal Parliament and historically with the Attorney-General, Christian Porter.
However, there is already a risk that the profound importance of what has been announced in Victoria this week by the First Peoples Assembly and the State government – the Yoo-rrook Justice Commission – which will be the most comprehensive Truth Telling process in Australia since colonisation began in 1788, might be missed.
While the current media and political discourse surrounding climate change has been dominated by focus on its environmental and economic impacts, significantly less attention has been paid to the ways in which environmental damage is also inextricably linked to the destruction of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ cultural heritage and identity.
Reconciliation cannot just be about awareness raising and knowledge. The skills and understanding gained should motivate us into ‘braver’ action. This is what the State of Reconciliation Report released last week challenges the nation to do.
Karen Mundine, CEO Reconciliation Australia
In the lead up to Survival Day this year, three key reports have been released, the interim Report to the Australian Government by the Indigenous Co-Design team on the Voice; the Human Rights Watch World Report for 2021; and, the 2021 State of Reconciliation in Australia Report released last week by Reconciliation Australia.
In 2019, the UN Committee on the Right of the Child handed down its Concluding Observations in response to Australia’s 5th and 6th periodic reports. These contained many recommendations on the protection of the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, and identified discrimination, exclusion and the failure to provide services and resources as major problems.
Sadly, these rights of our children and young people continue to be violated. Our kids deserve to live happy and healthy lives, with equal access to education and support services, with strengthened connection to identity and culture.
Sue-Anne Hunter, Family Matters Chair and SNAICC Sector Development Manager
As time has passed, opposition to Woolworths’ plans for a massive alcohol store near three dry Indigenous communities in Darwin has strengthened and become more vociferous. Even with the assistance of a pliant Northern Territory Government, approval of this shocking plan remains in doubt.
The decision in recent days by the Northern Territory’s Liquor Licensing Director to green light the construction of a huge Woolworths owned alcohol retail store within walking distance of Aboriginal communities, is an outrage on every level.
Paul Wright and Eddie Cubillo
At the launch of the Wiyi Yani U Thangani (Women’s Voices) report in Broome last week, the Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Ken Wyatt AM observed that that the release of the report marked a line in the sand for our First Nations women and girls, and for all Australians.
June Oscar AO, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner