Educating for Reconciliation, the Rights Approach

Educating for Reconciliation:
the ‘Rights’ Approach
Peter Lewis
ANTaR Victoria
200 years ago…
•Over 400 nations within this continent
• Each nation had every institution we currently have in
• Law, belief, occupations, family structures, trade, art,
recreation and systems of ‘Government’
•People have lived on this land for over 60,000 years
• Many people like to be called by their country name – •Dark green area is what is also known as the Kulin Nations
Yorta Yorta, Wathaurung etc much like the Europeans
prefer being called French, Irish etc.
Traditional Circles of Nurture, Learning and
Skin Group
Community Elders
Sister Cousins
Brother Cousins
The Great Divide:
Cross-cultural Cross-over
Economics based on environmental
Economics based on production and
Spirituality based on the land and waters
Spirituality (in most cases) based on
sacred, written texts
Law ‘written’ in the land, passed through
ancestral story telling, unchanging
Law established by common law (past
judicial judgements) or parliament,
constantly changing
Politics based on consensus of Elders
Politics based on representative
democracy and power elites
Child rearing involves extended family
and whole community
Child rearing based on nuclear family
Disadvantaged by process of colonisation
Advantaged by colonisation
Minority cultures
Dominant culture
Aboriginal Reserves and Missions in Victoria
•People of different language groups were gathered
and forced to live together in places convenient to the
dominant culture
Movement & Transfer of Population between Missions
• Family groups were split
•Young men were often sent far away to work
•Young women were sent to domestic service,
• Even when land was granted, it was taken back at the
whim of white authority
Terra nullius ‘empty land’
 no peoples, no connection to land, treated like
flora and fauna
 ‘protection’
 forced separation, forced removal, assimilation
‘whitening’ race
 Stolen Generations – forced separation of children
No self-determination, no citizenship rights, no rights
as peoples
A question of foundations
• No consent, no treaty – despite
instructions from Britain
• Intention of proviso in Letters Patent 1836
– settlement in SA dependent on respect
for Aboriginal rights – ‘always’
• Batman Treaty 1835 – not acknowledged,
terms not met, leasing or possession?,
temporary or permanent?
• No recognised process of transfer of
sovereignty or possession
Invasion and Conquest 1788- 1858
Europeans arrive in Australia
First Contact in many areas. Misunderstandings. Death
through disease. Frontier wars.
Resistance and battles.
Board of Protection of Aborigines established – They were
given the power to determine where Aboriginal people lived.
Segregation 1835-1886
Aboriginal Protection Act 1869 (Vic)
In 1869 the Board for the Protection of Aborigines
became responsible for the administration of the
Aborigines Protection Act, which in part sought:
To separate Aboriginal children from their families
and communities in order to 'educate' them
within a European system.
To control where Aboriginal people could live,
work, what kinds of jobs they could do, who they
could associate with and who they could marry.
A large camp of 200 Aboriginal people near Cumeragunja refused dole
in Victoria because they were 'NSW residents', but denied assistance in
NSW because they were 'too black and should apply to the NSW APB".
Under the prevailing assimilation policies of the NSW APB, they were
told that they were "too white" to receive rations because they were
not 'predominantly Aboriginal blood‘.
Assimilation Policy endorsed at the first Commonwealth
State conference on Native Welfare.
Petition to Queen by Australian Aborigines League.
Protest at German Consulate by Australian Aborigines
Jack Patten goes to Cumeragunja in late
January 1939 to talk to the residents
about their failed campaign to remove
manager A.J. McQuiggan.
200 Cumeragunja residents decide to
'walk-off' the reserve in protest at APB
policies cross the Murray River into
Victoria and set up camp at Barmah.
Assimilation 1951-1970
Assimilation Policy
By 1951 all Australian governments claimed they had
adopted a policy of 'assimilating' Aboriginal people into the
wider society
The policy was defined as:
... All Aborigines and part-Aborigines are expected eventually to
attain the same manner of living as other Australians and to live as
a member of a single Australian community enjoying the same
rights and privileges, accepting the same beliefs, hopes and
loyalties as other Australians.
However, the policy of assimilation was more devastating as the
aim was to "breed" out the Aborigines' and Islander peoples'
"traits" and to westernise the so called "half-castes".
Learning from the past – Stolen
The practice of removal was based on the assumption that
– disconnection from Aboriginal culture was in the best
interests of the child and
– Aboriginal communities should not determine their
own future
Assimilation 1951-1970
Aborigines Protection Board changed to Aborigines Welfare
Board to assist the assimilation policy
Policy shift: Indigenous children should stay with their
families if possible
In the 1967 referendum, an overwhelming majority of
Australians (more than 90%), and all the States, voted in
favour of amending the Federal Constitution so that
Aborigines could be counted in reckoning the population of
Australia and that the Commonwealth had responsibility for
Aboriginal Affairs.
The Great Australian Silence
Inattention on such a scale cannot possibly be
explained by absentmindedness. It is a structural
matter, a view from a window which has been
carefully placed to exclude a whole quadrant of
the landscape. What may well have begun as a
simple forgetting of other possible views turned
under habit and over time into something like a
cult of forgetfulness practised on a national scale.
We have been able for so long to disremember the
Aborigines that we are now hard put to keep them
in mind even when we most want to do so.
W.E.H.Stanner, After the Dreaming: The Boyer
Post 1967 Policies
Tent Embassy. Aboriginal flag designed.
Whitlam Government Policy of Self Determination for
Aboriginal people is adopted by Federal Government
replacing earlier policies of protectionism and assimilation.
Land Rights Acts.
Racial Discrimination Act.
Mostly bi-partisan approach to Indigenous affairs.
Establishment of many Aboriginal organisations.
Post 1967 Policies
Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody –
discovered that 43 out of 99 deaths in custody were of
people who were separated from their families as children
Bi-partisan Policy of Reconciliation. Establishment of Council
for Aboriginal Reconciliation.
High Court Mabo Decision (end of bi-partisan approach) and
PM Keating’s Redfern Speech
Post 1967 Policies
Wik Decision – pastoral leases don’t necessarily extinquish
native title
National Inquiry into Separation of Aboriginal and Torres
Strait Islander Children from their families “Bringing Them
Home Report”
Victorian Parliament apologises for the forcible removal of
Indigenous children. Federal Government doesn’t apologise
First Sorry Day.
Native Title Amendment Act passed
Post 1967 Policies
Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation Final Report
calls for ‘negotiated framework agreement’.
Reconciliation Walks – 1 000 000 participate in
walks across the nation
Federal Government announces the mainstreaming
of Government services and the abolition of ATSIC
Federal Government announces the NT Emergency
Intervention. Overrides Racial Discrimination Act
Colonisation as an ongoing toxic reality
– Loss of self-determination (disempowerment)
• Treated as client communities
– Loss of economic and social capacity
Unemployment (15%)
Incarceration (13.3 times more likely)
Child protection (7.7 times more likely)
Life expectancy (12 years less)
– Pervasiveness of racism and cultural
The Howard Years:
Federal Policy Impasse
• Acknowledging the past and its impact on the
present vs. denialism
• Self-determination vs. mainstreaming
• Restoring capacity through cultural respect vs.
blaming culture
• Addressing the ‘unfinished business’ vs.
‘practical reconciliation’
Rudd Government
• Apology to the Stolen Generations and
Welcome to Country
• Adjustments to NT Emergency Intervention
• National Indigenous Representative Body
• Signing of the UN Declaration on
Indigenous Rights
• Healing Foundation
• Evidence-based Approach
• Closing the Gap
The NT Intervention Issues
• the suspension of the Racial Discrimination Act
• hasn’t followed the recommendations of the “Little
Children Are Sacred” Report
• the blanket treatment of all welfare recipients and the
loss of dignity and shame that people experience when
shopping with their compulsory BasicsCard
• Reported drop in nutrition statistics
• Government Business Managers have replaced
Aboriginal community councils
• that more well being and health comprehensive services
should all be provided.
Closing the Gap targets
• Close the gap in life expectancy between
Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians
within a generation: Currently the gap has been
revised to 11.5 years for Indigenous men and 9.7
years for Indigenous women.
• Halve the gap in mortality rates for Indigenous
children under five by 2018: Indigenous children
under 5 are more likely to die than non-Indigenous
• Ensure access to early childhood education
for all Indigenous four year olds in remote
communities by 2013: Just over 60 per cent of
Indigenous children are enrolled in early
childhood education programs in the year before
school compared to around 70 per cent for all
• Halve the gap in reading, writing and
numeracy achievement for Indigenous
children by 2018: Only 63.4 per cent of
Indigenous Year 5 students were at or above the
national minimum standard for reading
compared to 92.6 per cent of their nonIndigenous counterparts.
• Halve the gap for Indigenous students in
Year 12 or equivalent attainment rates by
2020: Non-Indigenous 20–24 year olds are
almost twice as likely to attain a Year 12 or
equivalent qualification as their Indigenous
• Halve the gap in employment outcomes
between Indigenous and non-Indigenous
Australians by 2018: In 2008, almost 54 per
cent of the Indigenous working-age population
was employed compared with 75 per cent of the
non-Indigenous working-age population.
Victorian Aboriginal Children
• Self-determination
• Best interests of the child
– Acknowledgement of importance of Aboriginal
culture and connection for the child
• Aboriginal Child Placement Principle
• Transfer of authority to Aboriginal
• Cultural plans
• Cultural competence
Currents in Indigenous Policy
Cultural Blame.
Forces For and Against
Cultural Safety
a) internal strength-based processes
within Aboriginal communities which
encourage cultural resilience and
resistance and
b) external processes of the colonised
environment which are generated from the
broader society.
Cultural resilience and
• Community wealth – extended family networks,
looking after each other – demonstrating elasticity
(functionality in the face of risk) and buoyancy
(ability to recover from trauma)
• Story telling – of creator spirits, key land marks,
contemporary stories
• History of resistance – eg. Cold Morning,
Jupiter, Cocknose, Barak, Cooper, the Walk Off,
Patton, setting up of Koorie orgs
• Cultural expression – songs/music and art
Addressing the causal factors
The problem
• No self-determination
• Little respect for culture
• Fear and mistrust
The answer
– Self-determination, capacity building,
partnerships and cultural competence
Colonisation and its Echoes
• Homelessness – terra nullius/empty land,
disconnection from land, moved onto reserves/missions
• Powerlessness – no law, lack of acknowledgment of
Aboriginal authorities, not citizens until 1967, lack of real
• Poverty – no ownership, no recognition of traditional
economies, limited access to dominant culture
economy, dependency
• Disorientation/Confusion – nowhere, no place in
dominant culture, cultural in-competence of mainstream,
constant policy changes and confusion, racism
(above factors identified by W.E.H Stanner in the 60s)
Three Keys to Cultural
• Respect for, and processes
towards, self-determination
• Resourcing Aboriginal/Torres
Strait Islander-led Solutions
• Respect for culture and
addressing racism
Human rights as an inclusion
and investment strategy
Human rights based social investment framework:
- recognises that colonisation has impacted
negatively on Indigenous social and economic
- builds on the strengths of Indigenous culture
- respects the self-determining rights of
Indigenous communities in order to re-build
• sovereignty - which acknowledges the traditional owners
and custodians of the land and waters who have never
ceded their sovereign rights;
• Aboriginal peoples who have been forcibly removed
from their traditional lands but are still ‘peoples’, as defined
by international human rights conventions;
• community controlled organisations and agencies;
• ‘practical self-determination’ which ensures that
communities and community controlled organizations are
being resourced and allowed to act as equal partners
UN Conventions: Rights of all
peoples to self-determination
Article Two of the UN Charter
Article One of the International Covenant on Civil
and Political Rights and
Article One of the International Covenant on Social,
Economic and Cultural Rights
Article One of the International Covenant on Civil and
Political Rights (ICCPR) defines the right of selfdetermination as involving the free choice of political
status and the freedom to pursue economic, social and
cultural development.
Rate of youth suicide
An index of ‘‘cultural continuity’’ comprised of six marker variables: degree to which each of
B.C.’s individual bands have already secured 1) some measure of self government; some
control over the delivery of 2) health, 3) education, 4) policing services, and 5) cultural
resources; and 6) are otherwise at work litigating for Aboriginal title to traditional lands.
Suicide rates by number of factors present in the community (1987–1992). (Taken from Chandler
M and Proulx T. Changing selves in changing worlds: youth suicide on the fault lines of colliding
cultures. Archives of Suicide Research 2006: 10: 125-140. 2006).
Practical self-determination
• self-determination needs
– to be resourced,
– capacity building;
– respectful dialogue, partnership and
community development.
Aboriginal and Islander people want
rights not welfare so they can action their
Culture – meaning and identity
“Culture frames the identity of all people
Our senses see, hear, taste, feel and smell the world
through culture
Culture is as necessary to a sense of meaning and
identity as air is to living.
Culture is the air our minds breathe.
Culture is our eyes onto the world.
Culture explains the world to us and us to the world”
Muriel Bamblett
Culture Abuse
“When the culture of a people is ignored,
denigrated, or worse, intentionally
attacked, it is cultural abuse.
It is abuse because
it strikes at the very identity and soul of
the people it is aimed at;
it attacks their sense of self-esteem,
it attacks their connectedness to their
family and community.”
Muriel Bamblett
Cultural Competence Continuum
Pre competence
Towards cultural competence
Characterised by
Characterised by:
Characterised by:
Characterised by:
Characterised by:
Characterised by:
Intentional attitudes
policies & practices
that are destructive
to cultures and
consequently to
individuals within the
Lack of capacity to
help minority clients
or Communities due
to extremely biased
beliefs and a
paternal attitude
toward those
not of a mainstream
The belief that service
or helping approaches
traditionally used by
the dominant culture
are universally
applicable regardless
of race or culture.
These services ignore
cultural strengths and
encourage assimilation
The desire to deliver
quality services
and a commitment
to diversity
indicated by hiring
minority staff,
initiating training and
recruiting minority
members for agency
but lacking information
on how to maximise
these capacities.
This level of competence
can lead to tokenism
Acceptance and
respect for difference
continuing self
assessment, careful
attention to the
dynamics of
difference, continuous
expansion of knowledge
and resources, and
adaptation of services to
better meet the needs of
diverse populations
Holding culture in high
esteem: seeking to
add to the knowledge
base of culturally
competent practice
by conducting
research, influencing
approaches to care,
and improving
relations between
Promotes self
Conceptual Framework
• Cultural Awareness – Knowledge with
• Commitment to Aboriginal Self-determination
and Respectful Partnerships– the Ground Rules
• Cultural Respect - Attitude and Values
• Cultural Responsiveness – Ability and Skills
• Cultural Safety – Environment and Client
“Racism Makes us Sick”
• Internalised racism
• Interpersonal racism
• Systemic/Institutional racism
Interrogate our terra nullius
blindness (whiteness)
Peggy McIntosh - the “invisible knapsack”.
I can arrange to be in the company of my race most of
the time
If I need to move to rent or buy or if I need credit my skin
colour will not be an obstruction to getting the property
I can turn on the telly and see my race widely
I can swear, get drunk, dress in second hand clothes,
not answer letters without people saying how typical of
my race
I can do well without being called a credit to my race
I am never asked to speak for all people of my race.
Council for Aboriginal
The Declaration Towards Reconciliation,
The Roadmap Towards Reconciliation
– which included national strategies for
– sustaining the reconciliation process,
– promoting the recognition of Aboriginal
and Torres Strait Islander rights,
– overcoming disadvantage and
– economic independence
Reconciliation: Australia’s Challenge (the
Council’s final report) recommendations for
• COAG to implement and monitor a national framework to overcome
• Support/strategies for The Declaration Towards Reconciliation and
The Roadmap Towards Reconciliation by all governments
• change the Constitution to recognize the First Peoples in a new
preamble, remove the ‘race powers’ (Section 25) and introduce
constitutional protections against racial discrimination
• commitments from all sectors of society to affirm the declaration,
action the roadmap, provide resources for reconciliation,
• each government and parliament to recognize that its land and
waters were settled without treaty and negotiate a process to achieve
these agreements/treaties in order to protect Aboriginal and Torres
Strait Islander peoples political, legal, cultural and economic position
in society and
• enact legislation to put in place a process towards agreement/treaty
to resolve the unfinished business of reconciliation
“Indigenous people want very little. They
just want justice”.
1. Acknowledge Sovereignty:
2. Be Honest about our history:
3. Safeguard Aboriginal Cultural Heritage:
4. Recognise and Respect Aboriginal culture:
5. Seek Aboriginal representation in all areas and at all
levels of civic society:
6. Pay reparations:
Close the Gap
In relationships and narratives by
• A conversation about a re-negotiated
social contract with human rights as the
– issues such as the constitution,
treaty/ies and agreements
• Time to reframe the national identity
 Treat each other - human rights as meeting
place and rules of engagement
o Self-determination and cultural respect
 Healing
o of relationships with each other
– tackling racism and white privilege
o within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
– restoring culture and tackling lateral
 Writing a new story - a new shared narrative, a
new shared identity
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