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Australian History

AUSTRALIAN HISTORY: Wurundjeri elder Aunty Margaret Gardiner’s quiet legacy for Victoria’s Aboriginal community

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#AceHistoryDesk Good luck to anyone trying to pull the wool over Aunty Margaret Gardiner’s eyes…………..” She wasn’t backward in coming forward, she’d ask a question, even if it was a bit prickly,” her brother, Uncle Andrew Gardiner, recalled with a smile.

Aunty Margaret Gardiner smiles, wearing a possum-skin cloak as she stands in front of a field in a black-and-white photo.
Wurundjeri elder Aunty Margaret Gardiner remained highly active in Aboriginal affairs throughout her later life.(Supplied)none

The family of the respected Wurundjeri elder, who passed away aged 63 this month, has given permission for her name and image to be used.

Uncle Andrew said his sister could be fairly blunt as she pursued bureaucrats, agencies and individuals for information on the issues affecting her community.

But there was a purpose to her tenacious investigations.

“To make sure that they were doing the right thing by the community that should have been dealt with,” Uncle Andrew said.

With a careful eye for detail, Aunty Margaret was constantly building up a “helicopter view” of Victorian Aboriginal affairs.

Aunty Margaret Gardiner holds a microphone as she stands, appearing serious, wrapped in a possum-skin cloak.
Aunty Margaret often spoke up to ensure concerns around cultural protocols and Aboriginal sovereignty were heard.(Supplied)none

“Her priority was cultural heritage, because that grounds everybody and that maintained her grounding as an Aboriginal woman,” Uncle Andrew said.

“She felt the need to do the right thing and not take handout grants from the government necessarily because she didn’t want to feel a cultural cringe that we were owning to the government rather than making decisions for ourselves about our cultural heritage.”

‘A fierce fighter for her people’

Born in Birchip in Victoria’s north-west in 1958, Aunty Margaret spent her early childhood years in nearby Charlton, before the family later moved to Melbourne.

There, she and her brother became more tightly connected with their mother’s family, including Aunty Winnie Quagliotti, a key elder in the Wurundjeri community who established the Wurundjeri corporation.

Andrew and Margaret Gardiner smile as they pose for a photograph together, as teenagers or young adults.
Margaret Gardiner and her brother Andrew grew up with a strong connection to their mother’s Wurundjeri culture.(Supplied)none

As a young woman, Aunty Margaret was quick to get to work for her community, starting off with a job at the Dandenong Aboriginal co-operative.

Through the 1970s and decades that followed, there were big changes in Victorian Aboriginal affairs as a surge in the number of community-run bodies delivered greater self-determination to Indigenous communities.

Aunty Margaret was in the thick of it, working at the former Mirimbiak Nations Aboriginal Corporation with Victorian native title groups to help traditional owners assert their rights over country.

She was also involved in significant projects capturing the oral histories of Victorian traditional owners, accumulating a deep knowledge of Aboriginal history across the state.

“She had that teaching and grounding about how to talk with elders and had that information and who was allowed to see it,” Uncle Andrew said.

Most recently, she sat on the board of the Birrarung Council, helping give a voice to the interests of the Birrarung (Yarra River) through a set of legislation she helped her Wurundjeri community push forward.

Uncle Andrew Gardiner appears thoughtful, dressed in a hat and rainjacket under grey skies in a green field.
Uncle Andrew Gardiner says his sister was passionate about safeguarding Aboriginal cultural heritage and values.(ABC News: Joseph Dunstan)none

After years of involvement in different community organisations, Uncle Andrew said his sister’s contributions would live on in simple but profound changes, such as improved access to housing and health services for Aboriginal people in Dandenong and Melbourne’s south-east.

“A lot of people say she was a fierce fighter for her people and she had this strength and she was staunch … yeah, because she kind of had to, she had to be able to do that representation for people,” he said.

In a letter of condolence to her family, a senior lawyer who had worked with Aunty Margaret gave their own insight into the elder’s formidable reputation.

“[The lawyer] mentioned that she was somewhat challenged at times to be able to respond to Marg’s questions, because they were very particular legal questions, and she’d go ‘ok I’ll have to go and research that’,” Uncle Andrew said.

‘She just led the way’

If you dropped in to see her, odds were her phone would be ringing hot, as Aboriginal community members from across the state sought her frank advice on matters of cultural protocol.

Gary Murray, a multi-clan human rights advocate who is a descendant of several nations including Wamba Wamba, Dhudhuroa, Yorta Yorta and Dja Dja Wurrung, said Aunty Margaret was a “leader at the highest level” when it came to cultural matters.

“In terms of the knowledge that she had from her ancestors and from her own connection to country, as well as where she worked,” he said.

As a multi-clan elder, she fought to protect the cultural interests of her other nations too, heading to court to raise her concerns about the right people speaking for country.

“I think she was outstanding in those matters,” Mr Murray said.

“She was always very articulate, very strong, exerted her rights … she just led the way.”

She was never one to embrace the spotlight but her family and others who worked alongside her say Aunty Margaret’s legacy shouldn’t be understated.

“Marg was one of those ones who did it quietly but very strongly and didn’t like to be acknowledged or recognised in a sense,” Mr Murray said.

“More recently, a particular university was offering her an honorary doctorate and she was very strong on saying no, she didn’t want it.”

Uncle Andrew, who is part of the First Peoples’ Assembly working to prepare Victoria for state-based treaties, said his sister was wary but interested in where that path could take her community.

“She was reserving her opinion about treaty, to see how it would work,” he said.

“But she wasn’t going back on what Wurundjeri’s opportunities and aspirations needed to be, either.”

Aunty Margaret is survived by her children Jemima Gardiner, Luke Gardiner, Mathew Gardiner and Jesse Rotumah-Gardiner.

A private funeral is planned for September 5, when she will be laid to rest at Coranderrk Aboriginal Cemetery in Healesville.

ABC (HISTORY) NEWS REPORT:

#AceNewsDesk report ………..Published: Aug.27:  2022:

Editor says …Sterling Publishing & Media Service Agency is not responsible for the content of external site or from any reports, posts or links, and can also be found here on Telegram: https://t.me/acenewsdaily and all wordpress and live posts and links here: https://acenewsroom.wordpress.com/ and thanks for following as always appreciate every like, reblog or retweet and free help and guidance tips on your PC software or need help & guidance from our experts AcePCHelp.WordPress.Com

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FEATURED AUSTRALIA: Why the collapse of the Aboriginal Community Benefit Fund is a reckoning for regulators – ABC News Report

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#AceNewsDesk – After nine years as consumer affairs reporter, I’ve covered some of the biggest examples of skulduggery on the beat: However, as I reflect on my time at the ABC — which is shortly to come to an end — it’s a story that’s happening right now that stands out as the most shameful.

It was a slow-moving disaster that unfolded right under the noses of regulators. So, why did the Aboriginal Community Benefit Fund keep taking money from people for so long?

It was back in the 1990s that a British-born businessman called Ron Pattenden, along with two Aboriginal health workers, set up a company offering funeral insurance to First Nations consumers.

Sorry Business is among the most important cultural traditions for many Indigenous Australians.

Nikki Foy sits at her kitchen table.
Nikki Foy, in Ballarat, is one of many who has spoken to the ABC in the aftermath of Youpla’s collapse.(ABC News: Amy Bainbridge)none

It’s also one of the most expensive.

So it was no surprise the products sold by Aboriginal Community Benefit Fund (ACBF) — payment plans for funerals — were welcomed by families.

In their thousands, they opened their homes and wallets to the sales people who went, door to door, in Aboriginal communities spruiking the product.

Almost immediately, concerns were raised about the business practices of the ACBF.

A regulator stepped in, the company temporarily ceased trading, and consumers were — at least briefly — protected.

However, instead of the ACBF going out of business, it restarted, and rapidly expanded.

Over the years, alarms were again raised about the way it was selling its policies to people with low financial literacy.

Parents were encouraged to take out funeral insurance for babies and primary-school-aged children.

It marketed itself as Aboriginal-owned and run, even though it was not.

And it wasn’t using the funds to pay for community projects, as it initially promised consumers.

Perhaps most galling of all, the company was allowed to deduct millions of dollars directly from people’s Centrelink payments between 2001 and 2017, despite a warning consumers were vulnerable if the company collapsed.

ASIC did run three court cases against the company.

However, like a hydra, ACBF always grew another head, eventually morphing into four companies.

When it finally collapsed earlier this year, it left 14,500 customers at least $66 million out of pocket, according to a recent liquidator’s report.

An ACBF newsletter encouraging members to sign up their children.
An ACBF newsletter encouraging members to sign up their children in 2008.(Supplied)none

Advocates estimate thousands more customers lost money over the years. They believe more than 30,000 people have been impacted.

By the time it collapsed, millions of dollars had been sent offshore to an underwriting company associated with Ron Pattenden — entirely legally according to an earlier court ruling — and he was enjoying his multi-million-dollar yacht and waterfront apartment in New Zealand.

A white luxury sports yacht on water at dusk.
Ron Pattenden’s 32.9-metre sport yacht Dream Catcher.(ABC News: Amy Bainbridge)none

When we found him in May this year, he said he was not to blame for the demise of the company.

While liquidators are still working to establish why the company collapsed, ultimately it’s those with the responsibility of policing the financial system who must bear some of the blame.

But who was in charge?

‘Regulators just didn’t step in’

It’s been a challenge to make sense of how this business was allowed to operate for so long.

At various times, ASIC, Fair Trading NSW, and the Australian Financial Complaints Authority all investigated and took action against the company.

Ultimately, the buck seemed to stop with no-one.

ACBF continued making money from some of the country’s poorest communities.

It was only when ACBF’s conduct was exposed at the banking royal commission that real action was taken, and its licence to sell new products was withdrawn.

Regulators and the government were warned back then that, if it couldn’t sell new products, it was at risk of collapse and the money of 14,500 Indigenous people with it.

Yet nothing was done to safeguard their money.

It’s left advocates wondering if that was because those customers were black.

A woman stands looking at the camera in front of a desk.
Mob Strong Debt Help’s Bettina Cooper wants to see all Youpla customers compensated.(ABC News: Kirstie Wellauer)none

“Part of me wonders whether First Nations people aren’t valued as much as others,” Mob Strong Debt Help financial counsellor Bettina Cooper said.

“Part of me thinks that the regulators just didn’t step in and do what they should have done — which is protect people who are vulnerable, protect people who have made sacrifices, protect people who have been targeted for a particular product.”

Assistant Treasurer Stephen Jones appeared to acknowledge the blind spot within the halls of government in Question Time this week. 

“If there had been a Voice to Parliament in 2020, would it have told us that the collapse of this company was going to cause to these communities and these families the sort of harm that we’ve described?” he said.

 “The answer is: Yes.”

Where is the outrage?

Australia’s history is littered with examples of consumers being misled, deceived or ripped off by companies and corporations.

There’s been the mis-selling of insurance policies on a grand scale, charging customers fees for no service, and corporate collapses that have left thousands of investors without their savings.

In recent times, the scandal of Melissa Caddick ripping off millions of dollars from her clients has titillated the Sydney media and affluent social circles.

As the national consumer affairs reporter, I’ve covered some of the worst examples of businesses behaving badly

ACBF’s conduct stands out as one of the biggest failures of regulatory action and one of the most egregious examples of consumer harm in Australia’s history.

Yet, apart from reporting by the ABC, NITV and The Guardian, media coverage has been limited.

Some people, when I tell them about this story, say it’s up to the consumer to be responsible for what they’re signing up for.

However, in this case, there was a huge power imbalance between the consumer and the company signing them up to a contract.

There was a cultural need that was exploited by a profit-making business.

People paid thousands, often forgoing life’s essentials simply to keep up with their regular payments.

“This has actually become the most-traumatic consumer rip-off of Indigenous people I’ve ever seen in Australia,” financial counsellor Alan Gray said.

Many paid thousands of dollars over decades, only to be told their money was gone.

Venessa Poelina stands on the beach in Broome. She stares into the camera.
Vennessa Poelina is one of thousands of Youpla customers who contributed to the company for years.(ABC News: Andrew Seabourne)none

“It’s real mixed emotions, you know, like you kind of want to feel angry,” Broome resident Vennessa Poelina said.

“Then you get frustrated and then you feel sad because the cost burden is going to be on your family to look for money for your cremation.”

It gives pause for thought as to why oversight of the regulator system benefited the corporation, rather than protected the consumer.

Perhaps it was a blind spot because the spotlight is more easily focused on salacious scandals with alluring headlines and vocal victims.

In this case, the victims — while ably represented by advocates — were out of sight of authorities.

Perhaps authorities just didn’t care enough.

It appears nobody was willing to step in and take ownership of the issue.

Often consumers find it hard to get heard unless the media gets involved.

Aaron Davis from the Indigenous Consumer Assistance Network (ICAN) is justifiably frustrated.

“We brought out the issue about the connection between [Centrelink] and ACBF in 2007, and it took until 2015 for them to be taken off [the automatic-deduction system],” he said. 

“And, so, I think there is a lot of culpability in the government actually making the ACBF’s system, their financial systems, thrive.”

What happens next?

In perhaps an admission of breathtaking failure of the government and regulators, the government has agreed to a multi-million-dollar interim solution to help families.

It has agreed to guarantee policies until November 30 next year for customers who were active on April 1, 2020, while it works out a broader solution for the thousands of people impacted by the collapse.

Advocates say it’s a welcome first step, but they want more.

“I want to see the government commit to everyone getting their money back,” Kuku Yalanji elder and ICAN director Daphne Naden said.

While a comprehensive solution is needed for all impacted customers, I hope this leads to broader change to protect consumers from predatory behaviour.

Moreover, this should be a warning for regulators to listen.

They must have concern for the full spectrum of Australians, not just those in capital cities or who have the loudest voices. 

#AceNewsDesk report ………..Published: Aug.04:  2022:

Editor says …Sterling Publishing & Media Service Agency is not responsible for the content of external site or from any reports, posts or links, and can also be found here on Telegram: https://t.me/acenewsdaily and all wordpress and live posts and links here: https://acenewsroom.wordpress.com/ and thanks for following as always appreciate every like, reblog or retweet and free help and guidance tips on your PC software or need help & guidance from our experts AcePCHelp.WordPress.Com

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BREAKING AUSTRALIA: Researchers develop new communication system inspired by rare NT Aboriginal language Jingulu

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#AceBreakingNews – An Aboriginal language only spoken by a handful of people in the Northern Territory has become the inspiration for a new artificial intelligence system, potentially helping people better communicate with machines.

Jon McCormack 1
Researchers say JSwarm could have “almost infinite” uses. (Supplied: Jon McCormack)none

Jingulu is considered an endangered language that’s traditionally spoken in the Northern Territory’s Barkly region.

A study, recently published in academic journal Frontiers in Physics, suggests it has special characteristics that can easily be translated into commands for artificial Intelligence (AI) swarm systems. 

“Maybe one of the most powerful things with Jingulu [is] that it gives us the simplicity and flexibility which we can apply in lots of different applications,” lead researcher at University of New South Wales Canberra, Hussein Abbass, said. 

AI swarm systems are used in machines to help them to collaborate with humans and undertake complex tasks than humans command them to do.

The silhouette of a man in front of a wall of digital characters/screens
Experts say Australian law is not up-to-date to sufficiently regulate the rising use of artificial intelligence. (Chris Yang: Unsplash)none

Dr Abbass said he stumbled on the Jingulu language by accident, while developing a new communication system. 

“When I started looking at the abstract, it didn’t take much time to click in my mind about how suitable it is, for the work I do on artificial intelligence and human AI teaming,” he said. 

Language easily translatable into AI commands

Dr Abbass said it was normal for AI researchers to draw on different forms of communication for their work, including other human languages, body language and even music.

However, he said the Jingulu language was especially well-suited to AI because it had only three verbs — ‘go’, come’ and ‘do’ — which meant it could be easily translated into commands.

“The specific AI model that we are working on relies on the very simple concepts of attraction and repulsion, in physics …. and this very simple concept fits underneath the mathematics of our AI,” he said.

“We can apply the ‘go’ and ‘come’ to the attraction and repulsion concepts, in the mathematical model that we have, and the ‘do’, to when there’s no movement in a space.

“The structure of Jingulu matches extremely nicely to the mathematics, and that’s what made it really fascinating, for what we do.”

“I have not encountered another language that has all of these advantages simultaneously, and in alignment with AI.”

Barkly generic
Jingulu is a language traditionally spoken in the Northern Territory’s Barkly region.

‘Unique’ elements of language beneficial for AI 

Study co-author and University of Canberra professor in linguistics Eleni Petraki said Jingulu’s flexible sentence structure was also an advantage.

“[In most languages] words appear in a specific order …. in Jingulu however you can split those elements,” she said.

With only several, elderly fluent speakers remaining, Jingulu is considered an endangered language, according to Rachel Nordlinger, a linguistics professor at the University of Melbourne and director of the Research Unit for Indigenous Language. 

She said while there were related Aboriginal languages with similar features, Jingulu had some unique characteristics. 

“What’s different about Jingulu is that other languages might have small numbers of verbs, but there might be 20 of them or 30 of them, whereas Jingulu has only three,” she said.

“The structure’s similar, but it’s different in having such a small number of verbs, that combine with other words.”

AI system has ‘almost infinite’ applications

The new artificial intelligence system created with Jingulu in mind, JSwarm, was initially developed to help farmers herd sheep, as a language which would allow an app used by farmers to communicate with unmanned aerial vehicles performing the task.

It has not yet been implemented, with its developers still working to secure funding. 

However Dr Abbass said the system could potentially be used beyond agriculture in future, including in areas such as medicine to defence. 

“[There are] almost an infinite number of applications,” he said.

Hand holds small Aboriginal flag
Like most Australian Indigenous languages, Jingulu is considered endangered. 

Sign of growing interest in Indigenous languages

Dr Abbass said the AI system was the first instance he was aware of in which an Australian Indigenous language had been used “at the interface of human and AI communication”.

“You never know where good ideas will come from, and without keeping our minds open, we won’t be able to innovate,” he said.

Dr Nordlinger said researchers’ use of Jingulu to develop the system was an example of the growing level of interest in Indigenous languages in Australia, both from Indigenous communities themselves and the wider Australian public.

“People are becoming more aware of how fascinating these languages are, but also how endangered they are, and therefore how precious they are,” she said.

“I think [this study] is a sign of the growing interest for sure, and it can be a real positive.

“It can only be a good thing to have more attention and more appreciation of these languages.”

ABC NEWS REPORT:

#AceNewsDesk report ………..Published: Aug.02: 2022:

Editor says …Sterling Publishing & Media Service Agency is not responsible for the content of external site or from any reports, posts or links, and can also be found here on Telegram: https://t.me/acenewsdaily and all wordpress and live posts and links here: https://acenewsroom.wordpress.com/ and thanks for following as always appreciate every like, reblog or retweet and free help and guidance tips on your PC software or need help & guidance from our experts AcePCHelp.WordPress.Com

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FEATURED AUSTRALIA: PM Meeting with Indigenous Leaders Continues Tradition that has Lasted for Thousands of Years at Gulkula

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#AceNewsDesk – When the Prime Minister came to Arnhem Land to meet with Indigenous leaders, he was continuing a tradition that has lasted for thousands of years at ancient place called Gulkula.

Two indigenous people performing a dance with more dancers in the background.
The site of Gulkula where Garma has held has brought Indigenous people together for centuries. (ABC: Bindi Bryce)none

Anthony Albanese made headlines at this year’s Garma festival by meeting with Yolngu leaders, pledging to adopt the Uluṟu Statement from the Heart in full and to hold a referendum on the proposed Voice to Parliament.

Garma is held at Gulkula every year and this weekends festival has been one of many gatherings held at the site over the centuries.

Gumatj leader Balupalu Yunupingu said Gulkula had always been a place for people from different tribes to come together and learn new perspectives.

Gulkula camp
More than 2,000 people attended Garma this year and camped at Gulkula.(ABC: Dayvis Heyne)none

“This place is special to us because Ganbulapula, the spirit man, created this place and named the place Gulkula,” he said.

“It’s a place of teaching.”

Gulkula is surrounded by stringy trees and Yolngu ancestor Ganbulapula is said to have shooed the bees away from the site to find honey.

Modernising Yolngu traditions

It’s an area of learning for the Yolngu people, and it was the site of the first Garma in 1999.

Balupalu’s brother, Djawa Yunupingu, said it was “just like a bush camp”.

“We looked at Garma and said, ‘Why don’t we do a festival out here?'”

He says Garma is a continuation of the Yolngu traditions, “but in a modern way”.

Now thousands of people from around the country, including international delegates, attend the Garma festival, which is considered a key event on the political calendar.

Head shots of two indigenous men.
Djawa (left) and Balupalu Yunupingu hope Garma will continue to grow. (ABC: Dayvis Heyne)none

“In the olden days, going back 50,000 years ago, people had Garma to bring the tribes together, whether it was a morning ceremony or some kind of ritual or sorry business,” he said

“Whatever issues we want to bring up we talk about them.” 

Garma is back for the first time since 2019, after a COVID-19-enforced hiatus, and the Yunupingus say there’s been plenty of excitement leading up to this year’s festival.

“This Garma is different. We are being friendly. Everyone’s shaking hands,” Balupalu Yunupingu said.

“It’s great you know.”

Play Video. Duration: 9 minutes 46 seconds
Breaking down the PM’s Indigenous Voice to Parliament proposal.

It is hoped Garma will continue to grow every year.

“I’d like to see more people out here, maybe an extension of the days we have here,” Djawa Yunupingu said.

“The land were on now is Gumatj country. It’s always been Gumatj country since time began.” 

#AceNewsDesk report ………..Published: Aug.01: 2022:

Editor says …Sterling Publishing & Media Service Agency is not responsible for the content of external site or from any reports, posts or links, and can also be found here on Telegram: https://t.me/acenewsdaily and all wordpress and live posts and links here: https://acenewsroom.wordpress.com/ and thanks for following as always appreciate every like, reblog or retweet and free help and guidance tips on your PC software or need help & guidance from our experts AcePCHelp.WordPress.Com

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FEATURED AUSTRALIA HISTORY: Melbourne’s Fitzroy hides a past as a hub for the Aboriginal civil rights movement

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#AceNewsRoom With ‘Kindness & Wisdom’ July.31, 2022 @acenewsservices

Ace News Room Cutting Floor 31/07/2022

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#AceNewsDesk – When Aunty Denise McGuinness looks up and down Gertrude Street in Fitzroy, she sees her community’s history everywhere: ” Fitzroy’s so significant to Aboriginal people … if you come from Perth, anywhere, you come straight to Fitzroy,” she says.

Denise McGuinness smiles as she stands in a garden on a rainy day, dressed in a black puffer jacket.
Denise McGuinness wants more Melburnians to discover the Aboriginal history of Fitzroy.(ABC News: Joseph Dunstan)none

The inner-Melbourne suburb is now dominated by expensive houses, trendy bars and designer homewares, in recent years garnering a reputation as a hipster haven.

But it’s still home to the large public flats where Ms McGuinness lived as a girl.

Shop fronts line Gertrude Street, viewed under cloudy grey skies.
Fitzroy’s recent gentrification has transformed Gertrude Street, but a new project is bringing its history back into focus.(ABC News: Joseph Dunstan)none

Through the 1960s, 70s and 80s, Fitzroy and the surrounding suburbs were a meeting place for Aboriginal people who’d left behind restrictive lives on missions or emerged from state institutions, searching for family links the government had tried so hard to sever.

“We were discriminated against, there was only one pub that would let us drink, and that was the Builders Arms,” Ms McGuinness recalls.

The Builders Arms Hotel, photographed under grey skies from across the road.
Several stories shared in the project involve life-changing meetings at the Builders Arms Hotel.(ABC News: Joseph Dunstan)none

Now, the stories of laughter, tears and powerful civil rights victories born on this part of Wurundjeri land are free for all to hear, through a truth-telling phone app.

Named Yalinguth, after the Woi Wurrung word for “yesterday”, the app follows your GPS location, producing rich audio stories that reveal the recent history of the land you’re walking on.

An artistic display of a street map, with a white drop indicating the user's location and large bubbles to mark story zones.
A map marked by bubbles invites the user to step into the stories of elders.(Supplied)none

Wander past the Builders Arms Hotel, and Uncle Jack Charles comes through the headphones, telling you how he discovered Melbourne’s Indigenous community inside as a teenager.

Stroll down to Atherton Gardens, and the late Uncle Archie Roach’s haunting lyrics and story invites you to reflect on the cruel cost of the Stolen Generations.

Further down, by the police station on Condell Street, elders share their memories of racist treatment by the justice system.

Bobby Nicholls, a multi-clan traditional owner with Yorta Yorta, Dja Dja Wurrung and Wotjobaluk connections, says the project is a powerful way of ensuring the legacy of civil rights leaders including Sir Doug Nicholls, William Cooper and Jack Patten are more widely known.

“They came into Melbourne to achieve a lot of things, and one of those things was to ensure that Aboriginal people had equal rights,” he says.

Bobby Nicholls smiles as he stands in a park, dressed in a warm checked jacket on a rainy day.
Bobby Nicholls says his community is still fighting for access to the culturally appropriate services it needs.(ABC News: Joseph Dunstan)none

It was on Gertrude Street that the Victorian Aboriginal Health Service was opened in 1973, offering a safe space in an era when stories of racist treatment in health services were common.

A white building striped in black, yellow and red is viewed from across the street.
The health service was one of several community-run Aboriginal organisations that emerged in the 1970s.(ABC News)none

“[In Echuca], they used to have the expectant mothers to be out on the verandah of the maternity hospital, so they weren’t taken into the wards like non-Aboriginal people,” Mr Nicholls says.

Ms McGuinness spent two decades working in the community-controlled service, which ran on little more than community passion in the early years.

Men and woman stand outside a black, yellow and red coloured building. A sign reads 'KOORI HEALTH NOT GUBBAWEALTH'.
The creation of the Victorian Aboriginal Health Service gave Indigenous people an option that wasn’t run by white Australia.(Supplied: Aunty Denise McGuinness)none

“Back in those days, we didn’t need the funding that we rely upon now,” the Gunditjmara, Wiradjuri, Yorta Yorta and Dja Dja Wurrung woman says.

“We worked at the health centre … three months without a wage, three to six months.

“We still delivered the service.”

Ms McGuinness hopes those who take a walk through the stories offered by elders will gain a deeper appreciation of the struggles her community has endured.

“Get a different understanding and learn the struggles back then,” she says.

A black, yellow and red sticker with an eagle reads 'Yalinguth', on a wet Melbourne footpath.
The app offers an audio tour of the streets around Fitzroy, revealing the rich Aboriginal history of the area.(ABC News: Joseph Dunstan)none

Gunaikurnai and Kooma-kunja artist BJ Braybon gathered many of his elders’ stories for the app.

He feels young Indigenous people taking in the stories will find themselves changed.

“It’ll change the young people because it will help them to understand about their elders’ history,” he says.

BJ Braybon smiles, standing in a park on a rainy day, dressed in a black beanie and puffer jacket.
BJ Braybon contributed to the artwork featured on the app.(ABC News: Joseph Dunstan)none

Yorta Yorta man Jason Tamiru, who helped formally launch the Yalinguth app this week, says the trove of elders’ stories collected on the app represents a chance to become better informed.

“History’s shaped us all, good and bad,” he says.

Jason Tamiru smiles, wearing a black hoodie and yellow beanie.
Jason Tamiru says the audio app respects the oral history traditions of Aboriginal communities.(ABC News: Joseph Dunstan)none

“Outside of our own community some people have made judgement of us and that judgement is incorrect and there’s been a lot of books, lot of stories and those stories haven’t been always positive.

“You want to hear the truth, you want to hear from the right people.

“Engaging with the app, you’re going to engage with a lot of elders, a lot of people that hold stories and those stories are important.”

You can find out more about the Yalinguth project on its website.

#AceNewsDesk report ………..Published: July.31: 2022:

Editor says …Sterling Publishing & Media Service Agency is not responsible for the content of external site or from any reports, posts or links, and can also be found here on Telegram: https://t.me/acenewsdaily and all wordpress and live posts and links here: https://acenewsroom.wordpress.com/ and thanks for following as always appreciate every like, reblog or retweet and free help and guidance tips on your PC software or need help & guidance from our experts AcePCHelp.WordPress.Com

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Ace Breaking News

BREAKING AUSTRALIA WATCH: After more than 200 years of waiting, Albanese puts forward a ‘simple’ proposition for an Indigenous Voice to Parliament

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#AceBreakingNews – Uluru Statement in focus at Garma Festival

It is difficult to articulate the level of collective frustration and anxiety that has built up in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australia as government after government has kicked the can down the road — talking big but delivering little to empower First Australians in the Constitution.

Report after report, consultation after consultation, more talks, empty rhetoric, and policy paralysis has been the hallmark of Canberra. There’s been a cognitive dissonance — a lot of talk about the plight of the world’s oldest surviving culture but little, materially, to rectify it.

The last prime minister to come to the Garma Festival before Anthony Albanese’s arrival this weekend was Malcolm Turnbull, who broke hearts when he described a as a so-called “third chamber”. As a moderate Liberal prime minister, there was great hope that he would deliver.

There was also great hope that his successor, Scott Morrison, might have a change of heart — but that never came. He adopted rhetoric that sounded like something had changed; he wanted to do things “with” Indigenous people not “to” them. But he snubbed the most significant meeting of Black Australia, failing to show up to Garma and listen to Aboriginal voices on their existential angst about their culture, languages and law.

And it is existential. The Yolngu people worry about the maintenance of their culture, language and laws. Without a voice, they are worried that they will continue to go voiceless on their own country.

And so Indigenous leaders and communities have waited, enduring the pain of the pandemic and waiting — always waiting — to take their rightful place in the nation we call Australia. Their patience is unparalleled, their resilience remarkable.

A renewed hope

With Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s attendance at Garma, a great sense of elation that maybe, perhaps, something might be about to change has taken hold.

Hope is a powerful feeling. Respect from the highest elected office in the land has been left wanting.

Albanese, in his speech on Saturday, talked of more than 200 years of broken promises and betrayals, failures and false starts.

We have heard over and over from those fresh to the Opposition benches that the referendum lacks “detail”. And so the Prime Minister came to Garma seeking to partly answer that criticism and build momentum for a cause generations in the making.

The starting point, he says, is a recommendation to add three sentences to the Constitution:

1. There shall be a body, to be called the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice.

2. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice may make representations to Parliament and the Executive Government on matters relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.

3. The Parliament shall, subject to this Constitution, have power to make laws with respect to the composition, functions, powers and procedures of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice.

Simple.

He argues we should consider asking our fellow Australians something as simple as in a referendum:

“Do you support an alteration to the Constitution that establishes an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice?”

He calls it a straightforward proposition, a simple principle. He says it is a question from the heart. He says there could be negotiation now about those words.

Overcoming division

Supporters of the Uluru Statement have been agitating for a referendum date. On that, the Prime Minister has not delivered — yet.

The government is still hoping to receive bipartisanship on this, although there is growing anxiety and concern that perhaps the Peter Dutton Opposition may not deliver it. There is division that appears to be solidifying.

The Prime Minister invited the new shadow minister for Indigenous Australians Julian Leeser on the trip with him. The Garma Festival also invited the Opposition Leader, but he did not take up the invitation. Leeser is a well-known supporter of the change, but to succeed he needs to bring his partyroom with him. That task is enormous.

The Prime Minister says he hopes the opposition and the crossbench will support the proposal, join the campaign for a ‘yes’ vote and bring their supporters to the cause.

“We will seek out every ally and every advocate from ‘every point under the southern sky’,” he says. 

The truth is that without bipartisanship the risk of failure at the ballot box becomes more real. And failure on a question as fundamental as this would be dangerous for a country that has struggled to right the wrongs of its past. What message would that send about how we regard First Nations people? Labor Ministers also worry that a ‘no’ vote would shame our country around the world.

So how can we contemplate the tyranny of voicelessness? How do we even consider the pain of fighting for survival in a nation that has been so unwilling to listen?

The storm clouds may be lifting

The road to change is never easy but for the first time in many years the pathway seems to be clearing — the storm clouds may be lifting.

The Prime Minister says he recognises the risks of failure but “we choose not to dwell on them because we see this referendum as a magnificent opportunity for Australia”.

Describing it as a long-overdue embrace of truth and justice and decency and respect for First Nations people, he has used the power of his office and political capital to spearhead this change.

In years to come, Albanese’s speech to Garma will be another of the key moments reflected on and taught in our long march towards reconciliation and justice.

Just like Paul Keating’s Redfern speech — quoted in Albanese’s speech at Garma — and Kevin Rudd’s apology to the Stolen Generations, the words will echo through the classrooms of Australia.

ABC NEWS REPORT:

#AceNewsDesk report ………..Published: July.30: 2022:

Editor says …Sterling Publishing & Media Service Agency is not responsible for the content of external site or from any reports, posts or links, and can also be found here on Telegram: https://t.me/acenewsdaily and all wordpress and live posts and links here: https://acenewsroom.wordpress.com/ and thanks for following as always appreciate every like, reblog or retweet and free help and guidance tips on your PC software or need help & guidance from our experts AcePCHelp.WordPress.Com

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Ace Daily News

AUSTRALIA ROAD TO HEALING TOUR: “I will never, ever forgive this school for what they did to me. I still feel that pain.”

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#AceNewsDesk – Road to Healing tour sheds light on suffering of survivors of Native American boarding schools

“I will never, ever forgive this school for what they did to me. I still feel that pain.”

These were the words of 84-year-old Donald Neconie, a former US Marine and member of the Kiowa Tribe, as he spoke at the first event in the “Road to Healing” tour that began on Saturday at the Riverside Indian School in Anadarko, Oklohoma.

Mr Neconie and other native American tribal elders — all former students at the government-backed “Indian” boarding school — testified about the hardships they endured at Riverside, including beatings, whippings, sexual assaults, humiliation and painful nicknames.

They came from different states and different tribes, but they shared the common experience of having attended a school that was designed to strip Indigenous people of their cultural identities.

As the elders spoke, US Secretary of Interior Deb Haaland — herself a Laguna Pueblo from New Mexico and the first Native American cabinet secretary in US history — listened quietly.

“I’m here to listen. I will listen with you, I will grieve with you, I will believe you and I will feel your pain,” Ms Haaland said.

Native Americans dressed in traditional clothing lead a ceremony in a school gymnasium.
The “Road to Healing” tour will give survivors of Native American boarding schools a chance to speak of the widespread abuses committed at those institutions.(AP: Sue Ogrocki)none

Riverside was Ms Haaland’s first stop in the nationwide tour that will give First Americans, Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiian survivors of federal Indian boarding school policies a platform to share their painful experiences.

Mr Neconie, who still lives in Anadarko, recalled being beaten if he cried or spoke his native Kiowa language when he attended Riverside in the late 1940s and early 1950s.

“Every time I tried to talk Kiowa, they put lye in my mouth,” he said.

“It was 12 years of hell.”

The ingestion of lye, a metal hydroxide used for cleaning and curing foods, causes “rapid burns of the mouth, tongue and pharynx”, according to the New England Journal of Medicine.

A cabinet secretary with ‘shared trauma’

US Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland speaks from a podium.
Ms Haaland will meet with survivors and their descendants across the US to hear their stories.(AP: Rick Egan/The Salt Lake Tribune)none

Ms Haaland’s agency recently released a report that identified more than 400 schools that were centres of forced assimilation from the early 1800s through to the 1970s, with the stated goal of wiping out Native American culture.

The report said students, often separated from their families by the age of four or five, endured “rampant physical, sexual, and emotional abuse”.

More than 500 children died at such schools, but that number is expected to reach into the tens of thousands as more research is done.

The schools carried out a “christianisation” policy, removing indigenous cultural signifiers by cutting the children’s hair, having them wear American-style uniforms, forbidding them from speaking their indigenous languages, and replacing their tribal names with English names.

“Federal Indian boarding school policies have touched every Indigenous person I know,” Ms Haaland said at the start of the event, which attracted Native Americans from throughout the region.

“Some are survivors. Some are descendants. But we all carry the trauma in our hearts.

“My ancestors endured the horrors of the Indian boarding school assimilation policies carried out by the same department that I now lead.

“This is the first time in history that a cabinet secretary comes to the table with this shared trauma.”

Young boys eat at a Native American boarding school dining hall.
Young boys eating at a Native American boarding school dining hall in an unknown location.(Wikipedia: Minnesota Historical Society)none

Riverside’s dark history

Riverside Indian School, which opened in 1871, still operates today but with a vastly different mission.

These days, Riverside offers specialised academic programs as well as courses on cultural topics such as bead-working, shawl-making and an introduction to tribal art, foods and games.

A woman walks into the Riverside Indian School Gymnasium.
Today, Riverside school’s administration, staff and faculty are mostly Native American.(AP: Sue Ogrocki)none

Currently operated by the Bureau of Indian Education, it has nearly 800 students from more than 75 tribes across the country, and the school’s administration, staff and faculty are mostly Native American.

But Riverside also has a dark history of mistreating the thousands of Native American students who were forced from their homes to attend it.

An elderly lady wearing glasses and a beaded necklace speaks while sitting a wheelchair.
Dorothy WhiteHorse, 89, said older Kiowa women who served as house mothers in the dormitories treated her with kindness.(AP: Sue Ogrocki)none

Dorothy WhiteHorse, 89, a Kiowa who attended Riverside in the 1940s, spoke of the time she said three young boys ran away from the home and got caught in a snowstorm.

She said all three froze to death.

“I think we need a memorial for those boys,” she said.

But Ms WhiteHorse said she did have some happy memories.

She recalled learning to dance the jitterbug in the school’s gymnasium and learning to speak English for the first time.

She also recalled older Kiowa women who served as house mothers in the dormitories who let her speak her native language and treated her with kindness.

“I was helped,” WhiteHorse said. “I’m one of the happy ones.”

Brought Plenty, a Standing Rock Sioux who lives in Dallas, shared no such happy memories of her childhood in Indian boarding schools in South Dakota.

She recalled being forced to whip other girls with wet towels and being punished when she didn’t.

“What they did to us makes you feel so inferior,” she said.

“You never get past this. You never forget it.”

Six students posed in a room at a Native American boarding school.
Children were often separated from their families by the age of four or five and endured “rampant physical, sexual, and emotional abuse”.(Wikipedia: Minnesota Historical Society)none

‘Whitewashing’ brutality

Under a similar policy in Australia, Indigenous and part-Indigenous children were taken from their families and fostered by non-Indigenous families or institutions from around 1905 and 1967.

They are known today as the stolen generation.

Conditions at former Indian boarding schools gained global attention last year when tribal leaders in Canada announced the discovery of the unmarked graves of 215 children at the site of the former Kamloops residential school for indigenous children, as such institutions are known in Canada.

Unlike the United States, Canada carried out a full investigation into its schools via a Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

The US government has never acknowledged how many children attended such schools or how many children died or went missing from them.

The US Department of the Interior’s historic investigation could change that as it sheds light on a raw subject for Native Americans which has until recently received little national attention.

The Interior Department’s report includes a list of the boarding schools in what were states or territories that operated between 1819 and 1969 that had a housing component and received support from the federal government.

Oklahoma had the most, 76, followed by Arizona, which had 47, and New Mexico, which had 43. All three states still have significant Native American populations.

Lawrence SpottedBird, the newly elected chairman of the Kiowa tribe, said he’s a military veteran and feels as American as anyone. But he said it’s far overdue that the country stops “whitewashing the brutal history” of the boarding school system.

“America prides itself on being an advocate of democracy and human rights around the world but was itself one of the worst violators of human rights when it comes to Native Americans,” he said.

“They need to be honest about this history so they can heal with us.”

Children at school.
More than 500 children died at such schools, but that number is expected to reach into the tens of thousands as more research is done.(Supplied: Genoa Historical Museum and the Genoa US Indian School Foundation)none

ABC NEWS

#AceNewsDesk report ………..Published: July.10: 2022: 

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World History & Research Reports

AUSTRALIA HISTORY NEWS: Indigenous man Wombeetch Puyuun, known to the local white settlers as Camperdown George, stood in a courtroom in south-west Victoria in 1877.

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#AceHistoryDesk – Wombeetch Puyuun, a unique friendship and the push to recognise a monument erected in his honour

Sepia photo shirtless Indigenous wearing traditional necklace next to black and white photo of white-haired English man
Wombeetch Puyuun and James Dawson became lifelong friends.(Supplied: Camperdown and District Historical Society)none

Indigenous man Wombeetch Puyuun, known to the local white settlers as Camperdown George, stood in a courtroom in south-west Victoria in 1877.

The charge against him, according to the Hampden Guardian newspaper, was “being noisy and disagreeable … having, by some inconsiderate people, been supplied with intoxicating liquor”.

The justice of the peace, Peter McArthur, told Wombeetch he should go and live at Framlingham, the “Aboriginal station” some 40 kilometres away that was home to the vast majority of surviving First Nations people from the district.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers are advised that this article contains images of people who have died.

But Wombeetch was having none of it — after all, he was thought by many to be the last member of the Leehoorah Gundidj clan still living freely on the ancestral lands of the Djargurd Wurrung people around present-day Camperdown.

An indigenous man sits with traditional weapons and necklace.
Wombeetch Putyuun was the last of the Leehoorah Gundidj. This photo was taken in 1879.(Supplied: Camperdown and District Historical Society)none

“The old fellow merely shook his head, and, remarking that this was ‘his country’, offered to take sixpence as an instalment of the rent due by the white fellows generally, and by the magistrate in particular,” the Hampden Guardian reported.

It’s stories such as this that help make Wombeetch Puyuun an important Indigenous figure in south-west Victoria, and are part of a push to have Heritage Victoria recognise a monument erected in his honour, under tragic but touching circumstances, about 140 years ago.

The monument is unlike any other in Australia for two key reasons; it acknowledges the massacre of Indigenous people at a time when they were still happening, and it celebrates a rare friendship between a white colonist and a First Nations person.

A proud warrior

Wombeetch was about 20 years old when white colonists arrived in 1839 in the area now known as Camperdown, where the Djargurd Wurrung people had lived for tens of thousands of years.

Camperdown and District Historical Society life member Bob Lambell said the white settlers arrived at a “rich hunting ground of swamps [with] plenty of game” where Wombeetch and his people had lived “a pretty good lifestyle for countless thousands of years”.

A man stands near displays of indigenous artifacts and information.
Bob Lambell amid a display honouring the region’s Indigenous people.(ABC South West Victoria: Matt Neal)none

“Within 40-odd years of the arrival of Europeans [the Aboriginal people were] all gone from here,” Mr Lambell explained, citing a combination of massacres, dispossession and disease.

Those who didn’t die were relocated to Aboriginal missions at Framlingham, about 40km west of Camperdown, or Buntingdale at Birregurra, about 70km to the east.

“But the unique thing about Wombeetch Puyuun is that throughout his life he refused to move from his country,” Mr Lambell explained.

A sign at a small public garden commemorating an indigenous warrior.
The Wombeetch Puyuun reconciliation garden in Camperdown, located near where Wombeetch used to live.(ABC South West Victoria: Matt Neal)none

As the township of Camperdown grew around him, Wombeetch continued to live in a traditional bark hut called a mia mia near the present-day site of a garden in his honour.

Wombeetch would often be seen walking the streets with his dogs, and became known to locals as “Camperdown George”.

An indigenous man dressed in a possum skin cloak holds a spear in the bush in an old photo.
Wombeetch Puyuun, pictured on country in 1878.(Supplied: Camperdown & District Historical Society)none

Vicki Couzens, who is a descendant of the Leehoorah Gundidj clan, says Wombeetch Puyuun is an “iconic” figure.

“He’s one of our heroes,” she said.

“There’s great photos of him — he’s a very proud and strong-looking man and a warrior.

“For me, he stands for that sovereignty, and standing as citizens on our own lands, and he maintained that and stayed there ’til his passing.”

A beautiful friendship

James Dawson and his wife Joan moved from Scotland to Australia in 1840, starting a dairy farm at Warrandyte in the Yarra Valley.

Dawson immediately stood out among other colonists by showing “enormous respect for the Aboriginal people”, Mr Lambell said.

A black and white portrait of a man in the 1870s
James Dawson, pictured in 1878, was horrified to learn of the death of his friend.(Supplied: Camperdown & District Historical Society)none

His daughter Isabella was born in 1842 and brought up alongside Indigenous children, becoming fluent in their languages, while Dawson advocated for the use of Aboriginal place names, and used local language names for his properties, which were often seen as a refuge for First Nations people.

In 1868, the Dawson family moved to Camperdown, where James met Wombeetch, and the two became firm friends.

John Clarke, a Kirrae Whurrong man who works with the Eastern Maar Aboriginal Corporation, says it is through Wombeetch’s “very good friend James Dawson” that we know what an “extraordinary individual” Wombeetch was.

“[Wombeetch] was an astrologer and poet, and a brilliant knowledge-holder about local landscapes and the biology and the environment around him,” Mr Clarke said.

“[He was] a great champion and advocate for himself and his own people.”

While Wombeetch himself was extraordinary, his friendship with Dawson was perhaps even more so.

Indigenous man with full grey beard looks into the distance. He sits bare-footed, wrapped in animal fur and holding large stick
The earliest known portrait of Wombeetch Puyuun: “Camperdown George of the Timboon Tribe”.(Supplied: Camperdown & District Historical Society)none

“That friendship was built at a time when there was a lot of conflict,” Mr Clarke explained.

“A war was being waged in the south-west of Victoria — it was a frontier of violence, occupation, and as Indigenous peoples in the area, we weren’t just allowing ourselves to be overtaken.

“[Their friendship is] considered rare because Aboriginal people back in the day were considered a burden and, you know, sub-human.

“If they had some form of productive use, in the eyes of landholders and squatters, then it would have been [as] menial, indentured labour, if not slavery.

“So it was unique in that sense, where both James Dawson and his daughter Isabella … recognised the humanity of the Indigenous peoples and really acknowledged the knowledge that they had for the place, identity and culture.”

An invaluable resource

In Camperdown, Dawson and Isabella continued the work they had started years earlier, while living north of Port Fairy, to record the language, stories and customs of the Indigenous people of south-west Victoria.

The Dawsons published their work under James Dawson’s name in 1881 in the book The Australian Aborigines: The Languages and Customs of Several Tribes in the Western District of Victoria, Australia.

It was the first book of its kind, and was created thanks to the trust and respect the Dawsons had fostered with local Indigenous people, including Wombeetch Puyuun.

A white lady in late 1800s clothing listens to a group of indigenous people
Isabella Dawson, pictured in 1875, listening to the local indigenous people.(Supplied: Camperdown & District Historical Society)none

In the book’s preface, Dawson writes: “Great care has been taken in this work not to state anything on the word of a white person; and, in obtaining information from the aborigines, suggestive or leading questions have been avoided as much as possible.”

Mr Clarke said the work the Dawsons did was incredibly important.

“They captured and recorded a lot of language that was forbidden to be spoken at the time,” he said.

“Because of the work that he did capturing stories and language … we now have some of those today.

“We can’t even guesstimate what’s been taken from us as a society.”

An old book from 1881, next to new version open to portraits of indigenous people
An original copy of James and Isabella Dawson’s 1881 book (left) next to a 1981 reprint.(ABC South West Victoria: Matt Neal)none

Ms Couzens described the book as an incredible resource which recorded that which otherwise would have been lost.

“We have no fluent speakers in Gunditjmara nation,” Ms Couzens said.

“Those of us who have a good working knowledge of the language still can’t speak in conversational fluency.

“Our old people knew what they were doing — getting it written down — because they could see what was happening.

“[The Dawsons’ book] and that amount of work that they did directly with our people … it’s absolutely invaluable.”

Dawson would eventually be appointed “local guardian of the Aborigines” in 1876, but the preface to his book shows how anachronistic Dawson’s views were, how aware he was of the sad impact of colonialism, and how poorly his fellow colonial settlers viewed the local Indigenous people:

An older man holds a book with an embossed image of a First Nations warrior on the front cover
Bob Lambell with James and Isabella Dawson’s book.(ABC South West Victoria: Matt Neal)none

“People seeing only the miserable remnants to be met with about the white man’s grog-shop may be inclined to doubt this; but if these doubters were to be brought into close communication with the Aborigines, away from the means of intoxication, and were to listen to their guileless conversation, their humour and wit, and their expressions of honour and affection for one another, those who are disposed to look upon them as scarcely human would be compelled to admit that in general intelligence, common sense, integrity, and the absence of anything repulsive in their conduct, they are at least equal, if not superior, to the general run of white men.”

‘A universal favourite’

Wombeetch Puyuun died of bronchitis on February 26, 1883, and the Camperdown Chronicle marked his death with a typically backhanded compliment of the time:

“[Camperdown George was] a universal favourite,” it wrote.

“He had a kindly nature and was possessed of none of the worst qualities of his race.

“The old man has refused to be moved to Framlingham, preferring to wander about the streets of the town with his two dogs.”

Wombeetch was buried in an unmarked grave in a patch of boggy land reserved for Indigenous people outside the consecrated grounds of the Camperdown cemetery.

Dawson was back in Scotland at the time of Wombeetch’s death and as soon as he learnt of his friend’s passing, he returned to Camperdown.

Upon his return, Dawson “protested the fact that Wombeetch was not buried in the cemetery”, Mr Clarke said.

“He got no traction on that protest, so he then dug up the remains of Wombeetch, and buried them in the cemetery without permission, and buried him in [Dawson’s] own plot”.

A tall obelisk in a cemetery at dusk
The monument was erected in 1883 by James Dawson in honour of Wombeetch Puyuun and the region’s Indigenous people.(ABC South West Vic: Matt Neal)none

‘In memory of the Aborigines of this district’

Mr Lambell said Dawson’s outrage went further than just giving his friend Wombeetch Puyuun a proper burial.

“He wanted to recognise the importance of the passing of the Aboriginal people so he decided to erect a monument in the Camperdown cemetery to their memory,” Mr Lambell said.

“He tried to raise money off a number of squatting families and other prominent citizens that he knew were complicit in massacres and the dispossession of Aboriginal people.

“None would contribute [so Dawson] erected the monument at his own expense in 1885.”

The obelisk still stands in the Camperdown cemetery, and its inscription reads:

“In memory of the Aborigines of the district. Here lies the body of the chief Wombeetch Puyuun and the last of the local tribes.”

A Indigenous warrior holds a spear and looks up at a monument in a cemetery.
Hissing Swan, who was also known as King David, stands at the monument in 1885.(Supplied: Camperdown & District Historical Society)none

On the monument, two dates were inscribed; 1840 and 1883, which Mr Lambell said “marked basically the arrival of the Europeans [through] to the near total demise of Aboriginal people resident in the district in 1883”.

Ms Couzens says the obelisk in Camperdown cemetery is a powerful symbol.

“It [comes from] a really bloody time, literally, and a time of great dispossession and social destruction,” she said.

“It’s important to hear Wombeetch Puyuun’s story, and of his relationship with the Dawsons, because it’s inspirational.

“[To know] there were people [like James Dawson] of good conscience, and trying to take care — [that’s] an inspirational story for now for everybody to know.”

One of a kind

Mr Clarke says the monument is a unique piece of Australian history, and he and Eastern Maar Aboriginal Corporation are leading a push to get it on the Victorian and Australian heritage registers.

“It’s a very early solid piece of recognition that this is Aboriginal land, and that some atrocity has occurred,” Mr Clarke said.

“We understand it to be the only memorial of its kind from that time, and so on a national scale that is important.

“It is a memorial to the Aborigines of the district, and … Wombeetch Puyuun, who, effectively in this case, embodies the tragedy of colonisation.

“It’s a real-time example of friendship, mutual respect, and reconciliation.”

ABC (HISTORY) NEWS

#AceNewsDesk report ………..Published: July.10: 2022:

Editor says …Sterling Publishing & Media Service Agency is not responsible for the content of external site or from any reports, posts or links, and can also be found here on Telegram: https://t.me/acenewsdaily and all wordpress and live posts and links here: https://acenewsroom.wordpress.com/ and thanks for following as always appreciate every like, reblog or retweet and free help and guidance tips on your PC software or need help & guidance from our experts AcePCHelp.WordPress.Com

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FEATURED: What Indigenous culture can teach us about respecting our elders

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#AceNewsDesk – In many parts of Australia – where a recent royal commission revealed a broken aged care system – we could do better with the way we treat our elders.

So is there something to be learned from the cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people — cultures where where eldership is highly respected?

Worimi man Paul Callaghan says there is. He knows first-hand the essential role Elders play in their communities.

His Elders gave him “solace and support” when he endured racism growing up in Karuah on the NSW coast, and urged Callaghan to continue his education when he felt like quitting.

“They have always encouraged me to bridge two worlds,” he says.

When Callaghan, now 62, experienced a mental health crisis in his 30s and “struggled to find any tools for recovery in the Western psychological system”, an invitation to go bush set him on the path to healing.

Over 12 months, he went bush every week, learning about his culture from Elders who generously shared their knowledge.

“They provided me with a framework of thinking that totally reshaped the way I saw the world and enabled me to not only recover, but to go past the old me and become the real me, and be comfortable in my skin,” he says.

From that point, he says, “I achieved all sorts of success in all aspects of my life, including my career”.

Callaghan became the first Aboriginal CEO of a TAFE Institute, a role responsible for “23,000 students and 1,200 staff and an $80 million annual budget”. He has also recently completed a PhD.

The experience inspired Callaghan to write The Dreaming Path, a book that looks at wellbeing through a lens of Aboriginal philosophy and culture, in collaboration with Uncle Paul Gordon, a respected Ngemba Elder.

“Paul travelled the entire continent in his younger days connecting with Old People,” says Callaghan. “He is an encyclopedia … of traditional knowledge.”

Wisdom and knowledge

In The Dreaming Path, Callaghan describes the vital role Elders play in First Nations society.

An Indigenous man with short white hair.
Paul Callaghan wants his book to be a tool for reconciliation between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people in Australia.(Supplied)none

“In traditional times, Elders were of critical importance in ensuring the wellbeing of the community,” he writes.

Among their responsibilities were sharing story, song and dance as well as teaching, leadership, governance, resolving conflict, and overseeing spiritual practice and ceremony.

“It’s a hierarchy based on wisdom and knowledge” rather than “forceful power”, Callaghan tells ABC RN.

Research shows eldership is critical to creating healthy Indigenous communities.

A 2017 study identified the pivotal role Elders play in critical Indigenous issues such as health, education, unemployment and racism.

“By empowering Elders with the support necessary to address issues in their communities, we can make a positive step in helping close the gap and transferring sacred spiritual knowledge,” Dr Lucy Busija, one of the study authors, told NITV.

Yarning to stay strong

Many organisations, recognising the value of Elders’ leadership and cultural knowledge, are developing formal Elder-in-Residence programs.

In 2021, the University of South Australia (UniSA) launched the Elders on Campus project with the Purkarninthi Elders to support Indigenous students.

The seven Purkarninthi Elders – Purkarninthi means “becoming an Elder” in the Kaurna language – provide wellbeing support to students in structured and unstructured sessions both online and in-person.

UniSA’s Amy Cleland says the key themes that emerged from conversations with the Elders and Aboriginal students centre around the question, “How do you stay strong as an Aboriginal person in a predominantly Western institution?”

Subjects up for discussion in yarning circles include the impact of colonialism, local history, connection to culture, and identity.

The Elders – many of whom have links to the university through policy development and research – provide inspiring examples of First Nations people who have overcome adversity to achieve success in their lives.

“It really builds strength and resilience for students to know that they’re not alone, that they have a whole community that share similar experiences [and] understand where they’re coming from,” says Cleland.

“It helps them stay connected to their studies. It makes the campus a place that looks like them, speaks like them, and a place of safety and comfort – rather than feeling like the sore toe that sticks out.”

Similar programs exist at other Australian universities, including Curtin University, where a Nyungar Elder serves as Elder in Residence (EiR), and the University of Western Sydney, which runs an Elders on Campus program to link the university to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

While the Purkarninthi program is initially focusing on serving the needs of UniSA’s Aboriginal community, Cleland says there is potential to broaden its scope.

“We had lots of interest sparked from our posters saying the Elders were on campus, and it didn’t just come from Aboriginal people,” she says. “The international student audience is also extremely interested to connect with Elders.”

‘Family is everything’

Aunty Deborah Booker joined the Australian Air Force 13 years ago with the desire to broaden her horizons beyond her hometown of Alice Springs.

Two Aboriginal people pose for a photo
Uncle Harry Allie and Aunty Deb Booker with message sticks ahead of the Elder handover ceremony in February.(Department of Defence: Kylie Gibson)none

Aunty Deb served in a range of roles, including as a SECPOL officer, in Indigenous affairs and now as a reservist, before she took over as Air Force Elder in February from Uncle Harry Allie, BEM.

As the Air Force Elder, Booker advises the Chief of Air Force on Indigenous cultural matters, acts as a key cultural link between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and the air force, and supports the air force’s 408 Indigenous aviators.

It’s a position that Aunty Deb has accepted with humility.

“The role in itself is enormous,” she says. “As I say to all my aviators and anyone I speak to, it’s not about me; it’s about what our community and everyone else wants.”

Aunty Deb has a keen appreciation of the crucial role Elders play in the community from their impact on her own life.

“Without their guidance and knowledge, I wouldn’t be who I am. I wouldn’t be standing in the role I am today,” she says.

When Elders speak, she says, everybody listens, reflecting a deeply held respect underpinned by the value of connection and relationships in First Nations culture.

A woman bends over to immerse her face in smoke
Aunty Deb Booker takes part in a smoking ceremony during the Air Force Elder handover.(Department of Defence: Kylie Gibson)none

Caring is a shared obligation, she says. “As an Aboriginal person, we care for our whole family, our community, our extended family.”

When the Booker family gets together, “we’re all together,” she says.

“We’ll chuck the mattresses in one room and all sleep together, no matter how old you are or how young you are, that’s what family’s about … It’s about being present in that moment with each other, and everything else doesn’t matter. Family is the most important thing.”

Inspiring early learners

Young learners are also benefitting from Elders’ wisdom.

John Lester is one of a group of Wonnarua Elders whose traditional lands are in the Hunter Valley.

The Elders meet as a regular body to dispense advice, make decisions, and, recently, to learn the Wonnarua language.

Dr Lester, who also serves as the Elder in Residence at the primary school my children attend in Newcastle, says Elders play a critical role as custodians of knowledge and lore in a traditionally oral culture.

Uncle John, as my kids and their classmates affectionately call him, is involved with developing the First Nations curriculum at the school, teaching children about the didgeridoo and Aboriginal dance groups.

He says he wants to be a positive role model for students and loves hearing the kids call his name as he passes through the playground.

“It gives me a great sense that they’re relating to me and my Aboriginality,” he says.

Important lessons for aged care

Callaghan believes Indigenous eldership offers a valuable lesson in how to treat older people with care and respect.

“Whenever I’m out and about with our mob, I’ll see the Elders being looked after by younger generations – getting cups of tea and things like that,” he says.

“It’s a sign of respect and … love and connectivity.”

Many non-Aboriginal families value their elders, acknowledges Callaghan, “but I also see a lot of disconnect where old people are relegated to old people’s homes, and they’re ignored, and forgotten, and disrespected.

“That makes me sad because they’re such a repository of knowledge, and story, and history, and have so much to give. Young people are missing out by not connecting to those old people, and the old people are missing out [too].”

ABC NEWS DESK REPORT:

#AceNewsDesk report ………..Published: July.06: 2022: 

Editor says …Sterling Publishing & Media Service Agency is not responsible for the content of external site or from any reports, posts or links, and can also be found here on Telegram: https://t.me/acenewsdaily and all wordpress and live posts and links here: https://acenewsroom.wordpress.com/ and thanks for following as always appreciate every like, reblog or retweet and free help and guidance tips on your PC software or need help & guidance from our experts AcePCHelp.WordPress.Com

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BREAKING AUSTRALIA: Moreland residents choose Indigenous word to replace council name linked to slavery

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#AceNewsRoom With ‘Kindness & Wisdom’ June.29, 2022 @acebreakingnews

Ace News Room Cutting Floor 29/06/2022

Follow Our Breaking & Daily News Here As It Happens:

#AceBreakingNews – A community in Melbourne’s inner north have decided on a new Indigenous name for their council after a push to replace a decades-old name linked to slavery.

Five men and a woman holding an inscribed piece of bark
City of Moreland councillors will meet on Sunday to approve Merri-bek as a new council name.(ABC News: Dana Morse)none

Moreland City Council will decide on Sunday whether to adopt the new name of Merri-bek, which means “rocky country” in the Woi-wurrung language. 

The change will come after a month-long survey period during which 6,315 members of the community chose from three options put forward by the Aboriginal Heritage Council.

Merri-bek beat out other options Jerrang (meaning leaf of tree) and Wa-dam-buk (meaning renew) comfortably, with more than half of respondents selecting it.

A diagram showing survey results for a new council name
Mark Riley said the survey has seen the highest level of engagement the council has had on a project.(Supplied: Moreland City Council)none

“We believe this is the most engagement we’ve ever had on a council project,” Moreland Mayor Mark Riley said.

“Changing our corporate name is an important step in our reconciliation and healing journey with the traditional owners of this land.”

Sunday’s special council meeting represents the first step in officially changing the name, with the renaming then needing to be approved by Minister for Local Government Shaun Leane. 

Approval will then need to be sought from Governor in Council Linda Dessau.

“It could take a few weeks or a few months after that for it to be decided,” Cr Riley said.

A man and boy standing near a pile of leaves on fire
The three name options were presented to council by Wurundjeri elders in a ceremony in May.(ABC News: Dana Morse)none

Cr Riley said that due to the “racist and offensive” nature of the current name, there was no possibility that the council would continue under its current title.

“I really can’t imagine that happening,” he said.

“We won’t be going back to normal.

“We’ll be really wanting to pursue a new name, one of these will have to be one of them.”

The likely name change will not come without a financial cost.

Major signage on buildings and facilities will need to be altered to reflect the change from Moreland to a new name, with $500,000 allocated over two years to make it happen.

A Moreland City Council sign
The council has allocated half a million dollars over two years to change signage.(ABC News: Dana Morse)none

The area was initially named in 1994 by the state government, when the Brunswick, Coburg and part of Broadmeadows council area merged to form the new “City of Moreland”.

“Moreland” was originally bestowed on the area by land speculator Farquhar McCrae in 1839, who named it after a Jamaican slave plantation run by his father and grandfather.

It is expected the council will begin changing its corporate name on digital materials and major signage later this year.

#AceNewsDesk report ………..Published: June.29:  2022:

Editor says …Sterling Publishing & Media Service Agency is not responsible for the content of external site or from any reports, posts or links, and can also be found here on Telegram: https://t.me/acenewsdaily and all wordpress and live posts and links here: https://acenewsroom.wordpress.com/ and thanks for following as always appreciate every like, reblog or retweet and free help and guidance tips on your PC software or need help & guidance from our experts AcePCHelp.WordPress.Com