30 who oppose gay marriage claim to speak for 700,000 Aborigines

Aboriginal gays

A group of about 30 Aboriginal people, claiming to speak for all 700,000 Aborigines, has come out with a statement opposing same-sex marriage in Australia – the same position as taken by most governing conservative politicians. The move has sparked a storm of anger across Aboriginal communities. What has been called the "Uluru Bark Petition" was presented to government much to the gleeful hand-rubbing of the governing Liberal Party and particularly its Senator Abetz. He has praised the group for rallying to protect "traditional marriage", claiming that the campaign for same-sex marriage, which he suggests wrongfully has only been around for about ten years, cannot hold up against several millennia of tradition. 


"We, the undersigned, as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people of this country reject the claims made within the Uluru Bark Petition, which was delivered to the Federal Government in August 2015 by the Spirit and the Bride Conference. We call on the government to break ties with this group and to understand that we do not believe their views to be those held by the broader Indigenous community."


“The Arrernte [of central Australia] are named as being one of the groups of which support has been derived for this petition. “I am Arrernte and I say plainly and clearly that THESE PEOPLE DO NOT SPEAK FOR ME," commented Aboriginal feminist, Celeste Liddle.


Some of the Aboriginal groups listed as signatory say they were unaware the petition existed.


Michael Mansell, Tasmanian Aboriginal lawyer and activist, says the petition does not represent the Aboriginal peoples of Tasmania. Mr Mansell says all people have a right to choose who they wish to marry, and offers his support for same sex marriage in all cultural groups. Mr Mansell says he's more disturbed by the fact that this Bark Petition belittles the original Yirrkala Bark Petitions of 1963, that called for Treaty, Sovereignty and the coming together of all Nations.


A Change.org petition calls on the federal government “to break ties with this group and to understand that we do not believe their views to be those held by the broader Indigenous community."

“The Wire”, a radio programme offered to more than 400 community radio stations across Australia reported a “backlash” against the 30 signers’ anti-gay marriage petition.

Dameyon Bonson is the founder of Black Rainbow, an organisation that specialises in suicide prevention within Aboriginal gay and trans communities. He said on nationally broadcast SBS Radio the claim of representation and the wording used, are dangerous.

Gay News Network reported thatsince the petition has come to light several members from the aforementioned communities have come forward to say they have never heard of the petition.”

“Community members in Mutitjulu, the main Aboriginal settlement in the shadow of Uluru, said they had never heard of the petition. Dorothea Randall, a director of the Mutitjulu Community Aboriginal Corporation and long-time resident, told "The Australian" newspaper that locals were "not even worrying about it (gay marriage)".


Gay marriage is a hot potato issue for the ultra-conservative government of Tony Abbott, which has denied its parliamentarians a free vote on it.


Aboriginal gays

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Traditional Owner Adrian Burragubba is to challenge in Federal Court what would be Australia’s largest coalmine, which would pollute the Great Barrier Reef.

Burragubba’s group has accused the Adani megamine of giving flawed and misleading analysis of jobs and revenue, and also accused the native title tribunal of racial discrimination for not granting him and other Aboriginals equal rights before it.

The Australian Marine Conservation Society has condemned Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s demands that Adani’s Carmichael coal mine must go ahead, calling it an abuse of the environmental approval process.

 "The Federal Government is supposed to make an independent and balanced assessment of major projects before deciding whether to grant environmental approvals," said AMCS Great Barrier Reef campaigner Gemma Plesman. 

"How can the Australian public have any faith that there will be a proper assessment of the impacts of these projects when the Prime Minister has just told business leaders - and his Environment Minister - that they must back this project."

The AMCS demands that the government rule out using taxpayer money to bail-out Adani’s Carmichael mine, rail and port project, which would ship coal out through the Great Barrier Reef.

"It would be crazy for the Abbott Government to throw taxpayer’s money after a risky project that threatens the Great Barrier Reef and the tourism industry that relies on it," said Plesman.

"Subsidising Adani’s rail line with a grant or loan from the Northern Australia Development Fund would lead to increased dredging, shipping and port development, all actions that put more pressure on an already vulnerable Reef."

The AMCS welcomed Queensland Treasurer Curtis Pitt’s comments that Carmichael is not the be-all for QLD economy.

"The Queensland economy doesn’t rely on Adani’s Carmichael coal mine, not when the Reef brings in 69,000 jobs and $6 billion to the economy," said

"In court Adani representatives admitted their royalties figures had been inflated and they would only pay $3.7b to the Queensland Government over the life of the mine, not the $22b they have publicly claimed."

The “Queensland Country Life” farming newspaper quoted Connie Hedegaard, international climate expert and former EU Commissioner for Climate Action as saying government subsidies for coal would not be “wise”.

While stressing it was not her role to criticise specific projects, Ms Hedegaard said Australia and other nations with large coal reserves - such as Germany - had agreed at the G20 and elsewhere to phase out subsidies for fossil fuels.

"It's not enough to say that we want to [cut subsidies. We have to start doing it," Ms Hedegaard said. "A good place would be not to have more subsidies for fossil fuels."

Federal Court documents show that the government admitted it bungled the approval of the Carmichael coal project - a failure it has refused to acknowledge in its campaign to gut a key Commonwealth environment protection act.

“The government’s justification for gutting the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act - which "vigilante litigants" and "environmental militants" are using courts to block sensitive projects - has been further discredited as information relating to Federal Court action to stop the Carmichael coal mine projects emerges.”

Sydney Morning Herald - ‎1 hour ago‎
National Australia Bank has said it will not fund what would be the biggest coal mine in Australia, Adani's $16 billion Carmichael coal project, and signalled that it wants to take a leading role in developing renewable energy.

A Sydney court has ruled that activists must remove a collection of tents on prime inner city land that has served as an Aboriginal “embassy” for nearly one and a half years to make way for a gentrification development.

But the Redfern Aboriginal Tent Embassy claims a pivotal eleventh-hour victory in its dispute with the Aboriginal Housing Company: the federal government providing $70 million to build 62 affordable, rent-controlled dwellings for Indigenous families, alongside commercial premises and up-market apartments.

The federal indigenous affairs minister, Nigel Scullion, arranged the deal.  The embassy activism was led by Jenny Munro, who camped at the site with other activists. "Congratulations to the tent embassy and to Jenny Munro for what I consider significant leadership," Scullion, who hails from the Northern Territory, commented.

More on this story: The case will return to court on Thursday to consider when an eviction order should be enforced.   -    "What we might see on Thursday are orders from the court basically allowing the police to forcibly remove Aunty Jenny from the site"   -   “Needs of Indigenous people being ignored.”   -   Terra Nullius lives on as the Supreme Court finds against Redfern Aboriginal Tent Embassy   -   To build the social housing before, or at the same time as, the commercial development   -   “There are Aboriginal grandmothers still willing to get in front of those bulldozers if that’s what it takes.”   -   "For all the communities around the country facing closure - don't talk sovereignty, assert your sovereignty."   -   “The black heart of the city is still beating"   -   "The fact that Aboriginal people have the custodianship, had possession for 40,000-60000 years was just dismissed in a single sentence”   -   One of the first parts of urban Australia to be formally returned to Aboriginal people.   -   "The whole point was to maintain community and connection to people and to the area”   -   A day in the life of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy in Redfern

About half a dozen Aboriginal “embassies” have formed across Australia, modelled on the one set up in Canberra in 1972 by four young activists.

'Institutionalised racism' reason for fewer Indigenous kidney transplants

Kidney specialist Paul Lawton says Indigenous ‘compliance’ challenges misunderstood so patients thought high-risk and less likely to go on waiting list

Institutionalised discrimination against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians may be behind a widening gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous patients receiving kidney transplants, a kidney specialist and researcher has claimed.


Indigenous patients are much less likely to be put on the waiting list for a kidney than a non-Indigenous patient, Dr Paul Lawton, a kidney specialist and researcher with the Menzies school of health research told Guardian Australia.


This was likely because doctors misunderstood the challenges faced by an

Indigenous patient and made an assessment of “non-compliance” with current or future treatment.


Compliance was a concern rated in a survey of nephrologists as second only to age when considering offering a transplant, and Indigenous patients are more frequently identified as high-risk patients.


“One of the problems is systematic bias, which you can also call racism at an institutionalised level,” Lawton said after appearing on a panel at the annual Garma festival.


“There’s no standardised way that kidney specialists decide for any Australian who is suitable and who is not,” he said.


“What that means is people who are similar to kidney specialists – older, middle-aged, white men – are more likely to get a kidney transplant than middle-aged white women, and white people are much more likely to get a kidney transplant than an Indigenous Australian.”


Indigenous Australians suffer kidney disease at rates up to 50 times that of non-Indigenous people.


Despite common misconceptions that the high rate is due to alcohol abuse, it is largely caused by factors associated with socioeconomic disadvantage, such as low birthweight and poor childhood nutrition which put people “behind the eight ball” early in life, said Lawton.


The number of people reaching end-stage kidney disease and requiring dialysis treatment is growing, and is particularly prevalent in remote Indigenous communities.


Chronic kidney disease contributes to 50% of all Northern Territory hospitalisations, according to an Arnhem Land clinic, Miwatj Health. Large numbers of Aboriginal patients are forced to relocate to town centres from remote communities for dialysis.


A kidney transplant is the alternative to the thrice-weekly four-hour treatments, but the chances of an Indigenous person compared with a non-Indigenous person in similar circumstances getting a transplant have worsened in recent decades.


There’s no standardised way that kidney specialists decide for any Australian who is suitable and who is not

Paul Lawton


In the past 15 years, with other factors accounted for, the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous dialysis patients’ survival had narrowed and closed, but the gap in chances for kidney transplant has widened.


Living in remote or regional areas increased the chance of a transplant for non-Indigenous people, but decreased it for Indigenous. This suggested the “tyranny of distance” was surmountable, but other barriers existed for Indigenous patients, one paper said.


Multiple studies have pointed to the disparity, with no clear explanation beyond serious concerns raised around preconceived notions of non-compliance based on a patient being Indigenous.


“The way in which non-compliance and social and cultural circumstances were conflated in the nephrologists’ accounts revealed a common pattern of thinking whereby individuals would be pre-judged as high risk, with accordingly reduced chances of referral,” read one research paper for the International Journal for Equity in Health, co-written by Prof Alan Cass, a leading kidney specialist.


Cass, who is also president of the Australian and New Zealand Society of Nephrology, said compliance and adherence assessment “is not always a science”.


“There is a need to go deeper to understand the factors that might lead to a person not attending dialysis regularly from a remote community,” Cass said.


“It might be because they have to go back to the community for critically important cultural needs, or it might be women – the majority of patients are women – providing care for families, extended families and having a multitude of roles which might need to be placed before management of their health.


“Unless we understand that, it is possible we label people as non-compliant or non-adherent and decide they’re not good transplant candidates, and that is a concern.”


A cross-cultural resources project, of which Cass is a team member, seeks to create tools to train and educate health workers and patients about the issues and requirements associated with treatment of kidney disease among Indigenous Australians.


Recordings of doctor-patient interaction found “pervasive miscommunication”, Cass said.


“It was around critical issues of health illness and treatment patients were receiving that would impact directly on patient outcomes, and it was often unrecognised by both patients, their families and practitioners.”


An impact study of 150 Indigenous patients reinforced frustrations around poor communication which then affected their engagement with care and making informed decisions on treatment.


At the end of the project Cass hoped to have definitive resources for doctors to better understand the issues faced by Indigenous patients, improve communication so as not to wrongly attribute non-compliance, and educate Indigenous communities on preventive health and how to work with the health system and better present as suitable transplant candidates.


The federal and Northern Territory governments recently increased funding to dialysis services and supportive accommodation, in a move welcomed by Lawton. However, “the time has passed” for a dialysis-only focus.


To stem the rising number of current and future dialysis patients, a well documented strain on the Australian health system, he called for a multi-pronged, albeit expensive, approach, including a major focus on preventive health.