Ground penetrating radar used in search for burial site of Queensland Indigenous leader King Billy Turner

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers are advised this article contains the name of a person who has died.

The device is a ground-penetrating radar (GPR) scanner and can reveal soil disturbances several metres below the surface.

Mr Thompson and Ms Schollum hope the technology will help confirm what they have long believed — that Yuggera man King Billy Turner was buried in Shapcott Park in the late 1800s.

Their belief is based on newspaper reports of oral recollections and traditional Indigenous burial practices, where scarred trees were often used to mark burial sites.

In the mid-to-late 1800s, the land around Shapcott Park, in the Ipswich suburb of Brassall, was farmland belonging to John Jacob Vogel.

Old newspaper reports and maps suggest this area on the farm was a hunting ground and the site of corroborees for local Yuggera people.

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Regional Indigenous cultural messages at Fringe Festival aim to break down barriers

Indigenous artists from the Mid North of South Australia have taken their messages of culture and breaking down barriers to Adelaide Fringe Festival audiences at Tandanya National Aboriginal Cultural Institute.

Port Augusta mother and son artists Lavene McKenzie and Dre Ngatokorua debuted on Friday night with their show, the MoZzi X Inkatja multimedia collaboration.

Seasoned Indigenous performer Elaine Crombie, from Port Pirie, performed her show Janet’s Vagrant Love, A story of love, heartbreak and raising black men.

Adelaide Fringe Director and CEO Heather Croall said 9.7 per cent of the 2021 Adelaide Fringe program included First Nations themes, artists or creatives.

“We encourage and embrace the diversity of the Fringe and what First Nations voices bring to enrich our lives,” Ms Croall said.

“Regional areas play such an important part in the fabric of Adelaide Fringe.

“It gives artists from those areas a wonderful platform to engage in the arts.”

Ms Crombie’s stage performance was part cabaret, drama and comedy.

Elaine Crombie’s performance tackles deaths in custody and connection to country.(

Supplied: Elaine Crombie


The producer, singer, songwriter, stand-up comedian and writer tackles issues from racism to love and deaths in custody.

“It’s hard, it’s a hard thing to have that conversation.”

Overcoming ignorance

She said one reviewer said, “everybody needs to hear what you’re saying”.

“I know exactly what I am doing when I am telling those stories and when there are non-indigenous people in the room, I know when I tell those stories, it’s purely for education,” Ms Crombie said.

Indigenous woman sitting at desk with coffee cup making a point with her hand talking to left of photo
Elaine Crombie’s show is challenging and tackles issues of black deaths in custody and racial profiling.(

Supplied: Elaine Crombie


Ms Crombie presents an original score of acoustic songs and tells stories of talking to friends for hours on a house phone after school, to dealing with adult situations and sings for her mother’s sacred ground asking, “will we ever see justice for our people, the original people of this land?”

Landcape connections

Painter Lavene McKenzie’s collaboration with her son music DJ Dre Ngatokorua also presents themes of storytelling and connection to land.

Gallery art space with red lighting, lighting paintings on walls, audience sitting on floor watching DJ at table on far left
Port Augusta mother and son artists Lavene McKenzie and Dre Ngatokorua debuted at Fringe with their multi-media collaboration.(

Supplied: Gayle Mather


Ms McKenzie said it was challenging to bridge the modern DJ music with traditional themes and art.

“Trying to put today’s modern music with my art was quite challenging,” Ms McKenzie said.

“A lot of Aboriginal artists, through their music, sing about the land and the things that we as Aboriginal people face and I think Dre has very cleverly has put the music together with the art.”

Ms McKenzie said Indigenous culture and storytelling was traditionally expressed using dance and music, so utilising DJ music brought the themes into the present.

“He’s done first nations music but there’s a bit of a twist there,” she said.

The overriding theme was about the landscape and connection to land.

Large screens projecting indigenous art work on the right and left, a crowd of 50 people on floor looking to left of photograph
The audience was immersed in the multimedia presentation.(

Supplied: Gayle Mather


“We’re very much present today, that’s the thing, but … we all need to be together in a new narrative around this country, not forgetting the old.

“When we’re telling stories when we’re on country. We’re talking in the present — what has always been there is there.”

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Bushfire on Figure of Eight Island raises questions about Indigenous history, future management

Only a handful of people ever knew that Figure of Eight Island was on fire.

During the horror Australian summer of 2019–20, the nation’s eyes were fixed on the east coast’s bushfires when a lightning strike hit the small, uninhabited island off the coast of Esperance in Western Australia.

It triggered a blaze that burned for a couple of days before fizzling out.

But the full scope of its impact is just now being measured.

Last month, more than a year after the fire, a team of researchers and rangers travelled to the island to be met by only a lone baby bird.

The chick was a short-tailed shearwater, also known as a Tasmanian mutton bird, and its presence confirmed what marine biologist Jennifer Lavers long-suspected: that Figure of Eight Island may have once been home to the nation’s western-most population of the species.

Jennifer Lavers may have found Australia’s western-most population of short-tailed shearwaters.(

ABC News


But for now at least, it appears that home has been destroyed.

“We had heard that at least part of the island had experienced a bushfire,” Dr Lavers said.

“[But] almost immediately after we arrived we could see that almost the entire island had been encompassed in the fire.

“The burrows that the seabirds would normally live in have been completely washed away and it is essentially just a barren habitat.”

Only one baby bird found

Figure of Eight Island is off the south-west coast of Esperance, at the western point of the Recherche Archipelago, a group of more than 100 islands.

They are wild and unforgiving and over the years have become known for extraordinary stories: a murderous pirate, marooned prisoners, fearless surfers and sharks.

Figure of Eight Island is located approximately 30km south-west of Esperance.(

Supplied: Google Maps


But Dr Laver’s interest in Figure of Eight lay in old records from the 1950s, that indicated the island might be home to a short-tailed shearwater colony.

That would be significant, given the next closest colony was believed to be on Wickam Island, 200 kilometres away on the far-eastern side of the archipelago.

After years of visiting the Esperance region, conditions were finally good enough for Dr Lavers and a team of rangers to make the treacherous ocean crossing last month.

Charred island scrubland
Fire has decimated shearwater habitat on Figure of Eight Island.(

Supplied: David Guilfoyle


But the island was eerily quiet when they arrived.

At this time of year, Dr Lavers said the island should have been alive with the seabird colony in the middle of its breeding season.

But the only trace she could find among the many abandoned burrows was the one baby chick — a meagre offering but enough to confirm the species’ presence.

Yet questions about the rest of the colony linger, and, given the suspected decline of the species’ globally, those answers may have broad implications.

Dr Lavers said it would definitely be the subject of future research.

Understanding an ancient story

The missing shearwater colony was not the only mystery created by the fire.

During the research trip, traditional owner Doc Reynolds said rangers and in-house archaeologists discovered stone tools on the island, which he said was probable evidence of Aboriginal occupation.

Two people walk across the island, the ocean is visible in the distance
Rangers map the location of shearwater burrows on Figure of Eight Island.(

Supplied: David Guilfoyle


Mr Reynolds said this made sense as the islands had been connected to the mainland before sea levels rose thousands of years ago, and cultural sites had already been discovered on other islands in and around the archipelago.

He said after consulting with local elders, the rangers would likely return to the island and carry out an excavation to try and find material that could be dated to give a likely timeframe of when people last lived there.

Sand dune’s age determined

The discovery tied in well with another project that rangers from the Esperance Tjaltjraak Native Title Aboriginal Corporation (ETNTAC) had been working on, which dated the age of sand dunes east of Esperance.

Using a PVC pipe, they collected sand from about a metre below the surface of a dune at Wharton Beach.

The trio stand on the island, with the ocean behind them
Rangers and Dr Lavers look for short-tailed shearwaters.(

Supplied: David Guilfoyle


After sending it away from analysis, they discovered the sand had not seen sunlight for about 4,700 years, which meant the sand dune was at least that old.

David Guilfoyle, the healthy country plan coordinator for ETNTAC, said the studies could give insights about how people coped with sea level rise and climate change, which could provide today’s society with valuable lessons.

“It’s an epic journey that people have been on for thousands of years.

“And we’re just getting glimpses of it from this type of work.”

Mr Guilfoyle said the island’s Indigenous ancestors had a “deep understanding” of the land.

“We see the immense value of integrating cultural knowledge systems into research and planning,” he said.

“They’ve experienced climate change, been through it, they knew how systems function — the seasons, plant life, the animal life — so we’re tapping into that now.”

Rangers work on the dune, the ocean is seen in the background
A sand dune near Esperance was found to be about 4,700 years old.(

Supplied: David Guilfoyle


‘Pristine’ islands require protection

Mr Guilfoyle said the stories recently exposed at Figure of Eight Island showed that even though the Recherche Archipelago was pristine and relatively unchartered, it needed management and care to remain that way.

Mr Guilfoyle said work needed to be done to reduce the island’s fuel loads, manage invasive weeds, monitor significant wildlife and protect cultural sites.

A weed shoot in the sand
Invasive weeds are colonising the charred island.(

Supplied: David Guilfoyle


Currently, the islands are managed by the WA Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA).

The department says that Figure of Eight Island will recover on its own.

“Results from previous survey work indicate the islands recover naturally after bushfires,” a spokesperson said.

“As with previous bushfire recovery, bird populations are known to return to the islands within a few years to reoccupy burrows.”

A decade of recovery

Mr Guilfoyle believed the best way forward for the Recherche Archipelago was a collaborative approach where the ETNTAC rangers pooled funding and resources with DBCA and universities.

Mr Reynolds said continued support from the state and federal government was critical to continue cultural mapping.

He wants to see the local rangers at the forefront of researching and protecting the archipelago into the future.

Dr Lavers said the community could help by providing photos or drone footage of Figure of Eight Island before or after the fire.

But she warned that if anyone was to visit the island they should not venture off the beach as it could destroy the shearwaters’ nesting habitat.

“But it will really be the rangers and community telling me just how right I am in making that prediction.”

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Women’s groups want coercive control legislation, but fear impact on Indigenous families

Aboriginal women’s legal services have told a New South Wales parliamentary inquiry into coercive control laws they could not support any new laws without structural changes to police investigations and the criminal justice system.

The inquiry is weighing up whether to create legislation that would specifically target and criminalise the behaviour.

The Wirringa Baiya Aboriginal Women’s Legal Centre is a state-wide community legal centre that supports Aboriginal women across the state and addressed the inquiry this week.

Principal solicitor Rachael Martin told the inquiry the centre welcomed increased attention on coercive control, but changing the law would not be enough and could lead to “unintended consequences”.

“We caution that any legislative reform should not come before other necessary structural changes to police investigations, to the criminal justice response, as well as significant community education and resourcing.

“Without this, we are not in a position to support the criminalisation of coercive control,” she told the inquiry.

Ms Martin said successful examples, including the model used in Scotland, could not be translated to Australia.

“There is no equivalent to the First Nations community that we have in Australia that has experienced the level of dispossession, colonisation and trauma that Aboriginal communities have experienced,” she said.

“So it is really not clear to us what are the racial and cultural demographics of the successful prosecutions of coercive control in Scotland to evaluate how it has addressed racist and cultural bias in policing.”

Ms Martin said some of her clients were “hesitant” about reporting violence to police and did “not want to see the consequences of criminalisation in terms of the offender being charged, being taken into custody”.

She said how to stop women being scared to report violence to the police because they are fearful of the consequences, it is about ‘changing policing’.

“We talk about addressing systemic sexism and inequality against women, but the issue for Aboriginal communities is also racial inequality,” she explained.

Other regional women’s groups used the inquiry to implore the state government to move quickly and criminalise coercive controlling behaviour.

Sally Stevenson, from the Illawarra Women’s Health Centre, told the inquiry she felt the responsibility “heavily for presenting a compelling case” for the “many, many hundreds of victim survivors” the centre had supported.

Ms Stevenson also described her heartbreak at having to give evidence.

“To be truthful, I would rather be anywhere else than here today arguing again for women’s safety,” she said.

“I wondered what other laws that cause such indisputable harm are debated over and discussed and delayed, what other laws are we told are too hard, too complex and too expensive to enact?

“Certainly, we should be discussing how we enact this law — co-designed critical protections, exemptions, processes must be in place especially for Aboriginal women and children.”

She said victim survivors wanted the behaviour criminalised.

“Women will recognise themselves in this legislation and this will empower and equip them to understand their experience and hopefully escape.”

CEO of the NSW Country Women’s Association, Danica Leys told the inquiry statistics show women in regional and rural areas are more likely to experience domestic violence.

“BOSCAR data revealed in June last year the rate of domestic violence related assault in western NSW was 3.6 times the state average,

Ms Leys said coercive control could come in many forms on farms.

“Financial control could be a quite common form of coercive control in that environment, withholding of attention and affection, control of children and all aspects of control of children’s lives and preventing people from being able to work off-farm.”

She said the organisation backed the introduction of the law.

GP Amanda Cohn spoke on behalf of the Border Domestic violence network and urged the committee to ensure there was a national definition of coercive control “to enable more streamlined, harmonised enforcement in cross border communities”.

Dr Cohn provided case studies to the inquiry of women who live in one state and work or study in another and are at risk because prohibitive violence orders are not recognised across borders.

During questioning she said she hoped if a national definition could not be reached NSW would not wait to move forward.

The inquiry continues.

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Indigenous patients anonymously report racism in health care with new online tool

Hundreds of Indigenous patients in B.C. have been using a new online tool to anonymously report the racism they’ve experienced within the health-care system. The initial demand for the tool has been so high that creators are aiming to expand the platform across the country next year.

The platform Safespace, currently run through the B.C. Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres website, allows people to share their experiences at a health-care facility and rate it on a five-point scale.

“I’ve experienced racism personally in the health system. I’ve observed it. I’ve been there with family members… who’ve gone through the same situations,” Canadian Medical Association president-elect Dr. Alika Lafontaine, who created the tool, told in a phone interview on Tuesday.

Since the app launched in November, it has recorded approximately 1,500 complaints and stories from Indigenous patients and their family members.

A lot of people “didn’t feel safe sharing them with the health system,” Lafontaine said, adding that those who did report incidents were ultimately disappointed with how things ended up.

This discontent could be because a health-care provider wasn’t disciplined or because there wasn’t any change in a facility’s methods overall. And Lafontaine explained that for many patients, complaining publicly has only served to strain their relationships with their doctors, leaving them in “worse place than if they’d said nothing at all.”

The app was launched on the heels of an investigative report released in November 2020, which found troubling, widespread racism against Indigenous patients in the B.C. health-care system. Another report in the province found Indigenous people also have less access to primary care doctors, less access to primary care providers for seniors and lower rates of cancer screening than non-Indigenous people.

Similar disparities are being seen across Canada, highlighted by high-profile incidents such as the case of Joyce Echaquan, an Indigenous woman in Quebec who recorded herself being insulted by health-care workers before she later died.


Lafontaine, an Alberta-based anesthesiologist of Anishinaabe, Cree, Metis and Pacific Islander descent, said the idea was partially sparked by his brother and Safespace co-founder who was subjected to racism.

“He said, ‘it doesn’t matter what type of privilege I accumulate — whether I’m a business leader or highly educated, or contribute to the community –when I put on that [hospital] gown, I’m just another Indian.”

Lafontaine chose to partner with the B.C. Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres for the first phase of Safespace rollout because those centres are places people already trust when it comes to patient advocacy and emotional and social support.

The group has 25 facilities across British Columbia and during the first half of this year, workers will be offering workshops to help familiarize the community with the Safespace tool.

Leslie Varley, executive director at the BCAAFC and member of the Nisga’a Nation, told over the phone that “to one extent or another, we all experience racism.” She said this can involve health-care providers in emergency rooms falsely assuming patients are drunk or them being disregarded or roughly treated during hospice care.

Without collecting personalized data, Safespace anonymously catalogues incidents to flag potential issues in the future, and identify patterns or prevalent issues in certain facilities or across the province — and lobby them to change.

“Our hope and intention is… to take that data and use it very specifically at one hospital or clinic, or health-care clinic or [address] systemic racism overall,” Varley said, adding she encourages health-care providers themselves to report things they witness, since they might not do so out of fear of putting their job at stake.

Varley said a lot of the complaints so far are from Indigenous doctors and health-care workers who say “they’re not feeling safe at all.”

Next year, she said the National Association of Friendship Centres, which boasts a network of more than 120 facilities, will be further expanding the program.

Dr. Alika Lafontaine


Lafontaine said one of the short-term goals will be to “help patients to make more informed decisions about where they access care.”

“For example, if they realize racialization is an issue within emergency departments in and around a certain place in B.C., they can choose to move to a different place of care or if they have to go there… they can at least go and be prepared.”

But he said this data should force health-care providers to look inwards.

Lafontaine explained doctors, nurses or other health-care providers may have inadvertently learned racist ideas in school, which have been reinforced in the field. “But once you become aware of the harm you do have a responsibility to stop it.”

“We can create that normalcy of being an anti-racist… where we have to go to create change in the system but that’s going to take stories,” he said, hoping that the app helps in “creating the opportunity of a new narrative in health care.”

Lafontaine hopes Safespace prevents people from feeling alone and baring the “the weight of history on their shoulders.”

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Rio forms Indigenous advisory group to prevent next Jukkan Gorge

Mining giant Rio Tinto will form an Indigenous advisory group in a bid to strengthen its relationships with traditional land owners and reassure investors it will not repeat the widely condemned destruction of 46,000 year old caves at Juukan Gorge.

In a series of virtual seminars on Tuesday, top Rio Tinto executives and board members outlined new ways they intended to improve the company’s approach to cultural heritage and rebuild meaningful relationships with First Nations communities in the hope of mending its badly damaged reputation.

Western Australia’s Juukan Gorge rock shelters had evidence of continued human occupation dating back at least 46,000 years.Credit:PKKP and PKKP Aboriginal Corporation

“I am committed to making these improvements,” Rio’s new chief executive Jakob Stausholm said.

“This will not be easy. This is the start of a long journey.”

Rio Tinto’s blasting of the 46,000-year-old Juukan Gorge rock shelters, against the wishes of the land’s traditional owners, sparked a global outcry leading to the resignations of chief executive Jean-Sebastien Jacques and two of his deputies last year, while Rio chairman Simon Thompson will step down in coming months.

Rio’s new Indigenous advisory group, to consist of 5-8 members, will point out gaps in the company’s existing protocols for managing Indigenous cultural heritage, ensure a better understanding of Indigenous culture and issues across the business including at board level, and provide a “clear pathway” to re-establish trust over time, the company said.

“We must focus on real engagement with our communities, understanding their felt experience and never forgetting that, ultimately, we are guests on their land,” Mr Stausholm said.

Superannuation fund HESTA, which has been leading a group of investors’ engagement with the miner on First Nations issues, said Rio Tinto was “at the start of a very long process of rebuilding trust”.

“It will require long-term commitment to deep-seated cultural change and strong frameworks and processes in place to support genuine, open and ongoing partnership with Indigenous communities,” HESTA chief executive Debby Blakey said.

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COVID-19 vaccination rollout reaches Indigenous communities as first AstraZeneca doses administered

COVID vaccinations have begun in some of Australia’s most vulnerable populations, with today’s rollout of the AstraZeneca vaccine in Indigenous communities.

Under phase 1b of the country’s rollout plan, all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults over 55 will start to receive the jab from today, while in some remote communities all Indigenous adults are eligible.

At the Mallee District Aboriginal Service (MDAS) in Mildura, Iris Johnson was one of the first Indigenous community members to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

The vaccine provided some much-needed hope for Ms Johnson, who spent most of the year in “complete lockdown,” due to her existing kidney disease, which leaves her immune system compromised.

“I was scared to come and get the vaccine, but my daughter said, ‘You’ve got to come and get it,'” she said.

While she said she felt lucky, she was also very nervous.

“Oh my, that’s a big needle,” she said before shutting her eyes and getting her first dose of the vaccine.

“This is just a weight off your shoulders when you’ve got someone in the family with a chronic disease,” her daughter Tiny Kelly said.

“Due to the high burden of chronic disease, the Indigenous community is especially vulnerable, so it’s important that we could start vaccinating as soon as possible,” said Jacki Turfrey, the CEO of MDAS.

Ten vials of the AstraZeneca vaccine were delivered to MDAS on Monday morning, and health workers wasted no time administering the jabs.

“We have the opportunity for our elders to get their injections today, and they can promote this to the rest of the community,” Ms Turfrey said.

“There is a level of hesitancy in the community just because it’s so new … but I think this will set the scene for a successful rollout.”

She said the organisation had worked tirelessly to train and prepare staff so they could begin administering doses as soon as possible.

“It’s a pretty good mood in here today, everyone is feeling pretty happy about this,” she added.

Peter Peterson, a 56-year-old Barkindji man from the Mildura community, said he was grateful he could receive his vaccine from an Aboriginal health provider.

“Knowing it’s here, and seeing the doctor and everyone else getting it makes me feel good,” he said.

Sixty-eight-year-old Gubbi Gubbi man Garry Swallow said he hoped today might mark the beginning of the end of a very tough year.

“I haven’t seen any of my family, my kids, my grandkids, my brothers for a whole year, because they’re in Queensland,” he said.

“With these borders being shut for most of the year, I’ve just been here on my own, it’s hard when you’re single, keeping safe and healthy at home.”

It’s expected that more than 100 Aboriginal community-controlled health organisations will begin to administer the vaccine in the coming months.

Indigenous Australians over 55 can also be vaccinated at GP providers like the rest of the population.

Emergency doses of the vaccine have already been rolled out to island communities in the Torres Strait, as neighbouring Papua New Guinea battles a surging coronavirus pandemic.

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COVID-19 vaccine rollout begins in Indigenous communities

COVID-19 vaccinations are beginning in some of Australia’s most vulnerable communities, with elders receiving their first doses. Isabella Higgins reports.

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Indigenous leader Noel Pearson continues push for constitutional recognition and Voice to Parliament

Indigenous leader Noel Pearson says Australia is incomplete without constitutional recognition of First Nations people, as leaders renew calls for a referendum on a Voice to Parliament.

In a speech at the National Museum of Australia, Mr Pearson urged the government not to give up on the decades-long push for constitutional recognition and reiterated his support for an Indigenous Voice to Parliament to be enshrined in the constitution, in line with the calls of the 2017 Uluru Statement from the Heart.

“It is about the recognition of Indigenous Australians in the constitution, which empowers the Parliament to legislate the Voice to Parliament as the means by which Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are recognised in the nation,” he said.

“Australia doesn’t make sense without recognition, Australia is incomplete without recognition.

“How could there be an Australia without its Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Indigenous peoples?

“As long as its Indigenous peoples remain unrecognised, then Australia is an absurdity, a nation missing its most vital heart.”

The government has previously ruled out a referendum on the issue within this parliamentary term, instead opting to push ahead with plans for a legislated Voice to Parliament.

But Mr Pearson said legislative change alone would never be enough, and was scathing towards both major political parties for dragging their feet since former prime ministers John Howard and Kevin Rudd promised referendums in 2007.

“The old idea of an Australia that started on 26 January 1788 and that’s that is fraying and our political leaders don’t know what to do,” he said.

“Indifference and denial might have worked in the past but plainly today there are far too many Australians determined to stand with Indigenous peoples in rejecting the old idea of Australia.”

A shot of the face of Ken Wyatt.
Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt says the government is sourcing as much feedback from the community as possible.(

ABC News: Tim Leslie


With just two weeks until public submissions for feedback on the government’s proposed frameworks for a voice close, Labor and unions have also renewed calls for a constitutionally enshrined voice.

A delegation of First Nations unions members, led by Indigenous activist and union leader Thomas Mayor, is meeting with Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt to pressure him for a referendum.

“A voice cannot only be legislated, it must be protected in the constitution because every other voice we’ve had in the past has been destroyed by hostile governments,” Mr Mayor said.

“It’s a disgrace they [the government] have opposed truth telling and the talks about treaty, and if we had a voice we think that would make it much harder for them to say no to things that are so obvious that this nation should achieve.”

Labor senator Patrick Dodson, who earlier this week unsuccessfully pushed for an inquiry into the truth-telling and treaty elements of the Uluru Statement, said it was a “national disgrace” more progress had not been made.

“Begin the truth-telling process so the stories here that everyone could tell you get well and truly understood in the public space, so we don’t have to pussy foot around with more and more delays waiting for someone to come to the numbers in the backbench,” Senator Dodson said.

“This government, whether it’s got an appetite or not, it’s got an obligation, a clear obligation given to it by the ’67 referendum to occupy the space if necessary, to pass laws in favour of First Nations people in collaboration with states.

“That’s what the Prime Minister has to do and that’s what the Minister for [Indigenous Australians] has to do, is get out there and lead and bring the rest of those troglodytes behind them into the front space and expose them for what they are.”

Gurindji man Rob Roy, a member of the United Workers Union from Kalkarindji in the Northern Territory, said the government needed to listen to Indigenous people in remote Australia.

“It’s people like us that live remote in the Northern Territory, the decisions aren’t made for us from here, from this building, and it would be good to have an enshrined voice, a voice that represents my mob,” Mr Roy said.

He said half a century on from the Wave Hill walk-off, which is often regarded as the birth of the Aboriginal land rights movement, more needed to be done.

In a statement, Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt said the government would consider all legal options for the form of the voice after the co-design process had finished.

“We are now in the second stage of the Indigenous voice co-design process, inviting all Australians to provide their feedback and comments on Indigenous voice proposals,” Mr Wyatt said.

“The more people that provide their feedback, the greater chance we have to refine the best possible options and set up structures that are successful in the long term.”

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Indigenous water groups, farmers demand more water for Darling-Baaka River, Menindee Lakes

Indigenous groups and pastoralists are took their water rights claims to the NSW Parliament today to argue for a bigger share for their communities and the environment in the Far West.

But getting the water will be difficult because the system is already stretched by climate change and the over-allocation of water licences.

Indigenous representatives and others travelled a thousand kilometres to Sydney today to meet with politicians and put their demands forward.

They claim the Darling-Baaka River and Menindee Lakes have been mismanaged and say that since the death of millions of fish in Menindee Lakes in 2019, the plight of the river and the ecosystems, communities and economies that rely on them have been forgotten.

They called for action to deliver enough water to allow for the continuous flow of the river so that weirs remained full and fish were protected.

Their main concern was flood plain harvesting, which they said was partly to blame for the reduction in water down the river system.

They want to limit the practice to ecologically sustainable levels by strictly limiting the issuing of new licences.

Barkandji Registered Native Title Group Aboriginal Corporation chief executive Derek Hardman has already won a significant land rights battle for his people over a large area of western NSW.

Now he has set his sights on water rights, which were not included in the original native title claim.

“We have rights over the river but no rights to the water,” he said.

He was concerned that without a change to the way water was managed much of the wildlife and the culture of his people would be lost.

“The way things are going with the over-allocation and over-extraction of water, we have no connectivity,” Mr Hardman said.

“We can’t take our kids fishing, camping, when there’s no water.

“Those are our cultural practices.”

The only way to ensure the survival of that environment was to allow the river to flow continuously, Mr Hardman said.

“Talking to the old timers they say there was always a flow, even if it was a trickle, and there were deep holes,” he said.

“Native title is about compensation and allowing us to practice our culture, [but] without water we can’t do that.

Irrigators said they were not to blame for the reduction in water in the Far West river system.

NSW Irrigators Association chief executive Claire Millar said climate change had reduced the amount of inflows into the system and when there was a reduction in the water available it was irrigators who missed out.

“The first people to get the water is towns, the second is the environment, to get the rivers running, third is stock and domestic,” she said.

She said the answer was not to keep taking water from irrigation.

“Irrigators have families as well and they’re taking a big hit from licencing, climate change, and the dry season,” Ms Millar said.

“I’d hate to think that the answer to this problem is to throw those communities under the bus.”

She said sustainable diversion limits in the Murray Darling Basin Plan ensured there were caps on water use and some big changes had been made to ensure more flows to the Darling.

“The river is already flowing better than it has in the past, because of the resumption in flow rule and the first flush rule,” Ms Millar said.

Thank you for spending time with us on My Local Pages. We hope you enjoyed reading this news article on “What’s On in the Mildura to Swan Hill Region named “Indigenous water groups, farmers demand more water for Darling-Baaka River, Menindee Lakes”. This story was posted by MyLocalPages as part of our local and national events & news stories services.

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