By Pamela Nathan
Re: “This nation is failing its first people“, Editorial published in ‘The Age‘, February 12th, 2015
The Editorial concludes: To be seen to be speaking to communities and leaders is important.
I ask the question: To be seen to be talking, or to be actually talking? To be actually talking CASSE agrees is important. To be actually listening is critical.
CASSE agrees we should be ashamed of the entrenched inequalities that exist between the nation’s indigenous people generally and the rest of the population… the gulf is both startling and depressing.
However something rarely mentioned is the enormous power differential. Where are the Aboriginal leaders in the governance of this country? Where is Aboriginal customary law? Neither have a place, nor recognition!
If you were to speak to the older men in the remote communities out west in Central Australia, as CASSE is doing, they will tell you that what is important to them, and good for mental health, aside from basic and fundamental necessities of living, is Tjilirra and the preservation and continuity of their traditional law, dreaming and practices. What is important is their urgent need to pass on their knowledge and skills to the next generation. To do so doesn’t entail much. A vehicle or two. Simple tools for carving and recording. Let us meet the people where they sit and listen to them, recognise them and help them to realise their dream.
The survival of a magnificent, proud and continuing culture spanning over 40,000 years depends upon it.