Showing posts with label indigenous culture. Show all posts
Showing posts with label indigenous culture. Show all posts

Monday, 14 May 2018

Aboriginal elders calling for NSW Berejiklian Government to commit to expanding the youth Koori court program



The Guardian, 7 May 2018:

Aboriginal elders have called for the NSW government to commit to expanding the youth Koori court program after an evaluation found it halved the amount of time young people spent in detention. The court began as a pilot project at Parramatta children’s court in February 2015 but has not received ongoing funding. A University of Western Sydney evaluation has found it cut the average number of days spent in youth detention, as well as helping address underlying issues such as unstable accommodation, lack of engagement in education and employment, and disconnection from Aboriginal culture. Elders said it reached children who had little family support and were isolated from the community. 

Tuesday, 3 April 2018

NSW Bar Association: “As members of the legal profession, we know indigenous Australians, proportionately, are the most incarcerated on earth. This diminishes us as a nation.”


The Australian, 29 March 2018, p.6:

As members of the legal profession, we know indigenous Australians, proportionately, are the most incarcerated on earth. This diminishes us as a nation.
Sovereignty and dispossession, recognition and representation of interests: they are different facets of the same problem. It is something that we, as lawyers, have a duty to help solve. It is because of this duty that the legal profession welcomed the government’s reference to the Australian Law Reform Commission to examine, among other issues, rates of incarceration for the indigenous.

The Pathways to Justice report of the ALRC represents a comprehensive blueprint to address the shameful over-representation of indigenous people in our prisons. Swift and decisive action is required from commonwealth, state and territory governments to ensure its recommendations are implemented.

ALRC recommendations relating to sentencing and bail regimes, the repeal of mandatory sentencing laws, an effective justice reinvestment framework, culturally appropriate community-based sentencing options, and so on, are all aimed at how substantive, not just formal, equality before the law can be achieved for indigenous people. All recommendations are supported by the NSW Bar Association as important initiatives which will contribute to addressing Aboriginal incarceration rates.

The NSW Bar is pleased the ALRC supports establishment of indigenous sentencing courts including the NSW Walama Court. The Walama Court is critical in reducing indigenous incarceration. The model involves community participation and greater supervision, resulting in reduced recidivism and increased compliance with court orders to better protect the community. It is not a “soft on crime” initiative but rather a more effective manner to supervise offenders post-sentence which would enhance rehabilitation and prevent re-offending.
At this stage the NSW government has not allocated funds to establish the Walama Court in the 2018-19 financial year, despite the fact it would have long-term economic cost savings for NSW as fewer indigenous people will be imprisoned and rates of recidivism would be reduced…..

Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) Pathways to Justice–Inquiry into the Incarceration Rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples (ALRC Report 133) Final Report, published on 28 March 2018.



Friday, 26 January 2018

It's Australia Day and......


the truth is that few Australians - who will either quietly or with loud jingoism celebrate today - know the day’s real history or meaning.

It also seems that only a minority of the population are likely to object if the federal and state governments decide to change the date.

The Sydney Morning Herald, 18 January 2018:

A majority of voters would not mind if Australia Day was shifted to a different date and most don't know why it's currently held on January 26.

New polling also reveals that only about a third of Australians – 37 per cent – realise the date is offensive to many Indigenous people because it represents the beginning of the dispossession and violence of British colonisation.

As the political and community debate about the "change the date" movement continues to intensify, the Research Now survey of 1417 people suggests nearly all Australians – 84 per cent – think it is important the country has a national day of celebration.

But 56 per cent say they don't mind when the day occurs, challenging the notion that Australians see January 26 as sacred or untouchable.

The polling also reveals 77 per cent of people believe – incorrectly – that the celebration has always occurred on January 26, the date the First Fleet planted the flag in NSW in 1788.

The date was in fact not adopted by all states until 1935, and has only been celebrated in its current form since 1994.

The polling commissioned by the progressive Australia Institute think tank was conducted among a nationally representative sample in December.

"This polling shows that while Australia Day is important to most Australians, most people are laid back about the date we celebrate on," said deputy director Ebony Bennett.

Given 11 multiple choice options, 38 per cent correctly identified the event January 26 marks. And just under half knew it had anything to do with the First Fleet at all.

Others believed it marked the day Captain Cook first sighted Australia, the day the constitution was signed or the day Australia became independent.

Four per cent of people linked the date to events that have not actually happened, including becoming a republic or signing a treaty with Aboriginal Australia.

Asked to nominate what date would be the best to celebrate Australia Day, 70 per cent preferred a date not associated with the First Fleet. And fewer than a quarter (23 per cent) selected the landing in Sydney Cove as the best of a range of options.

Only 37 per cent of people agreed the current date was offensive to Indigenous people, even though many Indigenous leaders have long been calling for change. Nearly half of people – 46 per cent – disagreed the date was problematic.

Asked if Australia Day should not be on a day that is hurtful to Aboriginal people, 49 per cent agreed and 36 per cent disagreed…..

"Australia Day is a day on which the overwhelming majority of Australians – all but a handful – are proud of Australia and its achievements," he told 2GB radio. [my yellow highlighting]

Australian Minister for Indigenous Affairs and National Party Senator for Northern Territory, Nigel Scullion, has told journalists that since he became minister in September 2013 not one indigenous person has ever expressed to him that they want the date changed.

Senator Scullion can be contacted by 'phone from 1 February 2018 during office hours at:

(08) 8948 3555
(08) 8948 3555
(02) 6277 7780


Political Meme on Australia Day 2018


Alternate Bayeux Tapestry via @no_filter_Yamba

Friday, 8 December 2017

It should come as no surprise that the Adani Group is offering traditional owners compensation which is well below industry standard


We, the Wangan and Jagalingou people, are the Traditional Owners of the land in Queensland’s Galilee Basin. Corporate conglomerate, Adani, wants to use our ancestral lands for their Carmichael coal mine.
We do hereby firmly REJECT a Land Use Agreement with Adani for the Carmichael mine on our traditional lands.
We DO NOT consent to the Carmichael mine on our ancestral lands.
We DO NOT accept Adani’s “offers” to sign away our land and our rights and interests in it. We will not take their “shut up” money.
We will PROTECT and DEFEND our Country and our connection to it." [http://wanganjagalingou.com.au/our-fight/]

ABC News, 1 December 2017:

A hotly contested deal between Adani and traditional owners of its proposed Carmichael mine site in Queensland's Galilee Basin would deliver compensation "well below" what most big miners pay, according to a new analysis.

The Wangan and Jagalingou (W&J) people would only get 0.2 per cent of Adani's earnings from the mine, less than half the industry average, respected mining industry outfit Economics Consulting Services has found.

Its report, obtained by the ABC, was commissioned by six W&J representatives whose looming court challenge to the deal stands as the final legal hurdle to Adani's contentious mega-mine.

It found the W&J people would earn up to $145 million over 30 years, out of the project's estimated $77.4 billion in gross revenue, a share which was "well below industry benchmark standards".

The benchmarks for such deals usually ranged from 0.75 per cent to 0.35 per cent.

Only 11 per cent of the deal would come to the W&J people in cash, up to $17.4 million over 30 years, or about $2,300 a year per adult member of the clan.

Report author Murray Meaton, who was awarded an Order of Australia in 2014 for services to the mining industry, found the benefits to the W&J people would be "dramatically lower" if job promises for locals fell short as they did "in most jurisdictions and agreements".

To gain finance for the $21 billion project, Adani needs an Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA) with the W&J people, or it must call on the Queensland Government to forcibly extinguish any native title claim over the mine site in the Galilee Basin…….

The Adani supporters in the W&J have argued the mine is inevitable and they need to seize the miner's offer to economically benefit their people, including some who live in Queensland's more disadvantaged communities.

However, the anti-Adani group object to the destruction of their ancestral lands and culture, and contest the legitimacy of the meeting that approved the Adani deal.

The dispute will go to trial in the federal court in Brisbane in March.

The case has pushed back Adani's deadline on clinching finance for the project, which remains in doubt.

Wangan and Jagalingou have been defending their country in court since at least 2008.

The Guardian, 3 December 2017:

Traditional owners opposed to the Adani Carmichael coalmine have filed an application for an injunction with the federal court to prevent the native title tribunal from signing off on an Indigenous land use agreement before the outcome of a court challenge.

The application was filed following a meeting of the W&J traditional owners council in Brisbane on Saturday, where the 120 attendees voted against the Ilua for the fourth time since it was proposed in 2012.

Echo NetDaily, 6 December 2017:

North Coast Greens MLC Dawn Walker and NSW Greens mining spokesperson Jeremy Buckingham were arrested yesterday by Queensland police after taking part in a blockade of the Adani Carmichael coal mine rail construction site at Belyando, 270km west of Bowen.

The MPs were arrested at 6:35am along with a dozen other climate activists and charged with trespass unlawfully on a place of business.

Ms Walker said, ‘It was a very important day for me, stopping work on the Adani mine and being arrested with climate activists who understand the importance of preventing this destructive project from going ahead,’ said Greens MP Dawn Walker.

‘I was proud to stand with traditional owners who have said ‘no means no’ to Adani, and made it clear they will not be surrendering their land and water to this coal corporation.

‘Although this mine is miles from anywhere, the eyes of all Australia are on it. We have travelled days to get here but believe many more will follow.

Friday, 1 December 2017

Yaegl Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation expressing their opposition to a proposed cruise ship terminal at Yamba


The following media release was sent to NSW Minister for Maritime, Roads and Freight Melinda Pavey by way of her Twitter account at 7:15pm on 30 November 2017.

Ntscorp Ltd 

Please see the following Press release from the Yaegl Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation expressing their opposition to a proposed cruise ship terminal at Yamba.

Press release

The Yaegl Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation RNTBC wish to respond to recent media reports about a proposed cruise ship terminal at Yamba, which is part of the draft Future Transport 2056 Strategy. Yaegl People are concerned about the lack of consultation that has occurred with the Corporation and the potential damage that the proposal will cause to significant sites.

The Yaegl Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation RNTBC does not support the construction of a cruise ship terminal at Yamba. The Yaegl People’s native title rights to the land and waters within the lower Clarence River, as well as over much of the land within their traditional country, was recognised by the Federal Court of Australia on 25 June 2015. The Yaegl People’s native title rights over their sea country was recognised by the Federal Court in 31 August 2017.

Any activities which may impact on the exercise of native title rights must be properly notified in accordance with the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth), and native title holders must be afforded certain procedural rights, including rights to comment, rights to be consulted and rights to negotiate.

The Yaegl Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation RNTBC is concerned that to date, no-one has approached the Corporation to discuss the proposal.

The Chairperson of the Corporation, Billy Walker, said ‘It appears as though decisions such as the construction of a cruise ship terminal, are being considered without any attempt to engage with or consult The Yaegl Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation RNTBC. The Corporation is responsible for ensuring that the Dirrungan, one of Yaegl People’s most significant sites, at the mouth of the Clarence River, is protected. There are also other sites of significance to the Yaegl People within the Clarence River, which would be damaged by the proposal.’

The recent Yaegl People’s native title determination over sea country included increased protections for the Dirrungan, including a 350 metre buffer zone to protect the Dirrungan from developments such as the cruise ship proposal.

The Corporation’s Office Manager and Yaegl man, Michael Randall, said ‘We haven’t been consulted yet. We have native title rights over the land and waters at the mouth of the Clarence River, including extending out to sea. It’s a requirement that we be consulted. We are opposed to any actions which might damage the Dirrungan. The State Government has agreed through our sea determination to protect the Dirrungan from destruction.’

Media contact: Michael Bennett (DM via NTSCORP Facebook)

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Singing the heavens, singing the land, singing the lore, singing the people and their history - weaving memory


And those of us whose forebears stumbled off a handful of British boats in 1788 are still trying and often failing to understand this rich, enduring culture.......

The Monthly, September 2017:

Epic of Gilgamesh” is Google’s answer to “what is the oldest known literature”. Unknown scribes in the city of Ur picked the poem out in cuneiform letters some 4500 years ago. These clay tablets preserved an older oral tradition, but that part of the story is usually left out. Instead, the Mesopotamian epic fits easily into that cartoonish diagram of the Ascent of Man, where civilisation means writing, a sequence of metals and a procession of capitals: Memphis, Babylon, Athens, Rome.

Compare this lineage to the ceremonial songs of Aboriginal Australia. Their absolute vintage is unknowable, but the best estimates run to at least 12,000 years old. At this distance in time, the study of literature needs not just linguists but geologists. There are songlines that accurately describe landscape features (like now-disappeared islands) from the end of the Pleistocene epoch. Their provenance may stretch even further back, all the way into the last ice age. They are also alive. The last person to hear Epic of Gilgamesh declaimed in her native culture died millennia ago. Songlines that may have been born 30,000 years ago are being sung right now.

Read the full article here.

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

TURNBULL MUST PROTECT TARKINE HERITAGE


“The Australian Heritage Council found the Tarkine in north-west Tasmania of outstanding national heritage significance.”
[Australian Government, Dept. of Environment and Energy, Australian Heritage Council, National Heritage Assessment, The Tarkine]


Bob Brown Foundation, Media Release, 8 September 2017:

TURNBULL MUST PROTECT TARKINE HERITAGE - BROWN

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull must reject the Hodgman government's request to open off-road vehicle (ORV) access to the Tarkine's heritage-rich west coast, Bob Brown said tonight. The Hodgman request to Turnbull comes after the Federal Court ruled the state must get federal permission to open tracks in the area.

"Premier Hodgman's Braddon spokesperson on the Tarkine, Joan Rylah, says it all when she told the media today that state government intentions would "reduce vandalism" in the sensitive area. "Ms Rylah is effectively agreeing that re-opening the Sandy Cape to Pieman Heads coast to ORVs will not stop vandalism and she is right," Brown said.

"Recent opinion polling shows that most Tasmanians think the Tarkine's fragile coastal environment and extraordinary Aboriginal heritage sites should be off-limits to the small fraction of ORV owners who want to invade the area. We will release that polling tomorrow."

"It is now up to the Turnbull government to protect this National Heritage Area from destruction," Brown said.

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Why are we still refusing to fully honour the spiritual and cultural relationship that traditional owners have to the land in Australia?


It doesn’t matter to the Turnbull Government that science declares that Aboriginal Australia has existed since time immemorial or that indigenous culture has existed on this continent longer than any other culture which is now part of multicultural Australia -  it stubbornly refuses to genuinely honour the spiritual and cultural relationship that traditional owners have with the land.

June 15, 2017

MEDIA RELEASE
14 June 2017
Traditional Owners slam passage of Native Title amendments
Traditional Owners fighting Adani’s proposed coal mine have expressed profound disappointment at the passage of Attorney General Brandis’ amendments to the Native Title Act, stressing that while Mabo’s legacy has been diminished they will continue to fight for their rights.
Senior spokesperson for the W&J Traditional Owners Council, Adrian Burragubba, says, “Adani’s problems with the Wangan and Jagalingou people are not solved this week. The trial to decide the fate of Adani’s supposed deal with the Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners is scheduled for the Federal Court in March 2018.
“Our people are the last line of legal defence against this mine and its corrosive impact on our rights, and the destruction of country that would occur.
“Senator Brandis has been disingenuous in prosecuting his argument for these changes to native title laws, while the hands of native title bureaucrats and the mining lobby are all over the outcome.
“This swift overturning of a Federal Court decision, without adequate consultation with Indigenous people, was a significant move, not a mere technical consideration as the Turnbull Government has tried to make out.
“It is appalling and false for George Brandis to pretend that by holding a ‘workshop’ with the CEOs of the native title service bodies, he has the unanimous agreement of Traditional Owners across Australia. No amount of claimed ‘beseeching’ by the head of the Native Title Council, Glen Kelly, can disguise this.
“The public were not properly informed about the bill, and nor were Indigenous people around the country, who were not consulted and did not consent to these changes.
“We draw the line today. We declare our right to our land. There is no surrender. There is no land use agreement. We are the people from that land. We’re the rightful Traditional Owners of Wangan and Jagalingou country, and we are in court to prove that others are usurping our rights”, he said.
Spokesperson for the W&J Traditional Owners Council, Ms Murrawah Johnson, says, “Whatever else this change does, we know that the Turnbull Government went into overdrive for Adani’s interests.
“Brandis’ intervention in our court case challenging the sham ILUA was about Adani. Most of what Senator Matt Canavan had to say in argueing his ill-informed case for native title changes was about Adani. The Chairman of Senate Committee inquiring into the bill, Senator Ian McFarlane, referring to the native title amendments as “the Adani bill” was about Adani. And the PM telling Chairman Gautam Adani that he’d fix native title was about Adani”.
“We are continuing to fight Adani in court and our grounds are strong. If anyone tells you this is settled because the bill was passed, they are lying”, she said.
Adrian Burragubba says, “The Labor Opposition seems to understand this, even though they supported passage of the bill. Senator Pat Dodson went so far as to say this bill does not provide some kind of green light for the Adani mine, as some suggest.
“Pat Dodson acknowledged that W&J have several legal actions afoot against Adani and we are glad that in the midst of this dismal response to the rights of Indigenous people some MPs, including the Greens who voted against the bill, recognise the serious claim we have to justice.
Mr Dodson said in the Senate that: “most of this litigation will be entirely unaffected by the passage of this bill. In particular, there are very serious allegations of fraud that have been made against Adani regarding the processes under which agreements with the Wangan and Jagalingou people were purportedly reached. And those proceedings, which may impact on the validity of any ILUA, will only commence hearings in March next year. Other legal action is also underway, including a case challenging the validity of the licences issued by the Queensland government.”
This week researchers from the University of Queensland released a report titled ‘Unfinished Business: Adani, the state, and the Indigenous rights struggle of the Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners Council‘.
For more information and to arrange interviews:  Anthony Esposito, W&J Council advisor – 0418 152 743.

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Yindjibarndi People granted exclusive native title over their traditional lands


A short entry by the Federal Court of Australia heralds exclusive native title for the Yindjibarndi People over their traditional lands in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.

FEDERAL COURT OF AUSTRALIA

File number:
WAD 6005 of 2003
Judge:
RARES J
Date of judgment:
 20 July 2017

ORDERS

THE COURT ORDERS THAT:
1.    The parties consult and seek to agree and prepare a draft determination of native title for the Court to make under s 225 of the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth) to give effect to the reasons for judgment delivered today.
2.    The proceeding be listed for case management on 17 August 2017 at 11.30am.
Note:    Entry of orders is dealt with in Rule 39.32 of the Federal Court Rules 2011.

In the judgment Justice Rares stated in part:

54    I am satisfied, having considered all of the evidence, that this explanation of spiritual connection reflects both important traditional laws, that the Yindjibarndi acknowledged, and traditional customs, that they observed, at the time of sovereignty and continue to acknowledge and observe today. The explanation neatly captures the essence of the relationship of the Yindjibarndi to their country and their spiritual obligation, embedded in their traditional laws and customs, to protect that country, including from the presence and activities on it of strangers (or manjangu) unless the stranger(s) first obtain(s) permission from Yindjibarndi people.

55    In addition, I am satisfied that, if a stranger were free to enter Yindjibarndi country without permission, under those Yindjibarndi normative laws and customs that have continuously applied over the same time period, he or she could “hurt” the country by violating the Birdarra law, even if unintentionally; for example, by entering a sacred or restricted place, or taking something, such as a resource or animal, from the country. And, those laws and customs thus require the Yindjibarndi to protect their country from a manjangu gaining access to it or its living or inanimate resources without permission of a Yindjibarndi elder.

56    Moreover, I am satisfied by all of the evidence that the Yindjibarndi have continuously (since before sovereignty) acknowledged traditional laws and observed traditional customs relating to the presence, role and power of the spirits of the Marrga and “old people” in and over Yindjibarndi country.

149    I am satisfied that, on the evidence before me, the Yindjibarndi continue to acknowledge their traditional laws and observe their traditional customs that have existed since before sovereignty that a manjangu must seek and obtain permission from an elder before entering on Yindjibarndi country or carrying out activity there (except if the person is simply driving through).

150    Moreover, that conclusion is supported by the evidence of Dr Palmer, which I accept. He concluded that the Yindjibarndi had the right to exclude others who are not Yindjibarndi “and are consequently identified as manjangu”, but he also found that they had abandoned the pre-sovereignty right to put a trespasser to death.

151    Accordingly, I find that the Yindjibarndi have the exclusive right to control access to Yindjibarndi country and, in particular, to the claimed area.

PHOTO: The Yindjibarndi land extends across an inland section of the western Pilbara, including parts of the Millstream National Park. (ABC North West WA: Joseph Dunstan)
The response of that right-wing warrior Andrew Forest of Fortescue Metals was not long in coming.

The Australian, 21 July 2017:

A landmark court decision could set a new template for the way the mining industry approaches ­native title negotiation, after ­Andrew Forrest’s Fortescue Metals Group lost a long running claim over its Pilbara mining hub.

Fortescue could be on the hook for hundreds of millions of dollars in past and future royalties, following the biggest native title ruling to hit an Australian miner for years.

Even so, Fortescue yesterday moved to hose down concerns about the impact of a native title ruling over its Solomon mining hub, noting that it did not expect the ruling to have any “material” financial impact on or inhibit current or ­future operations.

The ruling gives the Yindjibarndi exclusive native title rights over Fortescue’s Solomon mining hub in Western Australia that ­accounts for at least 70 million tonnes of the company’s annual iron ore output.

While the ruling does not prohibit Fortescue from continuing to operate the Solomon mines, it does potentially leave Fortescue exposed to a compensation claim over the hundreds of millions of tonnes of iron ore mined at the project to date as well as possible royalties over future production.

The Guardian, 21 July 2017:

Fortescue Metals Group is likely to appeal against a determination of exclusive native title for Yindjibarndi people over land in the Pilbara which encompasses its Solomon Hub mine.

On Thursday the federal court ruled in favour of the Yindjibarndi traditional owners, awarding exclusive rights and interests over about 2,700 sq km of unclaimed crown land, which encompasses FMG’s $110bn mine.

The company responded on Thursday that it had “no commercial concerns and do not anticipate any material financial impact following the court’s determination,” but on Friday its chief executive suggested it would appeal.

Nev Power told ABC local radio he thought the court’s decision was wrong.

“I think we are likely to appeal,” he said. “It’s a very unusual decision in that the judge has found exclusive native title possession on this land, which we think is unlikely to be the case. So we will be looking at it definitely and considering an appeal.”

Following the decision on Thursday FMG shares dropped 19c to $5.19, and opened at $5.05 on Friday.

Monday, 24 July 2017

The oldest continuous culture in the world just became est. 18,000 years older



Jabiru, Northern Territory: Aboriginal people have lived in Australia for a minimum of 65,000 years, a team of archaeologists has established - 18,000 years longer than had been proved previously and at least 5000 years longer than had been speculated by the most optimistic researchers.

The world-first finding, which follows years of archaeological digging in an ancient camp-site beneath a sandstone rock shelter within the Jabiru mining lease in Kakadu, Northern Territory, drastically alters the known history of the trek out of Africa by modern humans, according to the leader of the international team of archaeologists, associate professor Chris Clarkson of the University of Queensland.

The findings, which are already causing intense interest in archaeological circles across the world, have been peer reviewed by internationally recognised scientists and are published this week in the world's most prestigious science journal, Nature.

Among the trove of discoveries are the world's oldest stone axes with polished and sharpened edges, proving that the earliest Australians were among the most sophisticated tool-makers of their time: no other culture had such axes for another 20,000 years.

"The axes were perfectly preserved, tucked up against the back wall of the shelter as we dug further and further," Professor Clarkson told Fairfax Media.

"There was one on the surface, another further down that we dated at 10,000 years. Then there were quite a few further down still which were able to date at 35,000 to 40,000 years, and finally one at 65,000 years, surrounded by a whole bunch of stone flakes."

The team had also found the oldest known seed-grinding tools in Australia, a large buried midden of sea shells and animal bones, and evidence of finely made stone spear tips.

Professor Clarkson said one of the most striking finds was the huge quantity of ground ochre, right from the oldest layers. This suggested the first humans to populate Australia were already enthusiastic artists, and had continued to be so through their continuing culture in an area known for its spectacular rock art…..

The discovery also confirms that Australian Aborigines undertook the first major maritime migration in the world - they had to sail a minimum of 90 kilometres across open sea to reach their destination whatever route they took in their long journey out of Africa.

No other humans had undertaken such a journey 65,000 years ago. However, after crossing between islands, they could have walked the last stretch between Papua New Guinea and northern Australia because sea levels were so low at that time, Professor Clarkson said.

Nature, Published online 19 July 2017, Human occupation of northern Australia by 65,000 years ago:

Abstract
The time of arrival of people in Australia is an unresolved question. It is relevant to debates about when modern humans first dispersed out of Africa and when their descendants incorporated genetic material from Neanderthals, Denisovans and possibly other hominins. Humans have also been implicated in the extinction of Australia’s megafauna. Here we report the results of new excavations conducted at Madjedbebe, a rock shelter in northern Australia. Artefacts in primary depositional context are concentrated in three dense bands, with the stratigraphic integrity of the deposit demonstrated by artefact refits and by optical dating and other analyses of the sediments. Human occupation began around 65,000 years ago, with a distinctive stone tool assemblage including grinding stones, ground ochres, reflective additives and ground-edge hatchet heads. This evidence sets a new minimum age for the arrival of humans in Australia, the dispersal of modern humans out of Africa, and the subsequent interactions of modern humans with Neanderthals and Denisovans.

Extended Data Figure 3: Grinding stones, residues and usewear of specimens collected from phase 2 at Madjedbebe.

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

"This is a contemptible intervention from a pro-mining government to deny the legal rights of Indigenous people"


“Our traditional lands are an interconnected and living whole; a vital cultural landscape. It is central to us as a People, and to the maintenance of our identity, laws and consequent rights. If the Carmichael mine were to proceed it would tear the heart out of the land. The scale of this mine means it would have devastating impacts on our native title, ancestral lands and waters, our totemic plants and animals, and our environmental and cultural heritage. It would pollute and drain billions of litres of groundwater, and obliterate important springs systems. It would potentially wipe out threatened and endangered species. It would literally leave a huge black hole, monumental in proportions, where there were once our homelands. These effects are irreversible. Our land will be “disappeared”.”  [Wangan & Jagalingou People, Our Fight]

BuzzFeed News, 18 May 2017:


Human rights lawyer and adjunct professor of law at Macquarie University, George Newhouse, said Brandis' intervention was using native title law against Indigenous Australians rather than assisting them.

"This is a contemptible intervention from a pro-mining government to deny the legal rights of Indigenous people under the Native Title Act 1993," he told BuzzFeed News.

"[The government's] power is being used to obstruct Indigenous land claimants. This discriminatory law only affects Indigenous Australians. The rights of Indigenous people continue to be stripped away for the benefit of big coal miners."

Greens Deputy Leader and Senator for Queensland, Larissa Waters, slammed the intervention, saying the government had sided with Adani over traditional owners.

"Brandis’ attempt to push a bill through the Senate that was designed to ram through the Adani coal mine against the wishes of the local Wangan & Jagalingou people failed, so now he is interfering in their court case," she told BuzzFeed News.

"This isn’t about good reform to Native Title it’s about making things as easy as possible for Adani at the expense of the land rights of First Australians".

Shadow attorney-general Mark Dreyfus said Labor supports the government's proposed amendments to the Native Title act, but declined to comment on Brandis' intervention.


Senator Brandis’ intervention follows his second failure to rush through changes to the Native Title Act. The Attorney General has asked the Court to not make a ruling, but wait for the political process around the Native Title Bill to conclude. The Bill has not passed the Senate because of a lack of consultation with Traditional Owners around the country, and concern about key provisions.

Senior spokesperson for the Wangan and Jagalingou (W&J) Traditional Owners Council, Adrian Burragubba, said, “The Attorney General has made an extraordinary and political intervention in matters before the court. Intervening in our case shows Brandis is working in billionaire Adani’s interests, not ensuring the proper administration of justice. Again, Brandis is making Native Title all about Adani’s mine instead of good law reform.

“Brandis should apply himself to good law reform, and let the court do its work. Instead he’s trying to influence the decisions of a judge in favour of a mining company.
“The Wangan and Jagalingou Council are seeking Federal Court orders to strike out the purported Indigenous Land Use Agreement [ILUA] filed by Adani Mining with the National Native Title Tribunal. The ILUA would authorise ‘extinguishment’ of our native title and allow the mine to proceed against our strong objections and our right to say ‘No’.

“The Federal Government has been attempting to push through amendments to the Native Title Act to overturn the ruling in McGlade and protect Adani’s interests. Along with other Traditional Owners, we  continue to demand proper consultations and the necessary time to achieve consent for Native Title amendments”, he said.

While on the other side of the country another opportunistic miner is using Native Title law for his own benefit


SYDNEY, May 18 (Reuters) - Mining magnate Andrew Forrest has used laws designed to protect indigenous land rights to stop prospectors searching for minerals on his West Australian cattle farms, angering both traditional Aboriginal landowners and mining community members.

While tensions between the competing interests of indigenous landholders, pastoral leaseholders and miners on government-controlled land are common, Forrest's approach represents one of the first known examples of a non-Aboriginal successfully using rights afforded to indigenous people to their own advantage.

Native title is a legal doctrine in Australia that recognises indigenous rights to certain parcels of land.

Forrest's use of it is not illegal, but it adds to the fractious relationship he has with some indigenous groups. Different groups have raised concerns over Forrest's cattle interests and have battled over land rights with the company he founded and chairs - Fortescue Metals Group, the world's fourth biggest iron ore miner……

But Matthew Slack, the head of the Buurabalayji Thalanyji Aboriginal Corp which oversees native title for the indigenous landowners, said it was "pretty rich" for Forrest to use rights designed to protect indigenous interests.

Thalanyji were also concerned about cattle numbers and water use at Forrest's 2,400 square km (927 sq mile) Minderoo pastoral lease in Western Australia's Pilbara district, he said.

"We are disgusted with Forrest and have been for some time. Slack said. "Our dreamtime creatures can't survive because the river is so low."