Under the Blanket

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I found this image on the Facebook page of Dr. Djiniyini Gondarra OAM, senior elder and Dhurili Clan leader of the Yolngu peoples of Northeast Arnhem Land. It represents the reality he, and  Aboriginal families, face daily.

In a recent interview, frustrated by the incapacity of successive Federal Governments to understand and respect the rights of Aboriginal people for self-determination, he said that the situation was like the Government holding a blanket over them. The rest of Australia only see the blanket. They cannot see what happens underneath.

This short edited section of a video message to the Labour Party Conference in 2011 expresses something of the frustration and sense of humiliation of the Aboriginal people, from their point of view.

Rev Dr Djiniyini Gondarra message to ALP conference, 2011. (edited section)

Rev Dr Djiniyini Gondarra responds to the ‘second Intervention’ otherwise known as ‘Stronger Futures in the NT’, a new Commonwealth Government initiative which will maintain key powers introduced through the NT Intervention. This message was screened in Sydney on Saturday December 3, at a meeting hosted by the CFMEU Indigenous Committee, “The Case Against the NT Intervention”. The meetings was part of the official Fringe program of the ALP national conference. Dr Gondarra is a Senior Elder from Elcho Island.

You put something on the spoon, and then you put the spoon in our mouth…like a child.

More recently, the present Federal Government dismissed out of hand, the considered will of the Aboriginal people for Federal political representation, expressed in the ‘Uluru Statement From the Heart’.

In doing so, I believe we see the continuing determination of colonialist interest to maintain control and superiority, while paying lip service and ‘buying off’ the original owners and custodians of the land.

I see these issues through the lens of the spiritual. Western culture seems to have cut itself off from its spiritual values, incapable of appreciating the deep meaning of ‘from the heart’, reduced to the tangibles of black letter policy and regulation to maintain the material interests of the few – making sure that the blanket of such protectionism looks beneficial to the rest of us, while hiding away the spiritual pain of the powerless beneath.

And most recently, more colour has been added to the blanket, by maintaining citizenship purity – of who can be elected to Parliament on the basis of an outdated section of the Constitution, interpreted by ‘black letter’ judges appointed by a ‘black letter’ government!

The situation of refugees on Manus Island, ‘The Pacific Solution’, is completely congruent.

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