Country, Culture, People, Future

National Indigenous Affairs

CATSI Amendment Bill needs your feedback

Posted: July 9th, 2021

The Australian Government is bringing forward a Bill to amend the CATSI Act in line with recommendations made in the CATSI Act Review final report, released early this year.

The National Indigenous Australians Agency (NIAA) is seeking your feedback on a draft of the CATSI Amendment Bill which has been published on the National Indigenous Australians Agency website.

Accompanying the exposure draft is a guide that maps the recommendations from the final report to the items of the exposure draft. Fact sheets are also available that outline the draft changes in each part of the CATSI Amendment Bill.

The NIAA would like feedback from stakeholders about those aspects of the Bill they support, in addition to any concerns regarding practical barriers or unintended consequences associated with implementation. The NIAA is also interested in feedback on the clarity, readability and complexity of the draft legislation.

Written submissions to CATSIActReview@niaa.gov.au can be sent until 9:00am Monday, 9 August 2021. Or you can register to attend a virtual consultation session here.

Please contact the team at CATSIActReview@niaa.gov.au or on (02) 6271 5111, if the consultation options are not accessible to you so that we can arrange an alternative mechanism for you to provide feedback.

What does Heal Country mean to you? Sean McNeair tells us

Posted: July 8th, 2021

Sean McNeair is a Malgana man from Gutharraguda, Shark Bay. His message in this video covers only a small part of what healing and caring for Country means for Sean.

We ask you to take one minute of time to watch, listen, learn, think, and share – what does Heal Country mean to you?

Thanks to Ben Pankhurst from Bush Heritage for sharing some of his vision to be used in this video.

#healcountry #heritageprotectionforlife#naidocweek2021 #naidocweek #bushheritage #YMAC

Celebrating NAIDOC Week – Heal Country

Posted: July 6th, 2021

This year’s national NAIDOC theme, Heal Country! calls for everyone to continue to recognise the uniqueness of our lands, our waters, our sacred sites and seek greater protections and for Aboriginal cultural heritage.

The right to protect Country and culture is fundamental.

At Yamatji Marlpa Aboriginal Corporation, YMAC, ‘Heal Country’ perfectly describes the goal that our work aims to achieve.

Everyone has a role to play in healing Country. YMAC strongly believes one key part of this process is reform of the laws underpinning heritage protection – including Western Australia’s Aboriginal Heritage Act (1972). We have been actively advocating for planned new heritage laws to Legislate the right to say ‘no’, consultation rights and the need for Aboriginal heritage to be considered early in a development process and continue to be considered as new information comes to light, both before and after agreements have been made.

The proposed new legislation – the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Bill – represents a once-in-a generation opportunity to make sure Aboriginal cultural heritage gets the recognition it deserves, and to find the right balance between heritage protection and economic outcomes for all parties.

During NAIDOC Week we will share what ‘Heal Country’ means to some of our members and important advocates.

We encourage you to share pictures of your Country and let us at YMAC know, what does ‘Heal Country’ mean to you.

Don’t forget to tag us in your posts!

And if you or someone you know has a special story you would like to share please email us at editor@ymac.org.au so we can get in touch.

YMAC supports new First Nations Talent Portal

Posted: June 21st, 2021

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) has launched its First Nations Talent Portal. The portal represents the ABC’s commitment to undertaking braver, more impactful action.

As it grows, the portal will become an invaluable resource for the ABC by enabling story-makers and content producers access to the right people for their projects.

YMAC supports the ABC’s commitment to amplifying the voices of First Nations people across their projects from behind the scenes to in front of the camera. This is a positive step to responsibly and appropriately representing Aboriginal culture and history.

We encourage First Nations people to connect directly to the ABC by submitting an interest directly through the Talent Portal.

YMAC News Issue 42 available now

Posted: May 7th, 2021

The latest edition of YMAC News is now available on our website. To read it or download it, click here.

Remembering the 1946 Pilbara Strike

Posted: April 20th, 2021

2021 marks the 75th anniversary of the landmark Pilbara pastoral strike which is now recognised as Australia’s longest strike. 

On May 1, 1946 around 800 Aboriginal workers and their families walked off stations across the Pilbara where they were being forced to work. This action was despite great danger and lasted for months following, to protest poor wages and living conditions, and their battle for justice.

They had been disinherited of their land by the squatters and government and forced to work for decades on the stations for meagre rations, and little or no wages; their lives subject to the exploitation and whims of the pastoralists, government agents and legislators.

Many strikers said they lived no better than slaves.

A large number of workers and their families joined the strike during the Port Hedland races weekend in August 1946, after they travelled to the track on the horse trucks and by train. When the races finished, they refused requests by the squatters to return to the stations. Peter Coppin had a gun pulled on him by a policeman during one stand-off. Another strike leader, Ernie Mitchell was arrested but later released.

The legendary Daisy Bindi led around 90 people off Roy Hill station in a courageous quest to join the strike.

How it happened:

The idea to strike was first proposed by Don McLeod, a white miner and fencer who witnessed the treatment of Aboriginal workers and became increasingly disturbed by the inequality and exploitation. He made strong connections with the Aboriginal men working for him, and he paid them good wages for their work. Word spread among station workers about the difference in their treatment and an undercurrent of discontent grew.

McLeod explained the strike concept to a large Law meeting held at Skull Springs in 1942, where it was proposed to hold a mass station walk-off when the Second World War was over. An ingenious plan was hatched to spread the strike date to the station workers. May 1 was chosen because it was International Workers’ Day. This date was marked with a cross on hand-drawn calendars, and secretly delivered to the station workers by Lawmen and strike leaders, Dooley Bin Bin and Clancy McKenna.

What happened?

For three years the strikers endured great hardship, physical danger, violence and threats. There were chainings and gaolings of strikers, including Clancy McKenna and Dooley Bin Bin, and McLeod was fined for ‘inciting natives’.

During this period they set up camps across the Pilbara, including at Two Mile, Four Mile, Twelve Mile (Tjalku Wara) and Moolyella, where families and groups lived and ‘yandied’ or mined for tin and minerals, such as beryl and tantalite, to sell for food and clothing. They also collected and bagged oyster shell along the coast, buffel seed and goats skins to earn enough money to survive.

At the same time as protesting against their treatment by the pastoralists, the strikers were questioning the laws that governed their lives; laws that meant they had no right to marry without permission from the ‘Protector of Natives’, no right to demand wages for their work, no right to education, no right to enter towns after dusk, and no right to vote.

The strikers received moral and financial support for their cause from a number of organisations. Don McLeod enlisted the help of the Communist Party of which he was a member, and the Seamen’s Union which placed a black ban on the loading of wool, putting pressure on the pastoralists to pay a minimum wage to their Aboriginal workers. Churches and women’s Christian groups in Perth also helped raise funds and awareness of the strikers’ purpose. The issue was raised at the United Nations as well.

What was achieved?

The strikers stood firm, and their bravery and determination finally forced changes that helped initiate the restoration and recognition of their basic human rights.

In 1959, the strikers formed two groups – the Nomads and the Mugarinya group – these groups went on to own stations, including Strelley, Warralong and Yandeyarra.

While the strike is recognised as concluding in 1949, there was no official ending. There are people who still claim to be on strike as they never went back to work on the stations.

The strike – sometimes called the ‘Black Eureka’- has been described by Senator Pat Dodson (former Chair of the Council for Reconciliation), as “an important and inspiring milestone in the national battle for justice, rights, equality and recognition for Indigenous people”.

In 2010, the new suburb of ‘Bonner’ (after Senator Neville Bonner) was created in Canberra – it has four street names of some of the famous strikers to honour the 1946 Pilbara station strike – Clancy McKenna Crescent, Dooley Bin Bin Street, Peter Coppin Street, and Don McLeod Lane.

Words from those who led:

“We didn’t live in houses or anything. We had to go down to the creek like kangaroos. We just want to be treated like human beings, not cattle.”[1] Nyangumarta woman and strike leader, the late Daisy Bindi, who led the walk-off from Roy Hill station.

“We want to better ourselves. We just want better conditions…We’ve been working for the Squatters long enough and all we get is a chunk of meat, corned beef, dry bread. We want to walk off all that.”[2] Nyamal Lawman and strike leader, the late Clancy McKenna.

“We lived no better than the cattle but we worked all day for the right to do even that! We were skinny people back then, and we lived through plenty of starvation times. Things are different now but that’s because of the fight we had…that bloody big battle.”[3] Nyamal Lawman and strike leader, the late Peter Coppin.

“We will have hard times, but for our own people, not like now, hard times, for the whitefellas with their cattle stations and sheep stations. We will win.”[4] Nyangumarta Lawman and strike leader, Dooley Bin Bin.

“…the road will be hard and very long, but don’t ever despair. The Police will be against us, the squatters, perhaps Government, and there will be gaol and chains and all sorts of rough times but we can do it.”[5] The miner and fencer, the late Don McLeod, who helped the strikers.

Words from family members:

“When I found our family and took my Mum home to meet everyone, we were so proud to learn about the strike. We heard great stories about the mob working around the Pilbara. I remember our old people saying, ‘We still on strike.’ We can’t  forget their bravery and my grandchildren need to know more of this story.” Rose Murray, Nyangumarta woman, former Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation member.

I think what was remarkable was the way our mob were so super organised – the       bike story is incredible! What’s been handed down to us and our pride in our forefathers and mothers, crosses the Pilbara. It is powerful but quiet – it connects  all the mobs. It drives us forward. Michelle Broun, Yindjibarndi women and curator, Australian First Nations Art, John Curtin Gallery.

YMAC thanks Working Group member, writer and playwright Jolly Read for her contribution to this story.  

Want to know about Anniversary events? 

Join the ‘Remembering the 1946 Pilbara Strike’ Facebook page,

Learn: www.wangkamaya.org.au/pilbara-history-and-culture/01-the-1946-strike 

www.pilbarastrike.org

Quotes referenced from:

[1] https://www.facebook.com/ABCIndigenous/videos/568005010740876/

[2] Somewhere Between Black and White, Kingsley Palmer, Clancy McKenna, The MacMillan Company, 1978

[3] Kangkushot, The Life of Nyamal Lawman, Peter Coppin, ASP- AIATSIS, 1998, Revised 2014.

[4] Yandy, Donald Stuart, Georgian House, Melbourne, 1959.

[5] Ibid.

Native Title Report 2021

Posted: March 16th, 2021

There is still time to contribute to the Native Title Report 2021 to influence native title reform.

The survey will be open until Friday 19 March.

The Native Title Report 2021 will focus on women’s voices and stories about their experiences in the native title system. The report, which will be tabled in Federal Parliament, will inform the Government in its native title reform agenda as well as those in the sector who play a role in advocating for change.

There are 3 ways to contribute:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women with experience in the native title system are invited to complete a survey. The survey will now stay open until 19 March 2021. The survey is smartphone-friendly.
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and all other people and organisations with experience and expertise in the native title system are invited to make a submission. This is an opportunity to provide more detailed information than the survey. The guided submission is also open until 19 March 2021.
  • You can also upload your own document as a submission, or email us your comments directly at nativetitle@humanrights.gov.au  There are PDF and Word versions of the submission available on the Have Your Say webpage to assist you if needed.

CATSI Act Review Final Report

Posted: February 17th, 2021

The review of the Corporations (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) Act 2006 (CATSI Act) has been completed, with the final report published on the National Indigenous Australians Agency’s (NIAA’s) website.

The final report reflects the feedback received during the second phase of consultation and makes 72 recommendations outlining changes to the CATSI Act, suggesting further consideration of some aspects of the CATSI Act and identifying additional support that could be provided to corporations incorporated under the CATSI Act.

The Australian Government is considering the Final Report with a view to bringing forward a bill to amend the CATSI Act in due course.

 

Federal Government passes reforms of Native Title Legislation

Posted: February 8th, 2021

The Senate has passed the Native Title Legislation Amendment Bill 2020 (the Bill) with a specific date to be announced of when the new measures will commence.

The Bill amends the Native Title  Act 1993 (Native Title Act) and the Corporations (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) Act 2006 (CATSI Act) to improve native title claims resolution, agreement-making, Indigenous decision-making and dispute resolution processes, including to:

  1. give greater flexibility to native title claim groups to set their internal processes;
  2. streamline and improve native title claims resolution and agreement-making;
  3. allow historical extinguishment over areas of national and state park to be disregarded where the parties agree;
  4. increase the transparency and accountability of registered native title bodies corporate (RNTBCs); and
  5. create new pathways to address native title-related disputes arising following a native title determination.

Time will be given to ensure that native title claim groups have time to consider the effect of the changes on how their claim will be managed, and to change their internal processes if necessary.

The Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations (ORIC) can provide information, guidance and support around the process to update rule books.

The NIAA will be producing a factsheet on the new requirements which will be made available to RNTBCs and Prescribed Bodies Corporate (PBCs).

The ORIC has also agreed to develop a generic rule book template that native title holders could consider when responding to the new requirements.

Please read the joint media release for further information.