Stop the closure of Remote Communities

Stop the closure of Remote Communities
Indigenous leaders are speaking out about Western Australia's plan and the impact on traditional culture

Senior Anangu law man, Murray George has spoken out about the Australian Government’s plans to forcibly close remote Aboriginal communities.

We are worried for our culture. Some people have already lost their culture. But today we are still alive and strong, and I am talking for Aboriginal people.

Federal and state governments have got to understand and listen to our people, because our culture is still alive, for all Aboriginal people in Australia.

If they close the communities, they close our culture. We will lose our way and it’s gone forever. There is no way to bring that back. Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara is still alive today with the language, story and Tjukurpa (dreaming). We are here for everybody. We are important to Australia.

We want the SA Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Minister Maher to talk to us ‘proper way’ and not decide our future from Adelaide. He needs to support us to decide our future. We are in the bush, we want Minister Maher to come and sit down with us, to work together, for him to understand our way, our Law. We want Prime Minister Tony Abbott to support Aboriginal people and our Law and Culture.

Closing communities without talking to Aboriginal people, and without any plan, is really a bad thing to do. It’s not good. Our life, our ancestors lives, and our children’s lives is not a ‘lifestyle choice’, it is our country, our family, our law and it is our culture. How can communities of poor Aboriginal people be closed, while the government supports tax rorts for the super rich.

How can poor Aboriginal people be moved off our land, so that mining companies who are given large government tax breaks, can dig up our country? I’m from APY, where we still are alive with language and Law and culture. We are worried for our communities and Aboriginal people around Australia today. The Governments should help people from Aboriginal communities and work with us.

I am Murray George, from APY. This is my hope.”

This post first appeared on the facebook page for Anangu Pitjatjantjara Yankunytjatjara Lands

Ngintaka Inma. Murray George and boys.
Photograph by Fernando M. Gonçalves

Posted by Two Brothers Walking on Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Murray is also featured in the documentary, Two Brothers Walking, about spiritual people in spiritual country. It reveals the creative and regenerative force of Rainbow Serpent Dreaming that extends from central Australia to Far North Queensland. Traditional owners gave the filmmakers privileged access as they visit sacred country to record stories and practices for the first time. The film chronicles the journey of Murray, who comes from Wanampi (Rainbow Serpent)  and John Hartley, whose country is Far North Queensland (FNQ) where Rainbow Serpent is know as Yirmbal by the Kuku Yananji or Kurriyala, the more general name for carpet snake. Murray and John’s coming together was a natural and obvious one in the Aboriginal world. They are both of Rainbow Serpent or water snake dreaming and are born of the same spirit. The journey has covered over 20,000 km. Murray and John have sat down with men and women all over Australia, carefully deliberating the endangered position of traditional culture in Australia, and taking action to prevent its extinction.

Two Brothers Walking – Trailer from David Salomon on Vimeo.

If you are in any doubt that Western Australia’s closure of up to 150  of the state’s 274 Aboriginal remote communities will have an major negative impact on the traditional Aboriginal way of life, please read this article: What happens when a remote Aboriginal community in Western Australia is ‘closed’?

Given the context that 2015 Closing the Gap Report reveals that the circumstances of many of Australia’s Indigenous Peoples are either stagnant or going backwards, the timing of this ‘initiative’ is particularly poor . Housing, health and education outcomes, as well as life expectancy of Aboriginal peoples, remain far behind that of non-Indigenous citizens on the same measures.

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