World music, climate disruption and social justice news
Category Archives: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
Social justice is about making sure that every Australian -Indigenous and non-Indigenous – has choices about how they live and the means to make those choices. It also means recognising the distinctive rights that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders hold as the original peoples of this land.
Many bands hit gold at some point. It might be an era when personnel meshed brilliantly; a concert when repertoire, audience and venue all combined for a stunning show; the final mix of a recording on which they know they really nailed it.
Now I have a third golden moment to add: the launch of Makarrata Live at the closing evening of WOMADelaide 2021, in which Midnight Oil collaborated with great First Nations artists such as Leah Flanagan, Troy Cassar-Daley, Frank Yamma and Bunna Lawrie.
Revelation is a word closely associated with WOMADelaide for me.
Sure, when the artist announcement is released, I’ll be familiar with a few of the headliners. But each year I go along confident that it will be a weekend of surprises, as an array of instant new favourites are revealed.
Opening night was always going to be an emotionally-charged event. Archie Roach came on stage for his 7th and final WOMADelaide show – more repeat performances at WOMADelaide than any other artist – and the crowd responded with a standing ovation before he’d sung a note.
And he did it – as he has at recent concerts – accompanied by an oxygen cylinder, to boost his airways as he copes with obstructive pulmonary disease. Ten years ago he’d recovered from a stroke and also having half a cancerous lung removed. Last year – just before his induction to the ARIA Hall of Fame – Archie was in ICU for treatment and then performed with a medical team on hand backstage.
But Archie’s big heart and yearning to bring people together through storytelling in his unmistakeable voice is as powerful as ever.
What do children in the Central African Republic and the Australian Northern Territory have in common?
Children in both countries are likely to suffer from life-threatening wasting which means that they do not weigh enough for their height. In fact, the situation is worse in Australia – 11% compared to 7.4% in Africa. Worryingly, wasting is a strong predictor of early childhood mortality.
A few months ago, I left my home in Adelaide and travelled up to Maules Creek, New South Wales. I’ve never been much of a wanderer, but when I heard that Whitehaven was working on the largest coal mine currently under construction in Australia in the middle of the Leard State Forest, I realised that things were pretty serious.
Neo-liberalism is a hungry beast and this 21st Century strain of capitalism is shaping the agenda for control of Aboriginal lands.
You only have to listen to Professor Marcia Langton’s Boyer Lectures on ABC Radio or read Noel Pearson’s sermons on acquisition to see how this virulent form of free-market fundamentalism has gathered influential adherents, including policy makers in both political parties.
Australian Government policy is heavily influenced by neo-liberalism through its extraordinary emphasis on managing access for mining companies to resources on Aboriginal lands. This involves controlling what is still perceived as ‘the Aboriginal problem’ and forcing a social transition from traditional values and Cultural practice to ‘mainstream’ modernism of a particular brand. It also involves displacing many Aboriginal people from their traditional lands and concentrating them in ‘growth towns’.