Advocating for Indigenous Genius, Indigeneity and Wellbeing

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#SuicidePrevention My meeting with @GerryGeorgatos as he spent time across the Kimberely to engage and to preliminarily listen to what people had to say.

An excerpt from “Kimberley suicide rate, one of the world’s highest – Yiriman is the way to go” by Gerry Georgatos


I met with Broome-based LGBTI advocate, Dameyon Bonson. Mr Bonson is a well-respected researcher and consultant in the field of LGBTI. LGBTI First Peoples face various pressures that can only be relieved by public discussions. Mr Bonson said that in general, 3 to 4 per cent of any population identifies as LGBTI, and therefore it is likely that 3 to 4 per cent of First Peoples identify as LGBTI.

Determining the size of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender population is difficult. However, recent studies by Gates and Newport (2012) in the United States estimated the percentage of Americans who identify as LGBTI at approximately 3.4 per cent.

According to the ABS, “Within the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population there were an estimated 294,000 children and young people, representing 4.2 per cent of the total Australian population aged 0 to 24 years.” Mr Bonson said that in using the American figure of 3.4 per cent, there are approximately 10,000 First Peoples who are LGTBI “and whose needs are yet to be identified.”

“They cannot be forgotten.”

Mr Bonson suggested that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders who are LGTBI “are at four times the risk of suicide than Indigenous Australians whom are not LGTBI, whose suicide risk is already higher than the general Australian population.”

“LGBTI people have the highest rates of suicidality of any population in Australia (LGBTI Health 2013), and my placing this overall data in the context of suicide makes a compelling argument that a response is required. Conversely, for Indigenous Australians the rate of suicide is ‘more than 4.2 per cent, or one in every 24 Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islanders (The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Strategy 2013).”

“Health promotional programs for Indigenous, particularly those that are Government – State or Federal – have no actual Indigenous evaluation tools or methodology,” said Mr Bonson.

“Recently, at the Australasian Evaluation Society Conference in Darwin, I participated with 30 other Indigenous Australians to workshop what Indigenous evaluations should look like for Indigenous evaluators.”

“Therefore, current Government Indigenous programs are not meeting standards that we need to develop.”

“Mr Bonson is promoting the development of a Black Rainbow organisation, with more to be announced at a later time. However such a concentrated organisation should be able to generate educative discussions.”

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Indigenous evaluation, as the ontological and epistemological expression of the lived reality of Indigenous peoples, as theory and as practice, is however, increasingly being recognised as a legitimate discipline in its own right.

Just an FYI there is no Indigenous Evaluation Standard that is recognised. So how did programs get assessed to be cut and by what measure.

How do I know this? I was at the Australasian Evaluation Society Pre-Conference “Evaluation by us, for us” Workshop in Darwin (Sept14) work shopping how one would look.

“Health promotional programs for Indigenous, particularly those that are Government – State or Federal – have no actual Indigenous evaluation tools or methodology,” said Mr Bonson.

“Recently, at the Australasian Evaluation Society Conference in Darwin, I participated with 30 other Indigenous Australians to workshop what Indigenous evaluations should look like for Indigenous evaluators.”

“Therefore, current Government Indigenous programs are not meeting standards that we need to develop.” The Stringer October 2014

So unless a program has an Indigenous evidenced based built in evaluation that is specifically for Indigenous improvements in school attendance, Indigenous retention rates and NAPLAN (literacy and numeracy) or to decrease Indigenous incarceration rates, recidivism, police call-outs and crime or increase the % of Indigenous adults employed in a real job (what is a real job anyway – truck driving in a mine ?). You have no basis to judge the outcome of such programs that is relevant to Indigenous people. You can’t measure the length of a road with by the gallon. So you can not measure the success of an Indigenous program based on non-Indigenous evaluations – that’s why the data doesn’t show the gap closing during the operation of the program.

“Evaluation by us, for us” : What is required of AES to strengthen, advance and support Indigenous Evaluation? – A workshop for Indigenous participants was presented by Amohia Boulton; Whakauae Research for Māori Health and Development; New Zealand.

Amohia Boulton; Whakauae Research for Māori Health and Development; New Zealand – The AES Constitution currently makes no mention of the unique place Indigenous peoples have in the make-up of societies in and around the Pacific, including Australia and New Zealand. Indigenous evaluation, as the ontological and epistemological expression of the lived reality of Indigenous peoples, as theory and as practice, is however, increasingly being recognised as a legitimate discipline in its own right. Furthermore, Indigenous evaluation – evaluation undertaken by Indigenous peoples for Indigenous peoples – is being demanded by Indigenous communities who are often in receipt of services and programmes developed without their input or consultation. Indigenous evaluation is regarded by these communities therefore, as an emancipatory and transformative force.

Despite the constitutional “silence” on the issue of Indigenous peoples, the AES Board is keen to advance and support the field of Indigenous evaluation as appropriate, and seeks guidance on how to do this from Indigenous participants at the 2014 conference. In this facilitated workshop for Indigenous participants only, workshop attendees will be asked to identify the key issues in Indigenous Evaluation in our wider Pacific region; how the AES can best support the growth and advancement of Indigenous Evaluation in our region; and how the AES can best support the growth and development of Indigenous members of the Society.

The Australasian Evaluation Society

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Brilliant Analysis by Kirrily Jordan “Andrew Forrest’s Indigenous employment project: Do the arguments stack up?”​

“The son of legendary rights activist, Dr Gary Foley, Roxley Foley said to a large audience in Adelaide last week, “We are facing the darkest times I have known. We are facing attacks from all quarters. The (Andrew) Forrest review is one of the worst attacks I have ever seen.” –  Freedom summit to galvanise First People by Gerry Georgatos

An entree to Kirrily Jordan “Andrew Forrest’s Indigenous employment project: Do the arguments stack up?“​


While the Forrest Review has been billed as a review of Indigenous training and employment, it is important to note that it has clearly been framed with the specific activities of the Australian Employment Covenant and GenerationOne in mind. Its overarching purpose has been to provide recommendations ‘to ensure Indigenous training and employment services are properly targeted and administered to connect unemployed Indigenous people with real and sustainable jobs, especially those that have been pledged to Indigenous people by Australian business’ (in Forrest 2014, p. 224, emphasis added). While the jobs pledged under the Covenant are not referred to explicitly, the connection to the Covenant and GenerationOne’s VTEC model are clear.


The Review states that employers have now made 61,000 pledges under the Covenant and 18,700 of these pledges have been filled. Further, it says that of the 16,000 jobs for which there are available data, 75 per cent have been retained to 26 weeks (Forrest 2014, p. 38). As noted in the previous discussion about the Covenant, these figures rely on fairly limited reporting from employers to GenerationOne, and do not identify whether the employees have moved out of unemployment to fill these positions or simply moved across from other jobs. Nor do they indicate whether the same employee has filled more than one of these positions over time. Moreover, even if we take the numbers at face value, using them to support the argument for replacing existing services with VTECs is curious because, until January 2014, the only VTEC in operation was FMG’s facility that has so far assisted around 1,000 Indigenous people into jobs (Fortescue Metals Group Ltd 2014). That would suggest that the remaining placements have been possible within existing arrangements including JSA and IEP.

FULL ANALYSIS “Andrew Forrest’s Indigenous employment project: Do the arguments stack up?”​

PDF ARPA: Andrew Forrest’s Indigenous employment project: Do the arguments stack up?​

PDF Creating Parity

Responses from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community and some of our true leaders.

Plea For PM To Step In And Fix Indigenous Affairs Policy And Funding Chaos

National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community leaders have called on Prime Minister Tony Abbott to personally step in to address the federal Indigenous Affairs policy and funding environment, which they say is “descending into chaos”.

Representatives of the elected Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representative body National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples (Congress), National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services (NATSILS), National Family Violence Prevention Legal Services (NFVPLS), National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO), Secretariat for National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care (SNAICC), and the Healing Foundation – supported by the Australian Council of Social Services (ACOSS) – met in Canberra today to discuss the detrimental impact of the 2014 Federal Budget on key organisations and frontline services.

NACCHO Response – Forrest Review, Creating Parity

However, NACCHO finds the Review lacking in key areas, and encourages the Government’s subsequent response to demonstrate greater consideration of the following:

  1. i) The systemic and infrastructural barriers to achieving good health and workforce participation, with reference to geographic differences;
  2. ii) the fundamental role of the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHS) sector in addressing the critical issues raised; and

iii) the lack of focus and ongoing funding on health preventative programs and initiatives, particularly those delivered through National Partnership Arrangements.

PDF NACCHO Response Submission

Freedom summit to galvanise First People by Gerry Georgatos

The call for a National Summit of Traditional Owners announced last week by three icons of the First People’s struggle, Tauto Sansbury, Geoff Clark and Michael Mansell, has gained momentum. They have been inundated by the true leaders of First People from all around the continent. Many Elders believe there is a tumultuous political climate and that they are seeing an inevitable fast-tracked land grab by this Government and by coteries of already wealthy predatory carpetbaggers. They believe that they are at the crossroads, that if they do not stand up united and strike back that what little has been won in the last 50 years will be lost forever.

and from Croakey – the Crikey Health Blog 

Indigenous leaders plea to PM Abbott to step in on “chaotic” policy, funding environment

The group issued a statement saying that, despite Government assurances to the contrary, Budget cuts to Indigenous Affairs were impairing the ability of community-controlled organisations to deliver frontline services in critical areas such as legal assistance, family violence, children, youth and women, drug and alcohol misuse, and health.



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Why we need safe houses for Aboriginal men. They are victims too.

Pain of Aboriginal men abused by their women By Corey Sinclair


Tony Linn co-ordinator of Ingkintja Men’s Health.

DOMESTIC violence against men is just as common as it is for women in some Aboriginal communities.

But Aboriginal men are hesitant to speak up because they fear being “shame jobs”.

Former Pioneer footballer Geoffrey Miller says there is a lack of services in Central Australia that can effectively deal with these issues men face.

“When I was working with DASA (Drug & Alcohol Services Association), it was the main problem we had,” he said.

“Women have their own legal aid and shelter — it’s all in place, but for men — there’s no shelter.

“What we used to call the men’s shelter was the prison cause that was the only place to go, even if it’s not their fault.

“If they stepped off their track, they ended up in prison — not a shelter.”

Miller, who previously won a Prime Minister’s Award for providing excellence in service to the community, said a men’s shelter would address a lot of issues that happen in town, like the anti-social behaviour and drinking in the streets.

“When men get kicked out of a home, the worst thing is they walk around the streets and get themselves in that position again,” he said.

“If they had a shelter to go to, they could spend a night there and they’d find where some of the anger in these men are coming from.

“That’s where the big downfall is when they get depressed, they have nowhere to go.

“There’s little things no one has spent time to assess.”

Miller believes the root of the problem is the shift in Aboriginal culture from the men being the bread earners to the women.

“Back in the old days, men were the head of the family but nowadays, that’s taken away from them with pensions and not enough jobs,” he said.

“Men feel lower cause they’re not getting the income his wife is getting, and some wives or partners can be really nasty in that aspect.

“They keep them in their place cause they know they can.

“The men, a lot of the time, will stay cause there’s kids involved or they have nowhere to go.”

But the problem is not just restricted to Aboriginal men.

Miller knows a lot of white men going through similar problems.

“It’s across the board,” he said.

Congress’ Ingkintja Men’s Health’s senior psychologist Max Yffer said they often see men who are victims of interpersonal violence.

“The vast majority are women but it is very difficult for all people to come forward, and that is true across the whole community — not just Aboriginal people,” he said.

“But particularly with Aboriginal people, there is a very strong sense of shame.”

Some of the men who are referred to Mr Yffer as offenders or as the protagonist will often say their female partners had a go at them as well.

“I think there is a broader problem of men feeling a bit lost in their role in society, particularly some men who are caught between a couple of different cultures,” he said.

“Not wanting to steer away from their traditional culture and become more urbanised.”

Mr Yffer agrees that a men’s shelter would be beneficial for Alice Springs.

“It’s something that is talked about a lot,” he said.

“There is the Salvation Army’s men’s hostel but it’s not quite the same as the women’s shelter.

“It doesn’t have quite the same protective aura the women’s shelter does so I think there is definitely a need for a place for men to feel safer.”

Domestic violence related assault in Alice Springs rose 15.2 per cent in 2013.

It is believed one in three victims of family violence and abuse are male.

A study by Edith Cowan University (ECU) confirmed that abused men have almost no services to help them despite also suffering from physical, emotional, verbal, sexual financial and social abuse like women.

Pain of Aboriginal men abused by their women

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I have a friend. She’s kinda amazing. Her name is Sharon Davis @_AboriginalEng

I have a friend. Her name is Sharon Davis. Her home is the red dirt and blue seas on Yawuru-Djugun country back in the North West of Australia, the Kimberley. She is studying an MSc in Applied Linguistics and Second Language Acquisition at the University of Oxford. This is her second speech, yes her second, requested by High Commission. It was given to an audience of Indigenous students as part of Aurora Indigenous Scholars Study Tour. I share her words of inspiration with you today.

Sharon Davis :

Good evening everyone. We are here this evening to welcome some of Australia’s best and brightest scholars who have been globetrotting the world as part of the Aurora Indigenous Scholars Study Tour.

What an incredible experience for you all; I congratulate you on being chosen to represent your universities, your communities and your People. I can relate to the feelings of being overwhelmed, exhilarated, nervous, and extremely tired – all rolled into a hot-mess of meetings, events and seminars. It is a whirlwind, but a very valuable one that you will never forget.

I attended the Study Tour last year, and found it to be a turning point in what had been a busy few years being a mum and a wife, and studying for my Bachelor of Education at Notre Dame in Broome. Before I went on the trip, all I knew about these prestigious universities was what I had seen on the television or in films. It was so far removed from my reality of red dirt and blue seas on Yawuru-Djugun country back home. Had it not been for this tour, there is no way I would have dreamed I would apply for, let alone be offered places at, two of the worlds top universities. And now, here I am, this Kimberley girl, studying an MSc in Applied Linguistics and Second Language Acquisition at the University of Oxford.

I just want to let you know that to doubt yourself is sort of normal. How often have you told yourself on this trip “There’s no way I could do this, there’s no way I will get accepted here, this is not for me”? When Aboriginal people have been told for years, that they are no good and will amount to nothing, I think we sometimes end up believing it. Although we say this to ourselves, it is absolutely not true. Have a look around you. In this room are dozens of brilliant Aboriginal people who smash that ridiculous idea out of the ballpark. You can do it. You will do it.

A few nights ago, we watched John Pilger’s documentary, Utopia. It showed the harsh realities of what life is like for many Aboriginal Australians. I urge everyone to seek it out and watch it. But while doing so, reflect on the diversity of Aboriginal Australia and the amazing things Indigenous people like Eddie Mabo, Marcia Langton, Roberta Sykes, Charlie Perkins, Patrick Dodson, and more recently Nova Peris – to name a few – have done and keep doing for our People. And have a look at the many Aboriginal faces in the room this evening, and remember them – for they will be doing the same. We have to make sure the conversation is not always about deficit, but also one that includes the stories of strength.

Personally, that documentary was not an eye opener, but a reinforcement of why I am here. Being an Aboriginal person, and one who has been fortunate enough to have a solid education, a roof over my head and food on my table every single night – unlike many of our People back home – I feel I have a duty, a responsibility, an actual obligation to be the best I can be here, to make life more equitable for our Mob.

For me, this amazing Oxford experience is a means to an end.

I could have stayed at home, on my Country, with my family, surrounded by sky blue sea, teaching in my classroom, eating bluebone and rice every weekend. But, if I can go home, to my Country with the Oxford stamp on my business card, and that it will mean I have a better chance at getting my foot in the door towards making real educational change for my People – that is why I do this. Not just for the experience. Not for prestige, high teas or Harry Potter dinners. I do it for our kids and our People. So, in closing, I just want to say, be proud. Work hard. Aim high. Don’t let anyone (not even yourself) make you think you can’t. Because you can. You’ve already proven it.

Good luck on the rest of the tour. I hope you enjoy Cambridge – but it will obviously not be as great as Oxford. Congratulations again and welcome to the rest of your journey.

Thank you for listening.

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The ‘new frontier’: Emergent Indigenous identities and social media (facebook).

The ‘new frontier’: Emergent Indigenous identities and social media by Bronwyn Carlson

“My research has identified cases where Aboriginal Facebook users feel the need to overly ‘Aboriginalise’ their profile page so other Aboriginal people will ‘see’ them as Aboriginal, and instances where anxiety is expressed when profiles do not demonstrate Aboriginality at first glance (Lumby 2010).”

The ‘new frontier’: Emergent Indigenous identities and social media.

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“The Power of Introverts in a world that can’t stop talking” – Characteristics and Strengths

Here are some of the characteristics and strengths of introverts, described by *Susan in her book (with supportive evidence and research).

If you read them carefully you will realise what Susan means when she says, “The Power of Introverts in a world that can’t stop talking.” :-

Recharge their batteries by being alone (more likely to meditate and do self-reflection)
Drawn to the inner world of thought and feeling.
Listen more than they talk, think before they speak and often feel that they express themselves better in writing than speaking.
Likely to be creative, patient and persevering
High reactive, prone to worry and live in their heads
Excellent artists, writers, scientists and thinkers (I would add Consultants and coaches).
Good at observing self and others.
Good at focused complex problem solving
Philosophical or spiritual in their orientation
Highly empathetic.
Do not like small talk
More likely to feel guilty because of sensitivity
Passion for thought and attention to subtlety
Good at predicting trends and future
Have more determination and give attention to detail
More likely to be driven by inner reward (passion and satisfaction) than outer rewards.
More likely to focus on their own instincts and have less of herd mentality.
Likely to focus more on substance than style.
Don’t like to attend to many people at once (e.g. partying)
Like serious discussions and not very fond of casual talk.
Tend to have one or two deep interests and passions.
Have good concentration and insight
Good at strategizing and spotting problems and,
In my opinion, good at collaborating and creating win-win situations.


Susan Cain “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking”