Sacred sites being destroyed - no consultation with Nyungah People
Letter from the Nyungah Circle of Elders
From the Perth Indymedia newswire - December 13, 2006
"We are writing to you to let you know what is going on, and to ask for your assistance, your help and support concerning our Ancient Sites... some being destroyed right now as far as we know by Westralia Airports Corporation... at the International Airport."
"Nyungah/Nyoongar People will have been taken for a ride and been treated with contempt, with no regard or respect... as far as we know, going full steam ahead destroying our Sites.
"Bulldozers cannot begin to work until full consultation under the Aboriginal Heritage Act has been carried out and completed with Nyungah Elders and Custodians, and WAC has gone through all the proper processes of the Aboriginal Heritage Act..."
"Both Ministers have powers given by the Parliaments to protect Aboriginal Heritage Act of WA in 1972, the Federal Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Act in 1984.
"Australia is acting as a hypocrite. It is genocidal. It is destroying the possessions of our children and children's children and all the coming generations that is passed on to them by 400 generations before them, before Jesus Christ, before the Pyramids, before Stonehenge.
"There was no consultation with us Elders or any Nyungah People, no consideration by the Government's Aboriginal Cultural Material Committee, no consent given by the State Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Sheila McHale, under the Aboriginal Heritage Act..
"We have asked the Minister to take out a Supreme Court Injunction to stop work, and let the Court decide. No response. The law is being flouted. Look what happens to us if we flout the law.
"We have applied to the Federal Minister for Heritage, Ian Campbell, to use his powers under his Act. No response, no decision...
"The Nyungahs' Native Title has now been recognised (19 September 2006) by Justice Wilcox in the Federal Court. We were unlawfully invaded. We the Nyungah People of the Swan River and Swan Coastal Plains are the Traditional Owners and the Custodians of the Airport Land, Munday Swamp and all the other wetlands. We will inevitably one day be recognised as the Original Sovereign Owners of the Land, whether WAC, BGC, Water Corp and others accept it or not."
Perth Nyoongar native title claim upheld by Fed court - State to appeal
Thursday, December 14, 2006
Sacred sites being destroyed - no consultation with Nyungah People
December 14, 2006
"They seemed to have been left in Baxter and forgotten"
The Immigration Department (DIMA) says it is reviewing access to the roof of South Australia's Baxter detention centre after a series of self-harm incidents. Extra staff were sent to the desert detention complex and plans enacted to stop detainees jumping from roofs or making other suicide attempts.
On Monday a group of Baxter Immigration Detention centre detainees staged a hunger strike to bring attention to the severe mental health situation of four of the detainees - including two African men who jumped off Baxter's roof.
One detainee said "many detainees are still unhappy with mental health conditions" after meeting Baxter's centre manager and an Ombudsman official yesterday...
"News of attempted hangings, self inflicted slashings and detainees jumping from roofs is tragic and shocking..."
TROUBLE IN BAXTER
A young Nigerian man tried to hang himself on Tuesday morning as the Ombudsman's office was due to arrive at the centre. The man was taken to the Royal Adelaide Hospital. Thirty detainees were protesting about the Department's handling of mental health issues, after four detainees harmed themselves in the past few days.
Baxter detention centre has been in the "grip of a crisis" with six suicide attempts by long-term detainees in the past week. Marcus, a detainee at the centre said the events have been distressing. "It's been an ongoing downward slide," he said. "People are getting worse and worse.
"We want an independent psychological assessment of all detainees and the effects of immigration detention upon these people. Once this is done we would like the results to be forwarded to Canberra for assessment as to whether or not the mental health interests of detainees are served," he said.
About 30 detainees at the Baxter Detention Centre in South Australia began a hunger strike; 15 others converged on the prison's front gates in a peaceful protest to coincide with Commonwealth Ombudsman's officers.
DIMA said will review access to the roof of the maximun security detention centre after a series of self-harm incidents. The Ombudsman's office said it will assess individual complaints. The Immigration Department's Scott Kelleher said there are plans to minimise future attempts at self-harm.
"If someone is committed to climb a roof they're probably going to find a way to do so," he said. "But certainly that'll be part of the issues that we're looking at, and if there can be a way around restricting access then we'll probably look at that."
"If they are going to protest, we'd like that to be done in a peaceful and reasonable fashion," said Mr Kelleher. "And certainly we'd encourage them to discuss their issues with the centre management and with DIMA executives and hopefully resolve any issues they might have before they need to take further or more drastic action."
But the Minister has the power to prevent these tragedies and she should act now, says Greens Senator Kerry Nettle, who called for the immediate closure of Baxter in the wake of multiple attempted suicides.
"The Minister must bring on the inevitable and close Baxter now," Senator Nettle said. "Only 38 detainees remain in Baxter which has a capacity of over 500. These men could be rehoused in alternative detention in a matter of days."
"The mental health record of the Baxter Immigration Detention Facility is appalling. "These desert prisons are especially cruel because they isolate detainees from friends and family. The Government's mandatory detention policy breeds despair and in turn leads to these tragic attempted suicides," said Senator Nettle.
She said the Greens continue to insist for an end to mandatory detention of asylum seekers and the closure of desert prisons such as Baxter.
Two detainees remain in hospital after the spate of suicide attempts in the past week, the Immigration Department says, while another three have been placed in temporary alternative accommodation - motels or flats under guard - "for safety or good order reasons". Another 33 detainees remain in the centre. DIMA said the centre's executive met detainees to hear their grievances on Tuesday night.
Carmel Kavanagh, a member of the Ballarat Refugee Support Network and a visitor to Baxter, said a Tanzanian detainee, 37, who had spent 27 months in detention, climbed on the roof and tried to hang himself from an antenna. A 28-year-old Kenyan man, detained for two years, jumped from the roof on Friday with his fall broken by a guard. A 31-year-old Kenyan man, detained for two years, refused to climb down from a tree on Saturday and suffered sun stroke, she said.
On Monday night a 33-year-old Indian man who has been in detention for three years tried to hang himself. Last week a Pakistani man attempted to hang himself and was taken to hospital, where he tried to hang himself again when a guard fell asleep.
"They seemed to have been left in Baxter and forgotten," Ms Kavanagh said.
The Advertiser - Baxter hunger strike over
The Age - Spate of suicide attempts at Baxter
ABC - Baxter self-harm attempts prompt security review
ABC - Immigration official to visit hunger striking Baxter detainees
Perth Indymedia - Baxter Detention Centre shame - Multiple suicide attempts in a culture of neglect
The Australian - Detainee suicide attempts 'shocking'
Perth Indymedia - Six Hangings at Baxter
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
DECEMBER 12, 2006: Australia's litany of human rights abuses continue. Multiple suicide attempts at the Baxter Immigration Detention Centre in South Australia.
Six people have attempted to take their own lives inside the Baxter Detention centre near Port Augusta over the past week. Western Australian group Project SafeCom said detainees had tried to hang themselves, while others had slashed themselves with broken glass and mirrors. The immigration department said a number of incidents had taken place over the past few days but none had resulted in serious injury to any inmates. The latest incident occurred on Tuesday morning...
Last week, more than 30 detainees staged a protest at the Baxter maximum security complex. A Baxter detainee says a group of detainees blocked the front gate of the detention centre, and others are on a hunger strike. He says the protest follows reports of several detainees harming themselves to draw attention to their frustrations.
"It's just a process of long-term immigration detention, it's unnecessary, it's unreasonable," he said. "Any other country in the world - and Australia is a wonderful country - but any other country in the world, they detain you for 30 days, they identify you, then they release you. There is no purpose for us being here. We have been vilified by the Government in order to justify our detention. This is unfair."
The Immigration Department says there have been six incidents in the past four days. It says two detainees jumped from the roof on Friday, a detainee climbed a tree on Saturday and was treated for heat exhaustion when he came down, and on Sunday another man climbed onto a roof before coming down again.
Refugee advocates say six people have tried to take their own lives at the Baxter Detention centre in South Australia over the past week. Western Australian group Project SafeCom said the inmates had tried to hang themselves while some had also slashed themselves with broken glass and mirrors.
"These incidents are no surprise," said project SafeCom spokesman Jack Smit. "The fact remains that Australia locks up people in detention centre jails such as Baxter which represent maximum security jails, wherever they are built around Australia. Mandatory detention is a bankrupt policy and these incidents form yet another layer in the hundreds of stories that affirm this."
Despite detainees and guards being hospitalised, an immigration department spokesman said none of the recent incidents have resulted in serious injury to any inmates. The latest incident occurred on Tuesday morning and the inmate involved was currently being assessed, he said.
The Immigration Department says one detainee jumped from the roof of a transportable building while being spoken to by staff. He was taken to Baxter's medical centre and was later taken to hospital. Rob Tolsen from the ambulance service says none of the injuries are life threatening. "They treated and stabilised two patients and transported them through to the Port Augusta Hospital," he said. "About half an hour later, we received a call for a third person who had sustained some injuries and we attended the Baxter detention centre again and transported that person through to the Port Augusta Hospital also."
"Staff were speaking to the man when he jumped to the ground," a DIMA spokesman said. "A GSL officer caught the man before he reached the ground." 'GSL' are the UK-based Global Solutions Limited, who profit to the tune of $20 million a year from detaining refugees. Globally, GSL has more than 8000 employees, of whom 1064 are in Australia. Head Office for Australian operations is in Melbourne and the contract office for the Detention Services contract is located in Canberra.
A Commonwealth Ombudsman report on 20 cases of wrongful immigration detention was released last week, further exposing the ill-treatment of people inside these gulags. Some chilling accounts include: "a child is locked up by government officials because of a computer glitch. Wrong data is on the files. No charge or court order is required to put him away, and no parent need be notified..."
In reality, criminals are treated better, with more respect for their rights and due process. Adele Horin, writing in the Sydney Morning Herald says: "an out-of-control Department of Immigration is the legacy of John Howard's and Philip Ruddock's ruthlessness and Amanda Vanstone's casualness. Their combined efforts over a decade have created a culture in which at least 247 people, many of them Australian citizens or permanent residents, have been wrongly locked up in Villawood, Curtin or Baxter detention centres, or deported."
The Ombudsman examined the cases of 10 children wrongly detained - eight of whom were citizens - as well as nine adults, either citizens or residents with valid visas who were wrongly locked up by Immigration. He details the case of Mr G, who arrived here from East Timor in 1975, became schizophrenic and was detained for 43 days in 2002 even though he had a valid visa.
Nevertheless, a monstrous $300 million detention facility is almost complete on Christmas Island. Despite last year's amendment to the Migration Act to ensure children would be detained only as a matter of last resort, the centre has a children's compound and classrooms.
*There were 170 persons who had their visas cancelled under Section 501, of which 52 left Australia in 2004-05.
ABC - Detainees in Baxter protest
The West - Six SA detainees suicidal, say advocates
News Ltd - Baxter inmates in suicide bids - claim
ABC - Mental health assessment for Baxter detainee
ABC - Three hospitalised after Baxter incidents
The Age - Two detainees jump off roof at Baxter
SMH - Brutal mix: ruthlessness and carelessness
Global Solutions Limited
Perth Indymedia - Six hangings at Baxter detention centre
*Migration Act: "501s"
December 12, 2006 - Migrants forced to sit internet English exams, told to "defend the nation".
"Citizenship test nothing more than cynical wedge politics... a slap in the face"
Prime Minister John Howard has announced that new migrants will be forced to sit English and Citizenship exams under a new citizenship test being introduced by the Federal Government. Mr Howard said that the tests would apply to all new migrants who applied to become citizens. He said the tests, would require migrants to not only speak English but also be aware of Australian values.
"It is not designed in any way to keep some people out," Mr Howard said. "It is designed not as some kind of Trivial Pursuit," he said. The Prime Minister says the test is designed to make newcomers integrate.
The radical new test has sparked a furore among many Australians...
Liberal, Labor, Greens and Democrats alike are critical of the move. The Government announced the idea of compulsory English examinations earlier this year, drawing criticism from many ethnic groups - who branded them discriminatory. Legislation for the new tests is expected to be introduced to parliament early next year, which means they could be in place before the 2007 federal election.
"The weird part of all of this is a 30-question trivia quiz that the Government's wanting to impose," Labor's citizenship spokesperson, Tony Burke said "I'm more interested in whether or not someone's going to be a loyal, hardworking Australian citizen than how useful they'd be at a trivia night."
Mr Burke is sceptical about one of the values being promoted. "The final value that's been referred to there is fair play and compassion in need," he said. "And I think it's great if everyone becoming an Australian citizen believes in that, I just wish we had a Government which practiced that."
The test is also opposed by many prominent Australians including former governor-general Sir William Deane and former prime minister Malcolm Fraser. Sir William recently argued that while values and principles should be discussed, they should not be the subject of tests.
Australian Multicultural Foundation executive director Hass Dellal said many migrants needed time to adjust to life in Australia, with their main priorities being finding somewhere to live and work. "We need to allow for flexibility and diversity so they can adapt to the conditions and then access services like English language classes and orientation programs so they can learn in a comfortable amount of time," Mr Dellal said.
Democrats Senator Andrew Bartlett says the Government's motives are questionable. "I think it's just the Government doing it for some easy political points and ignoring the details," Senator Bartlett said. "The Government thinks this is a clever political move and it's the way they were always determined to go. But really the big question isn't so much what tests we should have put in place for people to be citizens, it should be what sort of assistance we provide to people to help them integrate with the Australian community."
Greens Senator Kerry Nettle fears it is designed to keep some migrants out. "There's no other reason why you would have a test," Senator Nettle said. Senator Nettle says if the Government was serious about migrants learning English they would provide more funding for language programs.
Mr Rudd says he is not opposed to the idea of an assessment for citizenship but wants to see copies of the tests people would have to sit. "I want to see what the Government has in mind specifically and I think we'd like to examine that in some detail."
Andrew Robb said migrants could sit the tests as many times as they needed to, but anyone found to be illiterate would be assessed in different ways. The new rules will mean prospective Australian citizens will have to sit an internet-based test to demonstrate their knowledge of the English language and Australia. They will also be made to sign a statement saying they are aware of and understand Australian social values including freedom of religion, equality of men and women, a commitment to obeying local laws and a respect for individual freedom.
The test will include an oral component and a computer-based test of 30 questions randomly drawn from a pool of 200 questions on English comprehension, Australian history, values and way of life.
The test also calls for prospective citizens to accept responsibility for "defending Australia should the need arise". "This is about cohesion and integration," Mr Howard said.
However, there is dissent in Howard's flock. Liberal MP Petro Georgiou is concerned that the toughening of the requirements would "create unreasonable barriers to the acquisition of citizenship." He said the new tests will prevent people who would make a wonderful contribution to Australia from becoming citizens. "The upshot may very well be that the successful settlement of immigrants is undermined rather than enhanced," Mr Georgio said.
Fellow Liberal MP Russell Broadbent said, "the questions could be very difficult for many current Australians. In fact, half of Gippsland might not be able to pass the test," he said.
Nationals senator Barnaby Joyce said: "We're trying to stop people who have militant ideas who want to destroy our nation - I've got no problem with that whatsoever," Senator Joyce said. "What has to be proven is whether an English test is going to do it - most wackos are very well-educated."
Greens Senator Kerry Nettle has criticised the new citizenship testing regime as 'nothing more than cynical wedge politics.' "If the Australian value of celebrating multiculturalism were part of this new test I think John Howard would fail it," Senator Nettle said. "These tests will prove nothing, and achieve nothing beyond wedging the Labor Party in a cynical use of race politics. She said the Prime Minister has "utterly failed to justify the need for these tests or show how they will make Australians better off."
"The Prime Minister is deliberately trying to create the false impression that there is a problem with the quality of migrants we are getting into Australia, when the reality is quite the opposite." said Senator Nettle. She said the tests are "a slap in the face for all the new migrants who have worked so hard to learn English and settle down so successfully in Australia."
The proposed test follows the release in September of a discussion paper by Parlimantary Secratary Andrew Robb. "Australian citizenship is a privilege, not a right," Mr Robb said. "This citizenship test is an important extension of the Government's broader philosophy of mutual obligation."
Over 100,000 people were granted Australian citizenship in 2005-06.
The Australian - PM faces revolt on test for migrants
SMH - How the English test will work
News Ltd - PM defends citizenship, English tests
SBS - Migrants must sit English exam
The Age - Citizen test stirs up Lib rebels
ABC - Democrats, Greens question motives behind citizenship test
Citizenship Testing Discussion Paper - DIMA
Monday, December 11, 2006
DECEMBER 11, 2006: More than 30 of Australia's key medical and social welfare groups say Indigenous Australians are dying because of a lack of political will and action. An open letter published on Monday called for state and territory governments to work with the commonwealth to increase the life expectancy of indigenous Australians. Signed by the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, Australian Red Cross and Oxfam among others, the letter calls on both tiers of government to deliver life expectancy equality within 25 years.
"We call on all Australian governments to commit to a plan to achieve health equality for indigenous peoples within 25 years," the letter says. The organisations say Indigenous Australians are dying, not because of a lack of solutions but because of a lack of political will and action.
Federal health minister Tony Abbott said they are naive...
The 37 groups paid nearly $40,000 to publish an open letter in The Australian newspaper. The letter is to the federal, state and territory governments, asking them to put more money into Indigenous health immediately.
Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander social justice commissioner, Tom Calma, says an extra $300 million per year would stop Indigenous people dying an average of 17 years earlier than other Australians.
Mr Calma says governments need to commit to raising Indigenous life expectancy to normal levels within 25 years. "Government is not really listening to what Aboriginal people and the medical profession are saying," he said."We need to be able to get the Government to start to focus a lot more to setting some fairly realistic and achievable targets and benchmarks and time frames."
The Red Cross, Amnesty International and Ian Thorpe's Fountain for Youth have signed the document. The groups say it is inconceivable that a country as wealthy as Australia cannot solve a health crisis affecting less than 3 per cent of the population.
John Paterson from the Northern Territory's peak aboriginal medical organisation, AMSANT, says there is no mystery about what is needed. "Give us the money tomorrow," he said. "We're in the position to go and recruit GPs and other clinicians that Indigenous communities are currently screaming out for."
Federal Health Minister Tony Abbott is unwilling to make any commitments. He says the plan is far too idealistic. Mr Abbott says said he hopes no one thinks that Indigenous health outcomes are a function of governmental neglect. He said the Government is "trying."
"If it was as easy as all that to improve indigenous health it would have been done a long time ago," Abbott told the corporate media. "But certainly it doesn't hurt to have a whole lot of prominent people reminding us of the urgency of this task." Mr Abbott said life expectancy was not lower amongst indigenous people purely because of their race.
The Australian Medical Association (AMA) has also come out in support of the 37 groups. AMA vice-president Dr Choong-Siew Yong says the blame-shifting needs to end. "There needs to be a redesign of how health services are rolled out for Indigenous people," he said. The group wants governments to commit to bringing Indigenous life expectancy in line with the rest of the population within 25 years.
In November the AMA said Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders were facing a major health crisis, Dr Haikerwal said. "Our international reputation and our national conscience demand a concerted coordinated effort to bring the health of indigenous Australians into the 21st century,” he said.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics estimates that for Indigenous people born in recent years: Indigenous males could be expected to live to 59.4 years, more than 17 years less than the 76.6 years expected for all males; and Indigenous females could be expected to live to 64.8 years, more than 17 years less than the expectation of 82.0 years for all females.
Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet
Thursday, December 07, 2006
December 7, 2006 - Shes back!
Pauline Hanson, the infamous politcal racist, and One Nation party founder, has announced her desire to return to politics. Hanson, who is promoting her new book - an autobiography about her controversial career - has decided to make yet another political comeback. Hanson is apparently concerned by the ease with which Muslims and "diseased" African people are able to gain Australian citizenship. Hanson was jailed in 2003 for fraud. She split from the staunch anti-immigration, nativist One Nation party and has spent the past two years penning her autobiography.
Hanson angered Australians and Asians alike with her offensive comments on immigration and Aboriginal welfare. Hanson was elected as federal MP for the Queensland seat of Oxley in 1996.
Asked about her concerns about Muslims, Ms Hanson said she was angry that Australians were no longer able to sing Christmas carols in schools or swim in public swimming pools. She blames the Muslims...
Ten years after warning Australia was being "swamped by Asians," right-wing instigator and racist provocateur, Pauline Hanson, is concerned about Australian Muslims and said Africans should be barred from the country. Hanson says she's worried that black South Africans infected with AIDS and tuberculosis are allowed into Australia. She told a drooling media pack that she was angry Australians were unable to swim in public baths because of the sensitivities of Muslims.
"They can go back where they came from," she told Southern Cross Broadcasting.
Hanson, a 52-year-old former Fish-n-Chip shop owner, said she was committed to running as an independent in Queensland at the next election, though she had not made up her mind if she would run for the lower house or Senate.
Hanson claimed that Australia is letting in many "black South Africans" with health issues. "It was on TV," she said. Hanson said she had been told by a hospital worker of an African woman with AIDS who had given birth to a child with AIDS. "There's increasing numbers of TB and they have picked up ... it could be almost one third that actually carries TB," she claimed. "What people are getting all upset about is the fact that you can't sing Christmas carols in schools because it upsets a certain amount of people," she said.
"You can't actually swim in baths because a certain amount of people want their privacy to swim in those baths." Ms Hanson said she would make an official announcement about her comeback next year. She said she would give herself plenty of time to campaign.
"OFFENSIVE URBAN MYTHS"
Greens Leader Bob Brown says Pauline Hanson's right to stand for parliament comes at huge indirect cost to Australia. "She costs Australian's dearly every time she makes racist remarks. She is a political bloodsucker on the nation, but one we will continue to host as part of the democratic ideal".
"Pauline's role in giving Australia an uglier international profile has cost us much more than any immigrant could. She should stick to reform for women prisoners, rather than abuse of people she has never met," Senator Brown said.
And Australian Democrats Senator Andrew Bartlett said Hanson's attacks on Muslims and African immigrants must be firmly rebuffed. "Once again Pauline Hanson opens her mouth and spreads offensive urban myths that bear no resemblance to reality," Senator Bartlett said.
"She brings no evidence to back up her claims. They are nothing more than hearsay. Her musings don't further debate or address community concerns, they only cause fear and division and they must be challenged." Senator Bartlett said pack-media interest in Ms Hanson's views meant her attacks must be opposed.
"While we certainly need more independent voices in the Senate, they should be balanced, constructive and effective voices," he said. "For the last nine years in the Senate, I have fought hard to promote the huge benefits cultural diversity brings to our society, and also to defend Muslims against bigotry and deliberate ignorance. If Pauline Hanson stands for parliament again, I will continue to oppose such destructive and unfair views every step of the way."
Hanson said she would campaign about the ease with which Muslims and "diseased" Africans were entering Australia. "Why shouldn't Australians know that the people we bring in to this country are there for the right reasons, and we bring them in for the right reasons? Why do we have to bring people in who are of no benefit to this country whatsoever, who are going to take away our way of life, change our laws?"
"We're bringing in people from South Africa at the moment, there's a huge amount coming into Australia, who have diseases, they've got AIDS," Hanson told AAP.
"They are of no benefit to this country whatsoever, they'll never be able to work." However, the Department of Immigration has firmly rejected Hanson's unfounded claims, saying stringent health checks were carried out on all permanent and temporary residents.
Refugee groups were also angered by Ms Hanson's comments, calling them "fanciful", damaging and hurtful to Africans who were simply trying for a life in Australia. But Hanson said politicians had "gone too far" in affording rights to minority groups. She says she is angered at the loss of Australian traditions because of Muslims.
"Look at what's happened in other countries around the world with the increase in Muslims" she said. Ms Hanson plans to release a book early next year about her political life and time in jail.
Thr Glory Days:
In her maiden parliamentary speech the former fish and chip shop owner, who was expelled from the Liberal Party because of her strong views, warned Australia was in danger of being swamped by Asians:
On September 10, 1996, Pauline Hanson made her first speech to the House of Representatives, which instantly made headlines and television news bulletins right across Australia. She warned that Australia was "in danger of being swamped by Asians" due to high immigration and the policy of multiculturalism, asserting "they have their own culture and religion, form ghettos and do not assimilate." She also denounced the "privileges Aboriginals enjoy over other Australians", suggested the withdrawal of Australia from the United Nations, advocated the return of high-tariff protectionism and generally decried many other aspects of economic rationalism and what she perceived to be 'political correctness'.
Remember this old gem: "Fellow Australians, if you are seeing me now, it means that I have been murdered. Do not let my passing distract you for even a moment..."