Saturday, December 5, 2009

No running water major health issue for Indigenous Australians

Written by Minelle Creed

A lack of running water is a major health issue for Aboriginal people in remote communities in Australia. According to Ray Martin, around 350 Aboriginal communities in Australia still don't have access to running water

Martin, a former television journalist and now chairman of the Australian Indigenous Education Foundation, says a lack of basic running water has contributed to and is still a leading cause of chronic health conditions for Aboriginal people living in remote communities.

A descendant of the Gamilaroi people from northern New South Wales, Martin says that most of the Aboriginal people living in these remote communities are living in third world conditions.

He traveled with the late Professor Fred Hollows, Ophthalmologist who treated Indigenous people around the world and in Australia with chronic eye conditions such as trachoma and blindness.

Professor Hollows began working with Aboriginal communities in the 1970's, and helped to establish the Aboriginal Medical Service in Redfern, as well as other Medical services around Australia. He also founded the National Trachoma and Eye Health Program, which was set up to eliminate trachoma, and other eye conditions in rural and remote communities in Australia.

Martin who traveled with Professor Hollows many years ago to some remote Indigenous communities, said these conditions still affect Aboriginal communities and ' is still about 5 times the rate of white Australians, but its unforgivable, unacceptable. Most problems in Aboriginal Australia is a matter of hygiene'. Having access to running water is not only a problem in third world countries, but it also exists in Australia's desert and remote areas.

Martin is currently touring Australia after the release of his Autobiography, Ray: Stories of my Life.

Interview with Mark Graham, November 2009

Thursday, December 3, 2009

RAY MARTIN - Education for Aboriginal Kids is the Key

Written by Minelle Creed

His name is synonymous with the friendly, smiling face we saw on TV. The face of Australian current affairs was sometimes serious, other times funny, but mostly likable due to his wonderful personable attributes.

Ray Martin, a graduate of Sydney University with a BA and History distinction, began his career as a cadet journalist with the ABC in 1965. He is also a high-profile personality in Australian media and television, a former television journalist, foreign correspondent, midday variety show host, and humble Aboriginal gentleman who is a descendant of the Gamilaroi people from New South Wales.

Martin is best know for his time on 60 Minutes, along with George Negus and Ian Leslie, and the variety show Midday with Ray, which were among the highest-rating programs on Australian television.

In October 2009 he released his autobiography titled Ray: Stories Of My Life - The Autobiography which talks about his life from his humble beginnings. Mark Graham, Aboriginal man from Larrakia Nation in the Northern Territory spoke with Martin about his Autobiography.

During Graham's interview, Martin revealed his passion for Indigenous Advancement, and spoke mainly about the disadvantages still in Indigenous education, and how he feels it's important for Indigenous parents to ensure their children are well educated.

Martin named Professor Fred Hollows, Mick Dodson, his brother Patrick Dodson, Galarrwuy Yunipingu, Lowitja O'Donoghue and Noel Pearson, as some of the most influential people he has met over the years.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Is Australia Racist?

I posted a discussion 'Is Australia Racist' the other day on the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Grapevine Discussion Board in Facebook. Around about 20 people commented, and I must say I was quite surprised with what people had to say.

The discussion was in response to a poll on the internet and the recent backlash in America and other countries after the performance of the Jackson Jive (click here to watch the video) on Channel 9's Hey Hey Its Saturday's Red Faces segment.

The skit was performed by the same group 20 years ago, but this time round the response was not great. I myself thought it was done in poor taste, and was thoughtless, and did not see any humour in the skit at all. During the performance, a card was also shown that had 'Where's Kamahl', who had previously been a regular guest on the show before it ended in 1999. Click on the image below to see Kamahl's response

After reading the responses on the ATSI Grapevine, I was totally blown away by some of the responses.

Gary Wood said 'I honestly believe that people are just miseducated and ignorant. Yes, there are racists but alot of it is misguided cultural assumptions.'

Jub Clerc; 'i think the problem is is that Australians don't even know that they are racist. they live in this beautiful abundant country and are soooo spoilt by the wealth, prosperity and easiness of it that they have well and truly lost their heads up their bottoms.'

Helen Laub said 'I hear racist comments on a daily basis. Because I'm white, people don't think I will be offended. But I am. I know they wouldn't say these things if someone who wasn't white could hear them.'

Sabrina Seaman responded by saying this 'I think that people need to remember that what ever race you may be we are ALL human and deserve Respect. Australia would be a better country if we helped each other step up in the world not step on others.'

David Widders believed, 'education and awareness is the key to changeing attitudes and views. I run a days Cultural Awareness training where I want to change the attitudes and views of Aboriginal people.'

Jim Duffield spoke about the meaning of race and gave a very definitive explanation of the word. Duffield, also wrote that he was born in a Nazi concentration camp and was on one of 13 people in the world to survive, quoted confucius, writing 'The longest march begins with the first step.'

Others went on to say they believed Australia was racist but more ignorant of the cultural aspects of black people in this country, and hoped that educating people about culture could be a way to make people understand Indigenous people better.

The most comments were very enlightening and very positive about racism, saying they had experienced it but that if we all can work together we can find a solution.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Beverley Moore speaks about her 'Stolen Child'

By Minelle Creed
September 1 2009

Beverely Moore, a Wamba Wamba woman from Swan Hill in Victoria,is still waiting for the son who was 'stolen' from her when he was 4 days old to return home from America.

In 1963, 14 year old Beverley was an unmarried single mother, and due to government policy of the day, her first born son, Russell Thomas Moore, was taken from her and adopted by a non-Indigenous Christian couple, who took him to America and left him there.

Russell was 6 years old when his adopted family took him to America to live. When he was 12 years old when he asked about his heritage, but his adopted family refused to tell him anything. It was during this time that Russell became involved in drugs and alcohol. He spent most of his teen years living on the streets and was in and out of foster homes.

Beverley's son Russell Moore, who was renamed James Hudson Savage by his adopted family, has been in America serving a life sentence for a crime he committed in 1988. In December this year he will have completed more than 20 years of a 25 year non-parole sentence. It was during Russell's trial in 1989, that he met his birth mother, Beverley Moore for the first time, and it was also revealed that he was a child of Australia's Stolen Generation.

Russell was originally sentenced to the Electric Chair and had spent time on Death Row in Florida before the decision was appealed in 1991, a circuit judge then sentenced him to life without parole, meaning he would serve 25 years before he could apply for parole.

International media coverage of his trial showed a young Aboriginal man who was reunited with the mother who he had been 'stolen' from when he was 4 days old. I spoke to Beverley in 2005 about Russell, when they met and her push to bring her eldest son home. Beverley has endured so much heartache since Russell was stolen from her in 1963, she also dealt with her father's death in custody, and the death of her husband, Russell's father, whom she married after Russell was taken from her.

To listen to an interview I did with Russell's mother Beverley at Radio Rum Jungle in the Northern Territory in 2005 click here.

In 1997, The Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission released its Bringing them Home Report, the Report of the National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from Their Families. The report covers International removal and one of the recommendations allows for Indigenous people removed overseas to be reunited with family should they chose.

Russell has embraced his Aboriginal heritage and has a tattoo of a Kangaroo on his body, and he has also indicated he would like to return home to Australia. His mother also wants her son to come home. She has been fighting this fight since 1989.

The International Prisoner Transfer Treaty has been signed between the Australian and United States government's in 2007. But almost nothing has been done to bring Russell back home.

Saturday, August 29, 2009


August 29 2009

Russell Thomas Moore aka James Hudson Savage, is an Aboriginal man serving a life sentence in an American Prison for a crime he was convicted of in 1988. He has already served more than 20 years of a 25 year non parole sentence.

Image of Russell from US Department of Corrections

Russell is a child of the Stolen Generation. He was stolen from his mother Beverley Moore, a Wamba Wamba woman from Swan Hill in Victoria, when he was 4 days old and subsequently adopted by a white christian family who took him to the US.

Russell never knew about his heritage and when he asked his adoptive parents they refused to tell him anything. Russell began to drink and use drugs and was in and out of correctional institutions during most of his adulthood. His adoptive parents then returned to Australia without him and he ended up living on the streets and became addicted to alcohol and other substances.

When he was first convicted he was sentenced to the Electric Chair, but this decision was eventually overturned by a circuit judge after an appeal. Russell had spent time on Death Row in Florida awaiting this decision. His sentence was changed to Life without Parole, meaning he would serve 25 years of his sentence before he could apply for Parole.

It was during this court process that it was revealed that he was a child of Australia's Stolen Generation, and the push for him to be returned home began. Russell met his birth mother during his trial in the US, and has had limited contact with his mother since, except through costly telephone calls. His mother is now afraid she will never see her son again.

Aboriginal singer Archie Roach who sang 'Took The Children Away' wrote a song about Russell being stolen from his mother called Munjana.

You can also listen to an interview I did in December last year on Koori Radio. Please show your support for Russell by joining this Cause and help us find a way to "BRING RUSSELL BACK HOME".

written by

Minelle Creed

Friday, August 28, 2009

New Boots for Palm Island Kids

August 2009

Indigenous kids on Palm Island are riding around with brand new RM Williams boots courtesy of kind Australians who donated riding gear after a call went out through the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Grapevine.

School Teacher James Ward from the Bwgcolman Community School says he saw how naturally gifted the kids were at horse riding, wanted to do something for a few kids who had helped him. He sent a message out on the ATSI Grapevine, asking if anyone could donate riding gear to the kids who have been riding these (brumbies) wild horses bareback and without riding boots.

Mr Ward says he was overwhelmed by the support of the Australian community, both from Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. He had asked for riding gear for around 9 or 10 kids who had helped him with a project, but he said they actually received enough riding gear for at least 40 children.

Ward says the Bwgcolman school principle will meet with parents and school teachers to decide how the rest of the gear will be distributed, and will consider the riding gear as an incentive for kids who do well in school.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Official Launch of the Australian Nurse-Family Partnership Program in Cairns

The Indigenous community in Far North Queensland and staff at Wu Chopperen Medical Service, celebrated National Aboriginal and Islanders Children's Day, with the official launch of the Australian Nurse-Family Partnership Program in Cairns today.

Opened by local member for Leichhardt, Jim Turnour and Health Minister Nicola Roxon, the day started off with the release of bio degradable balloons, by Mr Turnour, Ms Roxon and Wu Chopperen staff.

Staff at Wu Chopperen and Local Member Jim Turnour, and Health Minister Nicola Roxon release balloons.

Wu Chopperen was selected along with two other Indigenous Organisations, Central Australian Aboriginal Congress, and the Victorian Aboriginal Health Service, to deliver the ANFPP program as part of the Rudd Government's Close the Gap campaign.

Ms Roxon said 'nearly $2million worth of funding over the next 2 years will go towards supporting home visits'. The program will also be rolled out over another ten sites across Australia.'

Ms Roxon says that the government 'believes that if they support the mothers during the early years of a child's life, we can ensure they grow up as happy healthy children, and to close the life expectancy gap and improve infant mortality rate.'

Leanne Knowles, acting CEO of Wu Chopperen who met with the Therese Rein, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's wife and delegates from the Pacific Island Forum yesterday, said the ANFPP 'will support the building of capacity of families, so that our kids can live longer and have better health outcomes'.

Leanne Knowles meeting with Therese Rein at Wu Chopperen yesterday

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

PM'S wife visits Aboriginal Medial Centre in Cairns

By Minelle Creed
August 6, 2009

The Australian Prime Minister's wife, Therese Rein, and delegates from the Pacific Island Forum, today visited Wu Chopperen Aboriginal Medical Centre in Cairns.

The visit was to talk to Wu Chopperen staff about the AustralianNurse-Family Partnership Program (ANFPP) which aims to improve the long term health, social and economic future of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, by assisting first time pregnant mothers and their families.

Talking about the ANFP Program, Mrs Rein said, ' the survival rate for Indigneous women particularly in remote communities is much less, and the partnership is an attempt to raise the survival rate of women, particularly Indigenous women giving birth in remote communities.

Mrs Rein also compared the situation in Australia with the Pacific Islanders, saying ' people who live on tiny little islands with no transport, what kindof care is best, do you take them out of the communities to give birth, or do you send a birthing attendant in. These are tricky questions for all our countries'.

Mrs Rein's visit to the Medical Centre coincided with the Pacific Islands Forum in Cairns for which the Prime Minister is the new Forum Chair.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Protesters condemn Labor’s ‘failing policy’

Emma Murphy, Sydney
2 August 2009

“Help us, do something for us — but the way we want them to be done. Talk to us”, Alice Springs town camp resident Audrey McCormack pleaded of ALP conference delegates.

She was speaking outside the Sydney convention centre, at a public lobby coinciding with the first day of the conference, on July 30.

Organised by Stop the Intervention Collective, Sydney, the lobby demanded an end to federal government blackmail of Aboriginal communities, whereby they are forced to sign their land onto five-year leases to the government in exchange for housing and services. The communities that have signed onto leases haven’t got any new houses anyway.

click here to read the rest of the story:
How much more can our Aboriginal people be discriminated against? How long before the government really gets what Aboriginal people want. How many times do we have to say enough is enough?

No matter how many Interventions, no matter how many Apologies, no matter how much money the governments spend, in over 200 years Aboriginal people are still struggling.

Housing, Education, Health, Economic Development, all these issues are still not being deal with. Your Close the Gap resolution of 'Reconciliation with Aboriginal people's is not working Mr Rudd.

Click here to join Facebook's Stop the NT Intervention Group

Macklin's Aboriginal housing blackmail — land rights need, not takeovers!

Peter Robson
2 August 2009

“We've had the gun at our head.” This is what William Tilmouth, Tangentyere Council CEO, said in response to Aboriginal affairs minister Jenny Macklin's triumphant July 29 announcement that the council had agreed to lease Alice Springs town camps to the federal government for 40 years in exchange for $135 million in housing upgrades.

Aboriginal people established the town camps to cater for people traveling to Alice Springs from out bush. In the 1970s, they managed to secure title over the town camps, and have been represented by Tangentyere Council ever since.

Click here to read more of this report.
How typical of the government to try to take over land that Aboriginal mob are living on in the Town Camps in and around Alice Springs. The Minister had previously extended time to allow for housing upgrades. But now to renege on that promise?

In May this year the Tangentyere Council called on the Australian government to continue lease negotions, but it seems the government had other plans.

Listen to an interview with William Tilmouth with Caama Radio

Wild Rivers Legislation

Cape York Institute Director, Noel Pearson today spoke about the influence of lobbyists on the Queensland Government regarding the Wild Rivers Legislation.

Speaking with the ABC's Indiders program, Pearson believed the lobbyists had too much power and said 'no matter how many submission we make, the democratic process on submissions are not listened to."

Pearson claims the key issue is "whether paid lobbyists ought to be slinking around corridors, opening doors like pimps at a Fortitute Valley brothel." Pearson believes Premier Bligh was out of touch with what the community wanted and needed.

And the recent speech at Griffith University by former Fitzgerald Commissioner, Tony Fitzgerald regarding the last 20 years since the Fitzgerald Inquiry also pointed to corruption in the Queensland Government.

Its not the first time Wild Rivers has come under attack by Aboriginal representatives from Cape York. Pearson has been talking about dealing with the Queensland government for many years.

YouTube video

Saturday, August 1, 2009

How the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Grapevine was created!

The Aboriginal and Torres Straig Islander Grapevine was created in recognition of Australia's leading Aboriginal actor, Mr David Gulpilil. Mr Gulpilil is Australia's most recognised Aboriginal personality with many films to his name. Some of his most famous films include "Storm Boy", "Rabbit Proof Fence" and most recently "Ten Canoes".

The ATSI Grapevine is intended to help you stay in touch with family and friends, network with community members, and other Aboriginal and Islander people, find out whats happening in other States and Territory's. You can also update your list of contacts, and find out whats happening near you. Join up and find family and old friends, or let everyone know what is happening in your home town. Learn new language words, ask about Aboriginal and Islander heritage, or simply join and be a part of Australia's newest network for Indigenous people.


The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Grapevine (ATSIG) was created because thats what it took to get a message to Gulpilil, who has no mobile phone because there are no mobile phone towers in Arnhem Land. Gulpilil is a member of the remote community of Ramingining. The call went out on Aboriginal Radio on the East Coast of Australia on National Radio that the Directors were looking for David Gulpilil. One thing about the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (ATSI) community is that news travels fast. Someone heard this message and a few phone calls later and finally one of David's relatives heard the message and went to find David.

His journey is one that no man would willingly take, but being a relative and knowing his "Country" the message was on its way to Gulpilil. A few hours car ride into Arnhem Land, then on foot walking to a crocodile infested river, and swimming across the creek and then a few more miles on foot before he reached Gulpilil's Camp which is in the middle of nowhere.

Gulpilil knew someone was coming and then he received the message that he needed to call about a job. So Gulpilil trekked the many miles on foot, then swam across the crocodile infested river, then walking on foot again for a number of miles to the 4WD and then driving back to Ramingining to make his phone call. The next day Gulpilil was on a plane and had arrived on the East Coast and was ready for his interview. The Directors couldn't believe how fast the Aboriginal Grapevine was, commenting that it was faster than the Internet.

And so the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Grapevine was created, as a dedication to the master, not only of Aboriginal Films but also of Arnhem Land and his country. For one man to be so dedicated to his art inspires me and a lot of other people that I know also. Please join us in celebrating the wonder of Australia's Oldest Living Race, and our journey's all over Australia.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Grapevine

Hi Everyone,

Welcome to my ATSI Grapevine blog. I just wanted to start a blog spot where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people could blog about news and community events specific to our community.

This blog will contain and reinforce the positive things we have in our communities, as well as deal with National, State, Local and community based issues that are important to us.

I encourage everyone to comment on the various blogs that we post and also encourage fair and honest discussion. I have good faith that people will not attack personally or professionally anyone who comes to the ATSI Grapevine and writes a blog.

Again welcome to the ATSI Grapevine blog.