Thursday, June 14, 2012

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Protocols

I feel like today I have had to write this note, regarding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Protocols, after having several misunderstandings in less than 24 hours. I have to say straight up that I am not an expert in this field, but as a strong, proud Aboriginal woman with ties to the Kalkadoon and Gunggari peoples on my Dad and Mum's sides respectfully, I have been placed in a position where I have to explain this for my non-Indigenous friends.
In a space of two days, I have had 3 instances where Intellectual Property, Cultural Integrity, and the issues of sharing information about deceased peoples, has come up.

I am not here to name name's, because I have some absolutely wonderful non-Indigenous friends whose friendship I value, and have shown courtesy and respect. I also have to say that a lot of our community members also have friendships with people who feel very strongly about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and our culture. People who have rallied and lobbied tirelessly for Black Deaths in Custody, Education, Land Rights, etc to name a few of the issues.
But at the same time that we have these people who are passionate about our culture, there are still instances where Aboriginal protocol has been totally forgotten, perhaps in their desire to feel connected, and to share in their personal associations.

The first instance of this came to me 2 days ago through a particularly long story published here on Facebook about a traditional man from the Northern Territory and a younger man who was dealing with alcohol abuse and domestic violence. I was so incensed when I read this personal story I had to write something which I very rarely do, telling of my dispair over the telling of these types of stories in such a public forum as Facebook. I can't tell you how upset I was to read this story. The only way I could explain it is like so. Again we have another white man who just because he has lived in the Central Desert region, and had associations with Aboriginal Elders, published a story in Facebook, felt he had permission to tell this mans story. I am sure he meant no harm, but the story contained many disturbing facts, insulting and derogatory language and left me feeling insulted for the people who he was speaking about.
The second instance had to do with the use of a deceased Aboriginal man's name. Again not naming anyone, but one of the members in this group pointed out that the use of deceased persons name in a public forum needed to have permission and that previous media had been referring to this man using a familiar term from the Northern Territory. So the issue of permission from family members came up. I tried my best to explain to all parties that in some cases where material is published and in the public domain, in this instance, the case was a Black Death in Custody, and still before the courts. Now for the record, and again I am NOT an expert, but there are certain protocols that need to be considered related to the publishing any materials containing deceased Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. This included use of images, video footage, audio recordings as well as music. I had a run in with a very good friend who thought they could share private and personal photos of a deceased relative, who happens to have a public profile. Lucky for me, I have privacy settings on all photos of deceased family members, otherwise this situation could have been worse, so none of my family photos can be shared without my permission.

To find out more about naming of deceased Aboriginal peoples, click here

The final issue was the use of Traditional Dreamtime Stories, again I am not naming anyone in particular, but the use of Dreamtime stories needs to have permission from the relevant Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders. These stories should only be told where permission has been granted. I can not and will not speak on behalf of another tribe or nation. There are protocols that must be adhered to, this also goes to the use of traditional artwork, traditional songs, dance etc.
I am writing this because I think this issues needs to be addressed. I believe that all non-Indigenous people when sharing information about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Culture, Intellectual Property and other materials (audio, video, photographical, arts and crafts) should aware of these protocols, to protect this valuable information and to protect themselves. If its so important to share this information, at least be aware of how distressful sharing of personal information that doesn't belong to you can be. We are a strong nation, and as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, we have a right to say how our information is used in a public arena.

I have attached a link here to this note for anyone who wants to find out any more information. Please be informed, and make it your business to find out about these protocols. Visit the link below:

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Bangarra’s Dance Theatre's "OF EARTH & SKY"

Written by Minelle Creed

Bangarra’s Dance Theatre's "OF EARTH & SKY" which began last week at the Melbourne Arts Centre concludes this week on Saturday night. Melbourne wraps up the final leg of Bangarra's national tour which began in Brisbane in July.

The program has 2 shows with a full ensemble performance. The first is from Daniel Riley McKinley, called Riley, and is his debut choreographic work. After listening to Daniel speak about his passion as a dancer and now choreographing his own works, it’s wonderful to see the talent in someone so young.

Daniel debuted his first production in Melbourne this week, as
Bangarra’s new choreographer, and said the inspiration behind his first production called "Riley", was inspired by Aboriginal Photographer, the late Michael Riley, and his last works the "Cloud" series.

Daniel who is related to Michael Riley said when he first viewed the images of the "Cloud" series, he found them "really beautiful and ethereal, and the content behind the images were really strong for me, that I really felt a connection with each image.". He said looking back it was that '"lood connection' that drew him to those images". Click on the link below to hear my interview with Daniel.

Daniel Riley McKinley Interview (click below)

Frances Rings, who previously had been performing as a dancer with Bangarra’s Dance Theatre, says this current production, which is her 5th as a choreographer. Frances said she has been with Bangarra for 12 years, and last years 20th year anniversary, basically showcased her growing up as an artist, dancer and now choreographer.

Frances said there were many changes in her transition from performer to choreographer. “I spent 12 years with the company, as a performer, as a dancer, and got to travel the world, and got to experience many different stages, and many different festivals, and theatres, and performances and that was great”.

She said she was ready to start something new in her life and ready for new changes, and to have the opportunity to tell her own stories through contemporary Indigenous dance, which she says has the full support of Bangarra .

She said the most important thing about this production was the debut of Daniel Riley McKinley who at 24 years old, is starting his career now also as a choreographer, after spending time with Bangarra as a dancer. She also said it was wonderful to be able to create and show her children the importance of creating something that has traditional elements of Aboriginal culture and history and bringing to a forum where everyone can enjoy it.

Last year Bangarra celebrated their 20 year anniversary, which looked back on 20 years of Bangarra history and choreography. She said for her, “it’s a bit like, ‘This is your life’, kind of thing, because I spent my whole adulthood, in the company”.

Frances Rings Interview (click below)

finishes of 2010 with a regional tour of MATHINNA which is Executive Director, Stephen Page's full length works which he choreographed in 2008.


Written by Minelle Creed for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Grapevine, and

Photography by
James Williams

Videos recorded with permission of
Bangarra’s Dance Theatre

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Rock against Racism

By Minelle Creed

Whether people chose to believe it or not, we all have experienced or come across racism, either directly or indirectly. But the power of music can always change the way people interact. Last nights Rock Against Racism concert at the Trade Hall in Melbourne, proved that through music people can come together not only for a worthy cause but to show their support for something that in this day and age should be outdated.

Concert organiser Sharon Firebrace, Socialist Alliance Candidate for Senate & NAIDOC 2010 Convenor spoke passionately about how racism in this country is a big issue that needs to be addressed before the next State and Federal Elections. Ms Firebrace who spoke about the oppression of Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory, highlighted the previous and current government's lack of understanding of the rights of Australia's Aboriginal people and the government's continued exploitation.

Ms Firebrace said, "They've planted a thousand hands (Sea of Hands) on the steps of Parliament, they've had a massive campaign on Reconciliation, the former PM Kevin Rudd and the Labour Party made a massive Apology on one hand, and on the other hand, they forced the Northern Territory Intervention onto Aboriginal people, and has maintained it and threatened that it's going to go national. That's exploitation, and that's racism". Ms Firebrace said that was the reason she was inspired to host the Rock Against Racism concert.

Aboriginal musicians came together for the end of NAIDOC spectacular, that was worthy of missing the State and National NAIDOC Ball, which were also held in Melbourne. over the weekend. Around 300 people attended the concert, black andwhite supporters, and even an Afghani asylum seeker who was introduced to the crowd by controversial former ATSIC Chairman Geoff Clarke, who said "that everyone experiences racism, not just black people".

No matter who you are or where you come from, racism is an issue. Aboriginal Singer/Songwriter, Archie Roach who was heading the Rock Against Racism concert, talked about racism and about his respect for Rugby League player Timana Tahu, who recently put his hand up and refused to accept racism in sports, and subsequently caused a media sensation when he quit the NSW State Of Origin Team, in protest against racist comments from the then coach, Andrew Johns.

Roach said, "I saw him last night, at the (NAIDOC) Ball and he got a standing ovation, for his stand against racism. And its good, because, you know, injustice and racism and all those rotten things, will continue to persist, if good men remain silent".

The performances on the night symbolised the struggles between black and white Australia and also the passion of healing the racism in this country, through song and coming together. Other performers included, Dan Sultan & Scott Wilson, Liz Cavanagh, James Henry, Gathering Choir, Brian Morley, Jessie Lloyd, Deline Briscoe, Lee Morgan, and Bart Willoughby.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Indigenous Land Managers - Profiting from Climate Change

By Minelle Creed
Indigenous land owners will soon be able to contribute to Climate Change by creating their own carbon footprint using renewable energy from natural waste on their traditional lands, in the global effort to reduce greenhouse gases.

The Australian Federal Government recently scrapped the Emissions Trading Scheme, delivered by the Minister for Climate Change, Energy Efficiency and Water, Senator Penny Wong. But Australia still has a commitment to the Kyoto Protocol to reduce emissions. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Traditional Owners can contribute by reducing emissions through the development of strategies and projects that create renewable energy.

CarbonHouse are committed to reducing Australia’s carbon footprint by working with Traditional Owners in developing smarter carbon management and in renewable energy and carbon sequestration projects. They will work with Indigenous communities to develop Carbon Strategies for reducing, offsetting and managing carbon and other green house emission.

The project will negotiate with Traditional Owners and take into account Cultural, Environmental and Economically viable initiatives on traditional lands by using biogas created from natural waste, instead of fossil fuels.

Indigenous land owners can develop these strategies with CarbonHouse, using renewable energy created from Wind, Hydro, Landfill, Solar and Bagasse. CarbonHouse Manager, Rod Glass says the benefits for Indigenous land owners could become profitable though renewable energy certificates. Rod Glass speaking at a conference in Cairns over the weekend:

If you’d like to be a part of this culturally appropriate, environmentally friendly, economically viable project you can call Mr Glass from CarbonHouse, and he will work with Traditional Owners to develop sustainable projects specific to your land and area. Click here to a list of future workshops for Aboriginal people in Queensland.
Below are video examples of Renewal Energy Projects:

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Human Rights Crimes against Children in the Goldfields

By Alice Haines

Goldfields is now under scrutiny with the influx of children becoming Incarcerated over recent months. Coolgardie Town, 38 Kilometers from Kalgoorlie in Western Australia have been reaching out to the wider communities in a cry for help.

On 31st March 2010 we had an urgent cry from community by the Father of a 12 year old boy whose son was incarcerated and apprehended from his Pastors house for breaching a curfew placed by courts. Curfews are now the topic for this town because even if there was not a court ordered curfew a town curfew has been placed for all youth under the age of 18. Even though the curfew is for all youths the implementation of this curfew is only practiced on all the Indigenous Youth.

There is some question of the legality of this curfew which is not a Western Australian Legislation nor seems to be a Local Government By Law. The town curfew in question is what led to a 15 year old Aboriginal female youth being harassed by police on her way home from the shops one evening. Witnesses say that when the youth tried to walk off when police came from behind and threw her to the ground by her neck. After she struggled whilst panicking the police pepper sprayed her and tasered her even though she was already pinned to the ground.

Click on the video below to see footage of the Queensland Police taser a 16yo girl on Southbank.

The young female youth was then kept in the Paddy Wagon for 4 ½ hours at the back of Coolgardie Police Station and then taken to Kalgoorlie lock up via rough corrugated backtrack roads as apposed to the main highway to Kalgoorlie. She then was stripped search at the Kalgoorlie lockups. The young youth who is diagnosed with acute asthma was refused medical help when she made a complaint of chest pains. This case goes to trial in Kalgoorlie on the 7th May.2010. The mother has charges of trespassing at the police station in Coolgardie when she came in on the night to inquire of her child’s whereabouts and well being. These charges go to court on the 10th of May 2010.

Both Mother and Daughter had no prior criminal record preceding this incident.

The Goldfields has the highest incarceration rate in the world from the Indigenous race. The rate is 6 times higher than the heat of Apartheid in South Africa when incarceration reached its highest statistics of South African history.

This is clearly a Human Rights Violation.

Thank you Alice Haines.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Fake Facebook page dishonours Jimmy Little

By Minelle Creed

A group set up on Facebook called the Mr Jimmy Little Appreciation Society has been set up without the permission of 'Uncle' Jimmy and his family. Aboriginal singer Jimmy Little, who has his own page on Facebook called the Jimmy Little Foundation, says it is easy for people to be confused about the two pages, and has asked for the Mr Jimmy Little Appreciation Society to be closed. The request from his daughter, Franny Peters-Little, has been met with hostility and threats of legal action.

Peters-Little says she has contacted the creators of the Mr Jimmy Little Appreciation Society and Facebook with her family's request and has even provided a written statement signed by her father asking that the site respect his wishes and remove the page from Facebook, but the page still remains.

The Mr Jimmy Little Appreciation Society which was set up by husband and wife team Elvianna & Simon Dorante Day, who have created several pages on Facebook (click here to see a full list) which include Appreciation Societies, Fan Pages, etc. Click on the image belopw to see the written statement signed by Jimmy Little regarding his position on the Mr Jimmy Little Appreciation Society.

"The Jimmy Little Foundation was established to help improve kidney health in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities across regional and remote Australia. Dr James O Little AO is a legend of the Australian music scene and has been performing for over fifty years.

After two years on dialysis and a successful kidney transplant, he realised the importance of all Australians being able to access quality health care no matter where they live and wanted to make a concrete contribution to those communities most affected by kidney disease. Jimmy is living proof that there can be productive life after diagnosis of kidney disease which is decimating indigenous Australians at an alarming rate."

Jimmy Little Foundation Information source: Jimmy Little Foundation

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Yabun 2010

The Yabun Festival in Sydney was a fantastic day. The entertainment line up was fantastic, and seeing all the red, black and yellow colours on the majority of people was a delight to see.

For me the highlight was seeing so many kids and families coming together, seeing friends and family who hadn't seen each other for a long time embrace each other with so much warmth, it makes me realise how much love and support we have within our familys and our small communities.

MC's Sean Choolburra, Australia's leading Entertainer, and Aunty Lillian Crombie, actress both worked well together to keep the crowds entertained between acts.

We may have injustice and inequality in many different areas of life, but there is no denying that love we have for our own. Seeing all the face, most of them I didn't know, but a few familiar faces, was great for me.

The entertainment line up for the day included artists such as, BrothaBlack, Zennith, Last Kinnection, Bunna Lawrie (Coloured Stone), Sharnie Fenwick, and more.

Thanks to Gadigal Information for a wonderful day. Click here for other pics of the day