On Yuendumu and Us and You

  Unusual of me not to buy into a controversy so I'll add my ten cents worth to the discussion on Yuendumu the Central Australian community at the intersection of white and black law.The town is predominantly black, with most community members being native to the area. Customary law has been the successful guardian of the people and life forces of the area since the dreamtime. Were it not for the invasion of colonial law and its undermining of local justice, customary law would continue to be as effective as it has for millenia- including in combating new problems such as alcoholism drug and solvent abuse foisted upon black communities by invaders. Remote blackfellas see the effectiveness or otherwise of soft white law which makes no sense to many. Berrima Jail is seen by some as a rewards program which you have to do something bad to enjoy the fruits of. By all accounts Berrima is as spartan and hostile an environment as most western jails- but its a luxury resort when compared to some of the government delivered housing and community options available in remote communities.Since arrival successive Governments and their cronies have unleashed wave after wave of remotely driven policy -based on their Toorak Dinner perceptions of whats good media for them as compared with inclusive discussion of whats in our genuine interests. The public need to be aware that every time government have acted "in the best interests" of aboriginal people or children,a future government has apologised for that past governments actions. Neither we, affected non aboriginal children or our children as yet unborn can use apologies as collateral-nor can we eat them or use them for shelter or warmth.

 If government agencies or others at any level are genuine in their rhetoric of delivering better services to aboriginal communities they need but listen to the people of those communities, at a time and venue of the relevant communities choosing. And deliver the services the people are actually seeking, not their perception of whats good for that community. Current and past service delivery has taken a blanket approach- attempting to use a situation in one community as justification to roll out an expensive and in many cases totally unnecessary and unrequested "services". It has failed our people.It has failed the taxpayers of Australia who are burdened with the expense they could do without. Training for jobs which don't deliver equity (if the jobs actually exist) is training for slavery.We should not be coerced into it and you should not support it.  


1 comment:

  1. I agree with most of what you say, however there's more to the history of Yuendumu than meets the eye. Or can be learned from what is written in white history books.
    Your statement "with most community members being native to the area." is not quite accurate.

    Back in the 1870's when the white settlers started to move toward central Australia from the North East, in search of cattle grazing land, the first to cop a hammering at the hands of the troopers where the Warlpiri people North East of Alice Springs and North of the Harts Range.

    Many Warlpiri fled the carnage and headed into Arrernte country, basically as refugees.

    The Arrernte people gave them an area North West of Alice Springs as a safe haven, around where the community of Yuendumu is today.

    As the troopers moved into Central Australia to "clear the way" for the graziers they encountered some of the toughest restistance they had ever encountered from Aboriginal people. The Arrernte people conducted a fierce guerilla war against the invaders. The troopers were beaten back for several years until they employed Warlpiri trackers to flush out the Arrernte from their hides throughout the hills.

    There is still a lot of "bad blood" between Warlpiri and Arrernte over what was seen by the Arrernte as a betrayal by the Warlpiri. Generally both groups get along quite well, but grog often twists an individuals thinking.

    My heritage is Kaurna (from Adelaide). We are the southernmost reaches of the Western Desert clans (some of whom represent 4 of the 8 language groups in Alice Springs, which is traditionally Arrernte country). I lived in Alice for 6 years and count among my friends fellas both Warlpiri and Arrernte.

    This was some of the handed down history I learned from them, which I hope you find interesting and useful for future reference.