Interim conclusions from a PhD researcher in Australian Deaths in Custody

Gerry Georgatos
As my PhD progresses in researching Australian Deaths in Custody - I have visited Immigration Detention Centres - visited adult prisons - interviewed former detainees of the Immigration detention centres network - interviewed former prisoners of adult custodial jurisdictions.

[I have been publishing online and releasing to others - academics and news media - some of my research, questions and conclusions - I believe it is imperative that whatever little I have to contribute is out there sooner rather than later, and through forums such as Indymedia - which is developing fast as a major source of information and communication and which allows for everyone to engage and assist in awareness-raising conversations...]

My research which is seeking to provide evidence based recommendations in reducing Australia's horrific deaths in custody record - police, prison and immigration custodial - is unravelling arguments I would not necessarily have expected that I would be including in my work in that one should not expect an ability or capacity from a former detainee or prisoner who has endured chronic and acute trauma, especially where their thresholds have been 'broken', to be able to recover from it - no matter the intervention and counselling many may never be able to recover from the trauma(s).

1. It is clearly evident that people come out of prisons worse than that what they went in.

2. It is clearly evident that people come out of immigration detention worse than they went in.

3. It is clearly evident Aboriginal peoples have negative stereotypes of police custodial predicaments reinforced by an experience within a police custodial predicament.

4. Tragically, it appears that many who are released from prison custodial and immigration custodial experiences cannot overwhelm levels of trauma which have been induced or developed. It appears that there may not be recovery for many traumas - multiple traumas, acute and chronic.

5. Governments, DIAC and Corrective Services need to launch fully funded research into trauma and 'post'-trauma related studies of the police, prison and immigration custodial related experiences - my research imputes that we should be moving to the prevention of trauma and that intervention alone cannot promise remedy or any positive unfoldings.

6. A separate chapter considers The Military Emergency Response (NT National Emergency Response Bill 2007) in the Northern Territory as custodial-related, and that the prospect of recovery from the trauma described by Aboriginal peoples of the various imposts upon them by the Commonwealth government(s) may not be possible.
- Surprisingly, in wide-ranging interviews, numbering 100 high profile Aboriginal folk, there is support for the Intervention - however how to address the trauma from the implementation of the Intervention is worrisome for even many of the supporters of the Response Action - and many see that the Intervention will now compound rather than improve inter-generational problems. The trauma itself is not compartmentalised to the individual and the evidence is as clear as the light of day that it extends to family members, to the breakdown of family, to community and to the erosion of some of the community's contemporary identity (as unfolded from historical identity). Trauma counselling cannot guarantee containment of trauma.

In February 2008 Marcia Langton who like many others rejected various criticism against the Response Action, said, "Those who did not see the intervention coming were deluding themselves. It was the inevitable outcome of the many failures of policy and the flawed federal-state division of responsibilities for Aboriginal Australians. It was a product of the failure of Northern Territory governments for a quarter of a century to adequately invest the funds they received to eliminate the disadvantages of their citizens in education, health and basic services. It was made worse by general incompetence in Darwin: the public service, non-government sector (including some Aboriginal organisations) and the dead hand of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) all presided over increasingly horrible conditions in Aboriginal communities."

The Emergency Response policy was initially insulated from criticism because of the sensitive nature of the issue and the fact that the national Parliament faces no Constitutional barriers to overruling the Northern Territory government, unlike the governments of Australia's states - this immolated any legitimate scrutiny of the policy, its effects such as trauma and what the thresholds of where that trauma would become irretrievable in reference to amelioration and remedies.

Most of those whom I have interviewed do not understand how to comprehend 'trauma' and its effects. Many who had supported the Emergency Response do not support the Stronger Futures proposition.

Part of my own interim recommendations are: The full suite of funding for the duration of a generation to Aboriginal peoples Australia-wide will eliminate Aboriginal disadvantage. The pay-the-rent proposals suggested by a number of advocates are a sound concept and are proportionate to Gross State Product and Gross Domestic Product.

My research will conclude that the Emergency Response was ill-conceived and damaging, with destructive social reach, and should never have occurred. My research can find no evidence to support the Stronger Futures legislation and that in fact evidence and various testimonies point to the erosion of community and contemporary identities and to the rise in the various traumas described thus far.

Crikey - Deaths in Custody: Why are more prisoners dying from natural causes? - Georgatos rejects the AIC’s claim that the rise in natural cause deaths is “probably linked to an ageing prison population and a prison population with more health problems than the general population”, saying that these “assumptions” need to be validated. “I have deep concerns about the attribution of manner and cause of death and therefore … [about] the classification of deaths in custody,” Georgatos said. “There is nothing natural about a person dying of causes that basic medical intervention could prevent. More than 50% of Aboriginal folk who die in prison are classified as natural cause deaths, [but] maybe what has occurred is that medical attention wasn’t flagged or their insulin dependency was not given proper care or they were maltreated or neglected.”

Crikey - Deaths in custody still rising, why? - The rate of death in privatised prisons is far higher than in state prisons, which Georgatos cites as a serious concern given the drive towards privatisation in NSW and other states. “People die in privatised prisons at three times the rate they die in government prisons: 4.5 deaths per 1000 prisoners in privatised prisons in Australia, compared to 1.3 in government prisons,” he said.

The Australian - Indonesian children in Australian adult prisons.
Mr Georgatos said he believed the boy graduated from junior high school in 2009, but he was waiting for a statement which would prove his age "beyond reasonable doubt".
He criticised the Australian Federal Police, the Department of Immigration and WA Department of Corrective Service for not trying hard enough to ascertain the boy's age. "I can't see why lawyers, legal authorities, AFP, immigration, did not pick up the goddamn phone and speak to his family," Mr Georgatos said. "Authorities could have ascertained one way or another beyond reasonable doubt he was born in 1995."

ABC Drum Interview - Indonesian children in Immigration Detention Centres and in Adult Prisons

UnderCurrent Interview - Indonesian children in Immigration Detention Centres and in Adult Prisons

The West Australian - Boy in adult jail says he is scared - "He is in the adult prison awaiting people-smuggling charges after allegedly working as a cook on a boat that carried 50 asylum seekers to Ashmore Reef in June last year. The boy is understood to be working alongside sex offenders in the prison laundry."

ABC Radio National Interview - Indonesian children in Australian Adult Prisons

The Australian - Leonora to house unaccompanied minors - "How can you call a semi-arid location, 830km from Perth, community detention?" he said. "They are too far away from the full suite of services. There isn't a psychologist resident in Leonora or heavy duty medical services."

Sydney Morning Herald - Warning of more detention centre deaths - "These centres are inducing trauma, multiple trauma, self-harm, suicide and multiple suicide attempts, clinical disorders both acute and chronic," he said in a statement.
"Unless the Commonwealth acts promptly with due regard to the rights of our asylum seekers we believe that there will be en masse riots, unnecessary suffering and trauma, and the loss of further lives."

The West Australian - Supporters rally for Albany teenager - Human Rights Alliance convenor Gerry Georgatos called for independent police inspectorates which report to the Corruption and Crime Commission or the office of the Attorney-General rather than to the police. "In lieu of the conflicting versions given by witnesses and police, what we need is to have an end to police investigating police," Mr Georgatos said.
"We have never had a successful prosecution into deaths in custody in 30 years where there have been 2056 (and where an unnatural hand by a police or prison officer was involved)." Mr Georgatos, who has done a PHD into Australian deaths in custody, said there was a "culture of cover-ups" in the WA police as demonstrated by the case of Kevin Spratt, who was tasered multiple times by police.

SBS - "Two decades, too little, too late" - nominated for UN Media Peace and Walkley Awards

The West Australian - Deaths in Custody Still a National Disgrace
"There has been an Aboriginal death in custody somewhere in Australia every month in the past 18 months. For each Aboriginal death in custody, there are eight to 10 non-Aboriginal deaths in custody. Every five days an Australian dies in custody.
How can Australia have one of the world's worst records? For every death in custody, we must acknowledge that there are scores of people maltreated, neglected and suffering."

CAAMA Radio - Aboriginal deaths in custody - Part 1

CAAMA Radio - Aboriginal deaths in custody - Part 2

Indymedia - Racism gives Australia one of the world's worst deaths in custody records - " Detention Centres, where thousands of self harms and attempted suicides are being committed each year. These Detention Centres have been described by psychiatrist Dr Patrick McGorrie, an Australian of the Year, as mental illness factories."

The death of Cameron Mulrunji Doomadgee - "147th Aboriginal death in custody since the RCIADC recommendations 1991"

Gerry Georgatos
Managing Consultant - Education, Training, Advocacy
Human Rights Practice - 0430 657 309
BA (Phil), BA (Med), BA (AIS),
G/Dip (Human Rights Ed), MHumRgts, MA (Social Justice)
Researcher in Australian Deaths in Custody
Journalist - National Indigenous Times, & freelance



I think it is true what Gerry writes that you can reach a point of breakdown where recovery is no longer on and that is proven too in society despite the many services and experts but mental health issues are rising and people taking their lives

Society is the making or breaking of people and there are now more stress in society than ever before and it is society that defines the value of money and what it should mean and all the stress and anxieties that go in trying to have it or need it

Gerry you have hit the mark I think, everything you write seems to make so much sense to explain things in easy to understand ways that before others didn't grasp

Well done to you and keep it all up, your insights are spot on and deeper than those of academic hogwash

What can we say about the problem of the rate of deaths in custody, only that little can be said apart from stating the fact that every single gaol inmate was made to fear becoming a victim of murder!! Not to mention that under the threat of murders, men were forced into appearing to their oppressors as though their own racism was as bad as that inflicted against them! Neither to mention that under the threat of murders, men were forced into engaging in incidents of violent rape as perpetrators as well as victims! Little own having to mention that every former gaol inmate I have met was imposed upon, under threat of murder, to become addicted to a variety of substances that were not even supposed to be available outside of gaols, little own inside the gaols, and often enough even supplied via the kitchens in the gaols.

What can we say without implicating ourselves in how we obtained the knowledge we have about such matters! Which was, of course, the point of why criminal abuse was being committed in the gaols, so as to silence witnesses and victims, and I am glad to see that research is being collected about the matter.

One thing we can say, is that everybody who lives under the Government of a Legislative Democracy of a Nation State, ought to be granted the most basic human right of becoming enabled to live a life of obedience to the legislation provided by that government. Additionally, of course we have simultaneous human rights to meet the obligations of family and culture, and these rights ought never be terminated or pushed aside by the right to live obedient to legislation; but when a nation could not even provide that most basic right, to live obedient to its own legislation, for its prison inmates, then no wonder there were all kinds of weird tangents springing up in the prisons about what could be counted as cultural intiatory rituals, but were in fact no more than immitations of the counter productive rituals conducted by organised crime which condemned men into stories of being hounded by police or criminals, and usually both.

My experience is that organised crime inside and outside of the prisons was perpetrating ritualised abuse causal to dissociative identity disorder spectrum illnesses, (eg ranging from multiple personality disorders to post traumatic stress disorders), so as to silence victims as witnesses; and that when Aboriginal men were imposed upon to become involved in similar events, they could somewhat mitigate against the depth and breath of the trauma involved, yet were as victims themselves, not able to cease such false rituals entirely, such that there were many non-Aboriginal criminals in Australia, who imagined that even traditionally oriented initiatory ceremonies, were events of anus rape. It is like a bad joke gone wrong on the government.

Thanks for the chance to make a comment.

Gerry, you are a good man for all the good things you do and put yourself on the line, your dedication and your heart are big, I hope life smiles well upon you and that those around you appreciate who they have got with them

With great respect, Dee

Well done Gerry

What an utterly exceptional and worthy project and the way you have gone about it is interesting and unique to my knowledge, I look forward to more! Julie

What an utterly exceptional and worthy project and the way you have gone about it is interesting and unique to my knowledge, I look forward to more! Julie

goodluck to you gerry and thank you for what must go deep inside you

I think your work on helping free the Indo kids from jail has been miraculous and has informed your phd in deaths in custody and or maybe the other way around, you are in a minefield of difficult work and understandings and you are tenacious in being able to cut through to the facts, all power to you my brother, Lan

I found this very interesting and the links to articles very interesting and mental health problems are something that society brings on often and Gerry I would very much like to read more when you have finished your work or its ready, I think you've a lot of good to say, strong steady insights mate, regards, Dale

Protector Macklin’s Intervention
Sat 21 Apr 2012
By Anonymous

By Jeff McMullen, in Arena magazine

The shadow of Auber Octavius Neville, the great white Protector, once more falls across Aboriginal Australians as politicians agree to extend the Intervention in the Northern Territory.

A century ago Chief Protector Neville insisted that Aboriginal people ‘have to be protected against themselves whether they like it or not’. It was this logic that gave Australia the Stolen Generation as tens of thousands of Aboriginal children were removed from their families sending waves of trauma through successive generations.

There is a similar deep vein of paternalism and assimilation in today’s extraordinary overreach by the Australian Government attempting to control for another decade so many aspects of the lives of Aboriginal people in the seventy-three targeted communities.

‘Should we call Jenny … “Protector Macklin”? I think perhaps she fits that role at the moment all too well and it’s a tragedy’, said the former Prime Minister, Malcolm Fraser, at a gathering in Melbourne organised by the group, concerned Australians.

A growing number of eminent Australians including Traditional Owners, Church leaders, former judges, lawyers and over 33,000 citizens have signed a petition on a website, Stand for Freedom, opposing this poisonous political pact between Government and Coalition. Tens of thousands more have viewed the anti-Intervention documentary, Our Generation, and then complained that they have read so little in the Australian media about what could amount to fifteen years of Government assault on the most fundamental human rights of Aboriginal people. After screening that film in hundreds of cinemas and community halls, connecting the voices of Aboriginal elders directly with the Australian people, it is clear to me that mainstream television and newspapers are contributing to what W. E. H. Stanner called the Great Australian Silence. It is also revealing of the treachery of white politics aimed at Aboriginal people that Julia Gillard’s government and Tony Abbott’s opposition, so full of loathing for one another over most other policies, are nonetheless prepared to strike a devilish deal to continue and expand federal control over the remote NT communities beyond the end of the declared five-year emergency phase in July 2012.

Dr Djiniyini Gondarra, a Nelson Mandela-like Yolngu leader from Galiwinku, Elcho Island, had tears in his eyes as he warned Senators visiting the north that extending the Intervention would send many remote communities into a dangerous downward spiral with still more death and misery.

‘This legislation is going to kill us. We are losing nine or ten people every week. People can’t live. They have lost their will and all hope.’

After travelling with this brave elder statesman around the country through the years of the Intervention and having listened carefully to other highly respected Aboriginal leaders in the seized communities, I know that Djiniyini Gondarra’s sense of foreboding is shared by many others.

Rosalie-Kunoth Monks from Utopia, Djapirri Mununggirritj from Yirrikala, Yananymul Mununggurr from the Laynhapuy Homelands, Diane Stokes at Muckatty Station, Maurie Ryan and John Leemans at Kalkarindji, Reggie Wurridjal and Helen Williams at Manigrida, Joy White with the Larrakia mob in Darwin, Barbara and Walter Shaw in the Alice Springs Town Camps, Harry Nelson at Yuendumu, Dhanggal Gurruwiwi from Wallaby Beach and Matthew Dhulumburrk Gaykambayu from Ramingining … I want you to know these names and their homelands. These are the voices of courage and conviction that rise up to challenge the Great Australian Silence.

‘I fear for the future of these people’, said Ian Viner, a former Minister of Aboriginal Affairs (1975–78) who still offers support to the remote communities. ‘This is not a fair go…The Northern Territory Intervention was un-Australian and the Stronger Futures legislation is equally un-Australian’.

With Orwellian irony, Protector Macklin calls the package of legislation that will bury genuine self-determination in the Northern Territory Stronger Futures. Don’t be fooled. It is the Intervention wolf in sheep’s clothing.

The three bills are loaded with discrimination, crafted with brazen deceit and appear to be invalid in the light of Australian and international law. After years of Labor politicians blaming John Howard and his Minister, Mal Brough, for the top-down approach of the Northern Territory National Emergency Response launched in June 2007, Stronger Futures is unquestionably Protector Macklin’s Intervention. Its hallmark is the distinctly punitive approach.

With incarceration rates of Aboriginal people increasing at a frightening rate, the Government is adding prison sentences for the transportation of even small amounts of alcohol across these vast white protectorates. As proposed by Protector Macklin and approved by the House of Representatives, carrying a single bottle of beer could bring a six month sentence or up to eighteen months jail for a six-pack. The Senate will resume debate on some amendments to these draconian penalties in May or June. Reducing the pattern of imprisonment by substituting infringement notices, on the spot fines for possession of small amounts of grog, might satisfy the politicians. But such fiddling with a heavy-handed policy would not change its glaring discrimination as an entirely different standard of law is applied to just one group of Australians.

‘This undermines that fundamental proposition that everyone is equal in the eyes of the law and it creates a dangerous precedent’, declared the President of the Australian Lawyers Alliance, Greg Barnes, at a forum I chaired in the Parliamentary Theatre in Canberra on the eve of the vote on the Stronger Futures legislation.

The passage of Stronger Futures through the House of Representatives has been an exercise in contempt by most politicians for genuine democracy in Australia and especially for the rights of Aboriginal people. On 27 February 2012, the day of the Canberra leadership spill that isolated Kevin Rudd, the one Prime Minister to deliver a National Apology to Aboriginal people, only a handful of MPs were in a near empty House of Representatives as this extraordinary social engineering shaping the future for a whole era ahead passed without even a formal division in the Parliament.

Where were all the other hollow men and women? What does this say of the state of our democracy?

Frank Vincent, a former Justice of Victoria’s Supreme Court observed sadly that the legislation offended just about every reasonable view of what it is to be Australian.

‘They believe racism sells. They accept we have a racist society … but is that what we are really like? I hope it is not’, he said.

‘This is largely racist legislation … both major parties have sold out Aboriginal people … it’s a complete denial of democratic process’, added former Chief Justice of the Family Court, Alastair Nicholson, one of the strongest legal voices opposed to the Intervention. Along with leading Aboriginal lawyers including Professor Larissa Behrendt and Nicole Watson, Nicholson has helped author a significant challenge to the government’s misleading attempts to pass off Stronger Futures as a form of so-called ‘positive discrimination’ based on ‘special measures’.

Listening but not Hearing, a lengthy study by Jumbunna Indigenous House of Learning, at the University of Technology Sydney, exposes the new legislation as unjust and ongoing discrimination. By showing that the government’s consultation process was a sham in the remote communities, the report establishes some of the legal grounds that lead Alastair Nicholson to believe that the High Court of Australia might well strike down Stronger Futures. ‘There is a very strong argument’, he said, ‘that this legislation is unlawful and … won’t stand up to a legal challenge’.

Nicholson and others, including Associate Professor Eva Cox, have studied transcripts of ten of the community consultations, concluding that the process was unethical, that the new legislation was based on the government’s pre-determined policies and that Aboriginal people had not given ‘free, prior and informed consent’ to a ten year takeover of their lives.

When the Intervention was launched by then Prime Minister John Howard it was so replete with discrimination that a government, unconcerned with constitutional niceties, and a cowardly opposition that did not want to risk losing any votes by being too soft on Aboriginal people, shamefully removed all of these citizens from the protection of the Racial Discrimination Act (RDA). This prompted strong condemnation by the UN Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in Geneva as well as visits to Australia and highly critical reports by the UN Special Rapporteur, Professor James Anaya and the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights, Dr Navi Pillay. Both international law authorities insisted that the government’s Intervention was in breach of Australia’s commitment to honour the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and other human rights covenants.

Protector Macklin’s response in late 2010 was to feign reinstatement of the RDA but then plunge ahead with the same discriminatory policies tricked up with a few cunning political amendments. By extending to some other unfortunate communities the compulsory income management scheme and the punishing of parents whose children missed five days of school, the Government hopes Australians will believe that this is no longer aimed overwhelmingly at Aboriginal families.

The ruse of adding income management ‘trials’ in Bankstown (NSW), Shepparton (Vic), Playford (SA), Rockhampton and Logan (Qld) is a highly dubious attempt to avoid the charge of discrimination, so much so that Protector Macklin has refused to reveal her legal advice from the Solicitor General’s Department.

‘In my experience’, former Chief Justice Nicholson said, ‘the courts of this country, particularly the High Court, are not stupid’. The discrimination is obvious and the government’s claim of ‘special measures’ benefiting Aboriginal people and of ‘free, prior and informed consent’ clearly would not stand up in court when the available evidence of transcripts from the consultations showed such widespread opposition to the continuing Intervention.

After their own legal assessment, the Greens in the Senate prepared a dissenting report on Stronger Futures with Senator Rachel Siewart observing that the legislation is deeply flawed and discriminatory, does not reflect the wishes of the Aboriginal communities and therefore must be opposed by all fair minded Australians. Senator Siewert noted that Canberra’s persistence with the ‘top-down approach’, criticised so readily last year by both Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott, now continued to undermine and disempower Aboriginal people. She called on Jenny Macklin to abandon the expensive failure of the punitive approach.

There is no chance of a change of heart because the Protector’s big stick is about to come down even harder on Aboriginal families. The discriminatory use of a Basics Card to quarantine the spending of meagre welfare payments will have an added nasty edge when Centrelink officials are given the power to slash three months welfare money from parents whose children skip school. Punishing families by cutting money for food on the table was never a solution put forward by Aboriginal people or school principals. Leading education reformers, such as Dr Chris Sarra of the Stronger, Smarter Institute, insist that engagement with parents and students, the hard work that requires patience and persistence, is the only method of improving and sustaining attendance in remote school communities.

Aboriginal children have a right to attend a school that is truly part of their community and the test of that is whether the system of the Chief Protector values Aboriginal Cultures and their ways of seeing the world. Bi-lingual education, learning first in your own language, is today shunned in the Northern Territory even though this is set down as a fundamental human right in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

This is an area where I have worked closely with Aboriginal students, teachers, parents and principals for almost twelve years in some of the very communities subjected to the disastrous Intervention approach. I guarantee that ‘Strong and Smart’ school leadership—making children feel valued and safe, respecting their right to learn their languages and be proud of their Culture, welcoming their families and Aboriginal elders into the school community, and ensuring that teachers are culturally competent and well trained for this most important education work, are the keys to the success of the best schools.

The government continues to send contradictory messages to Aboriginal children and their families. There is constant talk of Closing the Gap but then these large blue signs appear in the targeted communities shaming Aboriginal people and telling the country that these children must be subjected to special laws and punishment. This has been crushing. Such appalling discrimination will have long-lasting effects, just as Chief Protector A.O. Neville’s break-up of families created damage still visible today.

If the government had any evidence that the Intervention is improving the lives of Aboriginal children, Malcolm Fraser said in a challenging speech to concerned Australians, then surely Protector Macklin would be singing loudly about this triumph. Instead there are alarming signs that the wellbeing of children, supposedly the government’s reason for the Intervention, has actually declined.

In evidence given to the Senate Committee on Communities and to a Parliamentary Inquiry in Darwin, Northern Territory Children’s Commissioner, Dr Howard Bath, reports that 70 per cent of these children suffer from the serious and often painful learning disability of otitis media, anaemia rates have climbed to around 40 per cent and almost 60 per cent have multiple developmental disabilities.

Most disturbingly, Dr Bath warns that the Northern Territory is now experiencing a terrifying escalation of youth suicides, particularly hangings. In the 1980s there was no discrepancy between Indigenous and non-Indigenous suicides in the Territory and the youth suicide rate was about the same around the country. But a complex combination of community stresses and conflicts, Dr Bath says, have made this fearful contagion far worse in the Top End.

Instead of punishing young people in genuine distress and shaming and blaming their parents, surely these families have some fundamental needs and rights that are now being ignored. The Little Children are Sacred report (Anderson and Wild, 2007) insisted from the outset that genuine consultation and involvement of Aboriginal communities was essential to improve wellbeing.

The fundamental mistake of the prolonged Intervention is that it alienates and disempowers the families and communities who are plainly the only ones who can bring about improvement in the lives of thousands of Aboriginal children. The evidence confirms this but is ignored by the great white Protectors.

In the Howard years when the Culture Wars raged fiercely, academics like Professor Helen Hughes, the disgruntled cabal of the Bennelong Society and a considerable number of weary anthropologists, came to see Aboriginal Culture as a significant part of what was so often described as the ‘Aboriginal problem’. Aboriginal parents were judged incapable of responsibly caring for their children. Aboriginal organisations, Land Councils and even the Northern Territory Government, were viewed as part of a ‘failed state’. Federal Intervention was deemed the answer.

Under Stronger Futures Protector Macklin will emerge with far greater ultimate power to control development decisions on community living areas and in town camps. The Parliamentary website explains that the legislation will facilitate possible moves towards private home ownership. Access for future mining or pastoral development could be dictated from thousands of kilometres away in Canberra.

Traditional Owners and Aboriginal Lands Councils will surely be divided and conquered, as Djiniyini Gondarra warns, unless they find a new unity with other Australians to oppose the federal grab for land and power.

Musicians including Jimmy Little, Archie Roach, Shellie Morris, Shane Howard and John Butler are calling on us all to raise our voices and insist that we will not live with discrimination.

Put yourselves in the shoes of one of these children. Unless they live in one of the Northern Territory’s twenty growth towns, positioned nicely alongside large mines or new discoveries of iron ore and uranium, most of these children will be living with discrimination, judged to be worth less of our care, less education, less health, less housing and less opportunity.

The development agenda has always been clear across Northern Australia but is there any coherent Australian agenda for the children of the Intervention?

The architects of this fatal assimilation have never been honest, hiding still behind the lie that Aboriginal people must be protected from themselves, whether they like it or not.

Dr Jeff McMullen AM is a journalist and film-maker, CEO (Honorary) of Ian Thorpe’s Fountain for Youth, an associated producer of the film, Our Generation and active campaigner in Australia and overseas on the rights of Indigenous peoples.

glad to see this being read, because brother Gerry is right in there aint no recovery for many when things done to them have been done too long and too hard

old man Col

if this document could only be translated to legislation we'd get somewhere at long last


You do some incredible writing Gerry, I've been reading your work for a year now and you are a champion advocate

Amazing work Gerry, amazing, you are God's instrument, God's gift, you contribute knowledge that makes a difference, you quietly among us and do your good amazing one

Sincerely, Gail