To begin the process of ’inclusion’ a process of ’Indigenisation’ has been suggested by contemporary thinkers, Terry Kildea and Linc Yow Yeh, from Kangan Batman’s Koori Centre, Gunung Willam Balluk. The process of Indigenisation would enable the creation of job opportunities, mentoring and the development of real work skills. An active job creation process can occur, enabling communities to fully develop their business plans and work towards financial independence. Meaningful work is the solution to the social and emotional wellbeing of Indigenous communities. The people have been disadvantaged for 200 years and have become welfare dependent. To break this cycle people need to be able to work and be successful. ‘Put a black face behind every desk and educate people both ways’.12 It starts with cultural awareness leading to cultural sensitivity and empowerment. This suggestion is not a quick fix ’social security scheme’ but an expensive, carefully planned inter-generational strategy supporting self determination so that it works.
The first Australians’ culture and spirituality, ancient links with and custodianship of this land are unique. Their cultural diversity, their contribution to European settlement, to exploration and to the war efforts has been significant. Sport and art are also major contributions. Australians now have the opportunity to foster a new attitude of acceptance towards Indigenous people’s unique contribution to this nation. As a starting point, Australians can stand side by side, unified in the common goal of Reconciliation through accepting and valuing the First Peoples of this nation.
Is a nation wide ‘First Australians’ public holiday called for, to acknowledge our Indigenous peoples?
Torres Strait Islanders have similar issues to mainland Aboriginal people and they hope to keep their traditions and cultures alive. They would like government policy to change to enable them to regain land and sea rights. Self management is the goal and repossession of their traditional islands would build self esteem and the confidence to develop businesses and run their own finances. Developing independence in this way could ultimately lead to the development of a separate island state. At this stage in the Islands development the main issue is to educate the young people so that they can work both ways – island way and western way. Equipping the young with the ability to move between the two cultures and to gain employment is a priority.13
Torres Strait Islanders have a major concern with global warming. Many of the islands are low lying and potentially threatened by sea level change. The threat of rising sea levels jeopardising island life caused by greenhouse gases from other parts of the world is unacceptable. It is hoped that government policy will change to support the Kyoto Protocol to help reduce gas emissions globally and protect the islands under threat.14