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Koori Mail
Our national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander newspaper

The Voice of Indigenous Australia

Jamie stands true to his culture and people

IMAGINE if every Australia Day award nominee – Aboriginal and other – said, “I will not accept this nomination until we change the date, until we have proper action to show that Black lives matter in Australia and that Indigenous people have a right to protect their country.”

That is exactly what Jamie Graham-Blair from Nipaluna (Hobart) is imagining after last week declining a nomination for the Young Australian of the Year award. 

It was not an easy decision for the pakana science student and climate activist. 

Latest News Stories

Wangan and Jagalingou traditional owners have blocked a dirt access road leading to Adani’s Carmichael Coal Mine site.

Traditional owners stand their ground

Wednesday, 9 September 2020 12:50 pm

WANGAN and Jagalingou traditional owners are standing their ground after Queensland police swarmed their protest. 

Wangan and Jagalingou traditional owners lit the spirit fire on a dirt access road leading to the proposed Adani Charmichael coal mine site on August 24 to call on their ancestors to help them drive Adani from their lands. 

Wangan and Jagalingou man Coedie McAvoy said traditional owners had called on the Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk to meet with them and support their cause. 

“But she declined and she sent in 50 police officers, armed with guns, ready to remove us,” Mr McAvoy said. 

“This fight is not over. We will not stop and we will not quit. 

“The world is watching us.” 

Queensland police had promised to arrange a meeting with the Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships, but instead forced Wangan and Jagalingou traditional owners to remove the spirit fire from the road. 

Wangan and Jagalingou man Adrian Burrugubba said negotiations between traditional owners and police have broken down because the police failed to keep their promise. 

“We will take a stand and we will continue to practise our lore and custom in our culture, and we are going to pay respect to our ancestors,” he said. 

The huge police presence comes after Wangan and Jagalingou traditional owners served Indian mining giant Adani with an eviction notice for trespassing on their land, demanding all mining activities cease immediately…

Sasha Purcell (Whaleboat) will take on a Masters of Law at New York University next year.

A burning ambition

Wednesday, 9 September 2020 12:47 pm

TORRES Strait Islander human rights lawyer Sasha Purcell (Whaleboat) has a comprehensive academic background, years of volunteer experience, and an extensive employment history working with numerous government departments. 

And soon, Ms Purcell will head to the USA to take on a Masters of Law at the prestigious New York University (NYU) after being named as a Fulbright Award recipient for her studies in international legal studies and human rights law. 

Since its establishment in 1946, the Fulbright Program has grown to become the largest educational exchange scholarship program in the world, operating in over 160 countries. 

Ms Purcell is a delegate for the United Nations Association of Australia – Queensland Division and a PhD student with the University of Queensland’s school of law and social science. 

She told the Koori Mail her main career goal is to work as an expert with the United Nations, using her skills and knowledge to contribute to the advancement of Indigenous human rights. 

“As a Torres Strait Islander lawyer I have always ensured that my career and passions were aligned to protecting and promoting Indigenous human rights,” Ms Purcell said. 

“Torres Strait Islanders are a minority within a minority and, as such, we are often
forgotten or invisible in the discussions about Indigenous people in Australia. 

“Since my high school years I have been actively involved in advocating for Indigenous issues…

Kuku Yalanji woman Lalania Tusa has won a Queensland Child Protection Wee award

Keeping kids connected to culture is win for all

Wednesday, 9 September 2020 12:44 pm

TWO Aboriginal women have been recognised with Queensland Child Protection Week awards for their work in keeping children connected to their culture. 

The awards were presented at a ceremony at the Queensland Parliament on September 3, with Child Protection Week September 6-12. 

Tammy Wallace, a Jirrabal woman with cultural ties to the Atherton Tablelands, was recognised for her work addressing the overrepresentation of Indigenous families, children and young people in the child protection system. 

Ms Wallace is based in Brisbane working for Churches of Christ Queensland – the biggest provider of out-of-home care in Queensland – where she has developed a ‘connection to culture scale’. 

By asking 16 questions, the scale indicates whether a child in care has a strong cultural attachment. 

“I work with young adults exiting the system, children in care, and also children in residential care,” Ms Wallace told the Koori Mail. 

After qualifying as an occupational therapist, Ms Wallace went on to become the director of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Safety, working with former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and former Queensland premier Anna Bligh…

Belinda, Warren and Apryl Day and their sister Kimberley Watson are distressed that no charges are to be laid regarding the death of their mother Tanya Day. Picture: Charandev Singh

No justice for Day family

Wednesday, 9 September 2020 12:39 pm

VICTORIAN police involved in the death in custody of Yorta Yorta woman Tanya Day won’t be charged, leaving her family devastated and angry. 

A coronial investigation found the 55-year-old grandmother’s death in December 2017 was clearly preventable. 

She died in hospital more than two weeks after repeatedly falling and hitting her head in a Castlemaine police cell. She had been arrested for being drunk on a train. 

Coroner Caitlin English in April referred Ms Day’s death to prosecutors, saying there was evidence to suggest it may have amounted to negligent manslaughter. 

Victoria Police now says charges will not be laid against the officers involved, following advice from the Office of Public Prosecutions. 

Ms Day’s family is aghast no one will be held accountable. 

“The two police officers who failed to properly check on our mum and instead left her to die on the floor of a police cell have been let off,” the family said in a statement released by the Human Rights Law Centre. 

“Our mum’s case shows why it’s wrong for police to be investigating the actions of their own colleagues. 

“When someone dies at the hands of the police, the law should require a transparent…

Black Lives Matter rally organiser Elizabeth Jarrett speaks at the press conference.

Demands for systemic change to prevent deaths in custody

Wednesday, 9 September 2020 12:35 pm

FAMILIES of First Nations people who have died in police custody are demanding urgent change to the justice and corrections systems. 

On August 21, a group of advocates spoke about the lack of justice for people who have died in custody, and their families, at the Tree of Knowledge behind NSW Parliament House. 

The event was organised by not-for-profit organisation Deadly Connections, Black Lives Matter rally organiser Elizabeth Jarrett and the family of Tane Chatfield, who died in his cell in Tamworth prison in 2017. 

It marked the closure of submissions into an upcoming Parliamentary Inquiry into the overrepresentation of First Nations people in NSW prisons, which has been initiated in response to the national Black Lives Matter protests in June and July. 

Keenan Mundine is the the co- founder of and ambassador for Deadly Connections, an Aboriginal organisation that specialises in community-led solutions in reducing the overrepresentation of First Nation people in child protection and the justice system. 

Mr Mundine is a Biripi Wakka Wakka man born and raised on Gadigal land, and has lived experience of the prison system and dealing with the trauma of deaths in custody. 

He said it is critical to redirect current investment from the prison system into self-determined…

Colin Chatfield, the father of Tane, who died in custody, at a protest in Sydney last year. Picture: Darren Coyne

Coroner: care for Tane ‘cursory and inadequate’

Wednesday, 9 September 2020 12:25 pm

A SENIOR prison nurse who provided “cursory and inadequate” care for an Indigenous inmate in the hour before he took his life in a NSW jail has been referred to a professional standards board. 

Young Indigenous dad Tane Chatfield chose to kill himself in jail, but the NSW prison system inadequately cared for him beforehand, a coroner has found. 

But NSW coroner Harriet Grahame stressed deaths in custody of Aboriginal men like Mr Chatfield won’t be reduced unless Australia properly grapples with the factors underlying the “grossly disproportionate” incarceration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. 

Mr Chatfield, 22, died in hospital two days after he was found hanging in his cell at Tamworth Correctional Centre on September 20, 2017. 

He’d only been back in the prison for an hour after spending the night in Tamworth Base Hospital following multiple seizures in his cell. 

Ms Grahame last week ruled the death as suicide, but was highly critical of the prison system’s care for the Kamilaroi Gumbaynggirr Wakka Wakka man. 

Before being escorted back to his cell on return from hospital, Mr Chatfield was assessed for “only a matter of minutes” by senior nurse Janeen Adams. The nurse had little understanding…