November 1

Working Together To Tell A Story

Late at night, we are driving along a highway through the remote Kimberley area of northern Western Australia. We are located in the Fitzroy Valley about 3500 km north of Perth, Western Australia’s capital city and the same distance east of Darwin, the capital of Northern Territory.

Canberra is Australia’s capital and the home of federal government. Broome is 400 km to our west. There are many contrasts between the distance, density, cultures, and environments. In the afternoon, we leave Broome to travel inland towards the river country. This is an area where Nykina, Bunuba, Gooniyandi and other language groups have maintained traditional Customary Law relationships over many generations.

Our goal is to arrive in Fitzroy Crossing by nightfall, which is a town where the famous and extensive Fitzroy River flows. Amy Ngurnta Nuggett is seated in the passenger seat next to me. Marminjiya Nuggett, her daughter, is seated in the back with a young granddaughter. Amy is a senior Juwaliny–Walmajarri woman. I have worked and known her since the 1980s.

Traditional Owner Under Native

Amy is a local artist and traditional owner under native title Customary law. Amy, a widow, has been living in the West Desert for many years. She now lives in her late sixties and has five adult children, great-grandchildren and grandchildren. Continue driving until we reach Fitzroy Crossing. We then continue to the Bayulu Community, where Amy lives.

We load the vehicle with bags, water bottles and food, as well as several swags or bedrolls. Large, striped plastic bags are filled with clothes. These items are essential for families who live in remote areas. Ngurnta informs me when I return to Bayulu Community two more days later that she must visit Mangkaja Arts in order to determine if any of her paintings are sold.

She wants to know if she has enough money to buy food (tinned milk and bread, tea, coffee, tea, fruit, sugar, tinned salmon) as well as fuel to travel inland to her desert homelands. This trip will require strong four-wheel drives and skilled drivers to transport her family across the jilji (or sandhill) country to Fitzroy Crossing.

Amy visits Mangkaja Arts and learns that she is still waiting for payment for her painting. Marminjiya, who is taking a break from her job at an Aboriginal resource agency, joins us. We also meet Amy’s eldest daughter, Wayawu, who is employed on a part-time basis as a journalist and broadcaster with the local west Kimberley-based radio station, Wangkiyupurnanupurru, and Amy’s mother’s sister, Wapi. We have lunch under a tree, not far from Bunuba’s Ngiyali Roadhouse.

Price Of Clothing

Lunchtime is a time when we talk about many things, including Amy’s grandchildren, Mangkaja and a possible trip to the desert. We also discuss the high price of clothing at the local shop. We start to tell stories about Amy, including many about Amy’s childhood. Wayawu suddenly speaks out of her thoughtfulness.

Let’s make a book about Amy. About her life. Let’s talk about Amy’s stories. She has a lot of stories and loves to paint. This is when a small artistic and literary seed is planted, which is later called thematically visual storytelling. Amy says she loves the idea of a book. This is partly because Amy was a Juwaliny Walmajarri woman who married an a Walmajarri man. They both left the desert to live in the Fitzroy Valley’s rivercountry.

Amy makes it clear that she wants the story of her family to include everyone, and not just focus on Amy. This is a way of explaining how land, culture, and family have interconnected over time. The project’s heart is centered on this interconnected emphasis of family, storytelling, and painting rather than specific details about Amy’s life.

We visit, be, and talk with each other in various desert and Fitzroy Valley settings and in Perth. This allows us to work on the book and exhibition intermittently. We communicate via phone and email, re-telling stories and finding and sorting old and newly acquired photographs. Also, we converse with kartiya (or non-Aboriginal) friends. Amy and her children are able to maintain close Aboriginal family connections, but Amy and her children also renew friendships with non-Aboriginal friends.

November 1

Back To Moore River And Finding Family

Back To Moore River And Finding Family

It is very rewarding to unravel river the web of stolen generations’ history. In October, I attended the Centenary Memorial gathering at Mogumber on the Moore River Native Settlement site, 130km north of Perth.

This memorial was create to remember a tragic event that occur in the history of apartheid Australia. Many Aboriginal families have a strong connection to the Moore River Native Settlement. From the Pilbara and the Kimberley, people also sent from the Western Desert and south west. Moore River best known for Doris Pilkington’s book Follow The Rabbit Proof Fence. But there are many other stories, including the one of my grandparents.

The colonists saw the settlement as a solution for the Aboriginal problem. It was establish in 1918. Too many Aboriginal people were wandering around WA, often on reserves close to ration depots, where they received flour or blankets. They were not want by the colonists.

Plus A.O. Plus A.O. The half-castes would merge in and the full bloods would disappear. In his book Australia’s Coloured Minority, Neville clearly outlined how he would achieve this.

Minister Warrants

Neville issued ministerial warrants for Aboriginal people to be remove from their homes. He first sent Noongars from Perth, then all over WA. To make it easier for people to be remove, he close down ration depots. Women with children particularly vulnerable so they sent to Moore River and Carrolup further south.

Moore River had a population of 193 people in a monthly average. Over 500 people sent from Australia to Moore River between 1915 and 1920. Many of them would die in one of Australia’s most notorious concentration camps.

Laverton, north-east of Kalgoorlie was the location of one of the most tragic stories. It was where 17 people, including women and children, gathered around 1921 at the police station to receive their annual blankets and clothing issue. Instead, they taken into cells, with the men and women separate.

They then placed in a cattle vehicle with a sign that read, 15 niggers to Mogumber. They were laugh at by the local whites and told the tale of the wailing, niggers.

Moore River shut down in 1951, but it reopen by the Methodist Church as Mogumber Mission. It was operational until 1980.

Separation River

When I received my family’s Native Welfare files from the 1980s, I found out about my grandparents’ stories. Violet Newman, Mum, taken in 1946. She sent to Norseman Mission between Kalgoorlie & Esperance. My grandparents were sent to Moore River.

Most Aboriginal people do not have birth certificates. However, the birthday of horses or the 1st July is given to them. Mum gets the date she sent in the mission, the 19th of October.

My grandfather Len Newman ran from Moore River to search for his daughter. My mum told him that he travel by foot because he afraid of being taken and sent back to Moore River, as had the case with others. After he found mum, my grandfather worked around Norseman.

My grandmother’s story was very different. She never saw her eldest child again. We don’t know anything about the second daughter she gave birth. My grandmother sent her to Moore River, and she taken to Kalgoorlie hospital. That is all we know.

My grandmother a story we heard about when we live in Newman in the Pilbara in the 1970s. This was because the entire Jigalong mob from two hours east of Newman had known her.

November 1

Royal Commission Into Water Theft Iceberg For The Murray

Royal Commission Into Water Theft Iceberg For The Murray

Jay Weatherill, the South Australian Premier, announced last weekend. That a Royal Commission was being established to investigate violations of the Murray Darling Basin Agreement.

This is due to allegedly egregious behavior by some irrigators in New South Wales and state government regulators. The alleged theft in the Murray-Darling Basin of water is just one example of the institutional problems. Namely the captivity of powerful irrigation interests to take over state government agencies.

NSW is an example. The 1993 audit of the North west rivers of the Department of Water Resources revealed. The same thefts, meter-tampering, and questionable government oversight. This was exposed by the ABC’s Four Corners investigation.

Broken Hill and other communities have been unable to get water for the last half of their salt needs. Floodplain forests and wetlands of international importance continue to decline and the native fish and waterbird populations have plummeted.

Many values are at risk in the river system, which supplies water to over 3 million people and covers 77% of Australia’s landmass. It’s not just a few (alleged bad apples), it is the governance of water that is at risk.

Problems With The Current Royal Plan

While there is evidence of bad behaviour in NSW, it is more concerning that some state governments are preventing the implementation of the A$13Billion 2012-26 Basin Plan as well as associated programs to restore water to the river system.

The Basin Plan must release water in pulses if it is to improve river health and floodplain forest health along the lower Murray. This will ensure that the water can flow out of the river channel to flood wetlands.

It is not helpful for the Victorian Government in this context to propose flows that are half the size of those previously agreed upon because of objections from a few landowners along Goulburn River, which is part of its Goulburn key area project.

State governments upstream have rules that allow water to be purchase by taxpayers so that it can taken by irrigators as soon as it crosses state borders. They are not removing bottlenecks that stop managed floods safely traveling down rivers. They even suggested reducing the amount of water available to the environment below the minimum requirements.

Surprisingly, 30% are not meter at water extraction points within the Basin. The information collect not made public or audit to ensure that theft is punish.

Sustainable Management Required

The trust and cooperation between the federal, ACT, and responsible states is essential for the sustainable management of the Murray Darling Basin

This trust broken by the allege water theft in NSW, particularly for SA, which relies on the River Murray. The stalling in implementation of Basin Plan agreements and manipulation of rules that determine who gets what water, and when, also affects this trust.

Transparency is the foundation of trust. There are many ways to royal record water allocations online and increase trust. Implementation of the Plan can still be fix.

Yesterday’s report by the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists identified several solutions. These include measuring all water diversions and completing water recovery.

There are positive signs that political leadership is emerging. The Council of Australian Governments had promised June that it would deliver the Basin Plan royal in complete and on-time” in time for its scheduled commencement in 2019.

Malcolm Turnbull, the Prime Minister, reaffirmed his commitment to Basin Plan implementation by the federal government. He supported the broad recommendations of the Murray-Darling Basin Authority’s Basin-wide Compliance Review, which aimed to strengthen water laws enforcement and the Basin Plan’s implementation and to recover any remaining environmental water.