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An interesting article in the Age April 24, 2006

Posted by campsovereignty in Analysis.
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Ben Haywood has put together a piece called "Fiery Debate" which was in yesterday's paper (we think).

It is an attempt to draw together some of the facts of what has been going on at Camp Sovereignty, which is nice to see, although some of the facts aren't quite the truth.

Firstly, the article says:

"The State Government and the City of Melbourne say there was an agreement that the camp would close when the games ended on March 26, but instead the camp remained."

This isn't true. There was never any agreement with the State Government or the City of Melbourne about being in Kings Domain, let alone when we would leave.

Secondly:

"They are currently marked by five eucalypt poles."

This is not true either. While the City of Melbourne website says these poles are there, they're not, and no one can answer the question as to where they have gone. This is one of the reasons why the Sacred Fire was established there, to protect the remains since the totems have gone. Which leads us to an expansion on the section of what the protestors want.

There is a grave concern that the burial site at Kings Domain has been desecrated and neglected. There was evidence that people had been sitting and drinking on the rock. There is evidence that dogs have been trying to dig under the rock and as mentioned above, the totems have mysteriously vanished. Given the significance of the remains buried there and the fact that this site is apparently protected as a Heritage site, who is in charge of looking after this site and why haven't they been doing their job?

The article then goes on to report the criticisms by Wurundjeri elders of the Cultural Inspector who did the Emergency Declaration, saying that she is "acting as an individual and not for the good of the Wurundjeri people". That's all fine and good, but do the Wurundjeri elders speak for the Wurundjeri who are at Kings Domain? Do they have the right to speak for all of the Nations who have ancestors buried at that site? And what have they done to protect that site?

Some of these Wurundjeri elders need to realise that this issue is not about land but about lore. The Sacred Fire has brought, for the first time in over a century, traditional Aboriginal culture back to Melbourne. In a way that isn't packaged or commodified but is keeping true to Spirit. Spend half an hour with any of the young Aboriginal men at the Fire and see how much the last couple of weeks has transformed their lives; given them something to believe in and aspire to. Spend half an hour with any of the non-Indigenous supporters who have been there over the last couple of weeks and hear their stories of how this is the first time they've ever had access to learn the true stories of Australian History; and for some it's even been the first opportunity to meet an Aboriginal person and hear for themselves what this culture is about.

Ben then goes on to discuss the issues this Camp has raised, and he does a pretty good job of identifying some of the major issues but he misses the three key ones: Genocide, Sovereignty and Treaty. The reasons why we set up camp in the first place. It's been interesting to note how many times the word sovereignty has been used in the press recently. We've obviously had an effect on them!

The issue is also pointed out of some of the tragic stories now emerging in the press about the real situation for Aboriginal Australians. The Sunday Age said last week "there is probably no worse hell anywhere in Australia for the women and children who constitute the majority of the 2500 residents in the camps." We agree, but it must be acknowledged that while those living in these horrendous situations stay far away from where the average Melburnian doesn't have to face up to the problem, the problem will remain. Bringing Indigenous issues into the heart of Melbourne has given people the opportunity to learn about these issues and consider how we can work together to solve them. How often has Victoria had this unique opportunity?

Finally this article has this bit at the bottom:

What are your thoughts on Camp Sovereignty? Do you think the flame should be allowed to stay? Do you think a permanent shelter should be built? Why or why not? Submit your view by 10am the Thursday before publication.

You know what to do…

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