In today’s Elliott Johnston Tribute Lecture, Northern Territory Anti-discrimination Commissioner and Flinders graduate, Mr Eddie Cubillo (pictured) explains why Aboriginal self-determination should be a process and not an end it itself.
Drawing on the Federal Government intervention in the Northern Territory, the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody and the abolition of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission, Mr Cubillo makes a plea for “respectful engagement” to create a better future for all Australians.
“What contributes to understanding and what is generally lacking in the broader community is a genuine engagement between non-Aboriginal and Aboriginal people,” Mr Cubillo said.
“Such engagement requires leadership and is a process that can be undermined by political partisanship or sectional interests,” he said.
Mr Cubillo is concerned about the perception that Aboriginal sovereignty is an end in itself.
“Real engagement is moving towards self-determination, which may result in a treaty of some description,” he said.
“But it is the process that is important – for Indigenous Australians to be included in discussions, our opinions need to be valued and there needs to be a real commitment to one another.”
He cites the Intervention as an example of how a positive measure has the potential to fail without leadership.
“At present, no one up north knows where we’re going with the intervention and it ceases in 2012,” he said.
“We really need to make hard decisions about how the future of Northern Territorians will look.
“We need to talk.”
The Elliott Johnston Tribute Lecture is presented by Flinders Law School and Yunggorendi, First Nations Centre for Higher Education and Research.
0 thoughts on “Cubillo calls for respectful engagement”
It is true there have been some positives with the intervention including the injection of funds into desperately needed infrastructure such as housing. Yes, all of our children do need to be safe. The NT has the highest rate of homelessness in Australia and the provision of safe and secure housing is surely a fundamental first step to keeping kids safe.
Unfortunately the potential of such a substantial budget allocation has not been realised. Much of these funds have been wasted following the development of simplistic and unworkable laws and policies which have been imposed on communities by officials who are under extreme political pressures, who face unrealistic time frames, and who therefore were allowed no time or space to engage with communities to identify the most practical and meaningful way to achieve the outcomes of the intervention. Communities are then left with layer after layer of political spin to cover up the failings.
Thanks Eddie for bringing the discussion back to the process of self determination. Remote Aboriginal communities in the NT are now being subject to yet another new policy – the transition of remote housing to public housing. Lets hope this process will acknowledge and embrace the principles of respectful engagement.