ILC betrays Ngukurr First Nation youth by leaving them high and dry

In outback Australia, many young First Nations people aspire to work in the cattle industry and it is local employment. Here is another example of the ILC leaving our First Nations youth high and dry and continue to employ non-Indigeous people.

Vocational trainers in the remote East Arnhem Land indigenous community of Ngukurr are helping a new generation of stockmen and women to saddle up. Students are learning to how ride horses and muster cattle in the hope they can secure cattle industry jobs. But they face barriers beyond the school gate. (ABC TV - 7.30 NT)
What's supposed to happen
Indigenous Land Corporation is funded to assist First Nations people to acquire land and to manage Indigenous held land so as to provide economic, environmental, social or cultural benefits.

By Mick Estens

The boss of the school rural programme teaching Ngukurr youth skills for the cattle industry is Toby Gorringe, he is a First Nation man from Queensland with a strong voice for his own people. He has spent a life time with cattle and horses.

The Indigenous Land Corporation just refuse to give our people land.

Not just that they use our people as slave labour with promises of work. What a lot of rubbish, but what do you expect from Uncle Tom's and Aunt Mary's?

These black Board of Directors are an absolute joke. They love being the little black boys and girls performing for their white masters. These Black Directors have NO feelings for the wrongs they do. The worst thing is that they believe they are doing something Good for their Mob. Just shits doesn't it.

- Michael Anderson

His father, Bill Gorringe, was handpicked in 1932 to be among the greatest group of horseman and cattleman that this country has ever put together. They rode in rodeo and performed bush skills in front of Sir Sid Kidman at his 75th Birthday at Jubilee Oval in Adelaide attended by 40,000 people.

In 2012 Mr Toby Gorringe took his school kids to the lands of their grandparents on Alawa country 170 km west of Ngukurr. The Station here is being leased, somewhat unsuccessfully for the Minyerri people, to the Indigenous Land Corporation (ILC). The first trip up was a success for the youth, so much so another was put in place for the same year. The young First Nation kids got to see their uncles and cousins saddling up horses, bucking a few out, they even went on an all day saddle muster. The second trip the ILC had cut the Ngukurr groups access to decent accommodation and placed the group in tents under a half dead tree on the flat with three leaves on it for shade right next to a fuel dump.

The School Principle thought he would fix the accommodation problem by offering some of the schools funding to the multimillion federal Government run ILC. The ILC accepted the $25 000 from the Ngukurr School kids and built a covered shed for the kids to camp in when next they visited their country.

As the excitement grew among the children at Ngukurr in 2013 that were going to go mustering and camping on the ILC property, bad news arrived. An ILC senior employee, a white man known to Mr Gorringe, rang the School Principle and informed him that the visit could ONLY go ahead if the Aboriginal man in charge, Mr Toby Gorringe, was replaced by a better suited to the ILC representative. The Principle informed the ILC boss that Mr Gorringe was the Senior Indigenous man in charge and if he wasn't let be in charge than the visit could not go ahead.

The Ngukurr School kids, after being let down and treated badly by the ILC have never returned to the ILC leased Hodgson Downs Station again or got to sleep in the accommodation that they paid for or spent time upon their grandparents' lands. The last couple of outing these kids had was onto their own country at Yellow Water Hole.

In the meantime, the non - Indigenous ILC senior men and Manager involved in the Hodgson Downs Lease employed a stock contracting mustering team from outside the ILC employment to help them with their mustering. This contracting team for a period of time last year and today are living in the quarters the Ngukurr School kids paid for. In effect, the Ngukurr kids missed out and now their accommodation has a mob of white fellas in there using their assets and taking the employment from local Alawa men. One has to ask why, after nearly 20 years in existence the ILC have no Contract Stock Mustering camps they have fully trained and funded themselves? Why pay outsiders $18-20 per head to muster while local Aboriginal men miss out?

Until Dawn Casey and her team of ILC Directors start clearing out non indigenous employees in senior positions, not much benefit will flow through to the very people they are supposed to represent. Here in this part of Arnhem Land the Aboriginal word for white man is " munanga" so it shows how ineffectual the ILC has become when locals along the Roper Road call the ILC not the Indigenous Land Corporation but the MLC, Munanga Land Corporation. In this name, lays the problem. If the Army is full of Soldiers, the Navy full of Sailors, why isn't the Indigenous Land Corporation, full in ALL major positions, with First Nation people that are more cultural attuned with running their own Corporation?

To date, the Ngukurr School Kids have never been back to the ILC leased property Hodgson Downs.

The writer of this article, Mick Estens, declares an impartiality conflict of interest as he has had direct involvement in the matters he has written about.

Mr Estens was an ILC employee from January 30, 2012 to January 16, 2013.

PS: The ILC media section were emailed a copy of this story and the writer received no reply from anyone within the ILC