Overwhelming interest in Aboriginal summit

Michael Anderson
Micahel Anderson

Goodooga, Northwest NSW, 13 January 10th 2010

Aboriginal activist Michael Anderson reports "overwhelming interest" in an Aboriginal summit he is convening in Canberra on 30 January and 1 February.

"The many calls I have received from our people throughout Australia indicate that the representation should be national," Mr Anderson, a one-time adviser to the federal government, says in the accompanying media release. "Many say that if they had the money they would be there, but many also say they will endeavour to organise state meetings I have been asked to attend to talk of the 'New Way'."

"This being a grassroots national movement means we will do this our way with NO government support," he writes. "This is an Aboriginal-owned initiative and we must fight the government through determined diplomacy," the activist, who worked in the US State Department, notes. "We know what we want and we must do it our way."

He urges that as well as the knowledge and experience of elders, "we also need our youth to stand beside us and learn to take the lead from this summit."

Mr Anderson's statement

There's been overwhelming interest in the forthcoming Aboriginal summit in Canberra on 30 January and 1 February. The many calls I have received from our people throughout Australia indicate that the representation should be national.

Many say that if they had the money they would be there, but many also say they will endeavour to organise state meetings I have been asked to attend to talk of the 'New Way'.

This being a grassroots national movement means we will do this our way with NO government support. This is an Aboriginal-owned initiative and we must fight the government through determined diplomacy. We know what we want and we must do it our way.

Even though we seek the knowledge and experience of our elders we also need our youth to stand beside us and learn to take the lead from this summit. I have been asked by many non-Aboriginal people who seek to attend whether they are welcome and I have reminded them that in the 1970s Black Power movement many non-Aboriginal people stood shoulder to shoulder with us and without them we may not have been as effective as we were.

We need to inform the public about what is going on in Aboriginal communities throughout Australia and that it is not of our making. What we have has been created by federal and state/territory governments. Once we were locked away by law without any freedom of movement or freedom of association and whites could be prosecuted for mixing with Aboriginal people, just like in the old South Africa.

In these government-owned and controlled 'gulags' they created a group of paupers who were given less than the basic education but one that would permit them to be a labour force for the local pastoral industries. Now that the farmers are struggling with the government not even being able to offer lower fuel tariffs for them I cannot see how the governments intend to address the unemployment situation of the people who live out here in the remote areas.

This government is a joke, the prime minister needs to listen to himself apologising for everything that has gone wrong. But he is an empty vessel when it comes to helping people overcome their trauma, experienced from these wrongdoings.

The summit is open to all who wish to be involved in overcoming and addressing the racial conflicts that have persisted in this country since white settlement. We must find solutions and ways forward. government-sponsored solutions have failed and continue to fail our people, so let us hear our people talk of a 'New Way' and then let us find ways forward together.

If the government seeks to engage with us then they must understand that it is 'our way or no way'.

What I expect to come from this summit is a 'communiqué' of grievances and new ways that I hope will be given to the prime minister and his government through a reading in the federal parliament when it reconvenes on the 2nd of February. This 'communiqué' will then be circulated to our people throughout Australia, so that we can all ensure that we are working towards a common solution to shared historical experiences.