Michael Anderson, interim spokesperson for 'Sovereign Union' states in a Media Release that is very clear that the drug traffickers are vigorously targeting Aboriginal communities in various parts of Australia, and there is a lack of real interest by the state police. Instead of rigorous police investigations many communities find that the police are targeting and harassing them instead of the perpetrators.
Mr Anderson said that police and state officials appear to be only too happy that Aboriginal communities are being targeted by the drug trade in order to maintain the impression that our communities are totally dysfunctional and therefore need intervention of one type or another. It is difficult for the community members to understand why police appear to take no action when names and addresses are given of those trafficking drugs into the communities.
Goodooga, NSW, 10 May 2012
I have been contacted by the Toomelah Elders’ representative and asked to consider the situation at Toomalah in northwest New South Wales.
I have concluded that there are three central issues that confront the Aboriginal People of Toomelah, based on the discussions that I have had with representatives of the Toomelah Aboriginal community.
In my discussions with community leaders in various parts of Australia it is very clear that the drug traffickers are vigorously targeting Aboriginal communities. Every one I have spoken to who have expressed these concerns have a similar story to tell in respect to what they deem to be a lack of real interest by the state police and this whole reporting exercise by community members to the police seems to be locating the opposite effect. Instead of rigorous police investigations many of the community informants explain how the police target and harass them instead.
It is our view that police and state officials appear to be only too happy that Aboriginal communities are being targeted by the drug trade in order to maintain the impression that our communities are totally dysfunctional and therefore need intervention of one type or another. It is difficult for the community members to understand why police appear to take no action when names and addresses are given of those trafficking drugs into the communities.
State and national leaders must take the blame, but then again when it comes to vice and organised crime the police are outgunned, so they fall back on assaulting the weak as opposed to doing the proper job. Governments must stop blaming predecessor governments for letting thing get out of hand. In this instance of protecting our communities, I will be raising this matter at our forthcoming National Unity Government foundation meeting at Kuradji, Sandon Point.
I am of the view that we need to introduce our own Aboriginal security marshals in our own communities to take responsibility for targeting vice and crime in order to protect our people. This is not intended to be a vigilante exercise but rather introducing our own customary law to deal with violations against our people and our communities.
On the matter of service provisions within Toomelah, it is true that John Howard’s closure of the CDEP (Community Development Employment Programs) throughout Australia has created a population with too much time on their hands and nothing to do. The real failures of past CDEP programs were simply that they were not resourced properly, so that our peoples’ efforts in their communities could have lasting results. Instead of closing CDEP down it would have been more beneficial to conduct an audit of the local districts’ labour and skills shortages and then build within the CDEPs mechanisms that would upskill the people to fill these needs. Locating job opportunities in extant places from their communities will not attract Aboriginal people away from their land and family network.
In respect to other service programs it is sad to say that the NSW Aboriginal Land Council fails to accept their share of responsibility in the Toomelah community. It must be said that in 1983 when the NSW Aboriginal Land Council was imposed on the NSW Aboriginal community, each of the Local Aboriginal Land Councils (LALC) were provided with $130 000 per year inline budget programming, that is, all the money was for the purpose of administration of the LALC. In 2012 the Land Councils continue to get the same amount of money for the same purposes.
When we review this funding to Local Aboriginal Land Councils it is clear that the Local Aboriginal Land Councils do not have sufficient fiscal budgeting that would enable the Local Land Councils to make a difference. In saying this there are some Local Land Councils in the coastal and metropolitan regions, whose lands are worth much more than Toomelah’s and we have seen recently that these land councils do indeed have capacities of their own and their budgets could, if the will was there, be redirected to smaller places like Toomelah. It is not acceptable for the NSW Aboriginal Land Council to continually seek Commonwealth grants and funding to improve the Aboriginal Peoples’ situation on Land Council land. The NSW Land Council must review its operations and take full responsibility and in doing so commence a program of working with the people in the community to ensure significant development and changes occur. Toomelah clearly represents those problems on Land Council lands and it appears that the NSW State Land Council has grave problems with working closely with their own people.
In the case of Toomelah we will be putting to the national unity government to go up to the community after the interim government is finalised to meet with the Toomelah community and design our own ways forward. In doing this it is our intention to conduct our own reviews of all the failures of past government strategies. Our intention is to locate what he people want and how the community itself would work to make improvements happen. Any future efforts and programs must be owned by the people of Toomelah and they must be resourced to make the changes they seek. It is not just a matter of sending someone in to address the perceived problems, the people of Toomelah must make the changes, their way in their time and be resourced to make this happen. If they do not have the expertise in various areas then the expertise must be brought in to train the people hands-on. We cannot follow the trends of the NSW Aboriginal Land Council who continually appoint outside administrators whose fees are often greater than the line budgeting for the year and the Local Land Councils find themselves indebted to the State Land Council because of the exorbitant fees charged by the administrators.