Monthly Archives: August 2008

Terra Nullius and Ecology

The Green movement has built a concept of wilderness, without consultation with Aboriginal people, we have generalised that concept, politicised it and it is now a significant issue on the Australian political landscape. Yet the way we have described the natural environment bears no resemblance to its ancient reality.

Modern Australia began with the legal principle of Terra Nullius, meaning a land with no law or government, no sovereign population. The British declared this continent to be Terra Nullius after Captain Cook “discovered” it, which allowed the British Crown to claim possession of the land in accordance with international law. Terra Nullius of course is a lie and was found to be such by the Australian High Court when Eddie Mabo proved that his family had owned their block of land since before Captain Cook.. Anthropologists and Aboriginal people assert that there was, prior to Cook and up until today, a complex and sophisticated system of law, government, economy and language, all the defining points of a sovereign nation. Continue reading


Aboriginal Australia, non-Aboriginal Australia

Firstly, for those who have not read a similar disclaimer in other things I have written, I am Irish and English by bloodline. I am the first of my family to be born in Australia.

The now defunct Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) defined Aboriginality – a precondition for voting in ATSIC elections – as being born of at least one Aboriginal parent and being recognised and accepted as an Aboriginal person by an Aboriginal corporation. This definition seems to have been widely accepted by Aboriginal people and the mainstream bureaucracy.

The first Aboriginal protection acts that were instituted around Australia at the beginning of the twentieth century identified “full blood”, “half cast”, “quadroon” and “octoroon” as being legally “Aboriginal” but if the Aboriginal bloodline was 1/16th or less then these people were legally white. The ATSIC definition of Aboriginality pays no such attention to what percentage “Aboriginal” a person is, only if a person in holistically Aboriginal based on a bloodline connection, no matter how distant or thin. Indeed the many fair skinned Aboriginal people today and their unrestricted involvement in Aboriginal culture, spirituality and politics indicates that “race” is not a key factor in “Aboriginality”.
Continue reading

Aboriginal health and Aboriginal land

A media release from the “Desert knowledge Co-operative Research Centre”

Health, happiness from the deserts
August 10, 2008

There is mounting scientific evidence that keeping the connection that Aboriginal people have with their traditional country strong can make an important contribution in the fight against the epidemic of chronic disease and social dislocation.

DKCRC leader of the Livelihoods inLandTM research project Dr Jocelyn Davies told the Garma Festival of Traditional Culture in the Northern Territory today that research is revealing that ‘caring for country’ has a critical – and quantifiable – role to play in improving the health and wellbeing of Australia’s Aboriginal people.

“It all begins with the desert Aboriginal world view, which holds that everything comes from the land – all laws, ties of kinship, ceremony, food, work, activity and good health,” she explains.

“If you move people away from their land in an attempt to deliver better health and other services, paradoxically you may sever the link that gives them both physical and psychological health.” Continue reading