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"Our mob are our solution" - global Indigenous day of action planned for 12 January

Giovanni Torre -

Noongar community leaders in Perth have called for an international day of action for First Nations' rights on 12 January.

In a statement addressed to Aboriginal Community Organisations "and our First Nations Brothers and Sisters around the world", organisers say: "We the First Nations know better for Our People, for Our Lands, for Mother Earth".

"Calling all our brothers and sisters around Australia and the world to stand in unity and spirit for all Indigenous peoples who have been wronged by governments.

"Please join us at Rally for CommUNITY, 12 January 2024."

The rally in Perth will begin at 12pm on the front steps of WA Parliament House.

"Why are we doing this? Because our people are still suffering and although Aboriginal people have the solutions, we are not heard by the system that controls and contributes to our derision. Enough is enough."

The rally organisers say governments must "authentically engage with grass roots Aboriginal people for effective intergenerational solutions that start at grassroots".

"We know better and we challenge all governments to show their scorecard on how well they have destroyed, controlled and diminished the lives, livelihoods and futures of our people."

Proud Wadjuk Noongar community development leader, academic, author and coach Professor Cheryl Kickett-Tucker AM told National Indigenous Times the action is "about all levels of government, in Australia but also around the world".

"Look at what is happening in New Zealand, and on the west coast of US where First Nations people are campaigning," she said.

"It takes us so much time and resources, our Elders are passing before government actually get themselves together when it comes to our people.

"They are barely listening; we have to repeat ourselves for 10 years before they catch up."

Professor Kickett-Tucker said enormous amounts of time and resources were being put in by Indigenous communities working to bring about positive changed.

"Across the grassroots, the families and communities are so far removed from the decision makers, the ministers, the people who sign the papers that govern our lives," she said.

"It's now time for the grass roots… it's time for those voices to be heard.

"One of the reasons we are doing this in Australia, the Close the Gap initiative - well what a woeful scorecard that is for government. 11 of 19 targets not on target, 4 can't be assessed, that's 15/19."

Professor Kickett-Tucker said too often funding was going to non-Aboriginal organisations to address Aboriginal community issues.

"All levels of government are congratulating themselves on their procurement targets, they are making a few rich individuals but how many of them are connected to Aboriginal Controlled Community Organisations?" she asked.

"Gningala Yarran-Mark wrote on Black-cladding. It is an issue, but is the government taking notice? It won't happen.

"I am not talking as an academic but as an Aboriginal person who lives in WA, in the City of Swan, where many Aboriginal people in WA live.

"Where are the resources in this area? Because they don't see us, we don't exist. I have asked 'show us the reports and what you are investing in these areas" … also Goldfields, Kalgoorlie, the Wheat Belt, trying to find out what resources are being put in at all levels of government, is it hard to get the information.

"The effort to get any government to do anything, to even listen, it's really difficult."

Professor Kickett-Tucker said the issues are entrenched and systemic, even if individuals in positions of influence have good intentions.

"The problem is not Minister Linda Burney; it is the system she must work in. She is genuine, we can see that, unfortunately she – and Ken (Wyatt) – are caught up in the system. People come and go, but the system invades every aspect of our lives. There are some good people in government but the system is the problem," she said.

"We are ethical people… our founder, my father, who recently passed, said 'we must work with ethical investors and ethical people'.

"The government people I work with, I have to ask them 'what qualifies you to work in this space?' They make Aboriginal organisations jump through hoops, but when I ask what qualifies them, they run for the door.

"The lense is always on us, there is something wrong with us, our people, our organisations – but when you turn that around… They refuse to respond and answer questions. They take weeks and weeks."

Professor Kickett-Tucker said the much vaunted procurement policies don't go to the heart of the issue.

"The procurement policy is a fallacy. They see one Aboriginal person on a board and say, 'give them the funds'. Are Aboriginal people making decisions on those boards?" she asked.

"The rally is all about our families, our communities and our allies coming together to say together we can make the shift.

"We are standing strong and standing for our values, our beliefs and our cultural obligations to our people.

"These things can be worn down by the system. We will turn the lense on the governments, all levels, and we are turning it back to them."

The Noongar academic said it is clear "people are struggling".

"We know families and organisations are struggling, we see it in the Close The Gap data. The social economic indicators and the social reforms, it is a terrible scorecard," she said.

"We need to do things differently and for that you need authnetiticy, you need the people to deliver, design and evaluate what works for them, they know best of course."

She said she wants to see a global action, with ongoing events.

"A lot of leaders are tired, some are sick, they need their tribe and we are coming. We also have help coming from around the world," she said.

"Look at climate change, if they listened to First nations people around the world it would make a difference.

"Give us self-determination. If you did that, a whole industry would be demolished. If we were empowered, self-determined, with resources like our land and waterways, imagine what we could do for our people and for the world in general."

Professor Kickett-Tucker said the action on 12 January can take many forms.

"You don't need big action, it can be a vigil, get together for a yarn or cup of tea. Talk about what to do in your community, communities know best," she said.

"People in their own community know better than anyone else and they have the most important thing, they have the heart, if you don't have the heart, it's just a job."

She called on the 40 per cent of Australians who voted yes to the Indigenous Voice to Parliament "to come stand beside us, work with us, that is true reconciliation – reconciliaction".

"There's a new word for you," she said.

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