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Sovereignity and Governance


Aboriginal people traditionally did not have kings or chiefs. They lived in small clan groups led by a collective of several elders who consulted with each other on decisions for the group. An Aboriginal elder is someone who has gained recognition as a custodian of knowledge and lore, and who has permission to disclose knowledge and beliefs. Nowadays elders are referred to as aunties or uncles. By appointing kings and granting them king plates, the white colonial power went against the more collegiate grain of traditional Aboriginal culture. The colonial power assumed a tribal structure and governance, where a tribe typically has one recognized leader who receives allegiance and services and controls the distribution of rewards. Many first nation people, but not all, have a far more sophisticated governance structure which often interfaces badly with a colonial administration to the detriment of the first nation people, e.g. the Sioux peoples in North America. Those first nation people who do have a tribal structure dependent on a strong man as a leader, e.g. the Apache people of North America, fit in well with a colonial administration which by definition controls and distributes rewards in a top down hierarchical structure.[1][2]

Unlike the dominant political system of Australia, Aboriginal governance is not democratic. The ideal of democracy was expressed in the Gettysburg Address, a speech given by U.S. President Abraham Lincoln delivered during the American Civil War in 1863, four and a half months after the Battle of Gettysburg:

The flip side to this democratic ideal is populism where a strong man is elected by appealing to the fears and prejudices of the people, as when the Fascist leader Adolf Hitler was elected in Germany before the Second World War. The result was Nazi Germany, an awful dictatorship. A dictatorship is really nothing more than a tribal structure where the leader has absolute power. Unfortunately, as is now well known, "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely", a remark first made by John Dalberg-Acton in 1887. All this is not new, as the Ancient Greek philosopher Plato[3] pointed out around 375 BC when he gave a chilling account of how democracy can be subverted into tyranny by an opportunistic demagogue, rule by the people swiftly degenerating into manipulative leading of the people.[4]

Attempting to impose democratic institutions on Aboriginal groups is colonialism and the results are usually at best ineffective, at worst dire. This is because it is inappropriate governance model and also because it can result in a populist leader, who whilst apparently a democratic leader actually governs in a tribal way by controlling the distribution of rewards, the antithesis of traditional Aboriginal governance which is collective, balanced, and most importantly lore based.


The nations of Aboriginal Australia were, and are, as separate as the nations of Europe or Africa.




R v Bonjon



Customary law in Australia Noongar spirituality Noongar lore? or law?

Common law v. Napoleonic Code

Stolen generations


Noongar couple Donald and Sylvia Collard took a Stolen Generations test case to the WA Supreme Court on behalf of themselves and nine of their fourteen children (one of the nine children was Glenys Collard). In defending itself the State Government clung to the dried up old line of "it was the right thing to remove the children" and it was "in the children's best interests", despite the clear racist genocidal intent of the State Government.[5]

In an unbelievable[5] 410-page judgement dismissing the case, Justice Janine Pritchard said while she felt for the family, its case was not established:[6][7]

(* note) A fiduciary duty exists where one person is required to put another person's interests before their own.

"The law is a ass"


Charles Dickens "The law is a ass" W:wikiquote:Oliver Twist - If the law supposes that," said Mr. Bumble, squeezing his hat emphatically in both hands, "the law is a ass — a idiot. If that's the eye of the law, the law is a bachelor; and the worst I wish the law is, that his eye may be opened by experience — by experience."

'Ultimo' is the name of an inner city suburb in Sydney. It was originally the name of the estate of Dr John Harris, on 14 hectares granted to him by Governor King in 1803. It was named for a clerical error in a legal case against Harris that had prevented him being court-martialled. His offence was listed as 'ultimo' (having occurred in the previous month) when it should have been cited as 'instant' (having occurred in the same month).[8] W:Harris Street is named in his honour.[9]

Deaths in Custody


Aboriginal Cultural Rights in Victoria


Aboriginal Cultural Rights in Victoria [10]

Indigenous self-determination and the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities: A framework for discussion - Mar 2010[11]

Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities - Australia is the only democratic country in the world to not have a Bill of Rights (or similar protections).[12]



Indigenous Population


According to the 2016 census 649,171 people identified themselves as being of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin, making up 2.8% of the total Australian population of 23,401,892 people.[13] However, taking into account people who were missed in the count it is estimated that Indigenous Australians now represent 3.3% of the total population, i.e. an estimated 772,000 people, up from 3.0% in 2011.[14] The indigenous Australian population is growing rapidly, confounding 20th century expectations of a race doomed to extinction.

Also from the 2016 Census, there were 2,474,410 people in Western Australia and 75,978 Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people who made up 3.1% of this population. Since this is taken straight from the census data it should be compared to the 2.8% figure for the whole of Australia, showing that in percentage terms more people classify themselves as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin in WA than the average for the whole of Australia.[15] 12% or roughly 1 in 8 indigenous people, and 1 in 10 Australians, live in WA. Since WA makes up 33% (almost one third) of Australia's total land mass the population density in WA is lower than the average for Australia.

Second stolen generation : children 'in care' 17.9 times over-represented


The Productivity Commission’s annual 2019 Report on Government Services (released 22 January 2019 for the year 2018) showed of the more than 4400 children in care in Western Australia more than 2400 were Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander children. This number is “far greater” than the number of those who were taken as part of the stolen generations. Yorganop’s recent findings showed more than 55 per cent of WA children in care were Aboriginal, while Aboriginal people made up only about 3.1 per cent of the population, that is an over representation of 55/3.1 = 17.7 times.[16] The government statistic for the ratio of indigenous/non-indigenous children up to 17 years old in out-of-home care (OOHC) in WA is 17.9 compared to 10.2 for all of Australia.[17] The slight difference in the third significant figure (3SF) in the two results here (17.7 and 17.9) is caused by rounding errors in only working to 2 or 3 SF. The government report stated the rate of OOHC for WA's indigenous children to be 61.4 per 1,000 children, which given the number in care implies the total number of indigenous children (up to 17 years old) in WA is 39,088.

The basis for the claim that the number of indigenous children in care now is far greater than those who were taken as part of the stolen generations comes from comparing the number of Aboriginal children in out-of-home care in 1997 when the "Bringing Them Home" report was tabled in Federal Parliament, which was was 2,785, with the number of Aboriginal children in out-of-home care in June 2016, which was 16,846. A 1994 survey by the Australian Bureau of Statistics stated that one in every ten (10%) Aboriginal people aged over 25 had been removed from their families in childhood.[18] Another figure quoted which is the maximum estimate of the "Bringing Them Home" report was one third (33%) of Aboriginal children were stolen, and it is said that all Aboriginal people knew at least one relative who had been stolen.

Children in Custody : 27 times over-represented


Western Australian police commissioner Chris Dawson says the “vast volume” of Aboriginal children who are charged with a criminal offence could be dealt with through community justice arrangements and not end up in custody. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in Western Australia are 27 times more likely to be put under youth justice supervision than non-Indigenous children, second only to the Northern Territory where every child in custody is Aboriginal.[19]

Adult prison population : 19 times over-represented


Considering the adult full-time prison population and based on the 1st quarter (March) 2019 figures unless otherwise stated, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander prisoners represented 28% of the total Australian prison population with 12,144 people imprisoned (daily average through 1st quarter). Of the total indigenous prison population, 2,696 people or 22% were in Western Australia.[20] Since the indigenous population in WA is 12% of the total Australian indigenous population (2016 census data), indigenous people are significantly more likely to go to prison in WA than the average for Australia.

The highest Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander imprisonment rate was in Western Australia with 4,119 persons per 100,000 adult Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. This compares with the the rate for all people in WA of 345 persons per 100,000 adult people, which is the highest all adult rate of any state or territory except the Northern Territory which because of its high indigenous population has a high overall rate.[20] At a glance, this shows that indigenous adults in WA on average are more than 10 times as likely to go to prison than the average WA adult. But since the average rate includes the high rate for indigenous people, the actual discrepancy is worse than this, as worked out below.

Using the spreadsheet tables downloaded from [20], the average daily number of prisoners for the 1st quarter 2019 in Western Australia was 6909 (table 4) of which 2696 were indigenous (table 11), hence there were 4213 non-indigenous prisoners. Using these prisoner numbers and given a prison rate of 4,119 persons per 100,000 adult Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, implies an adult indigenous population of 65,453. Similarly, given a rate of 345 persons per 100,000 for the adult population of WA, implies an adult population of 2,002,609 and therefore 1,937,156 non-indigenous adults in WA. Hence the prison rate is 217 per 100,000 non-indigenous adults in WA. Comparing rates, the average adult indigenous prison rate is 19 times more than the average adult non-indigenous rate.

Australian Indigenous most incarcerated people on the planet


Noel Pearson speaking on the ABC programme Q&A on May 29 2017 said:

The statement that "Indigenous Australians are the most incarcerated people on the planet Earth” was subject to a FactCheck. The verdict is the statement is correct, based on the best available international data.[21] Extracts using 2015 data:

  • Adult imprisonment rates per 100,000 of adult population
Indigenous Australians 2,253
  • Adult imprisonment rates per 100,000 of total population
Indigenous Australians 1,356
All Australians 152

This would be an 8.9 over-representation (=1,356/152), but note that the 'All Australians' includes Indigenous Australians who make a significant contribution to the number of people imprisoned. The ratio would be higher if using the imprisonment rate for non Indigenous Australians instead of 'All Australians'.



The despair is particularly acute in Indigenous communities, where at least 79 people have taken their own lives this year (2019) alone, among them 20 children.[22]

Alliance Against Depression — WA trial already getting results.[23]

Missing people : 8 times over-represented


In Western Australia, Aboriginal people make up 17.5 per cent of unsolved missing persons cases, despite making up just 3 per cent of the state’s population.[24][25] Indigenous women who are reported missing are less likely to be found. Many are presumed dead. A report on missing and murdered Indigenous Canadian women labelled what had happened to them as an ongoing genocide, but here in Australia what is happening to Aboriginal women is 'unknown'. After meeting with the woman who drove the Canadian inquiry, Dorinda Cox, a Noongar woman who worked for WA police before becoming a women's advocate, is calling on the Australian Government to launch an urgent probe into the rates of missing and murdered Indigenous women in this country:[24]

Stolen Wages


Queensland 2019 Settlement


In 2019, the Queensland Government agreed in principle to settle, for $190 million, a long-running stolen wages case involving 10,063 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people seeking to recover unpaid wages from 1939 to 1972. This was a class action with Hans Pearson as the lead applicant in the case. Mr Pearson believed he earned up to 7,000 pounds as a stockman during the 1950s and 60s but, when he went to collect his money, he only received 28 pounds. He said he had been denied his life-long dream of home ownership and that many of his contempories had died before getting what they were owed.[26]

The real amount of unpaid wages to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people over this period is much more than $190 million, indeed up to $500 million, as there is no compensation or interest component in the settlement claims Dr Ros Kidd, a consultant to the class action and Aboriginal affairs specialist.[27] This $500 million estimate was mentioned by the ex Queensland Premier Peter Beattie in parliament.[28]

This settlement is expected to have an impact on WA claims.[29]


The 'Stolen Wages Reparation Scheme WA' was established in 2012 as the Western Australian Government's response to investigations by the Stolen Wages Taskforce into the wages earned by Aboriginal people but held by their guardians.[31]




Beattie in 2006.[33]

see/hear also

  • Listen to radio programme.[22]

Ngiyan waarnk

  1. "Indian Tribal Good Governance Practices as They Relate to Economic Development". United States Congress. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. 18 July 2001. Pub U.S. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE, WASHINGTON, 2002. p 156. This reprints the original journal article by Cornell and Kalt (1998 - below). Retrieved 13 February 2020
  2. Stephen Cornell and Joseph P. Kalt (1998). "Sovereignty and Nation-Building: The Development Challenge in Indian Country Today". American Indian Culture and Research Journal. 1998. Vol. 22. No. 3. pp. 187-214. Retrieved 13 February 2020
  3. Plato. Republic 8 (562b-569c)
  4. Angie Hobbs. "Comment: The rise of the demagogue – a warning from Plato". Sheffield University. Blog. 24 January 2017. Retrieved 13 February 2020
  5. 5.0 5.1 Gerry Georgatos. "WA Supreme Court in an unbelievable decision dismisses Stolen Generations compensation claim". Sovereign Union - First Nations Asserting Sovereignty. The Stringer. 29 December 2013. Retrieved 9 June 2019
  6. Ryan Emery. "Stolen Generation trial ends in disappointment". SBS News. 24 December 2013. Retrieved 10 June 2019
  7. 7.0 7.1 "WA Supreme Court dismisses Stolen Generation compensation claim launched by Collard family". ABC News. 10 June 2015. Retrieved 9 June 2019
  8. From heaven to hell in one easy walk - National - www.smh.com.au
  9. The Book of Sydney Suburbs, Compiled by Frances Pollen, Angus & Robertson Publishers, 1990, Published in Australia. ISBN 0-207-14495-8, page 257
  10. "Aboriginal Cultural Rights in Victoria". The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission. Retrieved 5 May 2019
  11. "Indigenous self-determination and the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities: A framework for discussion - Mar 2010" he Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission. Retrieved 5 May 2019
  12. Template:Cite news
  13. "2016 Census QuickStats : Australia". Australian Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved 10 June 2019
  14. Nicholas Biddle, Francis Markham. "Census 2016: what’s changed for Indigenous Australians?". The Conversation. 28 June 2017. Retrieved 10 June 2019
  15. "2016 Census QuickStats : Western Australia". Australian Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved 10 June 2019
  16. Lauren Pilat. "Number of WA Aboriginal children in care 'greater than stolen generation' ". WA today. 25 January 2019. Retrieved 9 June 2019
  17. "Child protection and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children". Child Family Community Australia (CFCA), Australian Institute of Family Studies, Australian Government. Retrieved 9 June 2019
  18. Jens Korff. "A guide to Australia's Stolen Generations". Creative Spirits. 11 March 2019. Retrieved 10 June 2019
  19. Calla Wahlquist. "WA police says 'vast volume' of Indigenous children shouldn't be in custody". Guardian, Australia Edition. 3 June 2019. Retrieved 9 June 2019
  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2 "4512.0 - Corrective Services, Australia, March quarter 2019 : Summary". Australian Board of Statistics. 6 June 2019. Retrieved 10 June 2019
  21. Thalia Anthony. "FactCheck Q&A: are Indigenous Australians the most incarcerated people on Earth?" The Conversation. 6 June 2017. Retrieved 10 July 2019
  22. 22.0 22.1 "Health Minister calls roundtable as alarming suicide figures released". ABC RN Breakfast. 4 June 2019. Retrieved 9 June 2019
  23. Kate Stephens. "Alliance Against Depression — WA trial already getting results". ABC South West WA. 28 July 2019. Retrieved 28 July 2019
  24. 24.0 24.1 Isabella Higgins and Sarah Collard. "Lost, missing or murdered?". ABC News. 8 December 2019. Retrieved 8 December 2019
  25. Note: Date of statistic not stated in ref
  26. "Queensland Government to pay $190 million settlement over unpaid wages". ABC News. 10 July 2019. Retrieved 10 July 2019
  27. "Dr. Rosalind Kidd". Dr. Rosalind Kidd web site. Retrieved 10 July 2019
  28. "Indigenous unpaid wages could be up to $500 million, analysts claim". ABC News. 9 July 2019. Retrieved 10 July 2019
  29. David Weber. "Indigenous stolen wages at centre of WA class action as dust settles on Queensland case". ABC News. 10 July 2019. Retrieved 10 July 2019
  30. Nick Everett. " ‘Still waiting for justice’ Aboriginal stolen wages in Western Australia". Redflag. 16 October 2015. Retrieved 10 July 2019
  31. "Stolen Wages Reparation Scheme WA (2012 - 2012)". Find & Connect, Australian Government. Retrieved 10 July 2019
  32. "WA's stolen wages shame". ABC RN. 6 September 2015. Retrieved 10 July 2019
  33. Stuart Rintoul. "Rough justice over stolen wages". The Australian. 14 October 14 2006. Retrieved 10 July 2019