Category Archives: Uncategorized

‘Racism: It Stops With Me’

Industry Professor (Indigenous Workplace Diversity) Nareen Young was delighted to be asked to be one of a number of advocates for the Human Rights Commission’s ‘Racism: It Stops With Me’ campaign a few years ago and to be profiled by the Commission as a key advocate last week.

Industry Professor Young has worked around workplace diversity for many years and is very committed to the recognition of a culturally diverse Australia with the promotion of Indigenous culture it its core. Her work at Jumbunna in promoting Indigenous workforce diversity is key to this goal.


When she was asked how could Australia do better in fighting racism, Industry Professor Young shared this response:

“Leadership that rejects it and embraces the fullness of Australia’s cultural diversity, based in Indigenous culture and presence, every day, in every way, in everything it does. Sometimes this can take a while as confronting those sterotypes is difficult, but when the penny drops, it’s very interesting to see. For non-Indigenous Australians, learning that Blackfellas are not a second-class form of white culture, but a different and separate one, can also be confronting, but always worth it in the end.

Industry Professor Young also shared that she looked to her boss, Distinguished Professor Larissa Behrendt for inspiration and Mick Gooda.

“She is dogged and tireless at promoting justice for Indigenous people, unfailingly generous. Generosity is my favourite trait. Mick Gooda is another person of enormous generosity, and consistency. Consistency is my second favourite trait”.


Djap Wurrung Embassy Visit

by Padriac Gibson

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Visiting Embassy at Djap Wurrung to hear from community about their protection of country.

Over the weekend, I travelled with my young children to Djap Wurrung country, two hundred kilometres west of Melbourne, visiting an Embassy established to defend sacred trees. Currently, the Victorian Roads department is planning to destroy a large area of woodland, which includes culturally modified trees from many hundreds of years before the invasion, to make way for a double-lane highway.

There are awe-inspiring birthing trees that are 800 years old. If it wasn’t for the heroic efforts of a determined group standing in the way of the bulldozers, these trees would have already been cleared and Vic Roads would be preparing to also flatten the hills they stand on. Djap Wurrung women in particular have been in the forefront of this struggle. The kids and I were privileged to hear traditional owners leading the camp talk about the significance of the trees, and stand in solidarity with a powerful gathering of Djap Warrung and other Aboriginal people planning the next stages of the battle with the Andrew’s Labor government.

Under Aboriginal heritage legislation, there are obligations to consult with traditional owners about the potential impacts of major developments like this road. Approval was actually provided for the road by an Aboriginal group, Martang, who are the “registered Aboriginal party” for the area in question under the legislation. But the strength of the gathering on Saturday showed there is strong opposition from many traditional owners, who say they were never consulted and have vowed to fight hard to stop the development. Eastern Maar, a corporation representing traditional owners of South West Victoria, including Djap Wurrung, had representatives at the gathering and gave their support to the protests.

The protests have already forced Vic Roads to commission a second cultural survey of the planned site, which will take place this week and include traditional owners leading the protest.


Community welcome us to country

Our time on this country was such a profound reminder that the land we walk through, everywhere on this continent, is a cultural landscape shaped by Aboriginal people over millennia. There is incredible passion and generosity from Aboriginal people to share knowledge of this landscape, so everyone who lives here can have a much fuller appreciation of our place in the world and in history. But infrastructure development, driven by the profit motive – in this case to expand a highway for use by trucking and logistics companies – is unrelenting in it’s efforts to destroy the truth about this country, as it has worked for more than 200 years to destroy the true owners of the land.

Thank you to everyone who welcomed us at the camp. Please spread the word and support the campaign. There is an ongoing need for people on the ground and funds for the camp. Organisers are seeking statements of support. We were informed on Saturday that the protests have forced a proper cultural assessment of the site to be undertaken this week and no work on the road will happen while this takes place. Vic Roads have hundreds of millions of dollars invested though, and the pressure to bulldoze through an outcome will be immense. It’s a vital time to show support. The union movement in Victoria should take some serious solidarity action with the Djap Warrung and put a ban on this development.


Panel: The Problem with Women in Power

by Nareen Young

I was one of four panellists at Future Women’s inaugural event in Sydney last Thursday night on ‘The Problem with Women in Power’.

Future Women is a new organisation that has been established to promote gender equality. It was really nice to be asked to be a panellist as part of such a prestigious group and clearly punters wanted to hear the panellists as it was completely packed out!

It’s important that our views are heard in mainstream spaces and this was a great group of interested women (and a few men). The discussion, lead by Jamila Rivzi, centred on issues for women who hold positions of power and I was able to draw on my experience over the years as CEO of two organisations. There was a really interesting discussion about gender equality vs gender equity and I was able to bring my intersectional perspective to that.

Here is the facebook link to the highlights from the night:

untitled (gidyirriga) 2018

Jonathan Jones

Jonathan Jones is a Researcher with Jumbunna, his latest works untitled (gidyirriga) 2018 is on show at Australian Centre of Contemporary Art, Melbourne.

Sound Design Luke Mynott, Sonar Sound; voices Karma Dechen, Renna Dechen, Beth Delan, Jenson Howard, Lilia Howard, Taj Lovett, Mincarlie Lovett, Phoebe Smith, Ben Woolstencroft and Mae Woolstencroftfrom Parkes Public School; with thanks to Dr Uncle Stan Grant Snr AM, Uncle Geoff Andersonand Lionel Lovett


untitled (gidyirriga) 2018 ceramic figurines, sponge-stamped synthetic polymer paint, wood, stereo soundscape dimensions variable

Commonly known as a budgie, the budgerigar is a small seed-eating parrot endemic to Australia. They are around 18cm long and are green and yellow to blend in to the arid regions of Australia. As a species they are about 5 million years old. Widespread throughout mainland Australia, today they have become the most popular bird to keep and are the third most popular pet in the world, after dogs and cats. They are promoted as ‘easy to keep’ and can be trained to talk. Since the 1950s budgies have been exported around the world and bred in captivity. This breeding has seen a variety of ‘mutations’, including in colour and size. There are at least 32 primary mutations, enabling hundreds of possible secondary mutations. Birds taken to shows and exhibited are known as ‘English budgerigars’ and are over double the size of wild ones with fancy feather shapes and colours.

The word ‘budgerigar’, like many Australian words, is a corruption of an Aboriginal word. In Wiradjuri we call them gidyirriga (like many birds their calls will teach us their names). Budgerigars are social birds and prefer to live in flocks. Large flocks can be seen throughout Australia’s interior and, like other noisy flocking birds, lead you to water sources.

Budgerigars are not only a popular pet but the subject of a decorative ceramic figurine movement. Collectable sculptures of the budgerigar have been made by many factories including Royal Crown Derby and Beewick in England, Ernst Bohne & Soehne and Goebal in Germany, and Bing & Grondahl in Denmark, along with a number of other unknown factories around the world. Budgerigar figurines have been collected worldwide. Because of mass-production the relief features of the figurines become streamlined to accommodate the ceramic moulds, causing the bird to mutate. It’s sometimes unclear if these sculptures are inspired by the birds themselves or have become imaginary depictions. Neck hackles swell, birds are enlarged and garishly painted; the beauty of the subject is lost.

Growing up with my great-grandmother I remember objects like this. Cast animal figurines like these budgerigars were part of her world. I remember playing with them and the sound of high-fired porcelain clinking. I quickly learnt how to be gentle.

As we move into the 21st century the protection Aboriginal knowledge and our intellectual property, the bedrock of our cultures, will be paramount. Our knowledges, which have sustained us for over 60,000 years, will be vitally important if we are to live for another 60,000 years. Our knowledges are embedded in our country. How our knowledges are implemented, respected and acknowledged will be essential to Australia’s relationship to Aboriginal communities. Knowledge can be duplicated, mutated, disrespected; or it can be used gently with respect.

This work is made up of over 60 budgerigar figurines that have been collected over many years. They have come from all across the world. I’m interested in the process of collecting both within a western and Aboriginal framework. The figurines are on show at the Australian Centre of Contemporary Art, Melbourne and are set against a hand-stencilled wall design using a stamp made from domestic sponges. This design speaks to both murruwaygu, or south-east cultural markings, and the designs seen on crocheted doilies. The design itself is an elongated diamond or gum-leaf design.

Accompanying the budgerigar figurines and wall design is a soundscape created in collaboration with Wiradjuri and non-Aboriginal children from Parkes Public School, in rural NSW. Children include Karma Dechen, Renna Dechen, Beth Delan, Jenson Howard, Lilia Howard, Taj Lovett, Mincarlie Lovett, Phoebe Smith, Ben Woolstencroft and Mae Woolstencroft who are engaged in learning the Wiradjuri language under the leadership of their teacher Lionel Lovett and local language champion Uncle Geoff Anderson.


untitled (gidyirriga) 2018 ceramic figurines, sponge-stamped synthetic polymer paint, wood, stereo soundscape dimensions variable

Meet our Film Interns

There is a new wave of Indigenous filmmakers to watch out for, Wonnaruah sister’s Maddison Coles and Georgia Coles and Kerrod Meredith-Creed from Gunggari/Dharumbal country. All three are current Australian Film Television and Radio- BA in Screen Production students here in Sydney. All three were selected to undertake an internship through Jumbunna Research Unit at UTS to shoot a Music Video for Koori Radio’s Young Black and Deadly program.

Young Black & Deadly (YBD) is an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander fast track youth music program run by Gadigal Information Service Koori Radio and located in Redfern, Sydney. The program is for young Indigenous musicians between the ages of 12 and 18 looking to gain quality music industry experience. The musicians selected get a release of their music compilation (EP)  and a professionally produced music video.

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When Gadigal approached Pauline Clague at Jumbunna about doing a music clip of the YBD crew, she decided to create the same concept with the young Indigenous filmmakers and created an internship program with some young students. The program will run up to July and give the students a hands on experience with Production and Editing. She is hoping to roll out other internships leading up to Winda and other projects that Jumbunna will do in the future in film.

The shoot day was a height of activity, starting in the Gadigal studios before climbing the rooftop to shoot the choreography of the whole YBD crew overlooking Redfern and the CBD. It was an especially windy day, that caused balloons to pop and food to get cold and we were all chasing around the black, red and gold balloons whilst shooting the lunch party scene. We then headed down to cope street and filmed against the graffiti, and down the street, with neighbours coming out to look at the singers. The young singers loved that they were creating a crowd and a fan base as locals were engaged with the song and watching the clip being made. Our team were professional and keen to get the shots done.

The team now start in the editing process and in July they deliver to Gadigal Information Services the finished product.

Georgia “I really felt a real sense of community, being part of this project. I feel like  when people are gonna listen to the song they are going to feel the same”.

Maddison  “This whole experience has been absolutely incredible! Seeing our people follow their dreams is such a beautiful thing, I really can’t wait to see to see the final cut”.


Amanda’s International research to the Centre of Criminology, Oxford, U.K.

Amanda Porter is a Senior Researcher at Jumbunna IIER she visited the Centre for Criminology as a part of her Post-doctoral Research. Her book “Unsettling Security: Policing, Imperialism and the Myth of Public Safety”.


Amanda Porter and Robert Jefferies at the Water Police Museum

Tell us a bit about your recent trip, what were you doing at the Centre for Criminology?

My main reason for going to the Centre for Criminology was to complete the archival component of the research for the first chapter of my book, which about the history of state and non-state policing. I was interested in looking at the relationship between policing and imperialism and the development of the modern police in England and the colonies.  While completing the fellowship I was able to meet with archivists at the Water Police Museum, historians based at the West India Committee, at the London Docklands Museum as well as scholars working on the ‘Bentham Project’ at University College London (, a project involving 150 volunteers transcribing the works and correspondence of Jeremy Bentham. I was mainly interested in the correspondence between Jeremy Bentham and Patrick Colquhoun, who were two key figures in the setting up the Thames Water Police, the forerunner to the modern police. But I believe the biggest player, and the most neglected in terms of the history of the police, has been the West India Committee, which a collective of plantation owners who lobbied on a number of issues in the 18th century, one example being the establishment of a private police force.

Why does looking at this history matter?

I think a lot of the accounts of policing history are sanitised but they also limit our imagination in terms of ways out of the problem. For many policing scholars and criminologists the solution is to ‘recast the Peelian principles’ but in my mind the myth of the police as originating from a desire to uphold public safety is dangerous not only because it overlooks certain truths in history and the present.

And I think now more than ever we need to take a critical look at the history and operation of the police and ask some hard questions: do the police provide ‘public safety’ and if so, to whom? When you look at the circumstances of recent deaths in police custody—particularly the death of Ms Dhu or Ms Maher—it seems clear that the police did much more than fail to provide safety or fail to protect these women.

In the six months you were in England, did you have some time out and sight see around Oxford?

Well I arrived just in time for Winter, so it was pretty dark, cold and wet most of the time. On the positive side: I guess that I had perfect writing weather most days, ha! No but on a more serious note, I was very grateful for the opportunity to buckle down and just focus on my book—I am fortunate to have this time just to concentrate on my writing, it is very decadent in a way.

Finally, Did the research in those old places give you new ways of looking at the policing issues back in Australia, how do we merge tradition and new practices?

I find old places like that a bit eerie to be honest. Oxford especially, it was bitter-sweet for me. The correspondence between Bentham and Colquhoun has only just been transcribed as part of the Bentham project and a lot of the archival material about the West India Committee and their role in the establishment of the police has been neglected by policing scholars. So on an intellectual level it was fascinating. But on a personal level it was pretty tough. The Pitt Rivers Collection at Oxford University currently holds hundreds of ancestral remains which are yet to be repatriated and it made me feel uncomfortable. Being there really put policing and its deep links with imperialism in perspective for me.


The Bentham Correspondence

Amanda would like to thank the University of Technology Sydney’s Research and Innovation Office for the International Researcher Development Grant which enabled her to complete the visiting fellowship. She would also like to thank a number of scholars who provided assistance and material on the archival portion of this project: Robert Jeffries at the Water Police Museum, David Wells at the West India Committee, Martin Quinn and Tim Causer at UCL, Lucia Zedner and Alpa Parmar at the Centre for Criminology, Oxford University and volunteers working at the Metropolitan Police Historical Collection, the Water Police Museum and the London Docklands Museum. She would like to extend her thanks to the team at Jumbunna Institute of Indigenous Education and Research, especially the leadership of Distinguished Professor Larissa Behrendt, for providing a creative and critical environment from which to conduct this work.


By Matthew Walsh


Photo courtesy of UN. The Permanent Forum (2018)

The Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, was held from April the 16th to the 27th.

This year Jumbunna attended the Permanent forum for the first time as an Academic Institution. This year’s theme was “Indigenous peoples’ collective rights to lands, territories and resources” a subject that has been discussed, advocated for and fought for by Jumbunna for a number of years.

It is inspiring to see the sophistication of First Nations in the International forum as they seek justice and assert self-determination against the sheer volume of injustice taking place. To hear as one of the opening addresses President Evo Morales of Bolivia, the first Indigenous person elected as President in the republic, a message on self-determination and the success of multi-pluralism of coloniser and first peoples law and government was inspiring.

An inspiring space at the forum and a driver for the proliferation of thought and exchange of ideas took place at the UNPFII side events. These events included conversations around the standing rock campaign  and the use of social media as a tool for correcting the false narratives of police forces (see this link) as just one example.

Alarmingly many nation states continue to place that they are doing good work, despite much evidence to the contrary. The story portrayed in relation to child welfare in particular is at odds with the realities of many of many communities.

As part of our expansion into the International advocacy space Jumbunna wishes to reaffirm its commitment to facilitating that the truth be told. In the coming years we hope to, through the transmission of voices from community to the UNPFII shine a light on the truth.

If you would like more information on the UNPFII or UNDRIP in 2018 follow any of the following links:



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