WA ALS calls for Indigenous treaty with Commonwealth


Dennis Eggington

Dennis Eggington says a Treaty is the answer

Gerry Georgatos Indymedia 24 March 2012

Dennis Eggington, chief executive officer of the Aboriginal Legal Services of Western Australia, and who unlike many prominent Nyoongar folk in high offices tied to state and federal governments visited Nyoongar Tent Embassy and demonstrated his support and comprehension of the Embassy said that it is time Australia put together a legitimate Treaty with its Aboriginal peoples. He said Australia is the only country not to have such a Treaty.

"A Treaty between the Commonwealth and Indigenous peoples can help resolve much of the problems between our peoples and the Commonwealth." He said this would be an apt resolution for all Aboriginal peoples as is being clearly evidenced by the predicament between for instance the West Australian government and Nyoongar Tent Embassy. He said the issues are more than just the content of the Native Title offer, they are of sovereignty - and the call for Aboriginal Tent Embassies has been Australia-wide.

He said sovereignty calls will not go away and are being highlighted by all Aboriginal peoples and major organisations, and that hence a Treaty is long overdue. This generation of Aboriginal voices will cut its teeth on sovereignty and for governments to try and oppress this call will need great reserves of various biases, prejudices and racism shoved down peoples' throats to delay it as clearly demonstrated by the WA state government in what they have tried to do to the Nyoongar peoples at Heirisson Island (Mattagarup).

Mr Eggington believes a Treaty is the majorly way forward.

"This is the way other countries have done it - Treaty - and I do not know why Australia procrastinates any longer," said Mr Eggington.

"It just causes these kinds of issues we are dealing with today and it is something that should have been done a long time ago, a long, long time ago."

"It is a matter of governments sitting down in a fair dinkum way and drawing up a bona fide Treaty or partnership, sitting down with or peoples and putting it together," he said.

"What is happening at Nyoongar Tent Embassy is exactly the same as Aboriginal Tent Embassy in Canberra and the people at both just want to be heard."

"The reality once again is we're not doing it for people's sympathy, we are doing it because it is our right to," said Mr Eggington.

"Whatever needs to (be done) get people to the table to talk and to put together a fair dinkum Treaty or to talk about a legitimate partnership, because the sovereignty issues will not go away, then so be it."

In the first days of Nyoongar Tent Embassy Dennis Eggington said to me that far too many people are making the mistake of not realising that the issues with the Native Title offer are huge, and that Nyoongar Tent Embassy represents more dissatisfaction than is portrayed by the news media or is being accepted by those in positions of responsibility. The Native Title offer would not address the myriad issues and problems that afflict Nyoongar peoples, however that at the heart of the offer is a dig at the identity of Nyoongars - the extinguishment of many of their rights, and of their call for sovereignty, be it Treaty, and hence the stripping away of their identity, historical and contemporary, as assimilation plunders obvious demands.

I am reminded of the words of Les Malezer, co-chair of the First Peoples National Congress, to the news media Australia-wide the day after the Lobby restaurant incident - Australia can expect Aboriginal voices to rise, and much more to come, be they protests, heightened calls for various justice and including sovereignty, in a year that could be one pursuant 'of historical change'. Eulayhi leader, Michael Anderson has described 2012 as the stand for justice - it is happening, this is undeniable, and the narrative is still unfolding, though state, territory and commonwealth government jurisdictions to their shame may wish not to hear it at this time.

Well known Nyoongar and university academic Associate Professor Len Collard once told me the meaning of "Nyoongar" - "human being."

From the Article "Deep into the eyes of racism" - Nyoongar Tent Embassy, Thursday March 22 by Gerry Georgatos Indymedia

WA ALS calls for Indigenous treaty with Commonwealth

ABC News March 24, 2012

The Aboriginal Legal Service in Western Australia says a treaty between the Commonwealth and Indigenous people could help resolve situations like the protest on Heirisson Island in Perth.

Four activists were arrested this week after police descended on the island to close the camp.

The campers were protesting against a South West native title deal struck between the Noongar people and the State Government.

The Chief Executive of the ALS, Dennis Eggington, says it is time for a new approach.

"That's the way other countries have done it and I don't know why Australia procrastinates any longer," Mr Eggington said.

"It just causes these kinds of issues we're dealing with today and it's something that should have been done a long, long time ago."

"It's a matter of governments sitting down in a fair dinkum way and drawing up a treaty or partnership," he said.

Mr Eggington has likened the protest on Heirisson Island to the Aboriginal Tent Embassy in Canberra and says protesters just want to be heard.

"The reality once again is we're not doing it for people's sympathy, we're doing it because it's our right to," he said.

"Whatever needs to get people to the table to have a fair dinkum treaty or a talk about a partnership then so be it."

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