Our Generation //eastern heal

Our Generation //eastern heal,Australians celebrated Australia Day last week with festivals south easterMental Health, parades, outdoor concerts and community barbecues.

A shocking 2009 report by the National Indigenous Drug and Alcohol Committee found that the rate of imprisonment of Aborigines in Australia was five times higher than that of black people in apartheid South Africa.

Since the 1960s Yolnyu leaders have been conspicuous and vociferous in their struggle for Aboriginal land rights.

Prior to the arrival of the British in Australia they had made contact with visiting Macassan traders.

Yet since the 1980s there has been a concerted – if unsuccessful – effort to rebrand Australia Day as Invasion Day in recognition of the genocidal consequences the British arrival had for Australias indigenous people at the time and for the crimes that have been visited on Aborigines in the 223 years since.

In the early 1930s anthropologist Donald Thomson lived with the Yolnyu for several years and recorded their way of life.

In 1885 Yolnyu tribesmen were killed at Florida Station by being fed poisoned horse-meat after they had eaten cattle.

A special reconnaissance unit of Yolnyu men was established to help in repelling Japanese raids on Australias northern coastline.

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Under Yolnyu law it was their land and therefore they naturally believed they had a right to eat the animals.

From around the 16th century, the Yolnyu knew something about Europeans.

During World War II, the Yolnyu "did their bit."

The public holiday on January 26 commemorates the day the British First Fleet arrived at Sydney Cove in 1788 and proclaimed British sovereignty over the eastern seaboard of what was then known as New Holland.

On the pretext of stopping endemic levels of child abuse the government deployed the army to seize control of indigenous communities and ban alcohol and ography.

The documentary goes on to highlight the extreme health inequalities Aborigines ce such as the difference in life expectancy – 17 years – between indigenous and non-indigenous people and how Australia is the only developed country in the world that has not eradicated trachoma, the eye disease that can lead to blindness.

The Yolnyu are an indigenous people who live in north-eastern Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory of Australia.

Weeks later, this action was condemned by the UN heastern health org auuman rights envoy as incompatible with Australias obligations under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

The Yolnyu

Our Generation is showing in LondonOur Generation //eastern heal at the Frontline Club at 4pm on February 13 and the Royal Geographical Society at 7pm on February 16. Visit www.ourgeneration.org.au for details.

From the time of the "Stolen Generation," when over 100,000 Aboriginal children were taken from their milies to be brought up in white society, to the governments official apology in 2009, Saban gives a voice to Aboriginal community elders and leaders as well as interviewing academics and medical professionals.

What lay behind the governments action? "We believe that this government is using child ual abuse as the Trojan horse to resume total control of our lands," argues Pat Turner of the National Indigenous Television station.

Three centuries later white Australians began to open up Arnhem Land for cattle grazing and the ensuing battles between the Yolnyu and the white colonists resulted in a series of massacres of the local indigenous people.

Accessible, positive and mainstream in intent, Our Generation deserves to become as popular and influential as documentaries such as An Inconvenient Truth and Michael Moores Sicko.

Numbering approximately 2.5 per cent of the total population, Aborigines make up 24 per cent of the prison population.

Its impressive musical soundtrack and footage of poverty-ridden communities reminiscent of sub-Saharan Africa is a shameful indictment of white Australia and its government.

As a result, a Methodist mission opened in Arnhem Land.

Directed and narrated by Sinem Saban, Our Generation shines a light on the dire situation of the indigenous population of Australia today.

The documentarys central focus is the Canberra governments controversial "intervention" in Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory in 2007.

Saban goes on to note that Australia holds vast mineral resources, including 40 per cent of the worlds uranium, and that mining is the Northern Territorys largest industry.

And although Saban focuses her attention on the Yolnyu people in the Northern Territory, the film has much to say about white Australias relationship to all of the 400-plus Aboriginal nations on the continent.

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