Tony Abbott challenged to support indigenous ‘bush university’

A remote Northern Territory ­Aboriginal community that was at the heart of Tony Abbott’s 2013 declaration that he would be a “prime minister for indigenous ­affairs” has challenged him to back its comprehensive plan for educational reform in his new role as special envoy.

Data shows only 20 per cent of Aboriginal students in the region continue past Year 8, leaving the vast majority unemployable and many on track for jail.

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Turnbull must pursue treaty with Indigenous Australians

Garma tells us it is time for Australia to become home to those whose ancestors have been here for 65,000 years and to those who came later. But first there must be an acknowledgment that the land was taken by force. There was war, genocide and atrocities from both sides. To heal, there must be recognition of war, loss and grief followed by a treaty, a makarrata. That need not undermine the sovereignty of the Australian nation if couched correctly. Surely, it is not beyond the wit and wisdom of our best lawyers, conservative and progressive alike, to achieve that.

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FactCheck: has Australia’s net debt doubled under the current government?

As the government and opposition seek to establish their economic credentials in the lead-up to the next federal election, we can expect to hear plenty about the relative performances of the Coalition and Labor Party with regard to government deficits and debt. On Q&A, shadow minister for finance Jim Chalmers claimed that “under the current Government, we have had net debt double”. Is that right?

Education Department contract handed to friend of minister without undergoing tender process

A former Northern Territory Education Department bureaucrat who cost taxpayers thousands in a payout for engaging in derogatory emails about a bullied teacher has been handed a consultancy contract that did not go through a competitive process.

Former Palmerston Regional School director Hylton Hayes was awarded the $19,000 contract two weeks before then-education minister Eva Lawler left the portfolio during a Cabinet reshuffle last month. Mr Hayes is a friend and campaign volunteer of Ms Lawler’s.

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Trial tries to lift Aboriginal vote

When Joan M Dhamarrandji talks to people in Galiwin’ku about why they should participate in democracy and vote she tells them that electing leaders has been a part of Aboriginal culture for thousands of years.

Ms Dhamarrandji, an Aboriginal woman from Galiwin’ku on tropical Elcho Island off the Arnhem Land coast, is working for the Australian Electoral Commission to educate people about how the democratic process works and why it is important.

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Leaders’ pace on reform ‘too slow’

Senior indigenous leader Galarrwuy Yunupingu has admonished Malcolm Turnbull and Bill Shorten for the slow pace of indigenous constitutional recognition, almost a year after he believed both men were going to make the issue a ­priority in the parliament.

Penning a heartfelt chairman’s essay for his Yothu Yindi Foundation’s annual Garma Festival in August, Mr Yunupingu, a leader of Northeast Arnhem Land’s Yolngu people, expresses disappointment that the Prime Minister and Opposition Leader have not translated their forceful words at last year’s event into adequate ­action.

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ACT treaty needed to right past wrongs made against Indigenous people

The Barunga Statement, despite having been effectively ignored for the last 30 years, has been given life by the Northern Territory government which has announced that it will, consistent with the demands incorporated in the statement, begin negotiations with the Aboriginal people of the Northern Territory for a treaty.

While differing in content and structure, the Barunga and Uluru Statements are in essence concerned with the same issues, namely self-determination, self-management, sovereignty, land rights, truth telling, an historical reckoning and justice. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people of Australia are calling for these rights to be recognised and guaranteed through a treaty or a makarrata.

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Australia’s human rights record has been “woeful”

Australia’s human rights record has been “woeful rather than exemplary”, National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples co-chair Jackie Huggins has told a United Nations forum.

She said statements by Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade about Australia’s proud human rights record and support for Indigenous people was “hypocritical in the extreme”.

Independent Northern Territory MP Yingiya Mark Guyula, a Yolngu leader from Arnhem Land, asked the UN to intervene on the behalf of Aboriginal people.

He told the UN Yolngu people had very little control or autonomy and their collective rights were being destroyed by government licensing regimes, the inability to contest government land council decisions and policies that were forcing Yolngu people into hub towns.

“My people are crying out for justice and we are not being heard,” Mr Guyula said.

 

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NEW FUNDING TO BOOST SERVICES IN THE NT

The Turnbull Government will provide new funding to boost services in the Northern Territory, having reached agreement with the Northern Territory Government on future funding for remote indigenous housing, public hospitals, and housing and homelessness. To help the Northern Territory Government deliver essential services, including to remote communities, the Turnbull Government will provide financial assistance of $259.6 million.