The 8th H C Nugget Coombs Lecture - Unhappy anniversaries: what is there to celebrate?

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Presenter:  Presented by Joe Morrison, Chief Executive Officer, Northern Land Council

Date: Oct 05, 2016

Time: 6:15pm to 8:30pm

Contact person:  Melissa Royle
T: 08 8946 6773

Location:  Mal Nairn Auditorium, Building Red 7,Charles Darwin University

For the Northern Territory, 2016 is the year of two big anniversaries:  the 50th anniversary of the Wave Hill walk-off and the 40th anniversary of the Commonwealth Parliament’s passing the Northern Territory Aboriginal Land Rights Act.  Next year will also mark the 10th anniversary of the Commonwealth’s Northern Territory Emergency Response – the Intervention.

What benefits have government policies delivered to Indigenous peoples over those decades?  How would Nugget Coombs rate the quality of advice and programs that have emanated from government bureaucracies, NGOs and powerful individuals, as they have applied to Indigenous affairs?

The passage of the Aboriginal Land Rights Act remains its acme.  Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory have been so distracted gaining, then defending, their rights that they simply have not secured their future.  Developing the North is a hollow mantra without real inclusion of Indigenous peoples: the need for them to be consulted is ignored and self-management continues to elude them.

Closing the Gap targets remain unmet.  In the Northern Territory, social determinants of health for Aboriginal people are stagnant while the rates of imprisonment are ever increasing.  The scandalous treatment of Aboriginal juveniles by the Northern Territory’s justice system has led to a Royal Commission; at least its appointment will, to the relief of the Aboriginal population, help dispel for a long time the possibility of Statehood.

The failure of public policies in the Northern Territory leads only to the conclusion that Aboriginal people themselves must seize the agenda for change, in order to achieve social and economic development on their own terms for themselves and for the nation.

About the presenter
Joe Morrison is the Chief Executive Officer of the Northern Land Council. He was born and raised in Katherine and has Dagoman and Torres Strait Islander heritage. He holds a tertiary qualification from the University of Sydney and has over 25 years’ experience working with Indigenous people across northern Australia and internationally on the management and development of traditional lands and waters. His experience includes extensive community development, research and policy creation focused on land and water rights, climate change, Indigenous knowledge, Indigenous ranger employment and Indigenous governance. Joe was the founding Chief Executive of the North Australian Indigenous Land and Sea Management Alliance, a small not for profit company that brings western science-focused research into local community based settings across tropical northern Australia. During this period NAILSMA provided high-level policy, research and advice to Governments and Indigenous organisations on Indigenous Rangers, climate change and carbon economies, water policy and community development. He has been intrinsically involved in the ‘Northern Development’ agenda advocating the importance of Indigenous control over our lands and waters through the creation of Indigenous development prospectus that sustains people, culture and future generations. Joe has authored and co-authored many articles relating to Indigenous rights, management of country, economic development and of northern development.

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