Massacre map will force Australians to re-examine our country’s roots

Researchers at the University of Newcastle are attempting to gain a clearer picture of events during the frontier wars by gathering evidence of massacres of Indigenous people which are seldom discussed and have never made it into most history books.

 

 

Lead researcher Lyndall Ryan and her team are going right back to explorer and settler records and using Indigenous oral history as their sources. Their strict criteria for inclusion in the map, and the difficulty of finding accounts due to the fact that the perpetrators usually covered their tracks well, means that their estimates are conservative. Nevertheless, they estimate that more than 65,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were killed in massacres or conflicts between 1788 and 1930 in Queensland alone.

The map was released on the 5th of July and will be added to over time. The researchers hope that others will contribute to the project so as to build the most accurate picture possible of the events during the frontier wars, changing the way this period of Australian history is understood and taught. However, Ryan acknowledges that this will be confronting, both for the researchers themselves and for the Australian pubic, who may not wish to face up to this brutal version of their country’s history.

 

‚ÄúI would like to hope that over the next five or 10 years there will be a much wider acceptance that this was a feature of colonial Australia, and it will change the way we think about Australia,‚ÄĚ she said.

 

Re-post ~ Map of massacres of Indigenous people reveals untold history of Australia, painted in blood by Calla Wahlquist in The Guardian

Climate change leads to huge infrastructure cost on Torres Strait island

The economic costs of rising sea levels due to climate change are beginning to hit home as a $24.5m sea wall is completed on Saibai Island in the Torres Strait.

The small island just off the coast of Papua New Guinea has been suffering the effects of land erosion and flooding due to rising sea levels for years. At one point it was feared that its 350 inhabitants would have to be permanently evacuated. However, in 2014, under the Torres Strait Seawalls Project, the Australian Federal and Queensland governments pledged a total of $26.2 million to help the islands deal with the crisis.

$24 million has now been spent building only one seawall on Saibai and, whilst this sea wall is expected to protect the community and its livelihood for 50 years, it leaves little money for infrastructure on the other 5 islands in need of protection. Preliminary talks to try and secure more funding are now underway.

However, with sea levels rising by millimetres every year, inhabitants of the other islands can not afford to wait for beaureaucracy. They are at risk of losing land and culture in the very near future, despite adaptation plans which are being developed. This is especially true for the narrow coral island of Poruma, to the south of Saibai.

 

“Time is very critical in terms of getting some work underway so we can actually protect and combat erosion at Poruma ‚ÄĒ Poruma doesn’t have time to wait,” said Torres Strait Mayor, Fred Gela.

 

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The old, damaged sea wall on Saibai Island.

 

Sabai Island’s new seawall. which cost nearly $25 million and is a harbinger of the huge costs climate change could bring to governments and taxpayers worldwide.

 

Queensland Minister for Local Government and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships, Mark Furner said that the Palaszczuk Government’s $12 million contribution to the Torres Strait Seawalls Project demonstrated their commitment to improving communities in regional and remote parts of Queensland.

 

‚ÄúThese are Queenslanders facing real risks to their homes and livelihoods as a result of the impacts of climate change, so to be able to provide a long‚Äźterm infrastructure solution is a great win for this community.”

 

However, it remains to be seen if government will remain so committed and optimistic as the inevitable economic costs of climate change continue to rise.

 

Read more ~ Saibai islanders celebrate new $24.5m seawall to fight rising ocean levels in Torres Strait by Emilia Terzon for ABC News

Read more ~ Minister Scullion: Saibai Island Seawalls ready to hold back the tide on indigenous.gov.au

Why the Paris climate deal is not enough without economic de-growth

Whilst the Paris climate deal has noble aims, it is based on shaky assumptions, according to a recent article in the Guardian. To genuinely put ourselves on a trajectory which avoids the economic crisis that climate change will force upon us, we need to embrace purposeful economic de-growth. 

The Paris climate deal relies upon data and ‘pathways’ modeled by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The emissions cuts agreed upon in Paris will not sufficiently limit climate change unless the ‘negative emissions technologies’ the IPCC models rely upon are successful. Unfortunately 80% of the models are based upon BECCS (bio-energy with carbon capture and storage) which is a technology which has not been proven at scale and which is being increasingly discredited by scientists.

This reliance on ‘negative emissions technologies’ has come about as the IPCC attempt to appease politicians and big business. Original IPCC models, which did not assume humanity’s ability to pull large amounts of carbon out of the atmosphere, required the slowing and reversing of economic growth in a way which would have been hard¬†for those benefiting from the current economic model to stomach.

However, these original models, based on what we currently know to be possible, clearly called for economic de-growth.

 

“De-growth might sound scary, but it‚Äôs really not. All it means is easing the intensity of our economy, cutting the excesses of the very richest, sharing what we have instead of plundering the Earth for more, and liberating ourselves from the frenetic consumerism that we all know does nothing to improve our wellbeing or happiness.”

 

Humanity is now faced with a choice: to choose controlled economic de-growth or to allow the economic crisis which is sure to arise from climate change to choose us.

 

Re-post ~¬†The Paris climate deal won‚Äôt save us ‚Äď our future depends on de-growth by Jason Hickel in The Guardian

Read more ~ In defense of de-growth: opinions and minifestos by By Giorgos Kallis, edited by Aaron Vansintjan

News in indigenous languages helps Aboriginal Australians connect with the world

The theme of this¬†year’s NAIDOC week was ‘Our Languages Matter’ and to prove the point an ABC News article showcased three Indigenous translators who bring the Australian and International news to their language communities in their own language, through the Aboriginal Interpreter Service (AIS).¬†

This adds huge value for Aboriginal people in areas where English may be their fourth or fifth language and may never be spoken at home. Hearing the news in their own first language enables people to connect with the issues facing the world at large.

 

“It helps them understand the news better when they hear it in their language ‚ÄĒ it gives them a better understanding of what it’s about.” Says Tyrone Holmes, who is a Kriol interpreter for AIS.

 

Tyrone Holmes says that reading the news in Kriol helps his community and others stay up to date with issues which affect them. He feels proud to keep the Kriol language strong as it is an important part of many people’s identity.

 

Nadyezhda Pozzana is from the island community of Galiwinku in East Arnhem Land and speaks five languages. She translates the ABC news into Ylongu Matha. “Even the elders and the senior members of my community say, ‘We listen to the radio more now because now we know what’s being said and what’s happening in the day-to-day national and international news.'” She says.

 

Maggie Burns grew up learning Warlpiri and Pintupi-Luritja from her mother and is fluent in both. One challenge is that some English words cannot be directly translated, but for Maggie another challenge is that some of the news she must translate is about such horrible events. However, she believes it is important for her to continue doing her job so that people can understand what is going on in the world. “I am very privileged to know how to speak my language and that’s a gift so it’s very important to me.”

 

Re-post ~ NAIDOC Week: News in Indigenous language enables understanding of local, global events by Mark Rigby on ABC News

Regional Cities Are Small But Great

The Regional Australia Institute (RAI) is challenging the common misconceptions about rural cities through its Great Small Cities initiative. With a growth rate four times that of major cities and and and economic output on a par with that of Finland, encouraging investment in regional cities could provide huge economic benefits to Australia as a whole.

 

 

4.5 million Australians live in a network of 31 regional cities across Australia and these cities are a vital part of the Australian economy. The RAI plans to work with city leaders, governments and the Australian public to encourage policy which will make the most of the opportunities presented by regional city economies.

They take a two pronged approach. Firstly they aim to bust the myth that it is only worth investing in metropolitan cities such as Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Adelaide and Brisbane. Secondly they have developed a blueprint for investment in City Deals to ensure that regional cities will be investment ready.

The Regional Australia Institute’s Regional Accelerator Program seeks to support regional businesses

If investment is successful, Australia’s ‘hidden metropolis’ of 4.5 million people spread across 31 regional cities has the capacity to¬†produce $378 billion in output by 2031.

The Great Small Cities Initiative emphasises that regional cities are just that: cities, rather than the small rural towns revolving solely around agriculture that readily spring to mind when most Australians hear the word ‘regional’. However RAI are also keen to point out that regional towns often have less congestion, pollution and extreme property prices than their metropolitan counterparts.

In order to show the real demographic and skills base of regional Australia, RAI have teamed up with LinkedIn to examine the skill mix in five regional cities and how connected professionals are within, and outside of, those cities.

Read more ~ Great Small Cities – Regional Australia Institute

Report highlights importance of preserving Australia’s plant biodiversity

Kew Gardens has released its second annual State of the World’s Plants report. Last year’s report named Australia as one of the top three places in the world to discover new plant species, but also estimated that it is home to 12% of the world’s threatened plants.

This year’s report deepens the research from the previous year. For example it increases our understanding of the reasons why particular plants may be more vulnerable to extinction and which plant families contain the highest percentage of medicinal plants. It also maps the major traits associated with a plant’s resilience to climate change, which include thicker leaves, efficient water-use strategies, deeper roots and higher wood density.

The report also looks at threats to various plant species, including the increased need for food production and a particular focus on wildfires, seeking to understand how patterns of burning may be affected by factors such as changing land use and climate change.

Over 100 scientists are involved in preparing the report, which also highlights the good news on newly discovered plants.

Australia has been identified as one of the top three places in the world to discover new plant species, alongside China and Brazil. Dr Martin Taylor, a conservation scientist with WWF Australia, said Australia had about 21,000 plant species, making up 10% of the world’s total.

However, there are concerns that government policies may not be giving plants the protection they are due. An increasing demand for food production and housing mean more pressure to clear land. Dr Taylor singled out land clearing in Queensland as a major issue.

 

“Land clearing has accelerated, we’ve done an estimate that over 200,000 hectares of threatened species habitat was cleared in just the first two years of the Newman Government.”

 

When clearing laws were relaxed in Queensland, so much was cleared it looks set to completely undo greenhouse gas emissions cuts made under the federal government’s Direct Action policy. Photograph: WWF

 

There are concerns that new, more relaxed, land-clearing laws in NSW may lead to a similar trend in the state.

 

Read more ~

Syrian, Iraqi and Jewish women create friendships over food

The Shared Table Project is bringing Syrian, Iraqi and Jewish women together to promote understanding and friendship.

The project brings newly arrived Syrian and Iraqi refugees to Emmanuel Synagogue in Sydney. With local Jewish women, they prepare a meal and eat together for five consecutive weeks. These occasions often include spontaneous outbreaks of song and laughter and give participants the opportunity to share aspects of their culture, such as the dishes they prepare, with others from a different background.

 

 

Project Director Mel Don Port points out that most of the Christian and Muslim women who take part will never have met a Jewish person before and vice versa. She remembers Hasna, a Syrian woman who was terrified and shaking when she first attended the group:

“‘At the end of that first week, she was the first one in class each week.”

“She was kissing us, and cuddling us and hugging ~ and in tears in the last week that she was saying goodbye to us.”

 

Sharing food, stories and laughter together breaks down barriers for these women and gives them a taste of the kind of harmony and love we’d all like to see more of in the world.

Dishes prepared and shared as part of the Shared Table Project

Re-post ~ Syrian, Iraqi and Jewish women creating friendships, harmony over food by Rachael Kohn for The Spirit of Things on ABC News

The Nuka System of Care ~ Indigenous healthcare for the people, by the people

A revolutionary health care system run by and for indigenous people and incorporating indigenous healthcare perspectives has become an international model for health care reform.

Since Southcentral Foundation (SCF) began overseeing healthcare provision for Alaska Native and American Indian people in Alaska, emergency room visits have dropped by 36%. Deaths from cancer, heart disease, and cerebrovascular disease have dropped by 26%, 47%, and 59%, respectively and infant mortality has also dropped by 58%. This has all been achieved while also cutting costs.

 

In the lobby of Southcentral Foundation‚Äôs Anchorage Native Primary Care Center, Alaska Native artists sell their work under ‚ÄúBird Spirit Mask‚ÄĚ by Inupiat artist Sylvester Ayek. (Photo Courtesy of Southcentral Foundation)

 

SCF serves a population of 136,000 native people spread out over 108,000 square miles, including more than 200 native villages, many of which are only accessible by boat or air. The system involves partnerships with 51 village health clinics, medical teams who regularly travel to villages and tele-medicine, and is centred around the Native Primary Care Centre in Anchorage, where nearly half of the entire population of Alaska lives.

The health centre has the feel of a community centre and is decorated with indigenous art and craft, which increases pride and self-confidence in its ‘customerowners’ (as users of the clinic are called). It also has open offices and offers integrated treatments including complementary and traditional medicine, support with substance abuse, mental health, and home health. This all forms part of a preventative approach which aims to deal with the root causes of illness and to encourage healthy lifestyle choices.

 

“Emphasis on prevention and integrated healthcare delivery results in less demand for specialty care and fewer emergency room visits. Equally important is the understanding that physical health is bound to social and spiritual wellbeing. Wellness, in this model, comes from facilitating cultural connection and strengthening families and communities.”

 

SCF recognises that indigenous people are at particular risk of health issues because of their history, with the fallout from years of epidemics, high levels of child abuse in missions and boarding schools and the loss of culture, community and identity all contributing to current high levels of domestic and child abuse and drug and alcohol misuse. To counter this, the effects of multi-generational trauma are treated by tribal doctors along with current health issues in an integrated, holistic process.

 

A customer-owner receives care from Tribal Doctor Steven Booth in Southcentral Foundation’s Traditional healing clinic. (Photo courtesy of Southcentral Foundation)

 

Preventative, holistic healthcare would seems to make sense for us all, but the Nuka System of Care developed by Southcentral Foundation has particular relevance for indigenous communities because of the specific issues those communities face and the way it leverages the rich traditional knowledge that is already present.

SCF offer training, site visits and consulting to share this system with other healthcare providers worldwide.

Re-post ~ Native Wisdom Is Revolutionizing Health Care by Shari Huhndorf in SSIR

Small farms are key to food security

Small and medium sized farms are key to providing quality nutrition to the global population, according to a new study measuring the contribution of agriculture, livestock and fisheries to global nutrient production, diversity and food security.

The new research, published in the first issue of The Lancet Planetary Health, was carried out by a trans-disciplinary team of more than 400 scientists from 19 different institutions, including geographers, livestock, agricultural and marine scientists, economists, public health and nutrition specialists, epidemiologists, and environmental scientists.

They found that farms smaller than 50 hectares produce nearly 51-77% of all commodities and nutrients, including cereals, livestock, fruits, pulses, roots and tubers and vegetables.

 

 

The study results highlight the fact that when it comes to nutrition, quality is as important as quantity. Whilst we might be accustomed to thinking about nutrition in terms of calorific intake, micro-nutrients such as vitamins and minerals play a vital role in human growth and health. Currently there is a ‘hidden hunger’ crisis of affecting two billion people worldwide who are lacking in these vital micro-nutrients.

Mario Herrero, who headed up the study also points out that crop diversity can create resilience against climate change and extreme weather. Using the example of the devastating effect Cyclone Debbie had on cane growers as well as tomato, capsicum and eggplant producers, he points out that an event such as a major wheat disease would be a huge problem for farms all across Australia.

 

‚ÄúWe need to be careful about putting all our eggs in one basket…¬†Having diverse farming systems builds resilience.‚ÄĚ

 

This new appreciation of the benefits of small farms will influence how we address the second of the UN sustainable development goals, which aims to¬†“end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture”. A¬†range of farm sizes will be¬†necessary to achieve these goals. However, in order to nourish people, rather than just feed them, small farms need to be protected as they are the source of so much nutritional diversity.

 

Re-post ~ Small farms need protection to safeguard nutrients and diversity by Kate Langford in ECOS eNews

Read more ~

Earth has highest greenhouse gas concentrations in 800,000 years

A new worldwide database charting the levels of 43 greenhouse gases over 2,000 years provides the clearest evidence yet that global warming is being caused by human activity.

 

 

Scientists from the Australian-German Climate and Energy College at the University of Melbourne, have created the database by collating historical and contemporary information on greenhouse gas levels, including from samples of air trapped in bubbles in ice cores at the North and South Poles.

The samples show a marked rise in the levels of carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and other greenhouse gases since the Industrial Revolution, and particularly since 1950.

The lead author of the study, Malte Meinhausen, says that the numbers tell us the story we already know, ‘only in more details and more colour’.

 

“If we look at the whole 800,000 years of this Earth’s history, we never had such big greenhouse gas concentrations ~ of CO2, of methane, and of a lot of other gases… so we are doing an immense experiment with the planet and we are seeing the effects right now.”

 

The study also showed humanity’s power to reverse these changes, as the authors note that levels of CFCs have dropped steadily since they were phased out due to the Montreal Protocol in the late 1980s. However, these gases are still making a large contribution to global warming.

The data will be used by scientists to create more detailed and accurate models of how climate change affects the planet we call home by looking at temperatures, weather patterns, sea level rise, and ice melting in relation to greenhouse gas levels. It will also be used to inform the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s next assessment report in 2021.

 

Re-post ~ Greenhouse gases higher than any time in 800,000 years ‘shows definite human effect’ by Claire Slattery on ABC News

Read More ~