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Friday, 23 November 1979

by Jurgen Peterfeld 9.9.1979

I have been accused of something. I must have been, for, why else did the principal receive a phone call on Thursday, 26th July, from Regional Office inquiring into 'my activities' on the mission? And why else have I been advised on Tuesday, 4th Sept. of a transfer to Gladstone West effective from 1st Oct.?

So I must defend myself against charges unknown. The Union has achieved a Departmental Inquiry. I do not know what is going to be inquired into. Therefore I had to think back and consider all possibilities, everything I personally was ever involved in. For those who do not like what they read I stress that this report accounts only for my personal experiences.

There are more than five hundred people here who all have a story of their personal experiences, regarding at least a whole life time, to tell.

As an outsider and a relatively recent newcomer to the Hope Vale scene it seems to me that the present turmoil is a direct result of deeply experienced frustration within the native population. The symptoms manifest themselves in a variety of ways, mainly apathy, drunkenness and with the younger people a general decay of moral standards. All too common questions are, "What's the use of education?""Why bother?"- "Will it get you a job?" In fact it looks as if a great mass of nonswimmers are walloping in the sea without the slightest hope for rescue.

Can anyone be blamed for making a grab at even the slightest mirage of a lifebelt?

When Leigh van der Hoek appeared on the scene many people saw in him some kind of hope other than spirtiua and for a while it looked as if he was able to present something the people could identify with sufficiently to emerge fairly united from a quagmire of internal squabbles and feuds, contradicting interests and political or philosophical outlooks. (See copy of petition from combined Church Council and Community Council meeting, 12th July, which was signed by four Community Councillors and eight Church Councillors, a copy of which was sent to every member of the H. V. Mission Board, incl. the executive officer and the President and Vice-President of the Lutheran Church, Qld.; receipt of which was acknowledged by one person only, el)

Before the July 10th Administration Meeting I had only met Leigh once and we had a relatively brief discussion concerning his ideas for Hope Vale. I must admit that I was not very taken in by him and actually remained rather sceptical. To me he appeared too sure of himself and perhaps even boastful.

At the Administration Meeting Leigh presented his case in no uncertain, but unprintable terms. Though I did not agree with the method he used it resulted in a recommendation that agriculture be given top priority under the guidance of Leigh, which was carried unanimously.

Along with many others I saw in his presentations a positive and forward looking attitude as far as Hope Vale was concerned and I gave him my support. Nothing offensive was said by me and as far as I remember I made some comment on pine tree plantations and the importance of having some aim or objective for the future of Hope Vale.

The night after the meeting Leigh came to my quarters and thanked me for the support I had given him in the meeting. We talked till very late and I began to reassess my earlier opinion of him.

Again we rarely saw each other and only spoke in passing till Saturday, 21st July when he showed me a copy of the minutes of the earlier Administration Meeting. Since I had been at that meeting I honestly delcare that those minutes contained some gross inaccuracies, (see e2) (For exact details refer to Minutes of Extraordinary Administration Meeting, 24.7.79).

That night I saw Len Rosendale and asked him how he felt about those minutes. He seemed equally worked up about it and we discussed the possibility of holding an extraordinary meeting to talk about those minutes. Len informed me that he was in fact the Vice-Chairman of the Administration Meeting. On Sunday morning, together with Leigh I saw Roy and Thelma Mclvor. They supported the idea wholeheartedly and Roy gave it his blessing in his capacity of Chairman of the Church Council. Then he also showed me the stencil of the petition mentioned before, (el) After this Leigh and I saw Ted Bowen and he also liked the idea. Ted, Leigh and I then saw Ernie Bowen who was in fact delighted. Ernie and I saw Benny McGreen who agreed, but did not seem anywhere near as keen as the others. Willie Woibo was at the beach, but Ted reckoned he would go along. So we typed three notices for the Extraordinary Administration Meeting in the name of the Hope Vale Community Council & the Hope Vale Church Council and Leigh went to post one on the notice board on the store, the second on the old store and the third at the Post Office.

This was done on Sunday morning, 22nd July.

Around six p.m. Ted Bowen said that Ernie had just told him that the notices had been removed. I did not believe it and left to check for myself.

At about eight p.m. I went to see the manager E. Scheer about the disappearing notices. He was in his office behind shut doors in consultation with Barry Reid and Lex Deemal Mr Scheer said that he had only taken down the notice from the Post Office, because no notices should be displayed at a Post Office. He did not know where the others had disappeared to.

I told him that the meeting would go ahead as planned regardless because the Community Councillors had decided to hold the meeting. He said that the meeting could not go ahead, because he as the manager said it should not. Here the manager betrayed his ignorance of the Act which clearly states that as far as Local Government is concerned the Community Council is responsible for decision making. If Mr E. Scheer felt so deeply about it, he should have contacted the Minister, who in fact has the power to override a Community Council decision.

I emphasized that I was prepared to sign a statutory declaration that the minutes were incorrect and he said that that would be alright if I wanted to go to jail for seven years for perjury, because everything mentioned in the minutes was true. Neville Brown was standing by the phone box outside and overheard the whole discussion.

Later that night Leigh, Neville and I were at Roy and Thelma 's place. We all agreed that it was about time to settle the issue in a sensible way. So Roy asked Len Rosendale to come over too and they decided that it was best to ring either Pastor Mayer or Renner. The exact outcome of that call remained a little hazy, but essentially Pastor Roennfeldt was to come up and son things out.

Meanwhile ten more notices were typed and Len Rosendale signed them this time as the Vice-Chairman of the admin, meeting (see e3) and he placed one on the notice board of the store and another one on the old store and a third this time at the curio workshop.

Neville Brown went to Cooktown with a list of some twenty questions for legal advice. The main piece of information he got was that in fact anyone, and not necessarily the chairman only, can call an extraordinary meeting.

Monday afternoon I went to see Leigh and I had to find out that the meeting was to be postponed on Pastor Roennfeldt's advice. By now we were more determined than ever to get to the bottom of this, so we all went around once more and the meeting was on again.

On Tuesday morning, 24th July, Pastor Roennfeldt flew in from Cape Flattery with the Director of D.A.I.A., Mr Killoran and the Council was asked not to hold the meeting. Pastor Roennfeldt asked Leigh to promise him not to hold the meeting.

Then Mr Killoran and Pastor Roennfeldt flew out again.

I have not had much experience with Aborigines, but with the little I have I knew that the Aborigine finds it very difficult to say 'no', especially when he really wants to say yes', so it was only a matter of seeing each one again. Lester Rosendale (who was once doing the job Mr E. Scheer is now doing, but had the cheek to ask for white man's wages, as a result of which Mr Scheer was sent here only to be trained by Lester Rosendale till he was fit to handle it after which Lester Rosendale left. Makes one think when one hears claims that the Aborigines are not skilled enough to take over. Who is supposed to train whom and how come Europeans are allowed to push Aborigines out of their jobs?) Len Rosendale Leigh and I went around. Then we informed each one of those who were at the last meeting with the exception of P. Deemal W. Bowen and Joe Reid who was inside the store behind locked doors, that the meeting was to be held on the date and time as advertised.

The manager now accepted the fact that the meeting was to be held as planned and on request gave me a handful of minutes of the Admin, meeting held on 10.7.79. (see e2).

Later Neville and I got photocopies of a declaration that the minutes are untrue which was signed by 10 out of the 18 present at the last admin, meeting. These were handed out at the meeting which started at 8:05 p.m. and was taped by myself and John Havilland, (see e4 and also Minutes of Extraord. Admin. Meet. e5).

The minutes of this meeting (e5) were posted on the notice board in front of the store at about 8:30 a.m. the following morning by Len and myself.

In the afternoon I asked the manager if I could have a look at the records of previous minutes from admin, meetings. But my request was met only with comments that the meeting was illegal and therefore I had no right to see records of earlier meetings.

Also to date there has never been another admin, meeting, both the September and August advisory or admin, meetings have been cancelled. Not that it is a great loss, according to Ted Bowen, 'obstacle meetings' were never really popular.

Anyway, that is where really the whole thing should have rested. But not so. On Thursday, 26th July, the principal received a phone call from Regional Office on behalf of the Director of Primary Education enquiring into 'my activities' on the Mission.

Shortly after Joe McGuinness dropped in quickly to see the Mclvors which despite being a pure coincident was viewed in a dim light.

When Pastor Roennfeldt and Mr Rose came to Hope Vale the proposed Monday, 30th July meeting turned out to be for mission employed staff, Church Council and Community Council members only.

When I went to visit Leigh that day I met Pastor Roennfeldt and Gordon Rose together with another mission employee (ex?). Various issues came under discussion and Leigh and the two mission board members appeared to be somewhat in agreement that it was worth another try.

I asked whether in the light of what has happened it was possible for me to attend the meeting at the Cafe. They were reluctant to agree, but finally came around when I promised not to say anything in the meeting unless my name was brought up in a contentious way. When, as one could have guessed, just that was about to happen I raised my pen (I was taking notes) in Pastor Roennfeldt's direction. He looked at me and said inquiringly, "Yes, Jurgen?" I said firmly, that I was only looking at my pen. He took the hint. Yet the issue of my involvement was brought up once more during the meeting, but was also squelched. Halfway through the meeting Roy Mclvor made a very strong speech calling for the dismissal of certain white staff who had been here long enough to show some achievement. Keith Scholz apologized to Leigh, "If the minutes are inaccurate, then I apologize." Ted Bowen, Neville Brown and others taped the meeting.

On the afternoon of Tuesday, 31st July, I met Pastor Roennfeldt at the store and he invited me to a staff meeting at 7:30 at the Office. He also asked me if I could persuade Leigh to attend, because he had indicated to Pastor Roennfeldt that he would not be able to come. I saw Leigh and found that he was genuinely sick, he was complaining of stomach aches and had been vomiting.

Despite demands at the meeting that Leigh should be present I asked those attending to show some form of compassion. I conveyed to the meeting his resolve that if concrete decisions were about to be arrived at he would make an all out effort to come.

First an attempt was made to blame the Council for Hope Vale's problems, because they did not really know what they wanted. Then it came to light that in fact no constitution existed for the admin, meetings. We were also told why the orginal report of the 1978 visitation by Kirsch, Renner and Rose was not made public: Because it was felt that the information might fall into the wrong hands and could therefore be 'used'. The Lutheran Church requested Pastor Kirsch, much to his dismay, to write a second, watered down version. Well, so much for the 'information' side of it.

At one stage someone virtually requested me to apologize, because now that K. Scholz had done so yesterday (. . . If the minutes are wrong . . . ) I should also be good enough to do the same. I did not get the drift of it, and I cannot see what I should apologize for. So I said that if I lived in East Germany I almost certainly would apologize, but since I live in Australia I am proud of what I had done. That's the difference.

I asked the manager on four occasions about the phone call from the Dept of Ed. concerning 'my activities' on the mission. All he answered was that he had talked to Killoran about the 'illegal meeting' and that he felt not obliged as acting manager to tell me what exactly he had me accused of.

Eventually the discussion centered on the 'illegal meeting' again and various plans were put forward how it could be ignored and forgotten. Since I felt very strongly about the attempt to use minutes of meetings to manufacture ammunition for a private duel and also because of the fact that it was really up to the Council to decide what to do with it, I erupted then and I said how ashamed I felt for every one in the room and that I had enough of it (on full volume) and left.

Later I was told there was some stunned silence and Mr K. Scholz shortly afterwards admitted that the minutes were inaccurate which was followed by more stunned silence.

On Wednesday night a public meeting was held under the school at 7:30 p.m. The meeting finished after one o'clock in the morning. One thing that come through loud and clear was that certain well established mission staff was not welcome here. John Havilland and I taped that meeting.

When Pastors Mayer and Renner, President and VicePresident respectively (Lutheran Church, Qld) arrived at Hope Vale, both of them saw me one night and expressed dismay over the fact that the acting manager saw fit to accuse me, but did not see fit to tell me what the charges were. Pastor Renner especially said that it was in the interest of the Lutheran Church to see this rectified. However they did not seem to understand my primitive survival instinct and thought I was preoccupied with too many assumptions. Yet they were clearly worried about the tapes. Although I was asked some leading questions, like if I had connections with any subversive groups, the evening proceeded on the whole on an amiable note and we discoverd large areas of mutual concern- namely the future of Hope Vale. We mutually agreed that it was not in the interest of Hope Vale or the

Lutheran Church and various other bodies to publicly disclose all the information collected. I thought I left little room for doubt that I meant it, yet in retrospect I feel that I was wrong. I made my desire to stay in Hope Vale very clear and I gave the reasons. Now I wonder if they understood. At the time our expounded philosophies seemed to overlap in the essential areas where Hope Vale was the focal point and somehow once more my trust in humanity (which is infinite) and my Church was restored. 20th August, local member Bob Scott arrived in Hope Vale and talked to Leigh for some twenty minutes. I do not want to disclose all that Leigh has told me, but the visit gave him visibly new spirit, (the nonliquid variety).

Monday, 27th August, 1979 was a historic day for Hope Vale. For the first time ever the whole Mission Board arrived to do an on the spot investigation. Mr Des Pietsch, the executive officer and the President, Vice-President and Secretary of the Qld. Branch of the L.C. were with the party. The big question on everybody's mind was, when would they give the public a chance to say what they had to say.

Tuesday, 28th August. Len Rosendale told me that Mr. T. Murphy after questioning admitted in front of the Community Council much to the consternation of the Mission Board that the Community Council is responsible for Local Government and the management has only an advisory capacity. Apparently the Mission Board members expressed surprise at this, but I find it incomprehensible how any member can be unaware of the existence of the Queensland Aborigines Act 1971 and subsequent amendments and especially 'The Aborigines Regulations of 1972', and their amendments.

The public did not have their chance on Tuesday either.

Wednesday, 29th August. At a white meeting (one exception) in B block at the school the gentlemen made us sit and wait for them to make an appearance, for one hour and ten minutes. During the meeting the teachers were the only ones who displayed a caring attitude by asking questions and making suggestions that showed interest and concern for Hope Vale- the mission staff had precious little to contribute. Uncomfortable questions were asked and I admit I asked how much the mission had received from the Cape Flattery silica mines in all their years of operation. The answer is beyond belief, but wait for it-a total of $7600. The Mission has a profit sharing areement with the company (operating within an Aboriginal Reserve) which is Japanese owned. Since the market for this product, one of the purest silica sands in the world, used mainly by the optical industry, is also in Japan one can visualize that it is sound company policy never to do more than break even. No profit- no cash for Hope Vale and no high Australian taxes, etc. etc.

There were claims that Cape Flattery provided jobs for some Aborigines, but this again is in favour of the company, because they do not provide the necessary infrastructure European personal is used to for their Aboriginal employees. Aborigines cannot live with their wives at Cape Flattery. And since the operations at Cape Flattery at the shipping end of it are rarely continuous the company can manage with a skeleton staff and at ship arrival employ casual labour flown in from the convenient labour pool of Hope Vale.

Sister Mary O'Hara enlightened Mr. Des Pietsch that a Nurse cannot be expected to be on call for 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Therefore his milkmaid equation that if two nurses do for SOO people in Hope Vale, then 200 people in Bloomfield should be able to do with one, is indeed a good one. The flaw in logic is obvious and to base a statement that Bloomfield is overstaffed on that is totally ridiculous.

The almost complete lack of qualified staff at Hope Vale was brought up once again.

It came to light that the Mission Board never had produced any management objectives for Hope Vale and also has no spelled out policy or aims for the future of Hope Vale. The D.A.I.A. did have, at least in 1968. Let me quote: (from ABSCHOL 1 968 Director meets the press. Aboriginal Quarterly, 1(3): 10-11.)

Killoran: The Department's policy is simply stated; 'to work itself out of a job'. This will be achieved in a number of ways which might include:

(   1 ) Training of Aboriginal Queenslanders to take over and manage all the functions necessary to maintain normal towns within Queensland;

(2)   Develop the economic viability of the reserves to such a degree that they can be convened into some form of organisation which will ensure a living standard for all of the residents.

(3)   Education and training of all community and reserve residents to the extent that they may choose to move into either rural or uban environments with suitable work opportunity, accommodation etc. and become integrated into the broad social strata of Queensland.

(4)   Reorientation of present reserve structures to enable them to be convened and owned by either people of Aboriginal racial origin or alternatively an admixture of all Queenslanders irrespective of racial origin. . . lt is the desire of the Department that in the ultimate each of the reserves and towns will merge, no longer as special areas but as normal towns within a normal society in Queensland functioning on similar levels as all other towns . . .

Eleven years later we arrive at the Hope Vale situation where unqualified white staff still hang on to jobs that could be instantly taken over by an Aborigine. There are girls here who have Business College Certificates. A boilermaker who finished his apprenticeship in Cape Flattery just recently had to leave for Mr Isa, because he was told there were no jobs for him in Hope Vale. And so on, and so on . . .

Back to the meeting. Pastor Stolz showed a flow diagram explaining the power structure above Hope Vale. When it came down to management and Community Council level, they were shown together side by side to work in harmony on an equal basis. After questioning, the Deputy Director of D.A.I.A. (Mr. Tom. Murphy) admitted that this was in fact not so. Legally the Community Council was responsible for Local Government. The management had not even the right to veto. (Naturally the law allows for a safeguard and the Minister has the capacity to veto- my comment) When I asked twice if someone please would change the management/Council relationship no one did so and there was a convenient change of topic.

The principal, D. Scheiwe suggested the importance of more local decision making and a departmentalization of various services and industries with individual budgets under the supervision of a manager with the Council immediately above him. He also presented a rough flow diagram which showed the Council above the manager (subtalk among the ranks of some Mission Board members, 'That's dangerous').

The works supervisor Mr K. Scholz said he had not the experience to work with a departmental budget and felt it would create initial difficulties. Mr Murphy suggested that the Depanment could assist with computer services, and that the idea is in fact already working in some reserves or communities.

Dissatisfaction was expressed by some with the kind of welcome new arrivals receive in Hope Vale by the established mission staff.

Leigh did not take the opportunity to speak and when I prompted him he quickly diverged onto generalities instead of dealing with specific facts. I was saddened by this, because I felt there and then in front of everyone he could have created some impact. The meeting was guillotined shortly after 10:30 p.m. and a few of us started to wonder what that meeting was actually all about. Afterwards I saw Pastor Renner and asked him if something had been done on my behalf with the Dept of Ed. He said that Pastor Mayer, President of L.C. (Qld.) had seen the Director of D.A.I.A., Mr Killoran on my behalf and had told him (Mr Killoran) that it was not in the interest of the L.C. to have me transferred or removed from Hope Vale. He also said that he would come by my place with Pastor Mayer, so that he could tell me himself.

And so they did on Thursday, 30th August, 1979 shortly before six p.m. and Pastor Mayer repeated basically what Pastor Renner had said the night before- with one small, but noticeable qualification: 'at this stage'.

Nevenheless, a bird in the hand is worth . . ., so I thanked both of them and asked if I could have that in writing. Pregnant pause. Both Pastors could not see the necessity of this, I have seen so much backstabbing and changing with the wind in recent weeks that I'd now even ask my dog on barking if I could ha ve that in writing.

We talked again about Leigh, who just had been sacked in the morning under the pretext that his tentative resignation had to be accepted to spare him and his family further suffering and that after all he did not have to show much in the way of results after three months in Hope Vale. And somehow I mentioned that in the light of all that has happened one could be excused for thinking a degree of antisemitism was involved here. (You see, my dear reader, Leigh is a Jew who invaded a bastion of Christianity. Both his parents died in concentration camps in Germany) (see e6).

I also told Pastor Mayer that it was not in my interest to be transferred, on economic grounds, because my wife works in Cooktown as a field assistant with the Dept. of Health and also that I just had seven girls in my class finish, what I believe is the world's largest magic square (standard), and we were now trying to have this recognized by the Guiness Book of Records.

Pastor Mayer said he would have to think about letting me have, in writing that he had made representation with Mr. Killoran on my behalf, and he intimated that I might ' use ' it.

Later they both saw Neville and Jenny Brown and when Neville said that in the light of all that had happened he was contemplating of leaving the Lutheran Church he was told that was a decision he had to make.

For Friday, 31st August, Miss Robinson and I had planned to let grade 6 and 7 attend the public meeting, scheduled for 8:00 a.m., as a social studies exercise. Those children who would not want to attend were expected at the school at 9:00 a.m. We agreed that I would supervise the children at school for the first half hour and Miss Robinson would then take over and I would go down to the meeting. We received the principal 's permission on Thursday.

Before the meeting started I asked one of the pastors if the power struggle between Council and Management was going to be resolved. "Why don't you wait and then you'll see," was the answer. Pastor Renner came to my assistance and pointed out that I could not wait since I was expected back at school. Meanwhile Pastor Stolz set up a diagram on a portable blackboard leaning against the wall of the store which apart from other minor detail showed three columns:

 

It is obvious what has happened. The Act says one thing but some PEOPLE act in mysterious ways, acting as if they were above the law. Then I was angry and I asked where his concern for the PEOPLE was. Did he really go around and search for truth?

Thereafter I asked Pastor Mayer about his decision regarding the written statement in respect of Mr. Killoran. He stated that he could not give it to me in writing. I retorted that it looked to me that the talking had finished and we would soon read about it. I also said that he should remember what I had intimated the night before about antisemitism' Doesn 't look good '. (see e6 ).

I sat down and waited for the meeting to begin, slowly more people came and about fifteen minutes later around 8:35 a.m. the meeting, correction, the PUBLIC MEETING BEGAN.

During the police incident at 8:50 a.m. Pastor Roennfeldt took three photos. Things must be desperate. It would have been far better if he had given an example as a church leader and showed a bit more concern for a fellow human being in crying need for a few human rights.

On Friday, Leigh left with wife and child. Adrian was weeping and I told him to cheer up, the rest of Australia was nothing like it and quite a different place. I doubt whether the boy understood, but how awful it must be to live in so much uncertainty.

The night before a friend of mine and I photocopied Leigh's file and we got permission to use it in any way we feel fit. (see e7) He signed every photocopy and like everything else there were two sets for security reasons.

On Tuesday I received advice about my transfer to Gladstone West.

That was fast work, ah, well- back to the coal mines. ( Famous last words of future Siberian residents. )

A far as my crimes are concerned I admit to two things:

(   1 ) I have endeavoured to expose that the minutes of at least one administration meeting were a far cry from the truth.

(   2 ) I have dated to ask why a person should be removed from a public meeting without being charged or arrested.

Now I only pray that common sense prevails. Epilogue

As far as Hope Vale is concerned the crucial issues have not been solved by the visit of the Board and other Church members. With a lid fitted tightly steam is gathering inside the pressure cooker. I wish they had not blocked the safety valve.

Under no circumstances will I accept a punitive transfer?

I think all those who have supported me and hope that the vindictive attitude of those responsible does not result in a casualty list that reads: (IvanPeitsch)

Lee van der Hoek

Geraldine van der Hoek

Adrian van der Hoek

Jurgen Peterfeld

Inga-Britt Peterfeld

Neville Brown

Jennifer Brown

Roy McIvor







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