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Social impact of uranium mining on the Aborigines of the Northern Territory - Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies - Report for Period - 1 October 1981 to 31 March 1982


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The Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia

SOCIAL IMPACT OF URANIUM MINING ON THE ABORIGINES OF THE NORTHERN TERRITORY

Report to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs by the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies

Period 1 October 1981 to 31 March 1982

Presented by Command 14 October 1982 Ordered to be printed 27 October 1982

Parliamentary Paper No. 270/1982

Report to the

Minister for Aboriginal Affairs on the

Social impact of uranium mining on the Aborigines of the Northern Territory

(for the period 1 October 1981 to 31 March 1982)

Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies

AUSTRALIAN INSTITUTE OF ABORIGINAL STUDIES

REPORT TO THE MINISTER FOR ABORIGINAL AFFAIRS ON THE SOCIAL IMPACT OF URANIUM MINING

ON THE ABORIGINES OF THE NORTHERN TERRITORY

(for the period 1 October 1981 to 31 March 1982)

28 April 1982

Australian Government Publishing Service Canberra 1982

© Commonwealth of Australia 1982

Printed by C. J. THOMPSON, Commonwealth Government Printer, Canberra

xgsev ( Ω

A u stralian Acton House Postal address:

in s titu te of Kendall Street P.O. Sox 553

h τ ί Νla A b orig in al Acton, A.C.T. Canberra City, A.C.T. 2601 ' ' Ϊ2Ρ S tu d ies Telephone 46 1111 Telegraphic address: ABINST

Ref. no.

28 April 1982

D e a r M i n i s t e r ,

I have p l e a s u r e in p r e s e n t i n g to

y ou the s i x - m o n t h l y report for the p erio d

1 O c t o b e r 1981 to 31 M a r c h 1982.

Y ou r s sin ce re ly ,

Col in T at z

C ha irma n, U r a n i u m Impact Pro je ct

S t e e r i n g C o m m i t t e e

T h e H o n . S en a t o r P e t e r Baume,

M i n i s t e r for A bo r i g i n a l Aff ai rs ,

Pa r 1 iament House,

C an berr a, A C T , 2600.

iii

C O N T E N T S

Page

I. I NT RO DU CT IO N

II. THE U R A N I U M IMPACT P R O J E C T STE ER IN G C OM M I T T E E

1. The Project Executive Committee (PEC) 6

2. Meetings 6

3. Activities 7

4. Sta/y 8

5. Relations with other Organizations 9

III. R E S E A R C H A C T I V I T Y

1. Completed Research 10

2. Nearing Completion 10

3· On-going Research 12

IV. P R O J E C T D IR EC T O R ' S R E P O R T TO THE STE ER IN G COMMITTEE

FOR THE P ERIOD 1 O C T O B E R 1981 - 31 M A R C H 1982

J. INTRODUCTION 16

II. GENERAL ISSUES 17

III. PROJECT STAFF 19

IV. VISITORS 20

V. RESEARCH 21

VI. SPECIAL ISSUES 33

1. Education 33

2. Consultations and Negotiations 45

C ON C L U S I O N S

1 . The Monitoring Project 50

2. Continuing Problems 51

3· Emerging Problems 55

v

I. INTRODU CT IO N

1. The Proje ct is n ow e n t e r i n g the final pha se of its

initial f i v e - y e a r brief. On 2k F e b ru ar y 1982 the M i n i s t e r

met w it h m e m b e r s of the P r o j e c t ' s E x e c u t i v e C o m m i t t e e (PEC)

to dis cuss, -inter alia, the tim ing, general c o n t e n t and n at u r e

of p u b l i c a t i o n of a c o n s o l i d a t e d r e p o r t ; the forma t of six-

m o n t h l y repor ts b e t we en this per io d and D e c e m b e r 1983; and the

q u e st io n - raise d in the i mm e d i a t e l y pre vi ou s Report (at pp. 1

and 59) - of w h e t h e r the m o n i t o r i n g of social impact should

c o n t i n u e b ey on d the initial f i v e - y e a r period.

A t i m e t a b l e has been a gr e e d u p o n : by 30 June 1983,

m o n o g r a p h s or v o l u m e s on s p e c i f i c topic s will be c o m p l e t e d ;

by 1 S e p t e m b e r 1983 the P r o je ct D ir ec t o r ' s final report will

be a v a i l a b l e as a draft; by 31 D e c em be r the S teering

C o m m i t t e e ' s c o n s o l i d a t e d R eport on the initial five years will

be avail ab le . The d e s pa tc h of this mat erial to inter es te d

parties s hould be c o m p l e t e d by F ebruary 1984.

Given this sch edule, it was agr ee d that fut ur e six-

m o n t h l y Repor ts (incl ud in g this one) will be short er than

hit herto. T hey will deal w i t h m a t t e r s of urgen cy or with new

2

factors emerging; they will als o dra w Governmental attention

to rec om me nd at io ns and to action t a k e n , needing to be taken

or action not taken. The Report following this one (No. 7/1982)

intends reviewing all Commi tt ee recommendations to date.

The previous Report stated the need for continued

m on it or in g of social impact. At the February meeti ng with the

Minister, he indicated his w i l l i n g n e s s to meet with the

Project's E xecutive C ommittee (PEC) in July to discuss a

possi bl e next phase of the P r o j e c t . The P E C , meanwhile, will

prepare a case for conti nu at io n of m on it or in g by the

Institute.

It was also agreed that the likely format of a

c on so li da te d report could be a single volume, in book form

published by the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies.

The Project is seeking the Institute's a ssistance in

publishing, as special items, all Project w o r ki ng papers on

whi ch the c on so li da te d volume will be based.

2. For the sake of brevity and ease of citation, the six-

mon th ly reports have been r et ro spectively numbered as follows:

No. A / 1 978 A ustralian Institute of Aboriginal Studies, Social

Impact of Uranium Mining on the A borigines of the

Northern Territory, The Report of the Australian

3

Institute of Aboriginal Studies, for the period

ending 31 December 1978 (CONF ID EN TI AL )

No. B / 1 979 A u s t r a l i a n Institu te of A bo ri gi na l Stu dies, Social

Impact of U r a n i u m M i n i n g on the A b o r i g i n e s of the

N o r th er n T er ri t o r y , The Report of the Australian

Institute of Aboriginal Studies, for the period

ending 1 January 1979 - 31 March 1979 (CO NF ID EN TI AL )

No. 1/197 9 A u s t r a l i a n Institu te of Abo riginal Stu dies, Report

to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs on the Social

Impact of Uranium Mining on the Aborigines of the

Northern Territory (for the period 1 April 1979 to

31 September 1979)

No. 2 /1 9 8 0 A u s t r a l i a n Institu te of Abori gi na l Studies, Report

to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs on the Social

Impact of Uranium Mining on the Aborigines of the

Northern Territory (for the period 1 October 1979

to 31 March 1980)

No. 3/198 0 A u s t r a l i a n Ins titute of Abori gi na l Studies, Report

to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs on the Social

Impact of Uranium Mining on the Aborigines of the

Northern Territory (for the period 1 April 1980 to

30 September 1980)

- 4 -

No. 4 /1 9 8 0 A u s t r a l i a n Insti tu te of A boriginal Stu di es , Report

to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs on the Social

Impact of Uranium Mining on the Aborigines of the

Northern Territory (for the period 1 October 1980

to SI March41981)

No. 5/1981 A u s t r a l i a n Insti tu te of Abo riginal Stu dies, Report

to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs on the Social

Impact of Uranium Mining on the Aborigines of the

Northern Territory (for the period 1 April 1981 to

SO September 1981)

No. 6 /1 98 2 Thi s R e p o r t .

3. This Repor t is w r i t t e n and p re s e n t e d on behal f of -

Eme ri tu s P ro fe ss or R M Berndt (Deputy Chairman)

Mr I B u r r u n a 1 i

Mr K Col bung

Dr H C Coombs

Dr L R Hiatt

P ro fe s s o r M Kamien

Mr N Mara 1ngurra

Mr J Nayinggul

P ro fe ss or C M Tatz (Chairman)

Dr J R von Sturmer (Project Director)

- 5 -

The Hon. W C W e n t w o r t h

Mr E Willmot

- 6 -

II. THE URANIUM IMPACT PROJECT STEERING COMMITTEE

1. The Project Executive Committee (PEC)

The full Ste er in g C o m m i t t e e will now meet o nce ann ually.

It remai ns the p o l i c y - m a k i n g body for the Project. D ay-to-day

r esearch and a d m i n i s t r a t i o n , as well as matte rs of pri vilege,

will rest w it h the P E C , com pr is in g: the C hairman of the

S t e e r i n g Com mittee; the D eputy Cha ir ma n of the S teering

Com mittee; the Project Directo r; the Insti tu te 's Principal or

Deput y Princ ip al ; the C hairman or D e p u t y - C h a i r m a n of the AI AS

Cou ncil; and an Abo riginal d e l e g a t e fro m a p r o po se d Abo riginal

A d v i s o r y C om mi tt ee to the P r o j e c t .

2. Meetings

In this perio d o nl y one PEC m e e ti ng was held: it

d is cu s s e d inter alia, the timing of the c o n s o l i d a t e d reports,

their content and publi ca ti on , the provisi on of Project

inf ormation to the Insti tu te 's Rev ie we r (Professor R J W a l s h ) ,

the p ossible e xt en si on of the P r o j e c t , the role and fun ctions

of P E C , external asses sm en t of some of the brief s under ta ke n

for the P r o j e c t , Proje ct fin an ce s, the e xtended use of other

Institute res ea rc h staff, and Proje ct comments on the Ura nium

A d v i s o r y Council's views as to the likely social impacts if

J a b i 1uka and Koongar ra p r o c e e d . A doc um en t ent it le d Comments on

the Uranium Advisory Council Report Entitled "Potential

Social Impact of the Koongarra and Jabiluka Uranium Mining

Projects on the Aboriginal People of the Alligator Rivers

Region" w as f o r w a r d e d to the M i n i s t e r in J a n u a r y 1982.

3. Activities

P r o f e s s o r R J W al s h met S t e er in g C o m m i t t e e m e m be rs in

C anberra and S y d n e y . The C h a i r m a n met the R eviewer in Sydney:

f ol l o w i n g len gt hy d i s c u s s i o n s on the ori gi ns , aims and

o pe ra t i o n of the P r o j e c t , it was a g r e e d that P ro fessor Walsh,

P ro fe ss or Tatz- and Dr von S t u rm er meet in the U r a ni um P rovince

in M a y .

On 25 Februar y, P ro fe s s o r R M B e r n d t , P ro fe s s o r C M T at z

and Dr J R von S t u rm er - on behal f of the Project - gave oral

e v i d e n c e to the House of R e p r e s e n t a t i v e s Sta nd in g C om mittee

on A boriginal A f f a i r s ( R e f e r e n c e : F r i n g e - D w e l l i n g Abori gi na l

Com munities) - see Official Hansard Report of Evidence,

25.2.82 at pp. 1757-1786.

In N o v e m b e r P ro fe ss or R M Berndt chair ed a special one-

day s y m p o s i u m of the A u s t r a l i a n A c a d e m y of Social Sci ences

devoted to "Ab or iginal Sites and Rights: The Impact of

R esource D ev el opment". The Minis te r, Sen ator B a u m e , addre ss ed

the A c a de my on "Go ve rn me nt P er spectives". Profe ss or B e r n d t 1s

- 7 -

' ’ . . · ■ · « v , , .

- 3 -

paper was e n t i t l e d " Tr aditional Con ce pt s of A boriginal Land";

Dr H C Coombs' a d d r e s s was " O v e r v i e w - Governm en t" ; Mrs

P ri sc i l l a Girrabul gave a tal k e n t i t l e d "Ku ny uhyungki

n g a r r i k a d j u n g m u n g o y h ; balanda b i r r i m w a m n ga r r i n a n g kunke rr ng e

(We fol lo we d a long tiirfe the old en ways; whi te men came and

we saw a new way)" ; Dr Les Hiatt d is cu s s e d "Tr aditional

A t t i t u d e s to Land Res ou rces"; Dr John von Sturmer d el iv er ed a

paper e n t it le d " Ab o r i g i n e s and the Urani um Industry: Tow ar ds

S e l f - m a n a g e m e n t in the A l l i g a t o r River s Region"; and Professor

C M T atz gave a paper on "Th e Rec ov er y and D is covery of Rights;

An O v e r v i e w of Abo ri gi ne s, P olitics and Law". P ro fe s s o r Berndt

is e d i t i n g the p u b l i ca ti on of these papers.

The Proje ct D irector has c o n t i n u e d his a ctive m em b e r s h i p

of, and w o r k f o r , the S tanding Commi tt ee on the Social Impact

of U r a n i u m M i n i n g in Darwin. In February, the Cha irman

a t t en de d the m e e t i n g of the C oo r d i n a t i n g Committee for the

A l l i g a t o r Rivers Reg io n cal le d by the Supervising Scien ti st

in Sydney.

b. Staff

An initial premi se of this Proje ct was that it wou ld

involve the resou rc es of the Institute, including use of

staff exper ti se . To this end, new briefs have been given to

- 9 -

Dr Myrna T on k i n s o n on m a t te rs relating to the Cobourq

Peninsula and o th e r areas relevant to the Project; to Mr

Alex Barlow on aspects p ertinent to Aboriginal education,

espec ia ll y adult e ducation about the mining proce ss es and

their c o n s e q u e n c e s ; and to Ms Marcia Langton on Aboriginal

involvement in service organizations.

5. Relations with other Organizations

C o - o p e r a t i v e w o r k i n g r el ations c on ti nu ed w i t h the W es t

A r n h e m Land C o - o r d i n a t i n g C ommittee, the NT Police D ep a r t m e n t ,

the NT Law D ep ar tment, the NT Health D e p a r t m e n t , the

A u s t r a l i a n Nat ional Parks and W i l d l i f e Service ( A N P W S ) , the

Bur ea u of the N o r th er n Land Council (NLC) and the U r a n i u m

A d v i s o r y Council ( UA C ) .

The p r e v i o u s Report (at p . 62) e xp ressed c o n c e r n at the

lack of c l a r i f i c a t i o n of b riefs as between this P r o j e c t and

that of the UAC on m a t t e r s relat in g to social impact. In

April the Cha ir ma n will m eet w it h the new UAC C ha irman, Sir

Ric ha rd K i n g s 1 a n d , to discu ss matte rs of mutual c o n c e r n .

The Project Director has been invited by Ranger U r a n i u m

Mines to p a r t i c i p a t e in the framing and p re s e n t a t i o n of

induction c o u rs es on Abori gi na l life and values for m i n i n g

e m p 1o y e e s .

10

III. RESEA RC H A C T I V I T Y

1. Completed Research

The p r e v i o u s Repor t e x p l a i n e d the w o r k u n d e r t a k e n by

Robert L ev it us for the proje ct on the social histo ry of the

Kakadu Nat io na l Park region and its people. His work,

e n t it le d Everybody Bin All Day Work, was c o m p l e t e d in March.

In 128 pages he has pro du ce d a p r e l i m i n a r y surve y of the

region f ro m 1869 to 1973. D i s c u s s i o n is und er wa y w it h ANPWS

on s u i ta bl e p u b l i c a t i o n of this phase one. The a u t h o r - now

a doc toral c a n d i d a t e at the U n i v e r s i t y of Q u e e n s l a n d - is

pur su in g this r esearch topic and the Proje ct is hopeful that

furth er finan ci al a s s i s t a n c e from and a c a de mi c c o- o p e r a t i o n

with A N P W S will mean a c o n t i n u a t i o n and i ntensification of

this impor ta nt w o r k .

2. Wearing Completion .

(a) The Laws Relevant to Aborigines

Report No. A / 1 981, at pp. 5-6, d is cu ss ed the consp ec tu s

of laws r elating to NT A b o r i g i n e s under ta ke n for the

Pro je ct by M ar k D r e y f u s . On his return from a br o a d in

M a r c h , Mr Dreyfus began final revision, editi ng and

p ol is h i n g of two v o l u m e s . This w o r k - t ogether with

C ro mm el in and N ic h o l s o n ' s Report on Uranium Mining Laws

in the Northern Territory c o m m i s s i o n e d by the UAC and

John M c C o r q u o d a 1e 1s f o r t h c o m i n g Aborigines and the Law:

A Comprehensive Annotated Bibliography - w i l l e ns ur e

more than a d e q u a t e c o v e r a g e of A b o r i g i n e s , m ining and

the law.

(b) The Ethno-Historical Ecology of the Region

P r o f e s s o r Carmel S c h r i r e has c o n t i n u e d w i t h her w o r k

( discussed in detail in R eport 5/1 982, pp. 7~8) . She

will return to A u s t r a l i a in J u n e - J u 1y to c o m p l e t e field

work.

(c) The Safety of the Physical Environment

The p r e v i o u s Repor t (at p. 1 6) m e n t i o n e d the P ro ject's

int ended study of A bo ri gi na l a w a r e n e s s of and conce rn

abo ut s afety facto rs f o l l o w i n g the e v e n t s at N a b a r l e k

and Ranger. To this e n d , P r o f e s s o r Carmel Schrire has

p r e p a r e d for the Proje ct a paper e n t i t l e d The Radiological

Hazards of Uranium Mining and Milling with particular

reference to the Health and Well-being of Aboriginal

People in the Alligator Rivers Region, N.T. Australia

(cited as Technical Paper No. 2, D e p ar tm en t of Human

Eco logy, Cook Col le ge , Rutge rs U ni ve rsity, New Bru nswick,

New Jer sey, 1982). T hi s paper has been sent to several

a s s e s s o r s for c om me nt prior to its d e l iv er y to the

M i n i s t e r and o t h e r s .

12

(d) Physical Safeguards and Aboriginal Education

F ol lo wi ng the e p i s o d e s r e f er re d to a b o v e , the Proje ct

b ec a m e a wa r e of the m is g i v i n g s , and in some cas es the

a c u t e distress, in the A bo ri gi na l c o m m u n i t y as to

p o s s i b l e m i n i n g h a z a r d s , the n at u r e of radia ti on and its

likely e f f e c t s and how these mig ht a ffect personal safety.

The Proje ct a s k e d Mr Leslie Hunte r, a c h e mi st of

e x p e r i e n c e in the U ra ni um Provinc e, to w r i t e a report

on, inter alia, the likely c o n s e q u e n c e s for the human

resid en ts of the region of a ny b re ak do wn s in safety

p r o c e d u r e s ; the a d e q u a c y of m a c h i n e r y to inform

A boriginal resid en ts of (physical) m o n i t o r i n g p rocedures

and r esearch findi ng s; the e f f e c t i v e n e s s of steps taken

to e ng a g e Abori gi na l p eople and o r g a n i z a t i o n s in

m o n i t o r i n g pro ce dures. The first draft of the report is

to hand and, as w i t h P ro fe s s o r Schrire's study, is to

be s ub mi tt ed for e v a l u a t i o n by a u t h o r i t i e s b efore being

p re se nt ed as a Pro ject paper.

3. On-going Research

W o r k by P ro fe s s o r C M T at z on Aborigines and the

Criminal Law is proce ed in g. The Correct io na l Services

Div ision of the NT D epartment of C om munity Devel op me nt

has o ff er ed its c oo p e r a t i o n in this study (described

- 13 -

fully in Report No. 5/1981, at pp. 11-13). The NT

Health Depar tm en t and the Office of the Supervising

Scientist have agr ee d to assist in and help supervise

the next phase of Professor S chrire's health study.

The S up er vi si ng Scientist intends holding a discussion/

w o r k s h o p on the question of Aboriginal diet in the

region, in w hi c h the Project Director will participate.

The Project D irector's research and that of the Research

Fellow is dealt w i t h in Section I V below.

IV. P R O JE CT D I R E C T O R ' S REP OR T TO THE STE ER IN G COMMI TT EE

FOR THE P ERIOD 1 O C T O B E R 1981 - 31 MAR CH 1982

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- 15 -

A US TR AL IA N INSTITUTE OF A BO RI GI NA L STUDIES

SOCIAL IMPACT OF U R A NI UM MINING ON THE A BORIGINES

OF THE NORTHERN TERRI TO RY

PROJECT DIRECTOR'S REPORT

(for the period 1 October 1981 - 31 March 1982)

-16-

This report covers the period 1 October 1981 to 31 March

1932. During this period the maj or developments or events

w hi c h have occur re d in or are likely to affect the Alligator

Rivers region and its Aboriginal inhabitants include the

following:

* the c ontinuation of negot ia ti on s and consultations

surrounding Pancontinental Pty. Ltd.'s Jabiluka Project

and Denison Austr al ia Pty. Ltd.'s Koongarra Project

* the report of the Aboriginal Land Commissioner Mr Justice

Toohey on the Allig at or Rivers Stage II Land Claim was

tabled in the Senate 8 March 1982

* the passage of the Aboriginal Land Rights Legislation

Amendment Bill 1982 throu gh Federal Par liament in March

1982.

I. INTRODUCTION

-17-

As indicated in the body of the main r e p o r t , the Project

is now g e a ri ng up to the p re pa ra ti on of the major reports for

the first five year period. Apart from c on ti n u i n g fieldwork

activities, much of the e ne rg ie s of Project staff during the

period under review have been directed towards f inalising or

c o n s o l i d a t i n g reports on p ar ti cu la r research topics, readying

statistical data for d et ai le d analysis, and preparing research

briefs to fill gaps in the research design. Serious atten ti on

has been given to the m a t t e r of d ev el op in g m echanisms where by

the senior research staff - the Project Director and Research

Fellow - can direct their e ne rg ie s more to analysis and

wri ti ng and less to the d ay -t o- da y tasks of o bs ervation and

staff supervision.

A key element of the Project is that it has been able,

over the last three years, to m a i nt ai n an active presence

within the region. Thu s it has d e t ai le d f i r st -h an d

o b s e r v a t i o n s of all key e v e n t s w h i c h have o c c u r r e d in the

region d ur i n g that time. T h e s e data will c o n s t i t u t e a

v a l u a b l e res ou rc e in the f u t u r e , e s p e c i a l l y as they will

provi de an Abori gi na l p e r s p e c t i v e on e ve nt s and indicate

s om et hi ng of the n ature and m e a n i n g of Abori gi na l responses.

The se e l e m e n t s are h a b i t u a l l y lacki ng in the material

II. GENERAL ISSUES

-18-

usual ly a v a i l a b l e to histo ri an s e x a mi ni ng the so-called

"culture contact situation".

It is crucial that this " wa tc hi ng brief" is maintained.

It is e sp ec ia ll y i m p o r t a n t , in c ir cu ms ta nc es whe re the senior

researchers can no longer remain const an tl y in the field,

that the Project c on ti nu e to benefit from briefings from the

Bureau of the Northern Land Council, the A ustralian National

Parks and W i l d l i f e Service, and the Gagudju Association. The

decision by the Standing Commi tt ee on the Social Impact of

Uranium Mining to meet regularly at monthly intervals should

mean that issues w hi c h have come to the attention of the

Committee will be systema ti ca ll y reviewed. The involvement

of oth er Institute staff in taking up specific briefs and

the proposal to hold future Steering Committee meetings in

the Northern T er ri to ry will assist the Project in maintaining

contact with the region. However, it is clear that a f u l l ­

time researcher should be a p p oi nt ed to work in the r e g i o n ,

along wit h the Aboriginal r e s e a r c h e r s ; and that, if it is

to fulfil its brief properly over the next 21 months, the

Project will require the active co-operation of all agencies

and o r g a n i z at io ns o perating in the region, including the

mining companies.

-19-

III. P R O JE CT STAFF

The present staff is:

Dr John von Sturmer - Resea rc h Consultant, Project Director

Ms Sue Kesteven - Research Fellow

Mr Joseph M ir rw an ga Bumarda

Mr Bundy (Bandiwanga) N a m a r n y i l k

Ms Sally Lavers - Project Secretary

Mr Robert Levitus - Research Fellow (Social History)

Ms Jane Forster w ho had served as Project Secretary from

January 1980 resigned in December 1981 to resume full-time

unive rs it y studies. She will be greatly missed. Ms Sally

Lavers took up the secretarial position at the end of February.

Mr Robert Levitus compl et ed his social history contract in

M a r c h .

Mrs Priscilla Girrabul has c ontinued to assist the Project at

Oenpelli. Mr Leslie Hunter and Mr Mark Dreyfus were engaged

on contr ac ts for specific research topics.

-20-

The Project c o n ti nu ed to receive a large number of

visit or s at O e n p e l 1 i , p ar ti cu la rl y from the Bureau of the

Northern Land Council. Profe ss or Ted Gurr (Northwestern

University, Illinois, U . S . A . , and Latrobe University, Victoria,

Australia) spent several days wit h the Project Director and

Research Fellow at O e n p e l 1 i (1 8-21 January 1982), discussing

aspects of political organization. During his stay he was

able to obser ve the visiting m a g i s tr at e' s court and to visit

the Nab ar le k p r o j e c t .

IV. VISITORS

-21-

In addit io n to the research projects discussed in the

main body of the r e p o r t , the research p rogramme as outlined

by the Project Director in the Report to the Minister

(No 4/1980, pp. 29-79) has been pursued by project staff

during the period under review. It is not proposed to deal

with the o n g oi ng research in detail in this r e p o r t . Instead,

a small number of items have been selected for c o m m e n t :

c e n s u s ; genealogies; t e x t s ; dictionary; diet; and Aboriginal

e mployment in the mining industry.

1. CENSUS

The Research Fellow c ompleted another wet season census

of O e n p e l 1 i 24-26 February wit h the help of Mrs Priscilla

Girrabul. Detailed analysis of all cen su s data a waits the

a v a i l a b i l i t y of c o m p u t e r f ac il it ie s to the P r o j e c t .

Gross f i g ur es for O e n p e l 1 i , Feb ru ar y 1982, are (local

A b o r i g i n e s o n l y ) :

V. RESEARCH

d we ll in gs o c c u p i e d residen ts stoves

worki ng

C A M P S : West Banyan 3 17 1

Banyan 19 158 7

M id d l e Camp 1 1 136 4

A r r k u l u k 16 158 3

49 469 15

' \ '7:7. r : . ' . . : '

-22-

This works out at a pp r o x i m a t e l y 9.6 people per house.

The range was from a high of 21 people in one house (of the

style referred to locally as "brick house") in A rr k u l u k Camp

to a low of two in one A r r ku lu k cot ta ge (of the style referred

to locally as "tin house"). Figures for stoves is given as

an indicator of the standard of household facilities: less

than one wor ki ng stove per three houses in the wet season

whe n fires are d ifficult to m ai nt ai n in the open. Housing

in A rr ku lu k and West Banyan remains grossly substandard. It

is c on spicuous that the number of residents increases to 12

per house in Mid dl e Camp w he r e the standard of housing is

m ar ke dl y better than in the rest of Oenpelli. These figures

are evidence of the cyclical pressures which apply in what

might be described as a general context of deprivation: a

situation in whi ch there are too few and inadequate houses

for too many people means that new houses are immediately

overc ro wd ed and deteriorate... The c on sequences are obvious:

a c ontinuing and a pparently inescapable situation of poor

housing, and critical and envious eyes cast at others who

are more favoured - at Jabiru and its lavish facilities, at

Aboriginal employees of the Austr al ia n National Parks and

Wildl if e Service, at the Europeans living within the Oenpelli

township. The argument that Abori gi ne s are content or prefer

to live in large familial groupings is not supported from the

-23-

O e n p e l 1 i experience. People like to live near relat io ns , but

w ou l d p re f e r to live in s e p a r a t e h o u s e h o l d s c o m po se d of

n u c le ar families. D i s t i n c t i v e f e a tu re s of Abori gi na l

residen ti al a r r a n g e m e n t s as " s i n g l e m e n ' s c am p s " are also

m a i n t a i n e d , a l t h o u g h w i t h o u t inf ormed and careful a nalysis

they a re s om e t i m e s d i f f i c u l t to detec t (e.g. a " s i ng le men's

camp" may be o ne room in a house w he r e the re are nuclear

fam il ie s o c c u p y i n g o th e r rooms).

Gross f ig ur es for n o n - A b o r i g i n a 1 residents at Oenpelli

are w o r t h bri ef c o n s i d e r a t i o n : 32 d we ll i n g s for 69 residents.

Of the se d w e l l i n g s 14 had o ne o c c u p a n t only. Thi s com pa re s

d r a m a t i c a l l y w i t h the fact that there w e r e no single o c c u p a n c y

Abo riginal houses, and indicat es maj or d i f f e r e n c e s in the

social c o n f i g u r a t i o n s of A b o r i g i n e s and n o n - A b o r i g i n e s in

O e n p e l 1 i .

2. G E N E A L O G I E S

T he p re p a r a t i o n of d e t a i l e d g e n e a l o g i e s is essential to

the a n a l y s i s of c ensus d a t a , and as b a c kg ro un d material for

u n d e r s t a n d i n g m a r r i a g e a r r a n g e m e n t s , d i s t r ib ut io n of pro perty,

political allia nc es , cer emonial o rg an iz a t i o n , and so on. The

Res ea rc h F ellow has pre pa re d 105 pages of g e n e a lo gi es from

Church M i s s i o n a r y Soc ie ty records held by the Gun balanya

Council at Oen pelli. The g en e a l o g i e s consi st of inter co nn ec te d

. .

-24-

nuclear families (c. 1,500 individuals). The Research Fellow

has c ommenced the difficult and time-consuming task of c h e c k i n g ,

a m e nd in g and add in g to the genealogies. Corrected spelling of

Aboriginal names has been achie ve d for some families.

Two important general features have emerged from this

work. First, in some cases such c onflicting information has

been given by different individuals that alternate genealogies

may have to be acc ep te d as social realities. Second,

genealogical k nowledge is extre me ly shallow. This finding

emerges from attem pt s to gather information on marginal

individuals and on deceased people. Shallow genealogies are

reported from many parts of Aboriginal Australia, but are by

no means the rule. M o r e o v e r , shallowness may relate to

different underlying features of social organization in

different societies and at different times. In the Alligator

Rivers r e g i o n , shallowness may reflect the priority of social

category identification (e.g. kunmokurrkurr members hi p) over

genealo gi ca l ties; or it may be that certa in types of

genealo gi ca l c o n n e c t e d n e s s (notably sib lingship) are more

important than others. An odd feature is that family

m e m b e r s h i p (in the sense of e x t en de d kindreds) is maint ai ne d

even in the a b s en ce of precise k no wl ed ge of gen ea lo gi ca l ties.

The se fin di ng s have serious imp li ca ti on s for a number of

m i n i n g - r e l a t e d matte rs : how to d et er mi ne such things as land

-25-

o wnership, " p e op le a ffected", the persons who are or are not

entit le d to mak e d ecisions and about what. They suggest that

there is no o b j e c t i v e or fixed "social truth". How variation

and c h o ic e and chang in g social c ir c u m s t a n c e s may be recorded

and m o n i t o r e d is a mat te r w hi c h poses o b v io us problems for

the p re pa r a t i o n of lists of traditional owners (see, for

example, the requirement facing the Land Councils to prepare

a Reg is te r of Traditional Land Owner sh ip under section 2 h of

the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976).

M in in g a g r e e m e n t s may have an impact in " f r e e z i n g " the "social

truth " at a p a r t i c u l a r m o m e n t in time. M or e than that, the

n e g o t i a t i o n s and c o n s u l t a t i o n s w h i c h p r e ce de a gr ee m e n t s

u n d o u b t e d l y skew the c o n s t r u c t i o n of social reali ty as peopl e

j ockey for a dvantage. M or eo v e r , the p r i n c i p l e s they invoke

will tend to be those u n d e r s t o o d or a c c o r d e d most value by

the n e g o t i a t o r s or c on su lt an ts . The h ie ra rc hy of princ ip le s

thus c r e a t e d m ay d if fe r s i g n i f i c a n t l y f ro m the h ie ra rc hy w hi c h

w o u l d e m e r g e w e r e the d y n a m i c s of Abori gi na l social life

playe d out w i t h o u t o u t s i d e interference.

T h e r e is n o t h i n g to g u a r a n t e e that the j oc ke yi ng ref er re d

to a bo v e w i 11 c ea s e o n c e an a gr ee m e n t has been r e a c h e d . For

e xample, " a d o p t i o n " or " g r o w i n g up" (re aring/nurturing) or

r es id en ce may be used as p r i n c i p l e s to suppo rt an individua l' s

c l a i m to be inc luded as a b e n e f i c i a r y und er an a gr eement long

-26-

aft er the a gr e e m e n t has been signed, despite the fact that

that parti cu la r individual may not have been a party to, or

may not have been c on si de re d at the time to have a legitimate

interest in, the n e g o t ia ti on s and c o n s u lt at io ns whi ch preceded

its signing. A gap can thus arise between the intentions of

and the implementation of an a g r e e m e n t .

Without spelling out in detail the a d m i n is tr at io n and other

difficu lt ie s cre at ed by this g a p , let it be stated that the

value of the genealogical, clan m em be rs hi p and land ownership

data colle ct ed by the Project (and, in the case of the Kakadu

National Park area, and the land subject to the A lligator

Rivers Stage II Land Claim, of the data tendered in evidence

at the land claims) is that they provide a reference point

for asses si ng the ways in which, and the principles deemed to

be a cc ep ta bl e or powerful by which, Aboriginal social realities

may be "re-written". Once these m echanisms and principles are

firmly under st oo d they may be w r i tt en into the structures

(such as the Gagudju and Kunwinjku Associations) designed to

handle min in g revenues. If they are not understood these

o rg an iz at io ns will appear to be - and may indeed be - in a

continual state of chaos.

-27-

3. TEXTS

The Project now has 100 pages of text. These are in the

form of Kunwinjku transcr ip ti on w i t h interlinear grammatical

and lexical analysis. The texts are conce rn ed with women's

a u t o b i o g r a p h i e s and wit h a cc ou nt s of hunting trips.

The former provide a mea ns of viewing w o m en 's accounts

of their lives and what they consi de r to be the important

stages of their lives. In flavour these texts are very bland,

and off er most interest in what is not said.

The acc ou nt s of hunting trips are of obvio us interest in

the study of diet (see below).

4. D IC TI ON AR Y

This has not been given a high priority in the last six

months, a lt ho ug h it c ontinues to e x p a n d , e specially as a

c on se q u e n c e of text analysis. Specific semantic fields have

been explored, for example those to do wit h responsibility:

wit h respect to land, the raising of children, and wrongdoing.

Investigation of the latter indicates that there are no

lexical e qu iv al en ts for many of the terms used in c ourtroom

situations, for example, in the making of pleas. This lends

support to a general proposition that there are contexts in

-28-

w h i ch and topics for whi ch specific languages and special

speech registers are appropriate.

One of the c o n s e qu en ce s of urani um mining in the region

is that it has creat ed - through the c on sultations and

negot ia ti on s involved ίή arriving at mining a g r e e m e n t s ,

through the p rocedures used to estab li sh machinery to disburse

min in g r e v e n u e s , and throught meeti ng s of such bodies as the

Nabar le k Advisory Committee and the Ranger Liaison Committee

- a w i d er range of contexts in which English has become the

dominant language. Matters discussed are often highly

technical and require items of English vocabulary which would

be unfamiliar even to many people w ho have English as their

first or only language. M o r e o v e r , these contexts require

highly formalised speech (i.e. a special speech register)

w hi c h is not easily acquired.

There have been some suggestions that there should be

more translation between English and Kunwinjku to ensure

greater c om munication and understanding. Such suggestions

need to be examined carefully. First, they appear to ignore

the fact that there is already a great deal of translation

occurring, both from English to Kunwinjku, and Kunwinjku to

English. The responsibility for translation almost

invariably falls on the Aborigines. The stated purpose of

-29-

E n g l i s h - K u n w i n j k u t ra nslation is to all ow "old people" -

people w it h a limited grasp of English - to follow discussion.

K u n w i n j k u - E n g 1 ish t ra nslation is for the benefit of

n o n - A b o r i g i n e s w h o are p r e s e n t . If there wer e to be a

trans la to r service, as has sometimes been suggested, it would

tend simply to place a furth er burden on those few Aboriginal

people w h o already p e r fo rm t ranslations but who are also key

p ar ti ci pa nt s in meetings, c o n s u lt at io ns or negotiations.

Second, they o ve r l o o k the fact that translations may not

always be possible, either because of the c on text/topic

s pe ci fi ci ty of language use (as alluded to above), or

because there are no simple lexical equivalents. In their

absence, t ra nslation may require tortuous circumlocution.

Third, w h i l e particular A bo ri gi ne s involved in c on sultations

or n e g o t ia ti on s may have c om pe te nc e in moving from one

language to the other, the real acts of translation whi ch are

o cc u r r i n g are from one "level" to another (the same operation

may be o c c u r r i n g in K u n w i n j k u ) . "Hard" English is rendered

in " si mp le r" English, most often by Europeans who wish to

"explain things". If anyth in g should be examined carefully

it should be these explanations, and the degree of mesh

between the English used in making them and the English used

by Aborigines.

- 30 -

A second attempt to improve communication and

u nd erstanding has focussed on producing simple English versions

of more e laborate texts (e.g. , Environmental Impact S t a t e m e n t s ,

draft agreements). These have been written in the complete

abs en ce of any analysis of local Aboriginal English, and

Aboriginal modes of structuring information. For these

reasons they have generally been unsuccessful and a waste of

time and m o n e y . Future initiatives in this direction will

require a much more professional approach.

It could be argued that linguistic change is a

significant impact factor of mining, and worth monitoring in

its own right; that there should be a proper study of local

Aboriginal English (the Project has collected considerable

textual material which could serve as a partial data base

for such a study); and, finally, that any Aboriginal

dictionary for the region should incorporate the entire

lexicon used by Aborigines, regardless of the language to

which particular items are said to belong. In this c o n n e x i o n ,

it should be noted that some items of English lexicon may have

very distinctive meanings when used by Aboriginal people

(e. g. , kill, flash, might be, missionary, Christian, T o y o t a ) ,

parts of speech may be used for different grammatical

functions (e.a ., adjectives and prepositions used as verbs,

i n t r a ns it iv e ver bs used t r a n s i t i v e l y ) , and A b o r i g i n e s coin

English n e o l o g i s m s (e.g. , w o r r y n e s s , young er s) .

5. DIET

Mat erial p e r t a i n i n g to Abori gi na l die t in the A ll ig at or

Rivers regio n has been c ol l e c t e d ; there is infor ma ti on f ro m

a. C a h i l l ' s time, m o s t l y from A d m i n i s t r a t o r ' s reports

{The Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia. 1917-18.

Northern Territory of Australia. Report of the Administrator

for the Years 1915-16 and 1916-17) and e y e - w i t n e s s acc ou nt s

of the time ( M a s o n , Elsie R. 1915. An Untamed Territory:

The Northern Territory of Australia, Chapter VII. L o n d o n :

M a c M i l l a n and Co. Lim ited; W a r b u r t o n , Carl. 1934.

Buffaloesj Life and Adventure in Arnhem Land. Sydney: Angus

and R ob e r t s o n Ltd.)

b . the CMS period, f r o m Cole (Cole, Keith. 1975. A

History of Oenpelli. Darwin: N u n g a l i n y a Publications.) and

personal c o m m u n i c a t i o n s

c. the pre sent. Thi s has involved int erviewing peopl e

about the types of food that they have rec ently e a t e n , and

the last times that they ate c e r ta in f o o d s . This is

a u g m e n t e d by personal o b s e r v a t i o n s , including a large corpus

- 31 -

- 32 -

of information gathered from the Cannon Hill c ommunity during

the dry season of 1979. There are also texts to do with

hunting trips (see above, Texts), infor ma ti on on food taboos

(gene ra ll y a s s o c i a t e d with life c r i s e s /rites de passage), and

surve ys of shop prices...

C o n t i nu it ie s and chang es in the methods of procuring

and p r o ce ss in g food have a l s o been consi de re d. The census

and survey of h o u s e h o l d s hav e prove n to be of value in

d e t e r m i n i n g prese nt habits, e s p e c i a l l y with respect to the

p o s s i b i l i t i e s for the sto ri ng and c o o ki ng of food.

6. E M P L O Y M E N T AND T R A I N I N G OF A BO R I G I N E S IN THE A LL I G A T O R

RIVERS REGION

The Report of the Joint Working Party on Employment and

Training of Aborigines in the Alligator Rivers Region is still

under rev ie w by the Sta nd in g C om mi t t e e on the Social Impact

of U r a ni um Mining. It is to be hoped that this Report can be

f in alized as soon as possible, e sp e c i a l l y as the data upon

w h i c h it is based are curre nt o nl y for m i d - 1981.

- 33

VI. SPE CI AL ISSUES

1. E DUCATION

in tabling Report No 5/1981 in the Senate ( H a n s a r d ,

25.3.82, on pp. 1215-1217), the Minis te r for Aboriginal Affairs

stated that three bodies had taken c og ni sa nc e of the problems

of e d u ca ti on for A b o r i g i n e s about uranium safety matters.

They are the Bureau of the Northern Land Council, the

Super vi si ng Scientist and the Allig at or Rivers Region Research

Institute. The Minis te r a lso referred to the a pp ointment of

a new adult e du ca to r at O e n p e l 1 i early in 1982.

The involvement of these agencies must be welcomed.

H o w e v e r , there are a number of matte rs w h i ch should be

treated c a r e f u l l y and in an informed manner.

A b o r i g i n e s and European A u s t r al ia ns have different ways

of a cquiring, assessing, using and t ra nsmitting knowledge

about the world; they have different sets of values, and

different notions of r es po ns ib il it y to the environment...

European A u s t r a l i a n s are apt, as individuals, to stress that

there is no single European world vi ew , no single path to

knowledge and truth whi ch e v e ry on e has agreed to follow. Yet

they tend, if called upon to consider the matter, to attribute

a sort of "group mind" to A bo ri gi ne s - to assume that there

- 34 -

is a or the " A b o r i g i n e per sp ec ti ve ". In reality, any

careful a ss es s m e n t will sho w a d i v e r s i t y of Abori gi na l

p e r s p e c t i v e s - not o nl y betwe en p ar ti c u l a r A boriginal societi es

but w i t h i n them. It may be one of the truisms of human

s oc ie ti es that the ir m e m b e r s a t t r i b u t e great er v a r ie ty of

attit ud es , b e l ie fs and levels of k no wl e d g e to the soc ie ty of

w h i c h they are m e m b e r s than to any oth er society; and c er ta in ly

that the p e r s p e c t i v e to w h i c h a p ar t i c u l a r person a d h er es has

more val ue than that held by a ny o n e else, reg ardless of the

society to w h i c h the latter belongs. This sim pl e picture is

c o m p l i c a t e d by the issue of aut hority: the voice of a ut ho ri ty

can lend its w ei g h t to the notion that there is a "co rrect

view". In c i r c u m s t a n c e s w h e r e there is a v ie w w hi c h is

r ep utedly p re se n t e d as the corre ct or a u t h o r i t a t i v e view,

o th e r views held by indiv id ua ls w i t h o u t the means to impose

their vie ws on oth er s will be b el it tl ed or ignored. The

s it uation is o b v i o u s l y c o m p l e x in the A ll ig a t o r Rivers region

w h e r e there are two publi cs - one A bo ri ginal, one largely

Eur opean - w h i c h have their own notio ns of what is the

" a u t h or is ed ver si on " of the world. (In its ess en tials, it is

the same as the commo n law - c us to m a r y law issue now being

res earched by the Law R ef or m Com mission. Can a numbe r of

syste ms of law - Abori gi na l and European - exist s ide-by-side?

Can a numbe r of sys tems of know 1 e d g e/ wo rI d views - Aboriginal

35 -

and European - exist side-by-side?)

It is cer ta in that some of the A bo ri gi ne s who live in

the A l l i g a t o r Rivers region and regard it as their home believe

that they know a great deal more about the environment than

any of the n e w c o m e r s w h i c h m i n i n g a c t i v i t i e s has broug ht into

the region. T h e i r k n o w l e d g e is founded on a lif et im e of clo se

o b s e r v a t i o n s of and daily i ntimate interaction w i t h the

e n v i r o n m e n t - w h a t mig ht be c al l e d " k n o w l e d g e thr ough

o p e ra ti on al e mp i r i c i s m " . It is f o u n d e d , too, on infor ma ti on

w hi c h has been t r a n s m i t t e d by w o r d of m o u t h , on oth er peo pl e' s

o b s e r v a t i o n s and reflexions, and on oral tradi ti on s. The

s c i e n t i s t s and m i n e r s p la c e the ir faith in a n o t h e r emp irical

tra dition, o ne that has e s c a p e d the rel ia nc e on immediate

s en se -d at a and w h i c h can hold the i ne xplicable longer in

abeyance. To e xplain, lit er ac y and e x t e r n a l i s e d means of

r ec ording i nf or mation mean that the sor ti ng , re- arrangement,

a n a l y s i s of data are no longer d ep e n d e n t upon m em or y and oral

trans mi ss io n. How ev er , the p eriod of time over w hi c h w e s t e r n

s c i e n t i f i c o b s e r v a t i o n s have been made is still short, and

a l t h o u g h the o b s e r v a t i o n s wil l, g e n e r a l l y spe aking, have been

made and rec orded with p re ci si on , they are, in the absen ce of

an i ntegrated model of the " w o r k i n g s " of the total env ironment,

i ncomplete and selec ti ve .

- 36 -

Without pursuing this a na ly si s too f a r , it is clear

that what is h ap pe ni ng in the A ll i g a t o r Rivers region is that

a big body of Aboriginal k no wl ed ge is largely and, some would

say, illegitimately ignored by the scientists and o t h e r s ; and

that weste rn s ci en t i f i c 4 k n o w l e d g e , whi le being consc io us ly or

u nc on sc io us ly a c c or de d p re -e mi ne nc e by its protagonists, is not

being made a va i l a b l e in a f orm w h i c h is either a cc es si bl e or

accep ta bl e to the local Aborigines.

This is not a situation w hi c h any single organization

can be expected to put to rights. The Institute's Project

team and other researchers w ho have worked with A borigines in

the region have gained access to some of the Abori gi na l

k n o w l e d g e abo ut the e nv ir on me nt . (See, for e x a m p l e , S m y t h , D M

and von Sturmer, J R The use of plants by the Aboriginal people

in the Oenpelli region of Western Arnhem Land.) This is also

u n d o u b t e d l y true of some o t h e r people, e sp ec i a l l y o f f ic er s of

the A us t r a l i a n National Parks and W i l d l i f e Servi ce w o r k i n g in

the Kakadu National Park. Also, the Gag udju A ss o c i a t i o n has

the ser vices of an Environ me nt al Offic er (Mr Dave Lindner) w ith

e x t e n s i v e e x p e r i e n c e in the region. (It may be signi fi ca nt

that the latter is an Abori gi na l o r g an iz at io n, and the other

two o r g a n i z a t i o n s have a strong commi tm en t to and interest in

Abori gi na l mat ters. All three o r g a n i z a t i o n s emplo y local

- 37 -

Aboriginal people - though it is to their n o n - A b o r i g i n a 1

personnel that I am referring in the abo ve discussion - and

by d ef in it io n their knowl ed ge is Aboriginal.)

The Off ic e of the Super vi si ng Scientist, the Alligator

Rivers Region Research Institute, and the Northern Territory

Department of Health have the capac it y and the responsibility

to pursue studies into environmental safety and health issues

in the region, but they have limited capacity to turn w hat they

have found out into anyth in g meaningful to the local Aboriginal

people. It is not just that they lack money and manpower.

The task itself is difficult and requires specialist skills.

It should also be said that the Aborigines, for their part,

have no way of asses si ng the w o r k of these three bodies,

except through "gut reaction".

The main task of the Northern Land Council is to

represent the interests of its Aboriginal constituents. As a

signatory to the Ranger and Nabarlek Agreements, and as a key

member of the C o- ordinating Committee for the Alligator Rivers

region, the Northern Land Council has special responsibilities

to ensure that monit or in g of mining activities is adequate and

that information c oncerning environmental safety is made

a vailable to its Aboriginal clients. In sum, and stated

simply, it has a double task: to explain the Aboriginal

- 38 -

position (views, knowledge, p riorities and aspirations, beliefs,

etc.) to n o n - A b o r i g i n a 1 groups wit h an interest in and/or

r esponsibilities in or over Aboriginal land, and, conversely,

to explain the positions of those groups (views, k n o w l e d g e ,

priorities and aspirations, beliefs, etc.) to the Aborigines

involved. This is a daunting, indeed staggering, task. The

Bureau of the Northern Land Council is required to carry out

the task at two different levels: it must inform the Council

itself, its a 11- A b o r i g i n a 1 g overning body; and it must inform

its ordinary a 11- A b o r i g i n a 1 constituency. The Bureau cannot

be expected to achieve much, certa in ly not immediately, in

any area whe re no organ iz at io n has hitherto been very

successful. Taking the p articular case of providing

information to the Aborigines of the A lligator Rivers region

about mining safety and health m a t t e r s , it is faced with

three major difficulties:

(1) Wit h the exception of its one Aboriginal officer,

its officers engaged in the region cannot be expected to be

hiqhly informed about Aboriginal knowledge of the environment -

both of the knowledge itself (as information) and of its

underlying system or intellectual framework (that is, as a

way of knowing). This means, apart from other things, that

they are c onfronted with the problem of assessing "receptivity"

- the degree to which new or different information will mesh

- 39 -

with or c o n fl ic t with the exist in g body of knowledge.

(2) The second p r o bl em is related: w i t ho ut knowing how

information is r e c e i v e d , and what the c o g ni ti ve and information

grids are, offic er s will find it difficult to translate new or

different information into a form whi ch will be a ss im il ab le

or compreh en si bl e. This is allowing - d ubiously - that

individual o f f ic er s will have much conscious underst an di ng of

the intellectual m ai ns pr in gs of their own ideas or knowledge.

O bs er va ti on s carried out in the A ll ig at or Rivers region

indicate that attempts at the sort of translation referred to

here are mos tl y poorly thought o u t , lack a coherent strategy

for o rd e r i n g and p resenting not just data but arguments, and

rely on o ne -l in er s and false or misle ad in g analogies. This is

a general observation, not aimed exclu si ve ly or even primarily

at the B u r e a u .

(3) The third pro bl em concerns the making of decisions

about what is important to present, and what is acceptable.

There are obvious d if ficulties in packaging information in

a form w hi c h will be a cc ep ta bl e to all n o n - A b o r i g i n a 1

interest groups in the region: Office of the Supervising

Scientist and the Allig at or Rivers Region Research Institute,

A ustralian National Parks and Wil dl if e Service, mining

companies, g o v e r n m e n t s . Does the Bureau get involved in

- 40 -

the lengthy process of seeking a consensus view? Does it

e n g ag e in self-ce ns or sh ip ? Or does it present a range of

views - a n d , if so, whi ch views and in what form?

These c on si d e r a t i o n s raise another issue: are Aborigines

always to receive information in a pre-packaged and filtered

form? Should the Bureau be the only information-giving b o d y ,

the exclusive, official, s anctioned but m onitored channel?

And there is a further issue: w ho assesses what has been

a ss im il at ed by the A borigines on the receiving end of the

information-giving process?

These are difficult m a t t e r s . They cannot be glossed

over wit h wishful thinking and statements of i n t en t . The

suggestions which follow are only tentative and are made with

the intention of provoking comment and debate. In an early

meeting of the Standing Committee on the Social Impact of

Uranium Mining it was stated by several speakers, and generally

accepted, that knowledge about money would be gained operationally

by handling and making decisions about it, not from books,

films, videos, brochures, c o u r s e s , " s h o w - a n d - t e 11" sessions

(a common phrase in the A lligator Rivers region for gatherings

to whi ch A borigines are summoned so that technical matters can

be explained to them: they might equally be called "show-and-

bamboozle"). This observation probably applies equally well

to g e t t i n g k n o w l e d g e a bo u t w e s t e r n science.

Suggestions:

(1) T h e r e cou ld be g r e a t e r i n f o r m a t i o n - s h a r i n g betwe en

A b o r i g i n e s and s c i en ti st s, and c o - o p e r a t i v e e n t e r pr is es ,

w i t h the g r e a t e s t rewar ds likely to be in the are a of

e t h n o s c i e n t i f i c r esearch ( e t h n o b o t a n y , - z o o l o g y , -ec ology)

w h e r e they c ou l d d r a w on the e x p e r t i s e of old er A b o ri gi ne s,

men and w o m e n .

(2) Effor ts c o u l d be d i r e c t e d towar ds d ev e l o p i n g more refin ed

school c u r r i c u l a and r e s ou rc e mat er ia l w h i c h int egrate

A boriginal and w e s t e r n s c i e n t i f i c knowl ed ge . Edu cational

p r o g r a m m e s need to a b a nd on any not io n that they are p re pa ri ng

A boriginal p eo p l e to live "in the w id e r wor ld ". Such an

o b j e c t i v e is s ta r r y - e y e d and u nr ea so n a b l e , e s p e c i a l l y in the

c i r c u m s t a n c e s w h i c h apply in the A l l i g a t o r Rivers region

w h e r e Abori gi na l residen ts sho w no d esire to m ov e and w he r e

they r e q ui re very s pe c i a l i s e d bodie s of k n o w l e d g e to cope

with living in their home e nvironment.

(3) To car ry out its r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s under the minin g

a g r e e m e n t s and under the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern

Territory) Act 1976, the Land Council may need to sponsor

research in the area of A boriginal k no wl ed ge of the

- 42 -

environment. It is as compelling, in the vie w of the writer,

as the requirement to find out w h o owns what (i.e., preparing

lists of "traditional owners"). The Institute's Project has

carried out research in this area of inquiry, but as a "seeding

operation", setting up Aa model w h i c h o thers mig ht follow. it

can no t be e x p e c t e d to c o n ti nu e r esearch in these direc ti on s.

As it is, e t h n o z o o l o g i c a 1 r e s ea rc h w h i c h was plann ed as a

c o m p l e m e n t to the e t h n o b o t a n i c a 1 w o r k a l r ea dy c a r r i e d out was

a b a n d o n e d by the Proje ct for it was low in p r i or it y and

there were insuffi ci en t funds to c ov e r wha t had to be

c o n s i d e r e d a s i d el in e interest.

How ev er , in terms of general edu ca tional requireme nt s,

it is ess ential infor ma ti on and w o u l d e asily reward the

a tt en t i o n of at least one f ul l- t i m e r esearcher over a num be r

of y e a r s . Perhaps a res earch proje ct of this sort cou ld be

spons or ed and s u p er vi se d by a n um be r of age nc ie s: Austr al ia n

Ins titute of A boriginal Studies, A us tr a l i a n National Parks

and W i l d l i f e Service, A l l i g a t o r Rivers Region Res ea rc h

Institute, Burea u of the N orthern Land Council, Nor th er n

T e r r i t o r y C on s e r v a t i o n Commi ss io n. Such a proje ct wou ld

partly fulfil Abo riginal dem ands, c ur re nt ly d irected at the

Ins titute's Project, that their infor ma ti on should be recorded

in an end ur in g form. Q ua l i f i e d people in this area of

res earch are rare. It req uires mo re than the servi ce s of a

- h 3 -

zoologist or botanist or e c o l o g i s t who is prepared to go out

and talk w it h Aborigines.

(4) A selected b ib li og ra ph y of l iterature relating to

Aboriginal k nowledge about the e n v i r o n m e n t (with references

also to c o m p a r a t i v e material) could be prepared to guide

people w h o are charged w i t h the r e s p o ns ib il it y of preparing

and p r o m u lg at in g information about environmental monitoring

activ it ie s to Aborigines. S pecialist symposia could also be

o rg an iz ed on p articular issues.

(5) The re is an obvio us and inescapable need to mount special

programmes to inform bininj (the term the Abori gi na l people

of the A l l i g a t o r Rivers region use to d e s c r i b e the ms elves)

about the w o r k of the s c i e n t i s t s and a g e n c i e s e n g ag ed in

m o n i t o r i n g p r o g r a m m e s , and abo ut their findi ng s. "Open d a y s " ,

video p r o gr am me s, p osition p apers and such like have val ue

in d e m a n d i n g that the s ci en t i s t s and the a g e nc ie s con si de r

w hat s ho ul d be p re se nt ed to bininj, and how. H o w e v e r , their

e f f e c t i v e n e s s is likely to be low (at least for some time to

c o m e ) . T h e r e is a strong a r g u m e n t to be m ad e for what might

be d e s c r i b e d as " n o r m a l i s i n g " the i nf or mation flow: binznj

cou ld be e m p l o y e d by a g e n c i e s e n g a g e d in env ironmental

m o n i t o r i n g (as they are by the Park Service, the Institute's

P r o j e c t , and the Bureau of the N orthern Land Council); and the

med ia cou ld be more a c t i v e in p ro viding infor ma ti on not just

about but to A b o r i gi ne s. The Proje ct is u n a wa re of any

special e f f or ts m ad e by the med ia to direct inf or ma ti on about

the A l l i g a t o r River s region to its Abori gi na l inhabitants.

Yet the invol ve me nt of the m ed i a cou ld help ens ur e that

inf or mation is not f iltered or p re - p a c k a g e d by parti cu la r

interest groups (the p ro bl em r eferred to earlier); and it

c ou l d help g u a r a n t e e that there w ou l d be a v ar ie ty of views

pre sented.

Sadly it w o u l d have to be s u p p o s e d , on the basis of

past and pre se nt e x p e r ie nc e, that the media are u nlikely to

a d d re ss t hemselves to this area of social res po ns ib il it y

(at least not in the short t e r m ) . In these c i r c u m s t a n c e s

it is surpr is in g that no ini tiative has been taken to create

an Abori gi na l newsp ap er .

Such an ini tiative w ou l d have merit if o nly for the

reason that there is c u r r e n t l y a vast numbe r of a gencies

w hi c h want and are req ui re d to send inf ormation to Aboriginal

c om mu ni ti es , and it seems s e n si bl e and less was teful to

rat io na li ze del iv er y by prepa ri ng press releases, special

featu re s, notic es and a d v e r t i s e m e n t s for a single regular

publica ti on . It wou ld have merit, too, in " d e - b u r e a u c r a t i s i n g "

the informa ti on flow to Abo ri gines. No other sector of the

A us t r a l i a n popul at io n has infor ma ti on to it so p r e - a s s e s s e d ,

p r e - p a c k a g e d , scr eened and filtered.

- b5 -

2. C O N S U L T A T I O N S AND N E G O T I A T I O N S

A review of Project reports and papers quickly shows

that the m a t t e r of c o n s u lt at io n is a continuing theme. It

is d ifficult for the Project to comment in detail on the

n e g o t ia ti on s surrounding the proposed J a b i 1uka and Koongarra

projects, or the e f f e c ti ve ne ss of the c o n s u lt at io ns associated

wit h t h e m , as they have been carried on in secret.

Several general comments can be o f f e r e d . They consist

of o bs e r v a t i o n s and, also, indications of possible future

lines of research inquiry. The Project notes the creation of

an important new pheno me no n in Aboriginal affairs - the

" co n s u l t a n c y phenomenon". The re is a w h o le new a n t h r o p o l o ­

gical industry - the use of people trained in anthropology

and w i t h special skills in e xt ra c t i n g information from and

conveying information to Abori gi ne s, to serve as "consultants".

T he r e is a lack of clarity about their vote. They are

e m p l o y e d to consu lt w it h p a r t i c u l a r A bo ri gi ne s (indivi du al s or

groups) w h o , on the f a l se ly a p p l i e d model of the " cl as si c"

f ie ld w o r k r el at ionship, are seen as the con sultants' clients.

Yet the ir real clien ts are their e m p l o y e r s - Land Councils,

m in i n g c om p a n i e s , g o v e r n m e n t agencies. It seems to this

wri te r that the c o n s e q u e n c e s of this shift of clien te le have

yet to be fully thought out. W h i l e the a c a d e m i c resea rc he r

- 46 -

w ou l d hesitate to per fo rm even a preliminary analysis of the

data without the benefit of a year's fieldwork, in this

" ma rk et -p la ce a n t h r o p o l o g y " information and analysis are

produced on d e m a n d , sometimes on the basis of short e l i c i t a ­

tion sessions spread ovfer one or two days. M o r e o v e r , the

hiring bodies seem to consider the researchers/consultants

as interchangeable. For example, the Koongarra negotiations

have thus far involved three different anthropological

consultants. As a further point, these types of consultation,

unlike those carried out in the preparation and presentation

of land claims, lead to reports which it is unlikely will

ever be subject to scrutiny w i t hi n the profession, let alone

by the people from whom the information upon which they are

based was obtained. The quali ty of the relationships

between researcher and informant - so important to conventional

a nthropology - dwindles in the face of the demand for instant

information. It is replaced by a notion of utilitarian

value: that the process of c onsultation is equally valuable

for the two sets of clients (Aborigines and, for example,

Land Councils) and for the consultant. The notion requires

careful examination. It cannot be assumed, for example,

that the interests of Aborigines and the interests of the

Land Councils are the same.

- 47 -

T h e P r o j e c t is c u r r e n t l y a s s e m b l i n g d a t a o n t h e

" c o n s u l t a n c y p h e n o m e n o n " , a n d h a s w r i t t e n t o p r o f e s s i o n a l

c o l l e a g u e s e n g a g e d in c o n s u l t a t i o n s w i t h a r e q u e s t f o r

v i e w s a n d r e l e v a n t d o c u m e n t a t i o n . It i s p r o p o s e d t h a t t h e

P r o j e c t w i l l p r e p a r e a s u b s t a n t i a l r e p o r t o n t h e p h e n o m e n o n .

It w i l l i n c l u d e , a m o n g o t h e r t h i n g s , a n a s s e s s m e n t o f t h e

p h e n o m e n o n a s a n i m p a c t f a c t o r .

A s f o r r e c e n t n e g o t i a t i o n s , t h o u g h it c a n b e a s s e r t e d

t h a t t h e y h a v e p r o c e e d e d i n a m o r e p l a n n e d a n d c o h e r e n t

m a n n e r t h a n p r e v i o u s n e g o t i a t i o n s ( a t l e a s t a s t h e s e e a r l i e r

n e g o t i a t i o n s h a v e b e e n r e p o r t e d ) , t h e r e a r e s t i l l d e f i c i e n c i e s .

A b o r i g i n e s c o m p l a i n o f t o o m a n y m e e t i n g s , t h a t t h e o l d e r

p e o p l e d o n o t o r c a n n o t u n d e r s t a n d t h e i s s u e s a s p r e s e n t e d ,

t h a t f a i l u r e t o a t t e n d m e e t i n g s is i n t e r p r e t e d a s l a c k o f

i n t e r e s t , n o t a n e x p r e s s i o n o f d e l i b e r a t e a b s t e n t i o n o r

d i s a p p r o v a l , a n d t h a t e x p r e s s i n s t r u c t i o n s t h a t m e e t i n g s

s h o u l d b e d e l a y e d o r s h o u l d n o t o c c u r a t a l l d u r i n g p a r t i c u l a r

p e r i o d s o f t i m e h a v e b e e n i g n o r e d . T o a n e x t e r n a l o b s e r v e r ,

t h e s h i f t b y t h e N o r t h e r n L a n d C o u n c i l m i d w a y t h r o u g h t h e

J a b i l u k a n e g o t i a t i o n s f r o m u s i n g a s p e c i a l i s t c o n s u l t a n t -

w h o w a s n o t a m e m b e r o f t h e n e g o t i a t i n g t e a m - t o s e e k t h e

v i e w s o f t h e A b o r i g i n e s a f f e c t e d , t o t h e u s e o f m e m b e r s o f t h e

a c t u a l n e g o t i a t i n g t e a m t o c a r r y o u t f o l l o w - u p c o n s u l t a t i o n s

■ ____________________ ; __________________ ___ ____ *

___ ·

- 48 -

has u nd es ir ab le overt on es in that it represents the a b a n d o n ­

ment of the p r i nc ip le of " di si n t e r e s t e d interpreter".

T he r e was merit in the initial a rrangement w h e re there was a

clear line drawn between c on su lt at io ns and negotiations.

The Project r e i t e r a t e s ^ point m a d e on many o ccasions that

there is a need for clear g ui de li ne s as to how consultations

and negotiations should be carried o u t , set out in a public

document.

As a final p o i n t , the " c r is i s - m o n g e r i n g " w h i c h seems

to s urround e ve r y a nn ou n c e d d e c i s i o n affecting the A ll ig a t o r

River s region is a cause for som e concern. At one level it

is eas y to inter pr et as the result of p ar t i c u l a r individuals

seeki ng pol itical m i l e a g e over p ar ti c u l a r issues. At

a n o th er level it refle ct s the heavy veil of secre cy whi ch

shrouds d e c i s i o n - m a k i n g about the region, and the sudden

h u e - a n d - c r y w h i c h m ust o cc u r w hen decis io ns are annou nc ed in

such cir cu ms ta nc es . It w o u l d be condu ci ve to a much

h ea lt h i e r c l i ma te of debate if d e c i s i o n s o c c ur re d much mor e

in the o p e n , and the vario us interest groups w er e more

e x p os ed to the fresh air. As it is, decisions affecti ng

A bo r i g i n e s oft en a pp ea r to take pla ce witho ut their knowledge;

and the c r i s is -m o n g e r i n g w h i c h surrounds their a nn ouncement

seems not to involve the A b o r i g i n e s at all. Decisions about

- 49 -

the A ll i g a t o r Rivers region are a nnounced and debated in the

southern m e d ia often w i t h o u t the Abori gi ne s of the region

being informed and almost always without their being asked

to c o m m e n t . T he r e is a strong tendency to report on or

about A b o r i g i n e s , not to t h e m . This remar k can be applied

to c o n s u l t a n t s as well as to the media.

- 50 -

V. CONCLUSIONS

1. The Monitoring Project

The Institute has been ask ed w h e th er the study of

tra di tional A b o r i g ina 1 ''society can be r econciled w it h some

inv ol vement in c o n t e m p o r a r y , p r a g m a t i c p roblems besetti ng

c om mu ni ti es ; and w h e t h e r res ea rc h into the 'c o n t e m p o r a r y 1 is

d etrimental to o b j e c t i v e e x a m i n a t i o n of the tra di ti on al .

This m o n i t o r i n g Project shows that use of both appro ac he s

is neith er d i s c o r d a n t nor d et r i m e n t a l . The Proje ct 's research

has bridged the t w o , oft en d e m o n s t r a t i n g their inseparabil it y.

It has revea le d somet hi ng of the dyn am ic s w i t h i n Abo ri gi na l

c om m u n i t i e s and h ow they in turn relate to A u s t r a l i a n

pol itical, social, legal and e c o n o m i c life. The m on i t o r i n g

e x e r c i s e has also d e m o n s t r a t e d how app li ed social sci ence

r esearch can c o n t r i b u t e p o s i t i v e l y to ele me nt s of g o v e r n m e n t a l ,

m i n i n g and Abo riginal polic y, law and a dministration.

The Proje ct has c om pl e t e d 61 sub stantial res ea rc h papers

in the fields of hea lt h and safety, law and legal processes,

educa ti on , d ec is i o n - m a k i n g , a d m i n i s tr at io n, social history,

bas ic and tradi ti on al data (such as cen su s and genealo gi ca l

m at er ia l) , special impact f a c t o r s , and c r i t i c a l , evalu at iv e

ass essments. Eight reports have been submitt ed to the M i n i s t e r .

T we l v e o t h e r p ap e r s e m a n a t i n g f ro m o u t s i d e the Proje ct but

c l o s e l y a s s o c i a t e d w it h it will be included in part in the

c o n s o l i d a t e d Report. R ep or t No. 7 /1982 will contain a

n u m b e r e d c l a s s i f i c a t i o n of all r e s ea rc h paper s to date.

The m a t e r i a l s are b e i n g r e v ie we d and located in a

c o h e r e n t f ramework. By the end of 1983 a model for m on it o r i n g

the social impact of m i n i n g will be avail ab le . It should serve

as a basis for the e x t e n s i o n of this brief; it may well be of

val ue as a model for m o n i t o r i n g e l s e w h e r e in Austr al ia , Canada

and the U ni te d States.

2. Continuing Problems

G o v e r n m e n t s have r es po n d e d p r o mp tl y to m ost of the

P ro j e c t ' s r e c o m m e nd at io ns . A ct i o n by the S t a nd in g C om mi tt ee

on the Social Impact of U r a n i u m M i n i n g has been e f f e c t i v e in

many cases. But the n ot in g and eve n t a c kl in g of pro blems

doesn't a l w a y s res ol ve them. Some remain; some increase in

inten si ty as n e w ones e m e r g e .

In 1977 the Fox Report (in Chapt er 13) f or es aw pro bl em s

of low m o r al e, racial ten si on , f e e li ng s of infer io ri ty and

Insec ur it y as a con seq ue nc e of m i n i n g and a new town. The re

wou ld be need 1 to m i n i m i s e a d v e r s e social effects' and 'to

a ssist t he m in c op in g ... w i t h stresses'.

- 51 -

- 52

1 Everybody is pushing us. Pushing, pushing, pushing.

N ow they want us to sign but they don't u nderstand what it

means for us. This is our life...' represents an Aboriginal

view: in this case it is w r i t t e n by a senior traditional

owner, Mr Big Bill Neiiji of Cannon Hill (see Hansard, House

of R e p r e s e n t a t i v e s , 25 M ar c h 1982, p. 1465). Pro je ct

o b s e r v a t i o n of the w o r k i n g of the Gunba la ny a Council shows

i nnumerable req ue st s for permi ts , p er m i s s i o n s of various

kinds, for f u r t h e r research, m or e visitor s, a t t e n d a n c e at

m ee ti ng s, d i s c u ss io ns , c o n s u l t a t i o n s , and n e g o t i a t i o n s about

m a t t e r s of m a g n i t u d e and c o n s e q u e n c e for the futur e of

Abo riginal life in the Region. The papers given to the

A c a d e m y of Social Science in N o v e m b e r 1 981 (see pp. 7~8 above),

and e s p e c i a l l y those of J R von S t u r m e r and R M B e r n d t ,

s u b s t a n t i a t e the e n o r m i t y of some of the d e c i s i o n s c o n f r o n t i n g

A b o r i g i n e s in the A l l i g a t o r R iver s Region.

Stress as c r e a t e d by ext ernal p re ss ur e is a c c o m p a n i e d by

three oth er e le ment s: c on f u s i o n , d i s e n c h a n t m e n t and

f ru st ra ti on . The f orme r is a g g r a v a t e d by the g ro w i n g number

of a ge n c i e s w i t h w h i c h A b o r i g i n e s have to deal. In the 1960s

and ear ly 1970s they had to relat e to (perhaps) four maj or

bodies: the NT W e l f a r e B r a n c h , the Police, the Health

D e p ar tm en t and the Church M i s s i o n a r y Society. Today they are

53

confr on te d by at least ten times that n u m b e r , often with

similar names and a pp ar e n t l y similar functions. There has

been no educational p ro gr am me to inform or explain these

m ac hi ne ri es of governance.

D is en c h a n t m e n t springs from the promises, always b r o k e n ,

that eac h agency's presence or request of the community is

the last one. The Aboriginal cry - for such it is - is that

there is no 1 l a s t 1 anyth in g in the flow of intrusions into

their domain and lives.

F ru stration has long been evident. One of the many

causal factors is the abi di ng but remediable p r o b l e m that

A b o r i g i n e s in the Reg io n do not have con trol or direc ti on of

most of the technical r e s ou rc e peo pl e they need in their

a c c o m m o d a t i o n to min ing. G o v e r n m e n t is still pursuing the

pol ic y that local A b o r i g i n e s need a b uf fe r betwe en them and

m in in g c om pa n i e s , a p h i l o s o p h y said to e m a n a t e from Hr

J us ti ce W o o d w a r d ' s Aboriginal Land Rights Report in 197^.

As a result, A b o r i g i n e s are reliant on technical aid -

medic al , legal, f inancial, p olitical, a dm in is trative,

edu ca tional - p r o vi de d on their behal f by other c on t r a c t i n g

parties, that is, e i t h e r g o v e r n m e n t or bodies such as the

Northern Land Council and A boriginal Legal Aid. It is rep or te d

that the Gagud ju A s s o c i a t i o n is now see ki ng its own medical

- 54 -

survey and service. The events w hi c h surrounded the abortive

case of G^Mnurdul and Others v Queensland Mines Limited in 1980

(desc ri be d by C M T at z in Aborigines and Uranium, H e i n e m a n n ,

1982) made many A b o r i g i n e s awa re of the potential need for

their own legal cou ns el . A b o r i g i n e s want their own a g e n t s ,

p eo pl e of their c h o i c e and t r u s t , p eople they hire and fire,

people w h o owe them their a l l e g i a n c e and pro fe ss io na l loyalty.

W a r n i n g or d an ge r signa ls in race relatio ns do not show

v i s i b l y on instruments. But the o b s e r v a t i o n s of sensiti ve

and q ua li f i e d res ident res ea rc he rs , their daily recor di ng of

e v e n t s , indicate the e v o l u t i o n of a by now uni ve rs al ly

r ecognised syndrome: that stress, con fusion, disench an tm en t

and f r u s t ra ti on produ ce ali en at io n; a l i en at io n increases as

p o w e r l e s s n e s s is perce iv ed and a g g r a v a t e d ; that a lienation

brings with it thr ea ts of withd ra wa l from soc ie ty at large,

a cc o m p a n i e d most oft en by incre as in g b itterness and hosti li ty

(reported as far bac k as 1978). Such tension is at least as

ser io us as an o u t b r e a k of dis ease. We wou ld rush to treat

the latter: the for me r tends to produce shrugs of impotence

den ot in g that such is life and progress.

The Project will c o n ti nu e to analy se and rev ie w these

impact c on s e q u e n c e s - and urges a r e a s s e s s m e n t of the 'buffer'

princ ip le d is cu ss ed above.

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3. Emerging Problems

Both J R von Sturm er and R M Berndt have pointed to the

need for a s e r io us a p p r e c i a t i o n that A b o r i g i n e s have a

d i f f e r e n t p h i l o s o p h y and s o c i o l o g y of knowl ed ge . Abo riginal

p e r s p e c t i v e s on m an y topics diffe r; their p r i or it ie s are

oft en d i f fe re nt . They seek a du l t e du ca t o r s , e m p lo ye d on

their t e r m s , w h o can pur su e bot h syste ms and interpret, or

even trans po se , o ne to the other. Tra di ti on al own er s have

ask ed this P r o je ct 1 to run a u n i ve rs it y for u s 1 : q ue st ioned,

they are in fact seeking e d u c a t i o n - f ro m p eople s ym p a t h e t i c

to and k n o w l e d g e a b l e about their c u l tu re and v alues - abo ut

min in g, rad iation, safety, the m a c h i n e r y of g o v e r n m e n t ,

pol itical pro cess, m o n e y , e c o n o m i c s and inves tm en t,

n o n - A b o r i g i n a 1 law and legal pro ce ss , as well as about their

own law, syste ms of k nowledge, social o r g a n i z a t i o n , his to ry

and t ra di tions. They reject, q ui t e c at eg o r i c a l l y , the adult

e d u c a t i o n a p p r o a c h that f o c us es e x c l u s i v e l y on literacy,

n u m e r a c y , e l e m e n t a r y c iv i c s and someone else's not ions of

c o m m u n i t y d e v e l o p m e n t .

A n o t h e r f actor e m e r g i n g is what social sci en ce calls

'relative d ep ri va t i o n ' . Abo riginal alien at io n is e x a c e rb at ed

when there is seemi ng refusal of requests for goods and

s ervices they see as normal for n o n - A b o r i g i n e s : for exa mple,

- 56 -

a television facility and a public swimm in g pool. In the

m a t te r of the local radio station or telev is io n facility,

the demand is not onl y for w e s te rn pop c u l tu re - but for

mecha ni sm s w i t h w hi c h to s u p p o r t , e n c o u r a g e and perpetuate

traditional A b o r i g i n a 1 V a l u e s .