I was at work a week or so ago and someone started complaining about Indigenous people being on welfare payments. The funny thing is Indigenous people didn’t make the welfare system and white people use it as a form of entrapment. In Australia, we had a scheme called Robodebt that made the welfare system transparently a system of entrapment. It always has been designed that way, artists, dissident types, anarchists, First Nations people or anyone who is not into the system will be pinned down and trapped by welfare. Conservatives talk about self-determination but they don’t want these people to be able to determine anything but be pushed to the periphery and left high and dry. See the quote below in regard to self-determination according to a Yolgnu leader Rom Watangu.

“Then two things came, halting our progress and our initiative. The federal government started a process, which is still continuing to this day, of cutting its ties with, and its responsibility for, Yolngu people. It handed over our trust to a new Northern Territory government. And then it gave us a form of welfare which killed off this whole idea of self-management. And the federal government knew this would happen–it was warned but it did it anyway. The arrival of welfare demoralized the willingness of local people in every homeland to do things for themselves. This is because of the way that the government developed the program: you had to be on your homeland to receive the welfare payment but you did not have to work. There was no development agenda and there was no employment. Think about that–the only requirement to get money was that you were on the homeland on a given day. Whether working or not, you still got your payments of $200 or $300 each fortnight. So self-determination and self-management were out of the window almost immediately. And this became normal, for soon there were no other choices or outcomes-we were trapped in a welfare world with welfare thinking. This was the system as it was, and soon people came to know only that system. And government turned its head away, not interested anymore, not concerned about working with us to make these homelands functional.” Rom Watangu

Pg 112 Inspired By Country  

There is a great artwork by Newell Harry that has the words “WHITE WHINE” and that sums up the thinking popularised in Australia regarding welfare. For one, white people create all of these problems (aka systems) and then run around acting like they are solving the problems (aka self-entitlement) and it at once lets them create more problems/systems but also absolves them of the systems they created. So Newell Harry hits the problem right on the head, which is “WHITE WHINE”.

Let us go deeper into murkier waters, see quote below:

“My father, Mungurrawuy (fig. 1),’ understood the difficulties and the complexities of white men, and the threats posed to his people’s future by white society. As a young man he had been present when the massacres occured in the 1920s and 1930s, and as a young man he was shot by a man licensed to do so. These were days not too distant from today-days that every Yolngu person knows of and remembers. The men who hunted my father were simply tasked to their job by their superiors, and they carried it out as well as they could. Near Gan Gan these men on horseback performed their duties and killed an entire clan group–men, women and children. They shot them out and killed them in any way they could so that they could take the land. When Europeans came to East Arnhem Land, this is how they introduced their world to the Yolngu. The old people carried the knowledge of these murders inside them, and when they spoke about it they were loud and clear and we all heard their words. It was a wave of history that broke over us, and that we had to contend with. We heard that my father and other senior men from all the clans unified against the cattle prospectors and land thieves, who hunted and killed Yolngu women and children. These events and what lies behind them are burned into our minds. They are never forgotten. Such things are remembered. Like the scar that marked the exit of the bullet from my father’s body.” Rom Watangu

Pg 106 Inspired By Country  

All of these massacres are either denied or ignored by most Australians who say things like “Don’t live in the past” yet we are according to Indigenous thinking living in the past and present right now, if we told a bunch of people to ignore ANZAC day (a remembrance of wars past and present and sacrifice) because they were living in the past we would hear undoubtedly “WHITE WHINE”. White people create their own problems as I said and most of these problems are labelled as solutions.

Then comes mining, see quote below:

“Our people needed anchors when the mining came and set itself upon us with a full force. We fought the government’s bauxite mine and lost, and our elders were frightened and worried about what the future held for the young men and women of their clans. And rightfully so. The mining sent every leader on the Gove Peninsula to wonderment trying to think of the future and of the white men that would come and how they would bring with them their influences, good and bad. The bad influences were spoken of more than the good.

As I sit here nearly fifty years later, looking back, having settled with the mining company and now building a mine for my people and a mining training centre of our own, I still hear the words of those old men and women worrying about the future of the Gove Peninsula, and they were right–their concerns were right.

The mine came on to us too fast. We were unprepared and people were not able to handle the change that it brought. I am sure many elders died from culture shock, and every man and woman of their age group died before their time–a straight culture shock. That’s the truth of it. I have spent all of those fifty years trying to reconcile my people, and my life, to the world that the mining company ushered in–a world that threatened everything for us. My answer as it came was given to me by our songlines, and I led my family as we set about connecting and securing our songlines so as to ensure our life.” Rom Watangu

Pg 117 Inspired By Country 

I think the point is clear, these people I hear whining simply have no conscience or idea of the problems they have created which entrap Indigenous people and many others who are pushed away for their beliefs and culture. 

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