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CASSE Aboriginal Australian Relations Program Newsletter

ISSUE 4 - APRIL 2015

From the Director

Welcome to the April edition of CASSE's Aboriginal Australian Relations Program!

I want to pay tribute to Tracker Tilmouth at the outset, a charismatic Aboriginal leader from Central Australia, who recently died too young. He was one of the stolen generation. He came to the CASSE-Central Australian Aboriginal Congress 'Walk In My Shoes' town forum in September 2013 in Alice Springs and was a vocal contributor. I remember his cheeky smile and chat in the early days of Congress.

I also want to pay tribute to the late Alec Kruger, again, stolen generation, who lived to a ripe old age. I remember him, too, in the early days of Congress and he always had a smile. He co-authored with Gerard Waterford the book 'Alone on the Soaks'. In the Introduction, Gerard states the book has an explicit political agenda: to provide an historical explanation for the parlous conditions in contemporary Aboriginal communities—“Some politicians might blame corruption. They might blame the Aboriginal community itself. But the real reasons are found in the long history of oppressive government practice and abusive individuals”.

On a political note, and in honour of the above leaders, I want to voice concern about Mr Abbott calling for the cessation of remote Aboriginal communities and for conflating what constitutes Homelands for Aboriginal people to “a lifestyle choice”. It is concerning that the Australian PM not only denies the colonialist history of dispossession but also denies the continued existence of an ancient culture and its people their right to live on their land, where they can, as they have done, for 60,000 years.

I spent two days in Alice Springs in March and met with the project teams on the Men’s Shed Project and the Tjilirra project. We updated, reflected on the work and planned ahead. Both project managers, Jamie and Shane, met over dinner with David Beveridge, the community psychiatric nurse from the RFDS, and a lively dialogue was held.

These past few months we have been focusing on the best way to get media coverage, on behalf of the people we work with in Central Australia, to reach the largest audience possible to 'Change Minds and Save Lives' by educating Australians and coming together to create reconciliation in this country. We have enlisted the expertise of an experienced journalist, Kath Walters.

We have also been focusing on making a short three minute movie on CASSE and what we do... watch this space. We are grateful to Peter from Production Video, who has subsidised the making of this DVD.

Kurunna Mwarre (may your spirit inside you be good) to you all!

Pamela Nathan
CASSE Aboriginal Australian Relations Program


Update on the Traditional Tools - Life Tools (Tjilirra) Project

The Traditional Tools - Life Tools (Tjilirra) Project partners CASSE with Aboriginal communities in Haasts Bluff (Ikuntji), Mt Liebig (Watiyawanu), Papunya (Warumpi), Kintore (Walungurru) and in the Northern Territory, in collaboration with the Royal Flying Doctor Service.

Jamie Millier, CASSE's Project Officer on this project, has been busy making Tjilirra (traditional handmade tools including boomerangs, shields, spears, carrying vessels) with the traditional owners from the four communities, visiting country to find materials to make the tools. Tingari and song on country are integral to the tool making.

Jamie reports that traditional life is recognised and valued and the men are empowered to be on country making tjilirra. Game is in abundance after the rains and the men have been bringing back kangaroo and turkey for the communities. Jamie says, "fresh meat brings a happy vibe to the communities". Hunting is part of traditional life. There is minimal waste from the hunted animals, with bush medicine being made from the remaining carcasses and some parts, like kangaroo sinew, being used for traditional tools.

Jamie has also been working with the local school at Papunya with Long Jack Phillipus, teaching the enthusiatic teenage boys how to make Tjilirra. One group of boys was so proud of their new skills, they made a painting of Jamie teaching them the Tjilirra and hung it in their classroom. Jamie encourages the school boys to ask their families about their Tjukurrpa (Dreaming).

We are very pleased to announce that a partnership with Remote Jobs Community Program (RJCP) "Ngurratjuta" has been forged. A demonstration project with the four communities will commence in May for three months and, if successful, is likely to continue. RJCP supports people to build their skills and get a job or to participate to their capacity in activities that contribute to the strength and sustainability of communities.  

A very generous shipment of tools for the project arrived this month with thank to our sponsors Sutton Tools, Fiskars Australia and Stanley Black & Decker Inc

Also many thanks to Mark Robb, our accountant from Briglia & Co who donated second hand tools to the project. The tools belonged to Mark's grandfather.

And another thank you to Community Underwriting, who issued the Tjilirra Project with a generous grant which will be used to purchase recording equipment. Community Underwriting is an underwriting agency owned by Not for Profits, established to make a real difference to the way insurance is provided in our sector.

The generosity of all of our sponsors is very much appreciated.

Lindsey Corby selecting straight spears (kulata) from the mulga trees

Lindsey Corby working on a spear (kulata) in Kintore community (Walangurru)

Bundy Row breaking rocks for Kunti Kunti (rock tools)

Old grinding stone (puli) for sharpening tools and for grinding oka pigment, and seeds

Walter Juggadi holding Kunitkunti (rock tools) can be used as a cutting tool

Joseph Jurra drinking fresh water from the side of the road from recent rain, note the spears (kulata) hanging out of the back of the car

Joseph Jurra with a freshly cut spear west of Kiwirrkurra

Herman Whiskey selecting an arched branch for a (Kuli) Boomerang

Delighted with the donated tools - thank you again to our sponsors

Kiwirrikurra men with spears (kulatas) they have cut from 70km west of Kiwirrikurra

Warlimpirrnga Tjapaltjarri with tools donated by Sutton Tools, Stanley Black & Decker and Fiskars Australia

Warlimpirrnga Tjapaltjarri with spears (kulatas) he has been working on


Update on the Men's Shed Research Project - Alice Springs

CASSE and Central Australian Aboriginal Congress Aboriginal Corporation (CAACAC) have a joint project to develop and evaluate a model of best practice for Aboriginal Men's Sheds in Alice Springs/ Central Australia.

Project Officer Shane Franey released the first report in March which highlighted some important points:

• An Elders' Action Council has been formed and will meet in the next few weeks to discuss program development and men's issues. There is very good representation on the Council across organisations, language groups and traditional owners.

• The men in Alice Springs are concerned primarily about domestic violence.

• CASSE-CAACAC will commence a group program on domestic violence in May for male participants. The research team from Ingkintja, the male health unit of CAACAC, will participate as facilitators, along with the male psychologist from Ingkintja and, intermittantly, Pamela Nathan. Shane believes that Men's groups have the potential to initiate change and empower men to become positive community leaders against family violence.

• The research team has commenced using camera and video equipment, with Charmaine Ingram from ABC Open providing training in use of the equipment. Watch this space for stories from the men…

• The report found that local prominent senior and cultural men in Alice Springs support the creation of an unaffiliated Men's Shed and they agree it will be a benefit to all males in town, schools and surrounding communities. It is the general consensus that alcohol is the big sickness that has escalated and fuelled domestic violence within the communities and a Men's Shed could help battle this addiction and heal the men. The sooner this happens, they say, the better. It can give more of the men a chance to be together to tell stories, work together, teach the younger men and boys about traditional culture and respect for Aboriginal heritage. An independent Men's Shed, they believe, can provide a cultural and healing place all in one.

Shane has been busy canvassing a suitable site for a Men’s Shed in town and talking to politicians about the Shed and the project.


Thank you to our Sponsors


CASSE Blog Updates

Recent highlights from the CASSE Blog are below. To view all of CASSE's blogs, and to subscribe to receive updates directly to your inbox, visit the CASSE Blog.

Kintore Elder says Abbott does not understand lifestyles of Aboriginals

It was great to hear this interview with Irene Nangala – a proud Elder of the remote community of Kintore, 500 km west of Alice Springs and 50 km from the West Australian border – who is ‘disappointed’ with Tony Abbott’s comments about ‘lifestyle choice’ in relation to Aboriginal people living in remote communities. Read blog.

Letter to the Editor - Place to call home is central to wellbeing

If people are forcibly removed from homelands or starved of resources until they leave, they will be condemned to die or become mentally ill. In 1964, 50% per cent of Pintupi people in Central Australia died in four months when they were moved from their ancestral lands to the centralised community of Papunya. Read blog. 

Farewell to Tracker - a fearless Aboriginal leader

I have known Tracker since 1980 and was very sorry not to be able to make his funeral in Darwin. The last time I saw him was in September 2013 when he came to the ‘Walk In My Shoes‘ town forum, co-hosted by CASSE, with his ‘brother’  Jonny Liddle, Manager of Ingkintja. I hadn’t seen him for many years and we warmly welcomed each other. Read blog.

This nation is failing its first people

I ask the question: To be seen to be talking, or to be actually talking? To be actually talking CASSE agrees is important. To be actually listening is critical. Read blog.


Would you like to help?

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CASSE, which stands for 'Creating A Safe Supportive Environment', is a non-government, not-for-profit organisation. Our mission is to create safe, supportive environments for individuals, families and communities through psychoanalytic awareness.