Recommended Resources – The Stringer – Independent News, Investigative Journalism

Butler calls for an end to the tyranny of our youth seeking Confirmation of Aboriginality

April 5th, 2013

Brian Butler - Photo, Lateral Love Australia

Brian Butler – Photo, Lateral Love Australia

Brian Butler yesterday posted on Lateral Love Australia the following message calling on the National Congress of Australia’s First People to address a dire situation for our youth:

“I am at my wits end! I have reached my tether at the almost daily request for support from our young Aboriginal and Islander (including the Torres Strait) youth who are continually experiencing rejection from Aboriginal Organisations when they are seeking Confirmation of Aboriginality.

The young people this is happening to are the current children of the stolen generations and their grandchildren.

It must stop Now!

Today I will be placing an AGENDA ITEM to the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples (NCAFP) for immediate action to ensure that all Aboriginal children are, at birth, given their proof of Aboriginality.

This is the only way we will see this practice of control and rejection through lateral violence at the hands of Aboriginal Organisations halted in its tracks.” Brian Butler Anti-Lateral Violence Campaigner

Historian, John McCorquodale, reported that since the time of white settlement, governments have used no less than 67 classifications, descriptions or definitions to determine who is an Aboriginal person (1).

Are Aboriginal Organisations taking this approach too far and in some cases, causing further damage to our own people at our own hand? This would be a form of Lateral Violence – a case of the oppressed doing the oppressing.

In the early 1980s, the Commonwealth Department of Aboriginal Affairs proposed a three-part definition of an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person (2).  As still remains the current practice, the three pronged approach looks like this; An Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander is:

a)      a person of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent

b)      who identifies as an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander

c)       and is accepted as such by the community in which he [or she] lives or has lived.

In addition to the three pronged approach, some Confirmation of Aboriginality applications also request the following:

I do solemnly and sincerely declare that:

  • I am a Male/Female person.
  • I am known to/approved/identified by a staff/member as being an Aboriginal/Torres Strait Islander person.
  • I seek a resolution from the Board that the Board accepts my solemn declaration as to Aboriginal/Torres Strait Islander identity.

The three pronged approach has long been questioned and labelled as a racist tool in itself and many different perspectives are held across the country regarding its effectiveness.

I agree that Aboriginality needs to be confirmed in a way that ensures our kinship ties are legitimate and honourable because I am sure many readers will be aware of the cases out there – the many people who gain proof of Aboriginality when they are not ‘Aboriginal’ at all, for the sole purpose of fraudulently benefiting from the ‘Aboriginal Industry.’ These individuals should be ashamed of themselves.

But for the people Brian Butler is talking about, the members of the Stolen Generation, their children and their grandchildren, this activity continues to cause distress and anxiety, further traumatising the families that have already been torn apart by the cultural annihilation policies of child removal and assimilation.

One young woman I spoke with recently explained her ongoing predicament to me, “my father was Aboriginal but my mother wasn’t, they had a fling and that’s how I got here. Dad was taken from his family at a few months of age but he was lucky and he found his way back home as a teenager. He was well known and respected in his community but because of the way I was born, his family didn’t know about me. They just didn’t know that I existed until I was almost grown up.

Dad stayed in contact with me though. He visited me a lot and I attempted to go back to country three times to try and get to know my Dad’s family but the whole community ignored me from the moment I got there. I even look like my Dad and his sisters but they didn’t want to believe that I was his. That hurt cuts deeper now because both my mother and father have passed away and on top of that I can’t get proof of my heritage and kinship ties even though they know I belong to my father because he told them well before he died.” Name Withheld.

This young Aboriginal woman was visibly distressed talking to me about her situation. She still has had no resolution for her particular case, which is not a rare occurrence and in fact it is all too common.

She was adamant at remaining anonymous for her own safety due to the constant lateral violence experienced from members of her father’s community – for all intents and purposes, HER own family. A family she should well be feeling nurtured and consoled by during her times of loss and grieving, as her birth right. Instead this young woman continues to face exclusion, isolation and sometimes outright violence.

How many suicides have occurred due to this type of lateral violence? How many more must we endure before this shameful practice ceases?

Proof of Identity (POI) and Confirmation of Aboriginality (COA) will always be a sensitive and contentious issues but does it have to be this way?

Why did Australia “vote yes to the Aborigine” during the 1967 referendum?

It is up to us all, as a unified people, to decide if we will continue to pour further salt into the wounds dealt to us at the hands of the colonisers, or whether we will work together to seek better solutions to these demoralising situations.

I know which one I will be choosing.


1)        See Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, National Report (1991), Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra [11.12.5].

2)        Department of Aboriginal Affairs, Report on a Review of the Administration of the Working Definition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders (1981), Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra, cited in J Gardiner-Garden, The Definition of Aboriginality: Research Note 18, 2000–01 (2000) Parliament of Australia, 2.


0 thoughts on “Recommended Resources – The Stringer – Independent News, Investigative Journalism

  1. as a child who went through the children’s homes and orphanages,my twin younger sister and i were continually bashed into saying we were white as our skin is fair,we remember our aunty’s and uncle’s our family being Aboriginal,why do we not have the right to our Heritage,we are listed among the Forgotten Australian’s as we were never allowed to talk about our family or sign a paper saying yes we had Aboriginal Heritage,when we asked for help tracking down our history we were knocked back as our skin color is to pale,the co-op only went on marriage certificates,we were bastards as were most of our family so do all of us not exist ?,we did not put ourselves in these abusive places,tear ourselves away from family,the state did,and now we are not allowed to find out who we are and where we came from,this is just so wrong,yours sincerely Phylis a adult who is still seeking the truth !

  2. I am also in a bit of a predicament about the Proof of Aboriginality thingy with a couple of different Aboriginal organisations, one of the have me listed as Aboriginal in my medical records but will not issue me with a proof of Aboriginality paper statement, this I can not understand.
    The other will not enrol me in Uni because I do not have a Proof of Aboriginality document (at this stage I can only supply them with copies of the support material I supplied to the first organisation as proof of my Aboriginality.
    I must say that it is hard to prove the Aboriginality of my Father, I never knew him and my mother would never tell me anything about him, she probably didn’t know much anyway? it seems like my conception was not much more than a “One Night Stand” and as the only child of this union I have no other siblings to confer with.
    Most of the Indigenous persons that seem to have known anything about my Aboriginal heritage are now all deceased.
    I do not know where to go from here? I have supplied all the info I can find to support my applications but it seems it is not enough for them.
    I will not give up so any advice on this matter would be greatly appreciated.
    But no “Sticky Beaks” please, only firm common-sense advice will be replied to.

  3. I’m over the ‘white supremacy’ crap. When will their idiocy and insanity end? Furthermore, how dare they!

    The height of hypocrisy is when Americans come over here to ‘pretend’ to be Aboriginal and soak up a fake touristy ‘ Aboriginal culture’ (generally run by white opportunists) which mostly has nothing to do with reality, while Aussies go to America to ‘pretend’ to be American Indian and do the same thing, and all the while, each despises their own national treasures and guardians!

    Hello? What’s wrong with this picture?

  4. I used to be recommended this blog by my cousin. I’m now not certain whether this publish is written via him as nobody else understand such distinctive about my trouble. You’re wonderful! Thanks!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *