Assimilation versus self-determination : No contest. Dodson, M. Technical Report
Assimilation versus self-determination : No contest [link]Paper  abstract   bibtex   
H.C.(Nugget) Coombs is known as the whitefella's most senior elder. In the Foreword to his book, Aboriginal Autonomy, in 1994 I wrote the following: On the morning just prior to the commencement of the meeting, Nugget Coombs, who had been invited to attend, arrived to wish us well and briefly renew acquaintances with many old Aboriginal and Islander friends. There were warm greetings and well wishing until shortly Nugget departed. A young Aboriginal man of perhaps 16 or 17 years inquired of me as to 'who was that old man?' My response was, 'that old man must be respected; he is the whitefella's most senior elder. The context of these comments was the Eva Valley meeting in 1993, when the Indigenous people met to discuss the proposed legislative response to the High Court's native title decision. That old man wished us well in our deliberations - the High Court recognised our rights to our land under Indigenous law. It was an act of justice that in shaping an entire environment of thought and understanding to which this man made such a substantial contribution, he was there, still fighting, still holding hope, still with us. Why does this man, this whitefella, draw such respect and love from all Indigenous Australians who know his story? We honour him as a 'senior man', an 'elder'; we honour him in our terms - because he has always honoured us in ours. He has always seen who we are and listened to our voices. The greatness of Nugget Coombs lies in the fact that he did this at a time when it was fashionable to simply tell us what to do, to tell us what the whitefella wanted and what the whitefella expected of us. There has been much discussion of late about assimilation and self­ determination and I intend to add to the discussion. The really essential difference between the two tracks assimilation and self-determination and the difference that Nugget Coombs made to Aboriginal Affairs in Australia is revealed in the following statement by Paul Hasluck: We do not want a submerged caste or any other social pariahs in our community but want a homogeneous society. Assimilation was then, just as it is now, about what whitefellas want. First, what they want for themselves and second, what they want for us. I believe that the real essence of Nugget's contribution is that he cared about us, thought about what we wanted, what we saw as our futures, what is our concept of what is our place in our country. Nugget's achievements are testimony to this fact. His work is proof of the rewards of developing policy within a broader social context. Nugget's understanding of the importance of the principle of self-determination to effect and appropriate policy making in Aboriginal affairs is, I believe, echoed in his work in the arts and at the Reserve Bank. Nugget was responsible, for example, for the establishment of the Aboriginal Arts Board which was set up in 1973. That signalled the beginning of Indigenous control of public funding for the arts. It was also an example of Nugget's keenness to see Australians include 'Aboriginality' within their sense of national heritage-a genuine act of inclusion. Nugget's integrated approach to policy development is also illustrated by his appointment to the chair of the Australian Conservation Foundation. In this position Nugget was informed by his interest in environmental matters and their connection with Indigenous rights. In the current climate of fiscal restraint and the deficit black hole (I sometimes wonder why it has to be black) Nugget Coombs' approach to public policy has much to offer. Today, Nugget's ways could well be seen as radical. Nugget once said that the power of Indigenous elders may not amount to more than a right to be consulted and listened to with respect. I am not saying we should all agree with Nugget's ways-what I am saying is that now, more than ever before, we should listen to what he has to say and take lessons from his understanding.
@techreport{dodson_assimilation_nodate,
	title = {Assimilation versus self-determination : {No} contest},
	url = {http://hdl.handle.net/1885/9870},
	abstract = {H.C.(Nugget) Coombs is known as the whitefella's most senior elder. In the Foreword to his book, Aboriginal Autonomy, in 1994 I wrote the following: On the morning just prior to the commencement of the meeting, Nugget Coombs, who had been invited to attend, arrived to wish us well and briefly renew acquaintances with many old Aboriginal and Islander friends. There were warm greetings and well wishing until shortly Nugget departed. A young Aboriginal man of perhaps 16 or 17 years inquired of me as to 'who was that old man?' My response was, 'that old man must be respected; he is the whitefella's most senior elder. The context of these comments was the Eva Valley meeting in 1993, when the Indigenous people met to discuss the proposed legislative response to the High Court's native title decision. That old man wished us well in our deliberations - the High Court recognised our rights to our land under Indigenous law. It was an act of justice that in shaping an entire environment of thought and understanding to which this man made such a substantial contribution, he was there, still fighting, still holding hope, still with us. Why does this man, this whitefella, draw such respect and love from all Indigenous Australians who know his story? We honour him as a 'senior man', an 'elder'; we honour him in our terms - because he has always honoured us in ours. He has always seen who we are and listened to our voices. The greatness of Nugget Coombs lies in the fact that he did this at a time when it was fashionable to simply tell us what to do, to tell us what the whitefella wanted and what the whitefella expected of us. There has been much discussion of late about assimilation and self­ determination and I intend to add to the discussion. The really essential difference between the two tracks assimilation and self-determination and the difference that Nugget Coombs made to Aboriginal Affairs in Australia is revealed in the following statement by Paul Hasluck: We do not want a submerged caste or any other social pariahs in our community but want a homogeneous society. Assimilation was then, just as it is now, about what whitefellas want. First, what they want for themselves and second, what they want for us. I believe that the real essence of Nugget's contribution is that he cared about us, thought about what we wanted, what we saw as our futures, what is our concept of what is our place in our country. Nugget's achievements are testimony to this fact. His work is proof of the rewards of developing policy within a broader social context. Nugget's understanding of the importance of the principle of self-determination to effect and appropriate policy making in Aboriginal affairs is, I believe, echoed in his work in the arts and at the Reserve Bank. Nugget was responsible, for example, for the establishment of the Aboriginal Arts Board which was set up in 1973. That signalled the beginning of Indigenous control of public funding for the arts. It was also an example of Nugget's keenness to see Australians include 'Aboriginality' within their sense of national heritage-a genuine act of inclusion. Nugget's integrated approach to policy development is also illustrated by his appointment to the chair of the Australian Conservation Foundation. In this position Nugget was informed by his interest in environmental matters and their connection with Indigenous rights. In the current climate of fiscal restraint and the deficit black hole (I sometimes wonder why it has to be black) Nugget Coombs' approach to public policy has much to offer. Today, Nugget's ways could well be seen as radical. Nugget once said that the power of Indigenous elders may not amount to more than a right to be consulted and listened to with respect. I am not saying we should all agree with Nugget's ways-what I am saying is that now, more than ever before, we should listen to what he has to say and take lessons from his understanding.},
	urldate = {2020-11-02},
	author = {Dodson, Mick},
}
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