Australia's First Peoples
Thursday, March 19, 2015 at 9:00AM
Dads on the Air in 2015, Depression, Discrimination, Indigenous Men & Fathers, Political Activism, Suicide

With special guest:

For National Close the Gap Day we speak to Jeff McMullen.

Jeff McMullen is a household name in Australia with a major presence as a recognised international current affairs journalist. Throughout his distinguished 50 year career our guest today has written filmed and campaigned around the world to improve the health, education and human rights of Indigenous people.

Now Jeff’s main interest is seeing that Australian Indigenous families have the freedom to shape their own destiny and this means a change in the assimilation approach by Government towards the First Peoples.

The damage caused to father-son and wider family relationships is one of the most profound impacts of Government policy that has continued with bi-partisan support. The policy is evidenced by the Intervention legislation of the Howard Government in 2007 and extended by the Gillard Government for a further 10 years in the Stronger Futures legislation of 2012 which restrict 73 remote communities after suspending the operation of the Racial Discrimination Act in those areas.

We explore what this means for an Indigenous child born in 2007. How does assimilation, a policy many people would think is long dead, still raise its ugly head?

We talk to Jeff about the demise of the Ian Thorpe Foundation for Youth established by Jeff with the Olympian in 2000 and which raised $7.4m over the life of the charity. What are the consequences for the young Indigenous men driven towards suicide, alcoholism and domestic violence because of the powerlessness of their situation?

There are a lot of myths in the community about the advantages supposedly enjoyed by our Indigenous people. This is the real story from someone who has always had the hallmarks of honesty and fairness in his work and reputation.

Jeff McMullen even tells us the way to go forward at a time when the Government’s just released Closing the Gap report reveals a dismal failure in the current approach of Government.

Jeff McMullen

Jeff McMullen is a journalist, author and film-maker whose work includes many decades as a foreign correspondent for the ABC followed by reporting for Four Corners and 60 Minutes. Jeff has reported on more than thirty conflicts around the world and camped with Indigenous tribes from the Amazon to the remote parts of Australia. After a trilogy of Four Corners films from the war zones of Central America Jeff was awarded a United Nations Media Peace Prize in 1984. Other awards have included an International Current Affairs Award (Pater) and his stories have appeared on CBS 60 Minutes as well as the BBC, CBC, South African networks and even Russian television.

Song selection by our guest: Mulyawongk by Archie Roach


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