This week’s episode of Insight looks at the often contentious issue of indigenous identity and ‘Aboriginality.’
This episode is hosted by Anton Enus.
More Australians than ever are identifying in the Census as Indigenous. The number has risen more than 20 per cent since 2006.
But there is debate in some Aboriginal communities over who should be able to call themselves Aboriginal, whether appearance or postcode should have anything to do with it, and whether the current certification system is working as well as it should be.
While Australians may personally identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, not everyone has a document to prove it. This becomes problematic when Indigenous-specific services (for things like housing and education) require people to provide a ‘certificate of Aboriginality’. Some claim the system is flawed because of arbitrary criteria and internal politics.
Insight brings together a studio audience of diverse Aboriginal Australians from around the country for a rare and raw discussion on the concept of Aboriginal identity.
Dallas was initially rejected for a certificate of Aboriginality when he applied last year, despite identifying as Aboriginal his entire life. Dallas is also critical of people who identify as Aboriginal but who, in his view, don’t have any idea about what it’s like to be black.
In 2010, Tarran applied for a job handing out brochures for Andrew Forrest’s Generation One initiative. She was told that she met all the requirements of the position but that she ‘didn’t look Indigenous enough’. Tarran’s grandmother is Aboriginal and Tarran has always identified herself as Indigenous.
Mark says he has always strongly identified as being Indigenous. He was brought up by his Aboriginal grandmother and mother, rather than his English father. Mark is on the board of the Trangie Local Land Council, near Dubbo.
Bess was born in the remote community of Yuendumu. She is standing for the Country Liberal Party in the upcoming Northern Territory elections. She believes Aboriginal people in the city have no clue what’s happening to Aboriginals in remote areas.
Warren Mundine is from the Gumbaynggirr people on the North Coast of NSW. He is the CEO of Andrew Forrest’s Generation One initiative, which promotes Aboriginal employment. Warren believes there should be a central database to help improve the system of confirming Aboriginality.
Anthony is an academic who acknowledges the ancestry of both of his parents. He says current health statistics may not reflect the true problems facing Aboriginal people as the good health of some people identifying as Aboriginal can skew the data. He thinks access to benefits should be based on need rather than race.
Tuesday at 8.30pm on SBS ONE.