The Tall Man is a book by Chloe Hooper about the traumas and troubles of Palm Island in Australia’s north-east and the Australian justice system. There are so many issues of contention surrounding both the geography and the politics, all of them worth mentioning and discussing here. One girl in bookclub said, “if this was happening now she would do something about it”. I replied, “it is happening now”, so what to do? Well first of all, we ask everyone we know to read the book so we can discuss these issues openly and establish a new role for our sheltered and protected white community that is based on awareness and a massive care factor.
Buy The Tall Man – now, read it and share it, talk about it often.
The aboriginal death in custody that this book focuses on is that of 34 year old, Mulrinji Doomadgee. It happened in 2004! The case was long and arduous and although the policeman in question was not convicted it was the first time in Australia’s history that a police officer, a Senior Sargeant no less, has been charged and the matter heard in court. He was found not guilty and the rallying indigenous community and supporters were not suprised by the outcome, they had all been burned before with their rights coming so way down the line to that of their white neighbours.
There was a recent article in Frankie by Benjamin Law about his sheltered perception of indigenous communities, their law, their country and the dreaming philosophy. I read the piece in the midst of reading The Tall Man, it felt simplistic and overt but I thought it wasn’t without its place, Frankie is a female centric mag for younger women who dig craft and fashion. At least he was giving airtime to something he felt needed attention and what better way to start activating a policitcal mindset than writing about it in a popular ladies mag.
None of this current popularity changes the fact that I feel helpless and wanting. Wanting to change the world and helpless to make it happen within the 5 weeks I am prepared to give to the cause before moving onto the next human tragedy. Deaths in custody lingers heavily and this post is the beginning of a quest to open my mind and spew the contents. History counts and the plight of indigenous people to face the world everyday is something I can only try to imagine. I am so sorry.
Oxfam have a pledge to close the gap on indigenous life expectancy, here is the link. Indigenous community volunteers webpage with information about how to get involved/invited to help improve the well-being of indigenous Australians.
You can support indigenous culture through the Creative Spirits website, this is a great resource.
There was a Royal Commission into deaths in custody some 20 years ago, since then 269 deaths in custody have occurred, read more about that in Larissa Dubecki’s article from April 2011 in The Age.