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January 05th 2013 print

Bess Nungarrayi Price

‘We need to support those who tell the truth’

There has long been a reluctance to scrutinise and address the roots  of Aboriginal violence, all too often excused or defended as a cultural “right”. Stephanie Jarrett's brave new book, Liberating Aboriginal People from Violence, aims to change that


Reproduced below is Bess Price’s forward to Stephanie Jarrett’s important and brave new book, Liberating Aboriginal People from Violence.

I have lived with violence all of my life. Many of my relatives have been either the victims or perpetrators of what is called grievous bodily harm, some of homicide. My own body is scarred by domestic violence. Some of this violence comes from our traditional way of life. When we lived in the desert we had no armies, police forces or courts. Every family had to defend itself. Everybody, male and female.


Men had the right to beat their wives. Young women had very few rights. Men had the right to kill those who they thought had broken the law. We all know this but won’t talk about it.

Things are now much worse because the good things about the old law are dying with the old wise ones who were born and raised in the desert and knew how the old law should work to make sure it was just. Now we have alcohol and drugs and our young people are confused and frightened. When they follow our old law they break the new, when they follow the new law they break the old. That is why the jails are full of our young men,  and more and more, our young women.

We Aboriginal people have to acknowledge the truth. We can’t blame all of our problems on the white man. The best thing about acknowledging that we have our own traditional forms of violence is that this our problem which we can fix ourselves. We don’t need to be told what to do by the white man.

In Alice Springs the courageous Aboriginal men of the Ingkintja Male Health Unit in Alice Springs admitted that there was too much violence and apologised to their women and children for the violence and decent enough to apologise.

Governments and human rights activists have ignored them. They are heroes who should be supported. I know Stephanie Jarrett to be decent, caring and hard working. I commend her work to you. We need to support those who tell the truth, acknowledge it and start solving our own problems.
 


Liberating Aboriginal People from Violence will be launched Dr Gary Johns former Federal minister and author of "Aboriginal Self-Determination: The Whiteman’s Dream" and Bess Nungarrayi Price, Member for Stuart in the NT Parliament, on Tuesday, January 29, at 6pm at City Tattersalls Club, 194-204 Pitt St, Sydney


RSVP: bookings@connorcourt.com, or by phone (03) 9005 9167