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The chilling oppression of Camp Freedom

  • 18 April 2018


It's often said that Aboriginal people in this country are politicised from birth.

Indeed, considering the many policies governments have enacted to control our births and then forcibly assimilate us when we do arrive in the world (think the Stolen Generations, the NT wardship system, the continual fight we have to prove that terra nullius was a massive lie), our births themselves end up being somewhat of a defiant political statement.

And due to the continuing injustices, it's generally not too long before Aboriginal kids end up out on the streets, protesting alongside their family members. For a lot of us, this education is almost as basic as learning to talk and walk.

I have a photo I am exceptionally proud of. I had dragged my then four year old nephew along to a Black Lives Matter rally in the Melbourne CBD. Not only did the nephew join in the chants and march the entire way on his little legs without complaining once, but he stood in front of a group of Aboriginal people holding up our flag; his fist clenched and raised to the air, looking incredibly defiant. It was his first rally, and he handled it like a seasoned advocate.

Little did I know that taking him to a rally could be seen as a form of child abuse.

When news started coming through social media channels over the weekend that the Queensland police had not only bullied and orchestrated arrests of Indigenous protesters at Camp Freedom Commonwealth Games protest, but that child protection officers had been sent in, apparently on the directive of the QLD government; it chilled me to the core.

Wasn't it enough that they had been heavy-handed in their arrests? That Don Dale survivor Dylan Voller was harmed in the back of a police car following his second arrest? That throughout the Games, the media mainly chose to demonise Camp Freedom and its activities? Perhaps the protests were gaining too much attention, because at some point it was decided to frame them as child abuse which required intervention.


"It's almost a cycle of retribution: Indigenous activists gain some traction and the government or the media come in low to discredit this gain."


It seems that rather than even remotely looking to ensure Aboriginal children are safe and taken care of, governments would rather use them in some twisted game designed to discredit Indigenous rights movements and/or our autonomy.

Certainly, when you considering Mal Brough's