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Maroondah Hospital

Maroondah Hospital and Beetaloo stories ignore Indigenous realities

Recently we’ve seen several breaking news stories covering Indigenous issues. From Victorian Aboriginals not feeling “culturally safe” after Victorian Premier Dan Andrews announced the new Maroondah Hospital will be named in honour of Queen Elizabeth II, to the sale of Origin Energy’s stake in the NT Beetaloo Gas project to Tamboran Resources (,with the predictable but incorrect claims that traditional owners there oppose the development) and the incredible report concerning the alleged treatment of Aboriginal players at the Hawthorn AFL club  at the height of its recent premiership success.

The renaming of the Maroondah Hospital set the cat among the pigeons. Instead of the legitimate complaint that the government should have consulted with Indigenous Victorians before removing an Aboriginal word from the hospital’s name (Maroondah is a Woiwurrung word meaning ‘leaf’), the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO) chose to claim it made the hospital “culturally unsafe” for Aboriginal people.

This paints a picture of Aboriginal Australians as precious petals. We, Aboriginal people, have survived in this country for thousands of years; through fires, floods, droughts, invasion, colonisation. We’ve served in the military in both World Wars, in Korea, Vietnam and the Konfrontasi in Borneo and the Malay peninsula and in Iraq and Afghanistan. We survived living under the various state and territory protection regimes that imposed segregation and suffocating control. We’ve even survived hospitals with Royalty in their names, including the QEII Jubilee and Prince Charles Hospitals in Brisbane, the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Adelaide and the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney to name a few. We survived it all.

We fought for our civil and human rights and won. We did this by being warriors, stoic … not letting ourselves become victims. We were proud and strong people. My parents, grandparents, ancestors would think this is a parody, a joke. They’d be turning over in their graves if they thought their descendants were curled up in a foetal position on the floor because of a name.

The sale of Origin Energy’s Beetaloo Gas assets in the Northern Territory to co-owner Tamboran Resources got the usual crowd jumping up and down and cheering; thinking that would be the end of gas operations in the Beetaloo Basin. Unfortunately for them, they missed the press releases that stated quite clearly the operations will continue as normal with the support of the Native Title holders and traditional owners. That’s right — with their support.

The Beetaloo Basin has become the latest battle ground for Green-Left activists to railroad progress and development that would help lift Aboriginal Australians out of poverty, and into socio-economic prosperity. As with the James Price Point gas hub and Adani’s Carmichael mine, the Green-Left are again totally ignoring the wishes of traditional owners and disregarding the massive problems in remote communities of that region, so they can virtue-signal to the woke corporations and elites of Sydney and Melbourne.

Despite what the left-leaning media, Green-Left activists and their cohorts tell you, Aboriginal Australians overwhelmingly support mining and other extraction projects like the one in Beetaloo Basin. This is even stated in the opening of the Juukan Gorge Inquiry final report.

Across this country there are thousands — that’s right, thousands — of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders working in the energy, mining, and resources industries. Even at senior executive and director levels. There are also hundreds, if not thousands, of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses supplying and working in the same industries.

A few years back I was on ABC’s Q&A, and there was a question about the Adani mine and how terrible it was, especially for Aboriginal people. I stated the fact that several native title holders supported the Adani project and the Wangan and Jagalingou people native title claim group voted 294-1 in favour of its agreement permitting construction of the Carmichael rail project. That’s right, 294 to 1. It wasn’t terrible for Aboriginal people. They wanted it. I then asked if the mine doesn’t go ahead, where are the jobs and economic opportunities? Silence.

I must say I was shocked and horrified by the report on the Hawthorn AFL Club’s alleged treatment of Aboriginal Australian players in the club. The allegations sent a chill up my spine. Yes, they are still allegations at this stage and a full AFL inquiry is underway.

If the allegations turn out to be true, then the Club and the AFL need to have a good hard look at themselves and put mechanisms in place that clean this up to make sure it never happens again, to any player. I’ll comment further after the inquiry is completed.

Nyunggai Warren Mundine AO is Director, Indigenous Forum, Centre for Independent Studies

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