22 August 2011

Statement for Amnesty Homelands campaign from Rosalie Kunoth-Monks


My name is Rosalie Kunoth-Monks. I am an Amntayerr and Alyawerr woman born by a creek bed in a small community called Utopia in 1937.

Today I am fighting for that community's survival, and I am asking for your help.

My homelands, the place where my family and community have lived for generations, could soon be lost. The government is stripping funding for essential services on our homelands; effectively forcing us into larger towns and cities like Alice Springs.

This means we could soon be forced to choose between living in third world conditions in our own country, or abandoning our way of life. If we are forced to leave it will sever our sacred connection to the land that has held us, our language and our traditions since time immemorial.

What we've learned is that the government isn't listening, so we need to come together as Australians and speak out. Will you stand with me, and call on the Australian government to respect Aboriginal homelands? http://ow.ly/5ZkFw

Rather than listening to us, the government still acts like they know what's best for Aboriginal people. But on my homelands life expectancy is longer and health is better. In Utopia, we've been 'closing the gap' for a long time!

That's because here we can live with our way of life intact. People like my aunt Kathleen, who has exhibited her art in Milan and Tokyo but still paints her stories of this land most days at the local women's centre. Or Joycie - a talented young community health worker who combines traditional bush medicine with Western medicine. We don't want to move to larger towns where we'll be dispossessed of our land and feel like second or third class citizens.

This is our way of life, our culture, our home - and the government has no right to make us abandon it. Together we're turning a special painting into a visual petition - with each name represented in a dot on the painting. Add yours now: http://ow.ly/5ZkFw

The thought of leaving my homelands - I couldn't imagine it. I want my grandchildren to be citizens of the globe - but first and foremost, to be solid in their identity as Aboriginal people of the Alyawerr and Anmatyerr tribal groups; with their language, their responsibilities and the care of their land intact.

Help this untold story be heard and stand in solidarity with me now: http://bit.ly/DontAbandonHomelands

Thank you,