The Dying Days of Segregation in Australia: Case Study Yarrabah

By Barbara Miller 2.10.16

Published in First Nations Telegraph

Author Barbara Miller is launching her latest book at Yarrabah near Cairns on 31.10.16 at the invitation of the Yarrabah Aboriginal Shire Council. It is called The Dying Days of Segregation in Australia: Case Study Yarrabah. Mayor Ross Andrews says,

“The book offers an important contribution to recognising how important the legacy of leadership has been to my community. The leadership of the past and present has led Yarrabah to being in the unique position it is today.

“We’ve gone from our mission days, DOGIT handover in 1986, Indigenous Local Government 2004 to the handing over of our land under the Federal Court’s Native Title Determination 2015/2016.

“This book recognises the important struggle of the Indigenous leadership from ‘agitators/stirrers’ and ‘bridge builders’ and we are fortunate to be in this position because of the legacy that they have set. The struggle for Indigenous rights in this country must continue.”

The launch will be held on 31 October as it is the anniversary of Yarrabah receiving its DOGIT and is known as DOGIT Day. “It will be even more historic to launch the book on this occasion said Mrs Miller as it is the 20th anniversary this year.” The launch will be at the Knowledge Centre at 10am with refreshments and entertainment provided. It is necessary to RSVP Barbara Miller on 0466076020 for catering purposes.

Miller says that the book will be a local history for the people and school children at Yarrabah. “It will also interest history buffs, politics and Aboriginal affairs enthusiasts as it is an eye-opening look at Aboriginal Affairs in Australia and in the biggest former reserve in Queensland – Yarrabah.

“What is different about it,” she says “is that you hear from the voices of the Yarrabah people themselves, their worries, their hopes and dreams and their reaction to the crushing legislation that has affected their lives. It has been described as an amazing insider view from a writer that is close to the action.
“I interviewed Yarrabah people at a time of historic change in Queensland, the far north of Australia, which in times past was likened to the deep south of the USA. Indigenous people had been segregated on reserves for nearly 100 years ostensibly to protect them from white settlement which was wiping them out. Indigenous people had to have permits to live on, leave or visit a reserve and could be removed to another reserve at the will of the white manager or police. They had to have permission to marry or work,” said Miller.
“Despite the federal government passing the Racial Discrimination Act in 1975,” said Miller “the Queensland government refused to change. Even within Yarrabah there were white only and black only sections of the town. However in 1984, a near-fatal blow to segregation was struck and the Yarrabah reserve started on its way to self-government, still a long tortuous process.

“Indigenous peoples were not allowed to have ownership to the reserve areas. That too started to change in 1982-84 with the Deed of Grant in Trust (DOGIT) legislation. This book examines the human rights abuses of the Queensland Aborigines Act and the legislation of 1984 that replaced it,” said Miller.

“Now I have returned to my subject and examined the last 30 years as I bring the topics of segregation, self-determination, local government and land rights up to date in 2016, visiting the historic Mabo and Wik native title cases and their aftermath. The case of Yarrabah is put into national context as I examine the dying days of segregation in Australia. It is painstakingly researched and has been endorsed by a litany of voices – Indigenous and academic,” she said.
Here is what others are saying:

This is an excellent coverage of the milestones in the contemporary historical coverage of our Indigenous Queenslander’s struggle for land rights and freedom from the autocratic control of government. 
Dr Timothy Bottoms, historian, author of Conspiracy of Silence and A History of Cairns

I strongly recommend this book. I can testify that I have lived in this era, when segregation was in its dying days … with white only and black only sections of the town at Yarrabah. 
Les Baird, founding Health Manager Gurriny Yealamucka Health Service

By shining a light on the political and policy landscape of the last forty years that has shaped the Yarrabah of today, this book offers much to ponder when considering Yarrabah’s prospects for the future… 
Henrietta Marrie, Associate Professor, Office of Indigenous Engagement, CQUniversity Cairns

It is entirely appropriate that Barbara Miller is the one to write an update on Yarrabah’s efforts at self-determination and land rights as … we contend with the “hydra- like monster” that she calls segregation.
Rev Michael Connolly, Former Chairman of Yarrabah

The Yarrabah mission was one of the first to have its Aboriginal hostages aired in the Australian High Court in Neal v R 149 CLR 305 (the spitting case)… This book should be a standard school text book.
George Villaflor, CEO of first Cape York Peninsula Aboriginal legal service

As a 71 year old survivor of the Yarrabah experiences, I am now finding peace for myself … as we learn not to be governed by other hurtful narcissist human beings. 
Roy Gray, former Chairman Aboriginal Coordinating Council and former Chairman of Yarrabah


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