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EARTHCHAT: Why we need to decolonise

Updated: Apr 25, 2022

Your host Ruth is joined by Emma King to explore the impacts of Colonisation on the Australian flora and fauna, on this country’s First Nations people, and inevitably, as a consequence, the white settlers themselves, and their children’s children.

We now know that trauma is passed on genetically as well as through unhealthy socialisation. While we allow the unhealed wounds of colonisation to remain unaddressed they continue to fester. We inevitably pass these (festering wounds) on from generation to generation.

Nations such as ours are often called "settler-colonial". Australia's history bears all the hallmarks of settler colonialism: from violent massacres of the original inhabitants to more subtle, legal means such as assimilation or recognition of Aboriginal identity within a colonial framework.

Rooted in white supremacy, challenges and solutions of colonialism’s impacts on climate change are seldom explored. This legacy continues and is alive today, impacting all living beings in every ecosystem be it on the land or in our rivers and oceans. The unresolved trauma continues to impact every one of us.

We will examine this connection between Colonisation and Global Warming. Since the arrival of white settlers in Australia, Climate Change was an inevitable consequence of the exploitation and degradation imposed on this landscape through widespread land clearing for agriculture, mining an timber harvesting, the introduction of non-native species including rabbits, foxes, cats, inflicting massive damage especially to small to medium sized mammals. And later camels. Plus it brought an end to Indigenous fire management causing huge disruption.

In Australia the coloniser (Western) culture remains until today. Although Aboriginal politicians emerge, Aboriginal people still don't hold significant positions of power or self-determination.

How to begin? Decolonisation means revisiting and rewriting the past, and understanding colonisation as "unfinished business". It involves assessing how colonisation has affected Aboriginal culture, and starting to tell Aboriginal rather than non-Aboriginal stories and doing things the Aboriginal way. We will discuss the many ways we can decolonise. Join us for this important conversation.

Emma King is a long-term social and environmental justice activist. She lived and worked in the Northern Territory for over 20 years, working with Indigenous and non-indigenous communities on environment protection campaigns and human rights issues. She now lives in Central Victoria and works for a local Aboriginal organisation as well as with Commonground near Seymour. She has been facilitating regular Decolonising Conversations in Castlemaine in between lock-downs and is part of bringing these conversations to Mitchell Shire this year.

Here are some additional readings, events and resources shared in this week's program:

- Book recommendation 'On Taungurung Land: Sharing History and Culture' (A collaboration between Elder Uncle Roy Patterson and Jennifer Jones)

- Land and Waters Council website is a good place to get information and history:

-To hear more about Decolonisation register for this online event:

-Support Treaty for Victoria website:

- If you’re able to get to Shepparton next Friday, April 29 for the official opening of the First Peoples' Assembly of Victoria's Shepparton office there will be a smoking ceremony and Welcome to Country with Members and guest speakers at 12.40pm, at the new office. You will need to register to attend:

Tune in to BEAM's radio program EarthChat each Friday on Seymour FM at 10am or to the repeat on Saturday at 8am.

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