Department of Community
Services and Health
GPO box 9848
Brisbane Qld 4001
Confidential Application for a position of Aboriginal Project Officer, Nth
Qld Regional Office, Townsville.
I do hereby submit my application for your Consideration, regarding the
Abovementioned position, Advertised in the Gazette dated 9th February, 1989.
I would like to be considered for this position as I am confident that I
have the necessary qualifications and experiences in dealing with Aboriginal and Islander people over a period of 3 decates. Therefore, I can confidently lay my claims on this position and would warrant a fair, careful and unbias consideration.
My full name is EDWARD KOIKI MABO a TORRES Strait Islander born at MER Island of the Murray Island Group (eastern Torres Strait) on the 29th of June 1936.
I am known to my tribesman as by my tribal name Koiki, (pronounced Coy-key) I am also known as Eddie to my non Islander friends. My Clan group is Piadram, which is part of a major tribe known as MERIAM. My paternal Clan group occupies the village of Las and all of the East Coast of MER Island. Our totem is the Torres Strait Pidgon, a Gainau in My language.
I am married with one dependant child. My wife is also of a Torres Strait
decent born in Ingham fourty seven (47) years ago. Her grandfather came from Moa Island of the Western Torres Strait. As for myself I migrated to the Mainland in 1957 and married my wife Boneta in 1959.
Soon after settlement in Townsville in 1962, I undertook non assessable
Courses designed for non-English speaking migrants, these courses included Junior and Senior English, Maths, Social Studies, Science and Arts. I also did similar course in Sydney Technical College which include Community development, Business Principal and Credit Union Management. As Stated earlier Such Courses were for non English speaking migrants and no Certificates were issued at completion of the Course.
However, I applied for an entry to the James Cook University of NQ for B.A. Studies and went through to a test and an interview and was admitted as student in 1980. I later transferred to the diploma in Teaching where I continued for three years, only to discover my weakness in Management of Grades 1, 2 and 3 in a classroom situation.
This year I have enrolled for BA digree course as an external student to
undertake studies in Sociology and anthropology in the first Semister of
1989 acemadic year. However I will produce the copies of my Dip Teaching results, if I am able to make it to an interview for this position.
Involvement in Black Affairs
My involvement in Aboriginal and Islander affairs dates back to 1960, when I was elected as a Spokesman and union Representative, on the Rail
Construction Project, between Townsville and Mount Isa.
This voluntery position required tough negotiations with Contractors for
payment of award wages for the Islanders and "New Australians". Majority of whom were employed on this project as unskilled Labour. I was also responsible for obtaining better working conditions, equal pay for equal work, payment of overtime and sick leave. I even reinstated some men with the assistance of the Trade Unions, who saw sackings at time were extremely unfair and unjust. I saw such problems as cultural misunderstandings and I worked towards getting one group of workers to understand the next, through Social Contacts and Cultural Exchanges after work and on weekends.
I settled in Townsville in 1962, and organised the establishment of the
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders Advancement League and was elected a Secretary of the League and occupied the position for seven (7) years. The Main purpose of the organisation was to - provide a platform for black opinions to be heard on a State and National levels- provide a forum for education of non black in matters affecting Aboriginal and Islander people in Australia. In 1967 we achieved our first goals by convincing the Federal Government and the opposition, that Referendum was required in order to change the Australian Constitution which would authorise the National Government to legelate for the Aboriginal and Islander people of Australia. The end result was an outstanding success.
During the same period I was able to lead the Organisation in a struggle for removal of Queenslands racist and oppressive Native Affairs Act. and many more discriminatory, legal and official practices which were in force in Queensland.
In 1969 I engineered one of the bigest seminar in Townsville known as "We the Australians: What is to Follow the Referendum." An Inter-Racial Seminar. (Copies of its proceeding are held in University liberary.) This Seminar was able to influence the Federal Government that Aborigines and Islanders were the Australia's most Deprived and Underprivileged people, who were similar to the third world countries and needed immediate Federal Assistance.
Some six months later Federal Moneys were allocated to the State offices of Aboriginal affairs specificly for Black Housing. These houses are now known as D.C.S Homes.
I resigned my position as Secretary of the Advencement League and became President of an all Black Organisation called - The Council for the Rights Indigenous People. The reason for my resignation from the league was, that it was becoming a platform for political Do-Gooders who most often used Aborigines and Islanders as ways to gain political milage by politically grandstanding on our disadvantages.
Having an all Black Organisation, I was able to lead the group of very
determined people who persist in their struggle for establishment of Service Organisations such as - The Housing Societies, The Legal Aid Service, The Medical Service and the Black Community School.
During the processes of establishments of these organisations, I was able to occupy a positions of Excecutive officer (unpaid) from time to time until funding for these positions were Secured for employment of a fulltime officer.
Involvement in State and National Organisations
During the past 20 years, I have been fortunate enough to receive
appointments to several National Organisations.
The 1st organisation being the Aboriginal Art Board where I spent 4 year as a Director (part time) and travelled extensively throughout Australia, New Zealand and PNG.
I spent the following 3 years with the Aboriginal Artist Agency Inc NSW. Our major task with the agency was promotion of Ab & Is ARt in Australia and overseas.
During the same period I also served as a member of the Insititute for
Aboriginal Studies, Sociology and anthropology Committee for 3 years and for 12 months on History and Oral History Committee.
Because of my involvement in the development of Black Community School in Townsville, I was appointed for a term of four (4) years on the National Aboriginal Education Committee.
I also accept a position with The Cooperative for Aborigines and Islanders Community Development Inc NSW as a Director, responsible for the Development of Mission Beach and Clump Mountain Project near Tully NQ.
Currently I occupy a position of Vice President of National Torres Strait
Islander Organisation known as THE National Magani Malukes Council and I hold similar position in the Queensland State Council of MMK.
My involvements with local organisations is still maintained as Member but
to a lesser extent. However I am a Director of only 2 local Organisations,
as I believe young Aborigines and Islanders should become involved, in order to gain experience and an insight into self-management programs and projects.
My first full-time employment with a black organisation, was with the Black Community School Council, where I was able to work as a Director in charge of non-teaching Staff and I provided clerical support for the School Council, which consisted of Teaching Staff and the parents. This position in general was a multi purpose one, as I was expected to Carry out Social Work, ARts Teaching, Public Relation officer, fundraiser, Bus Driver, Sports Coordinator, Project officer, fundraiser, Bus Driver, Sports Coordinator, Project officer and Extra Curucula officer and the Director of the School.
Although there was so much involved but I thoroughly enjoyed it because I was forced to carry out so many different tasks in any one day, and the
experience I gained was tremendous.
I was able to occupy the position for three (3) years.
In 1976, I joined the Commonwealth Employment Service, attached to the
Aboriginal Employment and Training Branch as as assistant Vocational
officer, CA6. I was able to remain in that position for approximately three and a half years.
This job provided me with a totally new insight and experience in dealing
with broarder Aboriginal and Islander people from a point of view of a public Servant. My Duties entailed, Development, investigations and evaluation of applications for funding under the NESR, and NEATS programs, monitored progress of apprentices, on-the-job trainees and students in TAFE and University Colleges, mantained liaison with Community organisations and Employer Groups. The area I covered was from Serina (South of Mackay) to Tully and out west to Hughenden.
I was able to provide assistance to the Senior Vocational officer on more
complex and complicated projects, and made recommendations for approval by the Section Heads. I resigned my position in 1980 to take up full time studies at James Cook University of NQ.
In 1984 I joined the Aboriginal Legal Service in Townsville as a Field
Officer for 12 months. This job demanded highly developed Communication Skills and tactfulness in dealing with suspects, the Police, Prison Authorities, Probation office and the Law Courts and liaison with Community and Community Organisations.
Apart from dealing with the abovementioned institutions, I was unable to
detect any projects which I could classified as challenging or exciting,
except defending the Management Committee in public Meeting from critism from our own people. My position was terminated after a disagreement in which an inexperienced Manager denied me access to assist the Aboriginal Employment and Training Branch of the Commonwealth Employment Service in production of Multilingual films on Aboriginal Employment Development Program.
However I was able to reinforce my skills in communications liaison,
investigation and questioning skills in my position as a field officer with
the Legal Service.
During 1985, I obtained a small grant from the Australian Institute of
Aboriginal Studies to carry out reserach into Customary and Traditional Land Tenure on Murray Island in the Torres Strait.
I was able to utalised my communication liaison and research skills in
acquiring valuable informations into two volumes of documents for my High
Court Challenge on Land Rights. These documents have been pleded as
Statements of facts for the plaintiffs. The case is known as MABO & others vs Queensland and others. On the 8th of December last I had a victory in which I nullified the Queensland Coastal Islands Declaratory Act 1985, under the Commonwealth's antiracial Discrimination Act in 1975.
The case is continuing which I will have to prove my usufactory rights to my ancestral land. Furthermore, I will have prove that the rights of my
predecessors and my own traditional legal rights has not been extinguished by the British Statute of Annexation in August 1879, when Britin annaxed the Islands and included them to the Colony of Queensland.
During 1st half of 1986, I obtained a position of an Assistant Director,
Aboriginal Arts with Moomba Festival, Melbourne, where I was employed for approximately nine months.
My job entailed coordination of Aboriginal and Islander, exhibitions of
visual and performing arts, liaison with Aboriginal and Islander Community
in and around Melbourne, assessment of venues, art materials and selection of performing artists and dancers of both Triditional and Contemperary.
My involvement with Moomba Festival created better Understanding,
Appreciation and Cooperation between the Moomba Festival organisation and the Aboriginal Islander Community, who in the past years have never
participated in the Festival before.
I enjoyed a sense of achievement in liaison with people I never knew before, which resulted in better understanding with the Festival Organisation and an extremly outstanding Exhibitions of Arts & Crafts and performances of Triditional and Contemporary Dances. The overall activities were an outstanding success and enjoyed by over two million people.
In April 1987, I enrolled with Aboriginal Cultural & Training Institute in
Sydney for a Course designed to train Aboriginal - Islanders project
officers supposedly for a six months period, but unfortunately the course
continued for only 3 months, due to industrial disputes.
During the life of the course we were taught the basic report writing,
preperation of Budgets, project Evaluation and assessment of Projects and Questioning Skills. The course was disrupted and therefore no assessment was done at all.
In June of the same year (1987) I returned home to Townsville, and secured a temporary position as an Art and Cultural Liaison Officer ASO3. This position was specifically created for stimulation and encouragement of north Queensland Black Community to develop positive attitude and to participation in the 5th Festival of Pacific.
The duties entailed Liaison, councilling group of cultural organisation,
preparation of Budgets and applications for individual artists, assisting
project officers employed by the Festival, attend Board Meeting, liaison
with Local Authorities and other Government Departments. I was employed in that position for 18 months.
My abalities in performing the Tasks in which I was involved is summed up
well in a reference attached from the Regional Manager Department of
Aboriginal Affairs, Townsville.
My position became redundant on the 30th of December 1988. I am currently unemployed and searching for fulltime employment.
Summery as per Duty Statement and Selection Criteria
I believe that I have the capacity to fulfill the duties such as
development, investigate and evaluate any type of applications for funding
as I have performed such task in the past, particularly with the
Commonwealth Employment Service and with the Department of Aboriginal Affairs. My referee's Comments speaks for themselves in relation to liaison with both black group; which has been a proven success in the past.
Over many years I have been able to attend countless numbers of staff
training session, particularly as a Guest Speaker for various Government
Departments, conducted Training Session for Students and Teaching Staff of High School, TAFE colleges and Universities.
As a matter of fact I done this type of work all around Australia and in New Zealand. I have also been able to prepare papers and presented some to Scientific Conferences in various Universities throughout the Country, most of my talks with Universities usually centered around Sociology,
Anthropology, acculturation of Torres Strait Islanders in an Ubarnised
Society, Education - "Black Education in White Australia", Aboriginal -
Islander - Cultural Differences and Marine Biology and Marine Industry in the Torres Strait.
I have a well developed abality in public speaking, so, participation in
Staff training will cause me no hardship.
Organisational and Administrative Skills
I have an easy going nature and I can "get along" with anybody or any group. In terms of development and implementation of policies and programs, I have been successful in the past particularly in designing policies for Black Education, for the Arts, Housing and Development of policies which will be implimented in the near future, which will create and office for Torres Strait Islander Affairs within the proposed new Commission.
In relation to development of Children Services; I have been part of Black Community School which covered, Primary, preshcool and Day Care for underschool age children.
I have also been able to participate in the Development of Kindergarten
Headstart in Townsville Yupuruna school, Kindergarten and Day Care Centre in Alice Springs and also in Strally WA. and Warawa College in Melbourne Victoria.
I am very tactful in my own ways in relation to presentation, implimentation and assesment of any programs, and no doubt I am sympathetic towards Aboriginal and Islander people, as I would not have been involved in our affairs for so long.
I am aware that Torres Strait values differ greatly to that of Aboriginal
people, whilst dealing with My people I have Constantly remain alert in
terms of imposition of my own values on others and therefore remained non judgemental.
I have acquired certain amount of skills in terms of implementation of
Government financial prosidures and preparation of forward estimates and I have been able to predict such estimates with little assistance from company auditors particularly in terms of Consumer Price index and Wage Constraints.
Evaluation and Review skills
In the past, I have been able to assess need for housing, Health Service and Education Services for our children and other Such Services. So as for assessment for any other Services or Suitability of members in an
organisation to manage Such Services or specific programs are concerned, I been there and done just that, as well.
Awareness of Relevant Financial issues.
I think I have some knowledge of Government financial prosidures and I would think, it would not differ greatly from the prosidures followed by the Aboriginal Affairs Department. However if such prosidures do differ, I am definitely sure that I will be able to learn such prosidures in a very short time.
Knowledge of Welfare Issues
I am like any other person outside the Depepartment retains very broad
knowledge of the Welfare programs administered by your Deparment, except in my case I have been able to read whatever brief statements are written in booklets Titled "Introducing the Department" - DCSAH and "Programs for Families with Children" - DCSAH - I would also think that such will be learned in a short while if I am employed in that position.
Knowledge of Dept of Community Services Program & Policies.
I am also limited in having direct knowledge in relation to types of
organisation in receipt of funds from the Department of Community Services and Health. However I would think the Department supports non profit Organisation which provides Services such as - ChildCare Centres - Care for Children whose parent work or are undertaking Courses - Assist Children With Special needs. Other Services includes - Family Day Care Vacation Care, Out of School Hours Care - and Special Services.
Other services which I presume would be funded by the Department of
Community Services and has been operating in Aboriginal Communities are
Trecoma and Eye Treatment and AIDS Education Programs and Child care
Perhaps there are much more programs within Aboriginal - Islander
Communities, which has been supported by the Department of Community
Services and Health but I am certainly unaware of them; or alternately
perhaps it has not be brought out at our Community Meetings of Townsville Aboriginal and Islander people, such meetings are held at regular intervals.
Finally, I hope I have given you a general picture of myself, the Abalities
I have developed over the long period of my dealing with Aboriginal and
Islander people and the Valuable Experiences I have gained - The Struggles I went through with my people, some were very successful and some has failed to achieve the desired goal.
Because of my straight fowardness in oral expressions and my interaction
with Communities at large, has earned me great many friends and foes,
particularly amongst the most vocal and not-so vocal Activests, who were in times past has been repremended by myself for Abusing Services offered to much more needies, particularly in the areas of low rental accomidation in which the so called activest were abusing the System. Racial differences between the Two groups has quite a lot to Contribute, particularly with ubarnised Blacks who retains no knowledge of their triditional Cultures which more often sparks off personality differences between those that are capable of commanding both cutures Contemporary and Traditional and are vocual in modern black Australian politics.
To a greater extent I have been a victim of fear and oppression within my own ranks of people. I hope my application and possibly the processes of interview be conducted by unbias people both Black & White, and lastly if I am selected for this position I will do my atmost to serve my people to the Very best of my abalities and to the Satisfaction of both the client groups and the Department of Community Services and Health.
I remain yours
applicant in writing
17th Feb 1989.
Keywords: employment, Townsville, 1989
Author: Graham, Trevor.
© Mabo Family Collection
Source: Mabo, Edward Koiki