A little bit of context
watch via link: Wantok 2012 Bundaberg Inaugral Conference
The Australian South Sea Islanders – Port Jackson (ASSI-PJ) are the interim national secretariat which is a not for profit, grass roots voluntary organisation. We acknowledge and believe in the unique ways that ASSIs continue to contribute to the broader Australian society. As an organisation we aspire to encourage One Spirit, One Mind, One Voice commonly seeking prosperity based on respect for our shared history.
The term “Australian South Sea Islander” (ASSI) refers to the descendants of Australia's Blackbirding trade which started with the first of 65 men being trafficked in 1847 by celebrated entropenour and politician Benjamin Boyd from New Caledonia and Vanuatu to Eden NSW to support his whaling and pastoral activities. The influx to QLD was relentless seeing 62,000 men and some women trafficked between 1863-1904 to establish the economic base in sugar cane, maritime and pastoral industries.
Eighty islands were affected, including most of modern-day Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Tuvalu and Kiribati.
As a result of this atrocity, some 15,000 around 30% of those trafficked – died during their first years from exposure to common European diseases. Despite knowing about the high mortality rate, authorities continued the practice to its fullest capacity.
1901 saw the implementation of the White Australia Policy, and a mass deportation of some 7,000 SSIs occurred after a forty year period of existance. As a result NSW saw the Tweed Heads community established in the 1890s and 1900s to escape Queensland control.
But there’s a problem
Today ASSI people still remain marginalised, unrecognised, and even unknown to exist as citizens of Australia and their own history hidden from themselves as a community due to past policies of the Aboriginal protection acts.
The Commonwealth Government acknowledged ASSIs as a 'distinct' cultural group in 1994 followed by Queensland State in 2000 and NSW State as recent as 2013.
ASSIs are left out of our shared history narrative and educational system prominence despite a thriving community guestimate of 70,000 to 100,000 descendants.
2016 Census shows a significant increase of 133% on the 2011 Census participation/figures.
Here’s what we’re doing about it
The Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) and the National Maritime Museum are working with ASSIPJ to host the 2017 Commemoration symposium in memory of those who had their families torn apart and those that lost their lives because of the Blackbirding trade.
2017 marks 110 years since the mass deportations of some 7,000 slaves under the 1901 White Australia policy as well as the 170 year anniversary since Benjamin Boyd trafficked the first of our people to Eden NSW.
Support to date from our sponsors will assist with airfares for special guest speakers, social media campaign and some basic catering need.
We need to raise additional funds in order for the event to proceed to cover QLD speakers accommodation, additional costs for remainder catering and ground transport
DATE: Friday 8th September 2017
VENUE: (free entry)MUA Union rooms365 Sussex St Sydney, NSW6pm start (hope to see you there)
We greatly appreciate any support you can provide.
Special guests program will include:
· tbc Mrs Bonita Mabo, AO - ASSIPJ patron
· tbc Prof. Stephen Gapps - Australian National Maritime Museum
· Paul McAleer - Secretary MUA
Symposium: Zac Wone MUA delegate, Deputy Vice Chair ASSIPJ
· Jeff Mc Mullen - Journalist, Producer, Activist
· Aunty Shireen Malamoo former NSW Justice Health Board
· Emeritus Prof. Clive Moore UQ
· Dr Peter Prince ANU College of Law.(Misuse of the term 'alien' in
post 1788, Australian History)
· Emelda Davis - President ASSIPJ