25 Jul

CRAWLEY pre-medicine student Ziggy Fatnowna is one of a small proportion of indigenous people to make it to university.

The 21-year-old from Arnhem Land said of Australia’s 2 per cent indigenous population, half would be imprisoned before graduating Year 12 and only a small amount of those would go on to university.

He said the weight of knowing there were indigenous Australians who did not have education or self-determination followed him everywhere.

Reflecting on Naidoc Week, he thought the concept was great but said there was still a long way to go before reconciliation and equality.

“I think Naidoc Week is awesome, however it’s not enough,” he said.

“A week won’t fix 200 years of oppression.

“If you need reminding of how far we have left to go look at the reaction to Adam Goodes, the 20-year gap in life expectancy and deaths in custody – equality in Australia is a myth and it’s to make people feel good.”

The UWA student said an attitude shift was needed to fill the gap between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians.

“Our culture is the longest living civilisation and it saddens me that Australia is missing out on that,” he said.

“We go on holidays to other countries and find out about their cultures and learn their language, but how many of us do that in our own country?”

The singer/songwriter has released his new EP called Black Thoughts, which has had airtime on Triple J.

He said the music was about indigenous rights and his experience of modern day race relations.

“My whole life I’ve tried to be palatable to deliver this message, so doing it in music is freeing because people can choose if they want to listen,” he said.

“It’s a great platform to be unfiltered and say what I want.”

Mr Fatnowna said he did not believe Australia could reconcile until there was understanding and acceptance.

He said indigenous communities were going through another stolen generation, with the closure of remote communities and children being forced to choose between education and their family and culture.

“My father wasn’t born a human because indigenous people were only recognised as human in 1967,” he said.

“We’ve never really acknowledged it and a lot of non-indigenous people don’t understand what happened, but because we don’t address it, it perpetuates.

“Australians are so patriotic on Anzac Day and we are so proud of history and connected to it, as if we were on the shores of Gallipoli, but when we talk about indigenous rights and the Stolen Generations, we say we didn’t do anything wrong, so don’t worry about it.”

Mr Fatnowna said he felt privileged to grow up with a non-indigenous mother and indigenous father and had no prejudice.

He said for real reconciliation to take place, there had to be appreciation of a different way of life.

“I want all Australians to be on an equal playing field,” he said. “I think by giving indigenous people the platform to steer the issues is a way to move forward; they need to be at the forefront.

“How can you reconcile something you can’t comprehend? You need to appreciate that there are different ways of life and then we can come to an understanding and reconciliation”

He said his whole purpose from his plans to be a doctor to his music was to be a catalyst for change.

“The position we are in is not okay,” he said. “I want to be a spark to help people come to that understanding.”

Story written and published in Western Suburbs Weekly

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