//
you're reading...
Social Issues

My first venture into social justice: Australians for Reconciliation


My first venture into social justice was an eye opener, and I spent six weeks in gaol for my efforts.

After having worked in Goulburn Prison for three years, as a prison officer, I became concerned at the disproportionate number of Indigenous people in gaol compared to the mainstream population.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people made up about 17% of the prison population in NSW, but only about 2.5% of the wider community (at that time).

Most were there for minor things, matters which wouldn’t have landed most of us more than a small fine.

So in early 1998 I approached Flora Macdonald, the ACT Coordinator of Australians for Reconciliation, and offered to set up a local Reconciliation group in Goulburn, my home town and where I was living at the time.

Flora accepted, and we received considerable support in the local community, including from the regional newspaper, The Goulburn Post.

The Goulburn Post even agreed to run a weekly column about the issue, which I commenced writing in July 1998.

Our first meeting attracted over 90 people, including local police, corrective services, farmers, media and community groups. I also represented the Australian Red Cross at the meeting (I was area coordinator of the local Red Cross Calling at the time).

The next day I was arrested (I can’t recall what for), the first of 14 arrests that were to ensue over the next 18 months. It is interesting to note that every arrest involved the same police sergeant who had expressed concern at the inaugural meeting of the group, and wanted it shut down.

Several other leaders of the group also reported being approached by police and threatened with arrest, with reference being made to the group and suggesting it be shut down.

Regardless of this, we soldiered on, and support increased. We even had a lot of farmers joined up, who had initially been concerned that Aboriginals were trying to take their land, but later came to accept this was not the case.

For the first 13 arrests, I was found not guilty. On the 14th, in late 1999, I was remanded in custody pending trial.

I spent six weeks in gaol, the same gaol I had previously worked in, and found great support amongst both Indigenous and non-Indigenous prisoners for setting up a reconciliation group inside the prison. Even some prison officers expressed interest. This seemed to somewhat concern prison authorities.

After six weeks, I was convicted of the offence and fined the princely sum of $30, with no gaol time, and a two year good behaviour bond, which also prevented me from living in Goulburn. Effectively, the police sergeant had succeeded in shutting down the group.

Or so he thought. The group went on to build and expand, and I believe it is still running today.

This was my initiation into social justice campaigning. It was very clear that there are powerful groups who claim to support the marginalised, yet actively work against them. I would be interested in hearing other people’s experiences about this.

I have found this a lot in the last 25 years of campaigning, and even today, with my online social justice campaigning, I am finding the same thing.

Anyway, immediately after leaving Goulburn, I went to work as Director of Studies for TAFE at a high school on an Aboriginal community in Central Queensland, where we had great success, but that’s a story for another day.

One-Time
Monthly
Yearly

The costs of campaigning for changes to government legislation are considerable. If you appreciate this work, please consider donating so we can continue operating in this area.

The money raised will be spent on campaigning to state and federal MP s, as well as newspapers and other media across Australia, to improve social justice for all.

Please bear in mind that while I am a business consultant, I only work part time due to also being a disabled pensioner. I intend to take these matters to court, but that takes time and money.

Any money raised through donations will be kept in a separate bank account to cover these costs.

I would also welcome any help from legal professionals, or professionally qualified volunteers who are willing to assist.

The costs of campaigning for changes to government legislation are considerable. If you appreciate this work, please consider donating so we can continue operating in this area.

The money raised will be spent on campaigning to state and federal MP s, as well as newspapers and other media across Australia, to improve social justice for all.

Please bear in mind that while I am a business consultant, I only work part time due to also being a disabled pensioner. I intend to take these matters to court, but that takes time and money.

Any money raised through donations will be kept in a separate bank account to cover these costs.

I would also welcome any help from legal professionals, or professionally qualified volunteers who are willing to assist.

The costs of campaigning for changes to government legislation are considerable. If you appreciate this work, please consider donating so we can continue operating in this area.

The money raised will be spent on campaigning to state and federal MP s, as well as newspapers and other media across Australia, to improve social justice for all.

Please bear in mind that while I am a business consultant, I only work part time due to also being a disabled pensioner. I intend to take these matters to court, but that takes time and money.

Any money raised through donations will be kept in a separate bank account to cover these costs.

I would also welcome any help from legal professionals, or professionally qualified volunteers who are willing to assist.

Choose an amount

A$2.00
A$5.00
A$10.00
A$5.00
A$10.00
A$20.00
A$20.00
A$50.00
A$100.00

Or enter a custom amount

A$

Your contribution is appreciated.

Your contribution is appreciated.

Your contribution is appreciated.

DonateDonate monthlyDonate yearly

About Craig Hill

Social Justice Campaigner. Business and Education Consultant. Former Business/ESL Teacher. Lived in China and USA. Dealing with disability. My articles have been cited in New York Times, BBC, Fox News, Aljazeera, Philippines Star, South China Morning Post, National Interest, news.com.au, Wikipedia and many other international publications.

Discussion

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Pingback: My jump from prison officer to social justice campaigner | Craig Hill Consultancy Services - January 24, 2023

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

If you liked what you just read, click "Subscribe" to become a follower of the Craig Hill site. You will receive an email each time a new post is published.

Join 1,786 other subscribers

Follow me on Twitter

%d bloggers like this: