Christian settlers can't grasp Aboriginal culture as spiritual without civilisation

South Australian Aboriginals soon lost their homes  to European settlement.

South Australia’s Aboriginal people didn’t need churches. The land, with its rivers, mountains, birds, animals and plants, was their spirituality.

Europeans settlers generally didn’t grasp or accept this concept. They saw Aboriginal nomadic traditions as  primitive tribalism that needed civilising through Christian education.

The South Australian colony’s first governor John Hindmarsh's proclamation, read at Holdfast Bay in 1836, spoke of extending “protection to the native population as to the rest of His Majesty's Subjects”.

But this equality was in reality paternalism, and in 1838, the South Australian gazette and colonial register reported Governor George Gawler's speech to the “natives”:

“Black men, we wish to make you happy. But you cannot be happy unless you imitate good white men. Build huts, wear clothes, work and be useful. Above all things, you cannot be happy unless you love God who made heaven and earth and men and all things”.

Evangelical paternalism dominated European responses to Aboriginal spirituality for 150 years and more, Australia-wide.

The High Court decision in the Mabo case in 1992, the Hindmarsh Island Bridge Royal Commission in 1995, and the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Bringing Them Home report in 1997, affirmed Aboriginal spiritual connectedness with the land but didn’t make a big change in outside attitudes to the beliefs of the indigenous people.

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Hangings at Coorong: judge Charles Cooper refuses to apply English law to Aboriginals

In 1844, South Australia became the first Australian colony to allow evidence from Aboriginals in courts. This related back to the 1840 episode when Aboriginals were reported to have killed 20 shipwrecked survivors of the Maria near the Coorong. South Australia’s first chief justice Charles Cooper had told governor George Gawler that he found it impossible to try, according to English law, “people of a wild and savage tribe, who have never submitted themselves to our dominion”. This didn’t please Gawler who sent Major Thomas O’Halloran to the Coorong on an expedition that hanged two Aboriginal men in front of their tribe. The British Colonial Office, dominated by Whig humanitarians such as Lord Glenelg, Sir George Grey and James Stephen, rebuked Gawler and O’Halloran’s actions to the point of suggesting that they had committed murder. In 1849, a grand jury presentment called for more police in districts with violence between settlers and Aboriginal. A jury in 1852 urged the government against interfering in Aboriginal customary law in cases among Aboriginal themselves. But, after the murder of a Mary Ann Rainbird and her two children in 1861, public support for holding Aboriginal offenders accountable to English law increased.

Cashless welfare card tried in Ceduna to cut rate of alcohol abuse, gambling and assaults

A 12-month trial of the federal government’s cashless welfare card started in 2016 in the Ceduna region of South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula. The Indue welfare card, with input from Aboriginal elders, aimed to reduce alcohol abuse, gambling and assaults in vulnerable communities. The card, compulsory for all Centrelink users except old age pensioners, has 80% of welfare payments to be used for purchases but not for alcohol or gambling. The other 20%  is placed in bank accunts. The main opposition to the card relates to its blanket approach of applying it to all people of working age; that 60-70 disruptive people were forcing around 700 residents into using the cashless card. In 2017, the federal government declared the card a success and extended its trial with six-month reviews. The Labor party said it wouldn’t support extending the card trial unless there were clear community support and evidence it worked. Orima Research found gambling, alcohol and drug consumption were reduced in Ceduna but its data was queried by the Australian National Audit Office. One of the three Eyre Peninsula communities affected by the Ceduna scheme is Koonibba, home to the oldest surviving Aboriginal AFL football club in Australia. Among its products are Gavin Wanganeen, 1993 Brownlow Medallist and Essendon and Port Adelaide premiership player. Only half of the town’s 1983 football premiership team have survived Koonibba’s high death rate.

Theologian pastor Daniel Fritsche encourages education and music at Lobethal

Pastor Daniel Fritsche led out the third group of Old Lutheran refugees to South Australia who started the Lobethal settlement. Fritzsche, son of the town musician, went from his Liebenwerda, Saxony to the Dresden Gymnasium and then studied theology at Breslau University. Graduating in 1823, he taught a school for Jewish children, and was ordained in 1835. When Fritsche renounced the state church he became an itinerant pastor, narrowly escaping being arrested several times. In 1840, Fritsche went to Hamburg where he was invited to be pastor for 250 Lutherans waiting to emigrate to Australia. After difficulties with money, ships and delays in Hamburg, the 250 migrants embarked in 1841 on the Skjold for South Australia. The voyage saw more than a fifth of the party die. Arriving in 1842, Fritsche’s group headed at first to Hahndorf but heard about good land in the upper Onkaparinga. They gave Johann Freidrich Krummnow, who’d had arrived in South Australia three years earlier and was a naturalised English citizen, funds for buy land for the community. Krummnow wanted the settlement based on his own principles of shared property and fervent prayer. The settlers at Lobethal (meaning “Valley of praise”) rejected Krummnow's vision and disputed his right to the land titles. In 1845, St John's, now the oldest Lutheran church in Australia, was built. Fritsche was devoted to the cause of education. At Lobethal, he started in 1842 the first Lutheran theological seminary in Australia. An excellent musician, he encouraged music in his congregations.

Piltawodli, north of River Torrens, the last 'native location' for Kaurna in Adelaide

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Aboriginal rates of imprisonment in South Australia among the highest in the world

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Aboriginal Legal Rights Movement grows from 1973 to offering services at all levels of the law

The Aboriginal Legal Rights Movement in South Australia began in 1973 with help from the Aboriginal Community Centre and the Council of Aboriginal Women of South Australia plus $22,000 from the federal government Aboriginal affairs department. It has grown from a small service employing a solicitor, a field officer and a secretary, to having more than 60 staff, with offices in Adelaide, Port Augusta, Ceduna and Murray Bridge. It services the whole of South Australia including the remote APY Lands and about 21 major Aboriginal language groups. The Aboriginal Legal Rights Movement – providing comprehensive legal services, financial counselling and help to people of Aboriginal descent and their spouses –  is governed by an all-Aboriginal board of 10 members from Aboriginal communities. It also promotes legal, cultural, economic, political and social rights for Aboriginal peoples. The movement also is a lobby group that helps address issues contributing to Aboriginal people coming into the criminal justice system. Before the its legal services, most Aboriginal people appearing before the courts were not represented by a solicitor, and many pleaded guilty to offences unaware of their rights and obligations. The Family Violence Legal Service Aboriginal Corporation (SA) helps victims of family violence. It has offices in Port Augusta, Port Lincoln and Ceduna and provide services in the Spencer Gulf and West Coast regions.

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