Blackbirding will come under the spotlight this Friday on ABC’s national radio current affairs program PM by journalist Nance Haxton
Respected journalist Nance Haxton has proven her excellent reporting track record over more than 20 years – winning Australian journalism’s most prestigious honour – a Walkley Award – for the second time in 2012. She has a passion for justice and sees her main motivation for working in journalism as giving those who do not normally have access to the media a voice.
The ongoing legacy of blackbirding will come under the spotlight this Friday on ABC’s national radio current affairs program PM. http://radio.abc.net.au/
PM will broadcast Nance Haxton’s summer special radio documentary at 5 pm on RN and again at 6.30 pm on LOCAL radio on December 23.
Calls are growing for better recognition of Australian South Sea Islanders, many of whose ancestors were taken from their Pacific Island homes in a practice known as “blackbirding” to work in appalling conditions on canefields and cotton farms.
More than 60-thousand Pacific Islanders, then known as Kanakas, were brought to these shores in the latter half of the nineteenth century to work as indentured labour on sugarcane and cotton farms in Queensland and Northern NSW.
Most of the labourers were men, but women and children were also taken from more than 80 Pacific Islands, mainly Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands, and Papua New Guinea.
Some have returned to the islands from where their ancestors were taken generations ago, to find their families have searched for them for decades.
They want to shine a spotlight on the shameful practices that some have dubbed “Australia’s slave trade”.
The 25-minute feature has taken Nance several months to put together, and features face to face interviews with Emelda Davis, Professor Clive Moore, Matt Nagus, Brian Courtice, Luana Pitt, Zac Wone, and the Maritime Museum’s Dr Stephen Gapps.
Her story will also feature on ABC online – it will also go up on the ABC website Friday morning with a link to the documentary for those who prefer to listen by podcast.
Thanks and I hope you can all make time to listen in.
(Waskam) Emelda Davis
Masters of Arts (Research) candidate UTS-FASS: ARC Scholarship recipient
‘Children of the Sugar Slaves’
President – ASSI (Port Jackson) Ltd.
Australian South Sea Islanders NSW State Alliance (working group)
National ASSI Association – Roundtable
2017 Rotary Inspirational Women’s Award
2016 NSW Sydney Local Women of the Year
2015 NSW Council for Pacific Communities Award
watch video: ABC TV Late Line
– 62,000 individual South Sea Islanders, 95% men, were kidnapped, tricked and coerced from Vanuatu, Solomon’s and 80 surrounding islands starting in NSW in 1847, with the majority entering Queensland between 1863 and 1903.
– 30%, around 15,000 people, died due to lack of immunity and maltreatment deceased estate wages were used to pay for the Commonwealth Government’s inhumane mass deportation of some 7,000 Islanders under the White Australia Policy.
– Mandatory deportation required Islanders to pay a portion of their return fare from their pittance of a wage.
– The Australian Census 2016 figures increase of 133% participation on 2011 figures doesn’t reflect the guestimate 70,000 plus surviving descendants today
– ASSI have an identified kinship with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, given they were placed on same missions, reserves, workstations under the same Acts of Parliament.
– Torres Strait Islanders have the most prominent ASSI ancestry, as ASSI were taken into the Torres Strait from 1860 onwards for the pearling and bêche-de-mer industries as well as through the London Missionary Society. The most significant ASSI ‘colony’ is on Mua (St Pauls) Island in Torres Strait, established by the Anglican Church in the 1900s. ASSI also worked closely with Aborigines in the pastoral industry.