Our Flag Our Story: A celebration of the Torres Strait Islander Flag


Thirty-two years ago, the Torres Strait Islander Flag was designed by the late Bernard Namok Senior in 1992. Mr Namok’s legacy is continued today by his son Bernard Namok Junior and his family.

I felt humbled to meet Bernard online so we could bring you this interview and I couldn’t help by share his excitement about the launch of his children’s picture book ‘Our Flag Our Story-The Torres Strait Islander Flag.’ This flag has always been an important representation of the cultural identity of the Torres Strait Islander peoples and the stunning design marks the story of country and people and sits beautifully next to the land rights flag of the black, red and gold.

Bernard Namok Junior has his own story to tell, a seasoned broadcaster and disability rights advocate and podcast producer, his family connections run deep throughout the Torres Strait Islands.
Bernard Namok Junior says it was a natural progression to move into writing a children’s story book after producing the documentary ‘Carry the Flag in 2017’ and he is also gearing up to present the book at the Northern Territory Writers Festival at the end of June.

Bernard Namok Jnr says this children’s storybook makes him happy to honour his father’s legacy and he is excited about the next stage of his journey.

Our Flag- our Story the Torres Strait Islander Flag is available at Magabala Books. The book is co-authored by Thomas Mayo and beautifully illustrated by Tori-Jay Mordey and was launched at the Gab Titui Cultural Centre.

You can catch Bernard Namok Jnr at the Northern Territory Writers Festival for a book reading and Q&A with co-author Thomas Mayo.

Saturday, June 29th, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory.

Class Action Registrations Open: Shine Lawyers Update for the CAAMA First Nations community.


Shine Lawyers have launched a class action on behalf of thousands of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the Northern Territory whose wages were withheld or not paid under the wage control legislation in effect until 1971 and in Western Australia up until 1972.
Registrations are still being accepted for both the Northern Territory and Western Australia to make a claim for compensation.
Shine Lawyers Practice Leader Sarah Thomson says it’s important to register for a claim even if uncertain. In this interview with Kirstyn Lindsay, she explains who can apply for the Western Australia settlement.


Shine Lawyers Practice Leader Sarah Thomson speaking on Stolen Wages Class Actions

You can apply for a claim If a family member or spouse who has passed away worked in WA & the NT  within the time frame that the class action is registered for.
Support for your application will be provided.

First Nations families are also being encouraged to register their application for membership to the First Nations Child Removals Class Action Investigation by Shine Lawyers after a complaint to the Australian Human Rights Commission was filed in the Federal Court of Australia.
Shine lawyers report that allegations has been made that the Department of Child Protection have been engaging in unlawful discrimination and is being investigated due to the number of First Nations children in the child protection system and the failure to reunify Children with their families by the Department of Children’s Services in New South Wales, Western Australia, Victoria and South Australia on or after March 5th, 1992.


Special Counsel Lawyer Caitlin Wilson speaking on First Nations Child Removals Class Action Investigation.

In this interview with CAAMA Radio, Special Counsel Lawyer Caitlin Wilson says they are seeking justice because of the advocacy work of organisations and families over the years, and this is the first step to addressing a national problem of a modern-day Stolen Generation, she says the vision for the class action alongside financial compensation for families is to change the course of legislation across Australia.

There are three classes of people eligible to register their interest in the Class Action.

*People who as Children were removed from their parents or carers by the department and placed into state carer with a non-indigenous carer or not reunified with their family (Parents include cultural parents or carers for this criteria)

*The second group is cultural parents or carers who have had a child removed from their care by the department and placed in state care or with a non-Indigenous family.

*First Nations people who were nominated to care for a child and were not assessed by the department or their application was rejected or refused.

Caitlin says the last two groups are important for the class action not only because of the cultural obligation they have to care for their kin but because we constantly hear from the department in defence of why the Aboriginal child placement principals are not being complied with because there are no First Nations carers that come forward and the Legal service don’t think that this the case.


If you or someone you know has been impacted by the removal of a First Nations child by government child protection agencies in New South Wales, Western Australia, Victoria and South Australia on or after March 5th, 1992, you are encouraged to register with Shine Lawyers. www.shine.com.au or 1800 316 428

This is a legacy of all our Elders who came before us; Cheryl Axleby SA First Nations Voice to Parliament.


Members of Central Region Local Voice Back: Tony Minniecon, April Lawrie, Robert Leidig, Scott Wilson Front: Susan Dixon, Cheryl Axleby, Moogy Sumner, Rosalind Coleman, Doug Clinch, Deb Moyle, Tahlia Wanganeen

As the South Australian Voice to Parliament prepare to discuss the process of electing two state representatives from each region, Narungga representative for the Central Region, Cheryl Axleby joined Kirstyn Lindsay to share her vision on what she says is a test to show the rest of Australia how a localised Voice to Parliament can change the lives of First Nations peoples in her communities.

Cheryl Axleby is known for her tireless advocacy in the justice and housing space and holds many more feathers in her cap. In this interview, she discusses her drive to step into this role as one of eleven local First Nations Voice representatives for the Central region in South Australia.

She says the South Australia First Nations Voice to Parliament is important because she thinks about her ancestors and the Elders and leaders who created the Aboriginal organisations in South Australia. “I think this a legacy of them that I think we need to continue,’ she says ‘ you know having our voices heard so we get our needs met for our communities.”

” In Australia we should be reaching a maturity in this nation where we have bi-partisan support with recognition of First Nations Peoples in this beautiful country”

Leading up to the 2024 Voice to Parliament Referendum the current South Australia government worked towards legislating the First Nations Voice Act 2023 to Parliament prior to this agreement with the signing of the 2018 Narungga Buthera Agreement. The agreement was drafted to support a respectful relationship between the Narungga People and the state of South Australia supporting Narungga People to succeed in cultural, social and economic advancement.

“Recognising First Nations people and culture at world sporting events isn’t enough.”

Cheryl says this Voice legislated in South Australia is the test and the test of the commitment from the South Australian government to show the rest of Australia how this process can improve the lives of First Nations through an advisory body legislated in parliament to work on key issues to strengthen policy with inclusive decision making for First Nations People. These decisions can contribute to reform and recommendation for the Treaty and the Truth-telling process all drafted the Statement from the Heart framework.

Narunnga Central Region representative Cheryl Axleby says it’s time for bi-partisan support across Australia and there are still risks from the opposition.” In Australia, we should be reaching a maturity in this nation where we have bi-partisan support with recognition of First Nations Peoples in this beautiful country, ‘ she says ‘recognising our diversity in language and culture, us as the Traditional Owners.”

“Recognising First Nations people and culture at world sporting events isn’t enough.”


Alice Springs Roadmap to 2030: Pathing the way for renewable energy.

Listen to Kirstyn Lindsay’s interview with Alice Springs Future Grid Project Director Lyndon Frearson for the full story.

The Alice Springs Future Grid Project launched the Roadmap 2030 showcasing the future of renewable energy in Alice Springs. The launch included a guided walk of the Desert Knowledge Australia Solar Centre boasting the largest multi-technology solar demonstration facility in the world.

The Northern Territory Government has partnered with the Intyalheme Centre for Future Energy to mandate agencies and power companies towards meeting 50% of the renewable energy targets by 2030.

Alice Springs Future Grid Project Director, Lyndon Frearson says the data gathered from the Bushlight Energy Archive shows electricity as a core enabler of livelihood development and renewable energy can support financial and wellbeing aspirations for all communities in Central Australia and the Northern Territory.

One of the biggest barriers for First Nations peoples in remote and regional communities is the financial stress of using prepaid power meters and cards. First Nations communities are directly impacted by the loss of country and cultural landscapes due to the coal mining industry and historically with that, comes the division between families when it comes to consent, consultation and decision-making for the go-ahead for mining projects.

Self-determination is about communities controlling their matters and obtaining financial independence and the Alice Springs Roadmap 2030 includes the vision for a broader renewable energy industry. Investment in localised trained workforces is needed to install and operate the technology and the equipment to drive the transition and industry to direct renewable energy into the power grid.

NT government move forward on Treaty and Truth Telling.

Treaty as a priority

A question I’ve been asking leaders in the Treaty space is if they feel that by prioritising the ‘Voice to Parliament’ campaign time has been wasted by not working on the Treaty and legislating Truth Telling in federal policy. It’s a big discussion but necessary to take into consideration the current NLP parties in the states and territories not showing Bi-partisan support for Treaty and Truth Telling.

This year the Northern Territory Labor government will continue to work on the ‘Statement from the Heart’ framework and take the next steps towards Treaty and Treaties in line with the recommendations handed down in the 2023 NT Treaty Commission Final Report.
The Northern Territory Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Treaty Chancey Paech says the results of the ‘Voice to Parliament’ referendum did not go the way the NT Labor government would have liked and to move forward they are offering registrations for a Leadership and Governance Forum and two Treaty Symposiums in Alice Springs and Darwin in April.

Treaty Commission Final Report Recommendations

In accordance with recommendations 2 & 3 handed down by Tony McAvoy SC in the NT Treaty Commission Final report, The Leadership and Governance forum will include input from the four statutory Land Councils to draft an MOU to develop a new Treaty and Truth Commission Act and a draft First Nations Self Government Bill.

Tony McAvoy explains that not all community members are happy about being governed by the Land Councils and Minister Paech says the Treaty symposiums are for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples who don’t live where there is an Aboriginal Land Trust and for those who live off country and have made the Northern Territory their home.

He says the Northern Territory Department of Aboriginal Affairs want to provide an opportunity for everyone to be heard and encourage NT communities to join the meetings.

Read more about the recommendations and NT Treaty Commission’s Final Report in this interview from Tony McAvoy SC What’s next on being Treaty ready in the NT? Tony McAvoy SC breaks down the NT Treaty Commissions’ final recommendations. – CAAMA

The Aboriginal Leadership & Governance Forum / NT Treaty Symposium will be held on
4 – 5 April 2024 Alice Springs Convention Centre.
The NT Treaty Symposium in Darwin will be held at the Darwin Convention Centre on 8 April 2024. Register here.


Truth Telling funding is now available

The Northern Territory government are also calling for applications for the Truth and Healing Grants. The grants will support truth-telling activities and initiatives so First Nations peoples in the Northern Territory can create projects in a more creative way that will build a ‘Truth Nest’ of information for their story to be kept safely as an important part of history and evidence for a Makarrata and Truth Telling Commission. Minister Paech says this is a more inclusive way for the community to get involved in telling their story because academic papers and reports are for everyone.

Minister Paech would like to see applications from people who would like to document their experiences of the 2007 Northern Territory National Emergency Response and federal government intervention. He says this race-based policy is still impacting communities in the Northern Territory and shouldn’t be excluded from the history of the Northern Territory.

There will be two grant rounds, each in total a of $300,000. Applicants can apply for a maximum of $20,000 in each grant round.


    • Round one will be open from 26 February to 7 April 2024.

Community connection vital for suicide prevention and recovery; Northern Territory Minister Selena Uibo.

Danila Dilba Health Service Suicide Prevention Talking Circle-February 2024.

Content Warning: readers and listeners are warned that there may be words and descriptions that may be culturally sensitive, and which might not normally be used in certain public or community contexts.

Please contact 13 YARN (13 92 76) Lifeline 13 11 14 or your local health service/worker if you need support.

When our Elders tell us ‘No Shame’ when it comes to talking about our feelings so many of us still find it difficult to ask for help or say that we are overwhelmed by what is happening in our lives, community and our place in a world that many of us see is in crisis. We lose so many loved ones because people think they have nowhere to go with their issues.

Suicide was the leading cause of death for First Nations people aged 15 to 44 years in 2022. ABC Indigenous reports that only five of the nineteen Closing the Gap Targets are being met according to the latest data for 2024.

A target that is worsening, and not on track is Target 14: Significant and sustained reduction in suicide of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Support for Top End communities.

The Northern Territory government and the Northern Territory Primary Health Network are investing 3.3 million dollars for suicide prevention and recovery by supporting Danila Dilba’s Health Services with a new Healing and Recovery Service to meet the needs of families dealing with suicide and self-harm in some of the top end communities.

“The more people talk about what is going on for them the less isolated people will feel when dealing with their wellbeing”

Speaking with Kirstyn Lindsay the Northern Territory Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Selen Uibo is very clear about her passion for community connection and healing. With a cache of portfolios in her role as a Labor Member with the Northern Territory government, it was very clear that her heart is in the right place regarding community health and wellbeing. Selen Uibo says there is No Shame to talk about our worries and that this new healing Centre will provide support for people recovering from suicide attempts and/ or living with suicidal ideation. The Healing and Recovery Service will provide clinical and cultural practices around prevention and is a way forward to openly address this ongoing crisis in the community.

A celebration in community-Northern Territory Minister Selena Uibo Member for Arnhem and Minister Chancey Paech Member for Gwoja.

Minister Uibo says cultural inclusion and safety are what will make this service different to what is available in Darwin at the moment. The Centre will link families with wrap-around treatment services and provide support in First Language to prevent people from feeling isolated by the English language barrier.

Intergenerational and modern-day trauma
When I was preparing my questions for this interview I thought about the trauma and daily challenges that our all First Nations families and communities endure, alongside the ongoing impacts of racism, violence and segregation at the hands of colonial and settler culture, newer challenges like displacement due to the impacts of climate change and the remnants of the COVID-19 pandemic were topics I wanted to also raise in this interview.

Minister Uibo says people are still recovering from families missing out on funerals due to lockdowns and border closures, which is a big loss in culture for many families. She also shares that her community in river country in Arnhem Land has safety challenges travelling on Country when the big rains come in, family worry all the time about their loved one’s safety and food and freshwater affordability and security also add to the layers that First Nations people live within remote and regional communities.

‘everyone in community is important and has a role in continuing culture and family connections.”

No Shame, ask for help.

My final question to the Minister for Northern Territory Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Selena Uibo was if there was anything else she would like to say to the community. Her message ran deep for me when she repeated the words ‘No Shame’ when speaking up about our worries and asking for help! She asks people to reach out to family and services. “The more people talk about what is going on for them the less isolated people will feel when dealing with their wellbeing,’ she says ‘everyone in the community is important and has a role in continuing culture and family connections.”

Native plants healing country, healing community in the Central Desert.

Unless you’ve been to the Central Desert it’s hard to believe how lush and diverse the country is. The regions of biodiversity and soil types range from sandy to stony soils with grasslands, herbs, shrubs and river gums. In Mparntwe (Alice Springs), a small community initiative that started during the COVID-19 pandemic is now a business for the propagation and sale of native plants for the region. Centralian Seedlings has already made significant changes in bringing back animal species and habitats through an industrial site in town and the settler-modified suburbs on Arrernte Country.

Jorgen Doyle has propagated seedlings for purchase and provides an online resource for community members to learn about the plants for arid and semi-arid environments on country. Not only has Jorgen and his landlords rehabilitated the industrial site where Jorgen lives, but he has also created beautiful community spaces accessed by passersby bringing native birds and other animal life back into the area. His appreciation for the simplicity of having birds and desert lizards and small goannas move back in to live around the plants gives him something to talk about to his family on the phone and contributes to healing Country and community. This contribution also branches out to First Nations and other community members who feel good seeing some of the bush foods they recognise and being able to enjoy some of the gardens he’s created around town.

Snake Vine-Tinospora Smilacina

“I think it’s good for people to feel like where they live is not separate and abstract from the surrounding natural environment.”

Jorgen Doyle Centralian Seedlings

Jorgen writes on his website how future climate changes will impact the life of exotics due to how much water will be available and native plants will not only be easier to keep alive, but they can contribute to the decline of invasive species like the Olive Pine and Buffel Grass that are creating fire risks and loss of habitat.

To collect the seeds, you need to apply for permits and Jorgen Doyle works in partnership with the Central Land Council, Bon Bon Station Reserve and Northern and Southern Indigenous Protected Areas through the Northern Territory and South Australian governments to be able to collect and propagate the seeds for commercial use.

The Olive Pink Botanic Garden and Alice Springs Desert Park are two public spaces where you can see the extent of plant diversity and learn how to identify them for the Alice Springs and Central Desert region.

Jorgen isn’t working alone in the community to create environmental restoration, Jerome Davy is an Anmatjere and Alyawarre native plant expert and horticulturalist and runs a business in Alice Springs, holding tenure at Olive Pink for four years working with the plants and restoring the cultural landscape. More people in the community are encouraged to plant their gardens and verges with local plants and learn about water usage. Jorgen Doyle says “I think it’s good for people to feel like where they live is not separate and abstract from the surrounding natural environment.”

Mobile phone technology creating an Aboriginal workforce in remote communities.


If you’ve travelled in remote and regional communities across Australia, you know the uneasy feeling of not having mobile phone coverage and how it can play on your mind while travelling.

Communities in the Central Australian regions of Petyale, Ankweleyelengkwe, Welere, Urrermerne and Payeperrentye are now set up with the operation of five new mobile phone hotspots now contributing to forty-eight other mobile phone hotspots in remote sites throughout the Northern Territory.

In partnership with the Centre for Appropriate Technology (CfAT) the Northern Territory Government have funded the project with an additional three hundred thousand dollars to deliver hotspots for residents and tourists.

CfAT has trained local Aboriginal people to install the hotspot technology and will continue to train new technicians and encourage women and girls in communities to take this career path. The organisation supports the Technology on Country Program so more First Nations people can live and thrive on country through the use of technology, communications, education and training. The focus of the program is to keep people in community.

Chief Executive Officer, Centre for Appropriate Technology Peter Renehan says these hotspots magnify the mobile signals so people can communicate for safety and business reasons.

That’s not the end of the story, Peter is passionate about employment and training, and he says the real story is about the team that built the technology for these hotspots, the First Nations senior leaders and mentors who support the trainees to be successful employees who have been delivering the project outcomes. The mentors are qualified and have come through other industries to be strong leaders and develop and nurture the men coming through.

CfAT would also like to support women to be trained in this field, offering training and employment pathways that are culturally safe and have women leading other women and girls to become technologists.

First Nations Media Australia handed down the 2022 Infrastructure Audit Report highlighting information and data specific for the sector. A key theme identified is the shortage of First Nations IT, telecommunications and broadcast infrastructure technologists and engineers available across Australia and the divide is prevalent in regional and remote communities. The report identifies that all of these platforms need to co-exist and training and funding is required to meet the demand so communities can train and employee staff from the region and reduce the costs and delays caused by employing technologists from the cities. Remote IT, IP and Infrastructure work is a common practice but can still be problematic.

The Mapping the Digital Gap project is also providing data to advise policy and programs to help close the digital gap. The project has identified the Closing the Gap Target of equal levels of digital inclusion for Aboriginal People by 2025 based on data from the Australian Digital Inclusion Index (ADII).

Another discussion point with Peter Renehan is the priority of protocols when initiating a project to build mobile phone and other communications technology on country. Surveys and meetings with community members is important. He says non-Indigenous staff learn there are layers of communication needed when decisions are made for the projects so cultural heritage sites can be protected.

This is an important part of the surveying and application process of a build and is more meaningful when Aboriginal to Aboriginal work together on this.

Peter Renehan says this project provides skills exchange with non-Indigenous technicians which builds a stronger workforce for all technicians. “Learning protocols in the workforce is an important part of the surveying and application process of a build and is more meaningful when Aboriginal to Aboriginal work together on this.”

Facilitators of Change and Connection; Boe Spearim on January 26.


Gomeroi activist and radio host Boe Spearim speaks with passion when it comes to his motivation behind organising the January 26 Invasion Day march and gathering in Magandjin/Brisbane. He speaks respectfully about Sam Watson Jnr, Ruby and Coco Wharton and their involvement in the facilitation and organisation to unite community and commemorate the 1938 Day of Mourning which is now controversially celebrated as Australia Day.

A cache of local activist groups will bring together thousands of people and provide what Boe calls a ‘safe space” for mob and Palestinian activists to connect and share their grief, resilience and resistance as we all navigate a challenging time not only for First Nations people post ‘Voice Referendum’ as well as the world political ‘stage’ while witnessing what some see as “genocide” of the Palestinian people in Gaza and surrounding communities. Boe says the people of Gaza are his family too and feels sad to see their suffering.

“We get to kick off the year with something solid to show this country why we are still here, why we are still fighting.” – Boe Spearim

Boe says he likes being busy this time of year and challenges the impacts of the Voice to Parliament Referendum on communities and shares what he wants to see in place to protect human rights for First Nations people around the world.

This week will see local groups WAR (Warriors of Aboriginal Resistance) and Treaty before Voice inform the community of actions, they would like support for including localised Treaties separate from the state government and a call to action to blockade the 2024 Olympic Games. Boe say connecting the community on January 26 will consolidate the movement to show what we really want.

‘Go back to tribal way’; Alec Doomadgee on healing after the referendum.


Listen to the interview for the full story.

The Future

It’s October, the week after the Voice to Parliament Referendum and Waanyi Garawa Gangalidda tribal leader Alec Doomadgee has set himself up on his mobile phone for our online interview in a coffee shop in downtown Toowoomba in western southeast Queensland. Home to the Jarowair people, this city holds the spirit of a long painful history of colonisation and atrocities of genocide and is now being graced by Alec, a man who brings optimism, love in his heart to all people and a healthy cheekiness, challenging racism, colonisation and issues impacting his people. He likes to get people thinking. 

With his feet in many worlds, Alec Doomadgee has his law and culture and uses this as a sign of respect to take on the big guns and lead his community into self-governance while navigating the film and arts industry as a producer and actor across Australia. 

With the sounds of the coffee shop in the background, we discussed his decision to vote No, his vision for treaties and accords and how his people used Indigenous Land Agreements to secure Native Title on their sacred Boodjamullla country after a thirty-year process. Alec says customary law is the way forward for First Nations people to self-govern, heal and speak for country and people.

 Around ten years ago Alec produced a documentary called Zachs Ceremony, he says this film is an example of how his people’s law and culture still exists. He believes that going back to the old law will rebuild the foundation separate from the colony.

Boodjamulla National Park. Southern Cape York.

The Fight for Country

His Waanyi people of the southern Gulf of Carpentaria region recently took back the Boodjamulla National Park formerly known as Lawn Hill. He says that by using Native Title and Indigenous Land Use Agreements and the current mechanisms set up by the federal government, communities can take back their power and country and make it a success. Boodjamulla is his people’s creator spirit and rainbow serpent.

In 1994, 18 year old Alec Doomadgee walked on that park with his family and they locked the park down protesting on the site for two weeks. In 1996 they started an Aboriginal Lands Act court case for Native Title. He says it took twenty years to go through the white man’s system and the ALA with the final determination being handed down in 2016. This was Alec’s second year as chair of the Native Title Corporation. It took from 2016 to 2020 for the QLD state government to sit down and negotiate. With a supportive legal and anthropologist Alec used his people’s law and culture to prove they had the jurisdiction on their country and not the government.

At the end of the negotiations Alec said this is what worked for him. The final agreement included a clause of Treaties and that would be another discussion. The final agreement included the Waanyi people to be funded to run their country as their own business. This now provides opportunity for his community to succeed in self-governance and an opportunity to create their own income.

Our healing comes from within us, from our law, our culture, our ceremomy

Alec says the government should be asking First Nations for treaties and not the other way around. His message to communities is about self-empowerment and taking back culture and law as a way to navigate the system. An approach that is positive, grounding and healing. 

Native Title determination hand back Boodjamulla National Park June 2023 Brisbane Parliment house. Lead by Waanyi Elder Mr Henry Alpin. Pictured with Quandamooka MP Leanne Enoch (QLD