What I learned from Jacinta Nampijinpa Price

This is what they did not want you to know.

Jacinta Nampijinpa Price’s maternal grandparents were adolescents when they first saw white people.

Despite being among the last of the nomads of central Australia, they refused to see themselves as victims and taught Jacinta the same.

Her mother Bess, who became a Country Liberal Party member of the Northern Territory Parliament, was to be the second wife of her sister’s husband in an arranged marriage. She refused, climbed a tree and was eventually allowed to marry for love.

Price grew up in the Top End and now lives in Alice Springs where she is a Town Councillor and an outspoken advocate for her people.

Not all of her people appreciate her advocacy. Indigenous groups in Coffs Harbour last week wrote to the local council demanding that her booking on a council meeting hall be cancelled.

Her crime is that she does not tow the politically correct line of the indigenous industry and does not believe “welcome to country” ceremonies are necessary because most tribes did not practice them.

Fortunately, the Coffs Harbour council did not capitulate and the controversy around her visit there turned out to be a storm in a teacup.

Things were not so smooth when she came to Brisbane two nights later.

I went along to the Princess Theatre in Woolloongabba to hear her speak on the second last night of her “Mind the Gap” tour organised by True Arrow Events (the crowd who first brought Jordan Peterson to Australia).

Her voice is unique because unlike most indigenous voices we hear on the ABC, she does doesn’t believe an indigenous voice to parliament is necessary and calls on her people to take personal responsibility for the dysfunction that is wracking their communities.

She doesn’t blame colonial Australia, Captain Cook, white privilege or the Australian Government for the ills of her people.

“I was never hindered because I am indigenous. In fact, many opportunities came my way because I was indigenous.”

Her views should not be mistaken for indifference to indigenous suffering – she cares more than most and has seen first-hand the alcohol and drug-fuelled violence against, and sexual abuse of, indigenous women.

She has seen too many of her people poison themselves to death from alcohol consumption.

Her description of the murder of an indigenous woman in an Alice Springs Town camp was harrowing.

Because drunks often attacked ambulance officers, first aid was not rendered. The woman drowned in her own blood. The man who did it was sentenced to just nine years and is out of prison.

She rattled off several other heart-breaking stories of family dysfunction and violence.

“We don’t have a ‘me too’ movement for aboriginal women,” she lamented.

Violence, and violence against women, she said, has always been a part of Aboriginal culture in the same way it had been permissible (and is making a resurgence) in white culture.

Lenient sentences were only making violence against women worse because men knew they would only get a slap on the wrist.

“The greatest reason (Aboriginal) men are incarcerated is because of violent acts against loved ones.

“Incarceration does deter crime, higher recidivism comes from shorter sentences.

“If we want to see rates of incarceration drop we have to tackle the family violence epidemic.”

She described how traditional Aboriginal culture stipulated that men cut themselves and fill the wounds with ash to accentuate the scar upon the death of a clan member.

In a similar way, women were expected to bash their head with a rock until blood gushed, also in respect for the dead.

“We have decided there are some aspects of our culture that don’t work for us anymore,” she said.

She is clearly proud of the many positive aspects of Aboriginal culture but says it is time to stop romanticising all of it.

“Polygamy was common practice and arranged marriages still occur. I speak out against these practices because they deny the rights of young women.”

Price’s grandfather narrowly missed being killed in the last sanctioned frontier massacre of Aboriginals – the Coniston massacre in 1928 when around 100 blacks were killed by whites.

In 1942 her grandfather and some of his kinsmen were rounded up for spearing goats and made to work for the army as part of the war effort.

They were paid 5 shillings per week in comparison with the white workers who were paid five pounds per week.

The discrimination did not worry her grandfather.

“He and his kinsmen felt like they had been part of nation building,” Price said.

Her grandfather would move in and out of white and black society, coming in for periods of employment and then going back on country.

At the point where Price explained why she doesn’t engage with “welcome to country”, yelling, screaming and swearing emanated from the balcony of the Princess Theatre.

A man whiter than me was gesticulating and yelling at Price for several minutes.

In a dignified manner she left the stage while security and police took about 10 minutes to restore order.

I filmed some of the disturbance and posted it to social media where, at the time of writing, the footage had been viewed 119,000 times.

Yet again we were watching how the Left does debate. Well actually, it doesn’t do debate.  It tries to silence those with whom it disagrees.

Finally, Jacinta Nampijinpa Price returned to the stage, clearly unaffected by the violent verbal attacks on her.

“Bullies will be bullies and I won’t be bullied. My grandparents taught me never to be anyone’s victim.”

Price finished her talk listing her “pathways out of despair”.

  • Forgiveness will lead to reconciliation;
  • Education as a priority but not driven by ideology (she was scathing of gender-fluid “crap”);
  • No more romanticising culture;
  • Take responsibility;
  • Uphold the human rights of women and children;
  • We are all humans (real equality means black and white being part of the fabric of the nation).
  • Price supports recognition of indigenous people in the constitution but not the proposed “voice to parliament”.

“There is a lot of goodwill from the wider Australian population towards indigenous people. They just want to do things in more practical terms.”

Price said it was fortunate her bid to become a federal politician in the Morrison government failed at the May 18 election.

As a Central Australian aboriginal woman there was no traditional dress to speak of in the way Ken Wyatt wore a kangaroo skin cloak into the parliament.

“I would have had to wear nothing but a hair belt. Sometimes we might have had a pubic tassel if we were lucky.”

Price believes the key to indigenous reconciliation with white Australia is forgiveness.

She said plenty of white people came to Australia as convicts disposed of their land during the colonial period. Most people were getting a rough time in those days.

“We’ve had sorry day, let’s have forgiveness day.”

After speaking for more than an hour-and-a-half, the full theatre of quiet Australians rose to their feet and gave her a rousing standing ovation.