Tuesday, September 27, 2011

My statement on today's win in the Federal Court!


MEDIA RELEASE:

ANITA HEISS’ STATEMENT ON EATOCK VS HWT

I published my first piece of journalism in 1992. It was a story about the Aboriginal Housing Company in Redfern. In the last twenty years, I have used my skills across publishing mediums and literary genres to write positive stories about Aboriginal Australia with the aim of building bridges between black and white communities.

On April 15, 2009, with a flick of his pen, Andrew Bolt in his article ‘It’s so hip to be black,’ managed to burn down many of those bridges, by writing words about me (and others) that discredited me professionally, while also offending, insulting and humiliating me. People on his blog also made racist remarks, that also offended, insulted and humiliated me.

I have always identified and lived as an Aboriginal woman, I’m a Williams from Cowra, a proud member of the Wiradjuri nation.

Mr Bolt’s article suggests I made a ‘decision to be Aboriginal…’ which ‘was lucky, given how it's helped her career’ and that I had ‘won plum jobs reserved for Aborigines at Koori Radio, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts Board and Macquarie University's Warawara Department of Indigenous Studies’.

What Mr Bolt failed to mention is that I am an established writer and highly qualified with a PhD in Media and Communication, and that in fact none of the jobs he mentioned were actually ‘reserved’ or identified Aboriginal positions, and the Koori Radio role was actually voluntary and unpaid.

In his witness statement to the court Mr Bolt claimed to have used a photo of my mother on her wedding day as evidence to determine she, therefore I was of mixed-heritage and could not or should not identify as Aboriginal. The photo Bolt submitted was taken directly from my blog and a post I made on February 7, 2011, almost two years after he wrote his article, so his misrepresentations about me continued.

As former Chair, Deputy Chair and Committee Member of the Australian Society of Authors, I have long advocated and been part of campaigns to protect the rights of Australian authors. At the same time, I have always advocated for responsibility in writing, and an ethical approach to publishing.

I am pleased (although not surprised) with the judgment handed down today by Justice Bromberg in the Federal Court of Australia. I believe the result means that Australia will have a higher quality and more responsible media, and that to some degree the persecution of Aboriginal people in the press will be lessened. And that was why I chose to be part of this case. Australian readers also deserve better.

I thank my legal team: barristers Ron Merkel QC, Herman Borenstein SC, Claire Harris, and Phoebe Knowles, my solicitors Joel Zyngier and Nathalie Dalpethado (Holding Redlich) and Aislinn Martin (Tarwirri). I’d like to express my heartfelt gratitude for their tireless efforts in seeking justice for not only the named applicants but all those Aboriginal people who were reasonably likely to have been offended, insulted, humiliated or intimidated by Mr Bolt’s writings.

I am continuing to focus on what I love doing most, working with young Aboriginal people around the country and teaching them how to write their own stories, in the hope they too will one day have the position of privilege to publish their own words.

Finally, in the words of Dr Rosie Scott, award-winning author, former Chair of the ASA and former Vice-President of PEN Sydney – an organisation who fights for the rights of imprisoned writers who don’t have the ‘free speech’ we so readily enjoy:

‘Free speech is the cornerstone of genuine democracy, but when writers publish disinformation dressed up as fact, lies as truth, slander as objective evaluation and call it free speech, they are devaluing its very essence and betraying all those who've fought for it.’


Dr Anita Heiss (www.anitaheiss.com) is the author of adult fiction, historical fiction, children’s fiction, non-fiction and social commentary. Her latest novel is Paris Dreaming (Random House, 2011).


-END-

Anita is not making any further comments on this issue however enquiries related to her work can be directed to Shannon Lane at Random House on:  02 8923 9804 / email:
 SLLane@randomhouse.com.au

53 comments:

Anonymous said...

Excellent, measured response. Be proud.

james roy said...

Very nicely put, Anita. Eloquent and considered.

JR

Sue said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Sheryl Gwyther said...

The law is not an ass! Congratulations, Anita and everyone involved and affected by the claptrap from Andrew Bolt and his right-wing cronies.
I hope he gets a huge fine! Only money matters to his type.

Andrew McMillen said...

Thoroughly impressive work, Anita. Well done.

Anonymous said...

Very well put. Great job on the case.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations Anita. Thanks to you and everyone involved in this case for standing up and saying, "that's enough."

Emma.

larrythelibrarian said...

Dear Anita,

As you know I have followed this case with interest since first reading Andrew Bolt's article and wondering how he could get a way with it.

Thank God you and the others had the guts to take him on.

I don't want anyone to tell me what my identity is.

well done Michael

Wendy Orr said...

Impressive as always, Anita. All Australians, of every ethnicity and background, should be proud of your taking a stand against abuse like this.

James Crabb said...

Great to see your success in legally proving a cruel voice and adding another piece of clothing to the 'emperor'.

The Claw said...

Great news, and congratulations to you for taking a stand against this odious slur by Bolt.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for taking a stand. I'm sure that it wouldnt have been easy to fight this battle but its a big win for all Aboriginal People.

Melpomene Selemidis said...

Thank you Anita for fighting and winning the good fight!

Anonymous said...

Wonderful Anita for so many reasons

Natalie Harkin said...

Fantastic statement Anita, and a big congratulations to you, your legal team and all the others who stood up to his racism and such 'born to rule' attitudes that make people like him believe they can get away with printing such damaging hurtful misleading ignorant rot! Well done, you and your team make us proud x

Watershedd said...

Brilliant news, Anita. From a non-Indigneous supporter of a Wiradjuri man who is on his own quest for justice and redress for discrimination issues.

Mark McMillan said...

Anita,

What a great post! The personal cost to keep defending what are merely matters of fact- we are Aboriginal- is tiring. You summed it up beautifully!

Thanks for being part of it.

Mark

Shedeena Black said...

Congratulations, Anita you are an inspirational role model & an asset to Australia. You deserve more than was dished out but justice preveiled in the end. You are a strong woman of examplatory quality, where would this country be without people like you, shame on him!

Christine Ross said...

Congratulations Anita, your people know who you are and are very proud of your achievements and taking AB on and winning. For too long journalists have written untruths about us and our culture this win will send a message to them loud and clear that they are on notice and no more. Well done sis

Anonymous said...

shhDear Anita,
I believe we all should be grateful everyone involved for bringing the case against Andrew Bolt who may now give some thought to the actual meaning of " free speech".
Also may I add my appreciation for your statement.
God speed.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations to you all, keep up the good work.

Kerry Kilner said...

Fantastic response, Anita. And a great outcome.

Anonymous said...

Anita, I am so happy to hear of this win. Congratulations to yourself and all of those involved. Amy.

Irf said...

Thank you for your measured words.

Anonymous said...

Very well said Anita. Thank you for standing up for all indigenous Australians!

groovyvirgochick said...

Well said!

Jaki Leigh said...

Thank you, and the other individuals, who stood up and made this complaint. Your strength and eloquence continues to be inspiring.

Peter James Keenan said...

Well done, Anita. I hope the decision will teach Bolt not to speak his mind.

Kylie Ladd said...

Perfectly said. You are an inspiration.

Janet Fraser said...

Thank you and congratulations. I hope the potential appeal isn't too arduous and that you will continue to speak your truth with the same integrity you've shown today. Much love and strength to you.

Pam Hewitt said...

Great news today. This makes being Australian a finer thing. Thanks.
Pam Hewitt

Anonymous said...

A Deadly award and a win in court- champaign all round!!!

Anonymous said...

Good on you Anita, and those you stood with.
-- Anthony

Anonymous said...

Congratulations. Thank you from the bottom of my hear for taking this on and what a great result. No mean feat and very hard work, I'm sure. Bolt has outspoken in his disparaging remarks about women, young people, refugees and Indigenous people -- and has a lot of support from the political right (the predominately privileged white men who still run the country) so this is a victory for many. Bolt should thank his lucky stars he's getting off so lightly, really.

Peter said...

Anita. Congratulations. Thank you for standing up for not just indigenous Australians, but also those of us who share Andrew Bolt's enthnicity, but NOT his narrow mind.

dave lander said...

thank you for being there. return to what you love, that'll rub their noses in it.

Bri said...

On behalf of my 'fair skinned' Aboriginal daughter, thank you so much.

Bevlipz said...

So proud of you my Wiradjuri cuzzie, and thanks for all you efforts with our kids with their literacy, and for bringing us so much joy with your novels, visits and smiles.

theotheradamford said...

well said and well done. congratulations and thank you.

Ann said...

Excellent as always Anita - you are a true role model for all cultures!!

Ann said...

Excellent as always Anita - you are a true role model for all cultures!
Ann

Anonymous said...

Great outcome, Australia needs more people like you willing to stand against the likes of Bolt and the shock journalists that seem to drive public opinion down a notch every time they are published

Elizabeth Webby said...

Congratulations Anita, a Great result for you and all those who have been subjected to Bolt's sneers and slurs!

Elizabeth Webby

dazza said...

My wife and myself are so proud of you even though you don't know us. we think that your mum must also be proud. Congratulations on all of your achievements thus far. We just to encourage you to greater things in this life and let you know that the things that you do now will last way after you pass this way.

darryl & edwina
we old people

comrade harps said...

Congratulations on taking on the Murdoch/Herald Sun/Bolt establishment and winning. There's lot I cold say about Mr Bolt and his type, but few are complimentary. Well done!

I'm a white guy, but even I'm tired of privileged white fellas telling Aboriginal people how they should identify.

There are those who will claim that no genocide in Australia ever happened and in the next breath say that there's no indigenous Australians. It serves certain political and economic agendas.

Jennifer said...

Congratulations! I haven't been following this case but have just caught up with it... that man is a horrific piece of work. What a relief that the court made an acceptable and appropriate ruling.

Shane Guevara said...

Although it shouldn't always be this way, it's actions like this that helps this country move forward.
I apperciate you courage and you eloquence and seeming lack of rancour...
Bravo, Anita Heiss!

Anonymous said...

Anita, congratulations on taking on an injustice that affects all Australians and winning! At last! Vindication for truth and responsible media. Andrew Bolt seeks to prosper by appealing to fear, ignorance and hatred!
His will shall not be done!!!
His attack on indigenous cultures, their people, on refugees, multiculturalism, minority groups and human rights will not win!!!

Thank you and keep up the hard work!!

Anonymous said...

Well done. You have my support.

Catherine McLaren
(Kamilaroi)

x

Julie Briggs said...

Anita, our daughter is a Briggs and a descendent of Wiradjuri, Yorta Yorta and Irish peoples. We've just talked about the case with her and we agreed that in challenging it and winning, you and the others,have reserved and confirmed for yourselves and for others like our daughter, the right to be. Just to be. Thank you.

Dr Anita Heiss said...

A belated but heartfelt thank you to all who have commented here. Your support has not gone unnoticed, in fact it buoyed me the weeks following the judgement when 'nasty ones' didn't comment but sent emails.

For me, this was bigger than black and white, it was about the kind of society I want to live in and my role in making our society better for all, especially my mob.

I'm grateful I am not doing this journey alone, but with generous spirits such as yourselves - some I know, some I may never know, but clearly we share similar values.

Much peace and thank you again,
Anita

Adamjesh said...

Thank you for taking a stand. I'm sure that it wouldnt have been easy to fight this battle but its a big win for all Aboriginal People.

Dr Anita Heiss said...

Thanks for your support Adamjesh, much appreciated, truly.

Peace, Anita