Newsletter condemned for divisive ‘criticism’

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An excerpt from this week’s Kojonup News.
Camera IconAn excerpt from this week’s Kojonup News.

The community of Kojonup has condemned the local news-letter’s decision to print an opinion piece criticising the town’s Aboriginal elders.

Kojonup community-run newspaper Kojonup News printed the anonymous letter which accused local indigenous Noongar elders of failing to be a good role model for their community.

The anonymous writer said, “Are you a role model for the Noongars in town?"

“Do you hunt with a rifle or a spear? Could you make a spear?”

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The letter singled out the Noongar community for ice epidemic problems that have hit most regional towns.

The writer also ask why local sporting clubs have to be burdened by the “Noongar community crisis”.

After reading the letter, Kojonup Shire president Ronnie Fleay said she was disappointed with Kojonup News’ decision to publish the divisive letter.

“There’s been a fair bit of disappointment from the community,” she said.

“The following issue had an explanation as per why they published it.

“But I don’t think it was a proper apology.”

Kojonup Aboriginal Corporation chairman Craig McVee agreed with the Shire president and expects a better apology from the community news-paper.

“I understand that they published an apology and use the freedom of speech to cover the fact that people should be allowed to publish their opinions,” he said.

“But in the end it wasn’t really an apology.”

In the subsequent edition, Kojonup News editor Frankie Trouchet apologised if the recent letter printed had caused such heartache and said she would aim to do better.

However, Ms Trouchet also defended the right to freedom of expression as a reason for the decision to print the letter.

“I don’t think they realised the kind of impact that letter could have on the Noongar people,” Mr McVee said.

“Even after the Kojonup News printed the article I rang the editor to find out why they printed it, but they didn’t see anything wrong with it.

“It’s amusing when I see a white Australian telling a certain minority group what is racist or not.”

Mr McVee said the wider community of Kojonup needed to understand and better associate themselves with the Noongar community in town.

“The understanding of Noongar people from the white community is that we’re unsociable and wild people, and that is not the case but that is what is often portrayed,” he said.

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