• Traditional elders say the Aboriginal off-duty officer is a traditional man who has been practicing his "traditional cultural" of hunting since he was young. (Youtube)Source: Youtube
Traditional Elders from South Australia have spoken to NITV following public outrage over an online video showing a wombat being killed.
Douglas Smith

The Point
9 Oct 2019 - 6:20 PM  UPDATED 9 Oct 2019 - 6:20 PM

Wirangu and Kokatha Elders have spoken out in support of an Aboriginal man who was vilified for hunting a wombat in a viral video saying that the footage does not show the full story, including where the animal was killed traditionally for food. 

The footage showed the Aboriginal police officer throwing a stone at the wombat, while a man followed behind in a car, recording on his phone. Last week it sparked national outrage and incited racist vitriol and death threats against the officer over social media.  Because of the death threats, NITV News has chosen not to identify him.

Not only has the outrage lead to threats against him personally, but also against the Native Title Act.

A petition started by the Wombat Awareness Association, which called for the officer to be arrested and charged and also for the watering down of traditional hunting rights under Native Title, had attracted more than 300,000 signatures over the past week.

But community members say the man, who often hunts and feeds members of his community, had done “nothing wrong”.

NITV News travelled to Ceduna in South Australia, to sit down and speak with community leaders and members, asking if what the officer did was wrong by cultural law.

“Nothing at all, nothing at all was wrong with that, that, that full footage, what he did was absolutely right in the way that he killed that wombat,” Peter Miller, the Chairperson of the Far West Coast Aboriginal Corporation told NITV News.

“If you look at him, and you look at the way it was done, piece by piece, he had to pick up a stone, which was the heaviest stone, and he had to balance the stone, so that he could knock that wombat in the head,” Mr Miller said.

"What happened after that, is that he got a stick [Jooding] and he knocked that wombat in the head...there's nothing wrong with that."

NITV News has been provided photo evidence which suggests that the wombat was cut up and cooked in a traditional manner.

The Far West Coast Aboriginal Corporation released a statement also saying “the practice it shows is consistent with traditional law and custom.”

The Aboriginal community constable is a traditional Wirangu and Kokatha man, who has grown up on country, hunting and feeding community members for most of his life.

Since the footage was widely reported on by Australian news media, NITV News has learned that a short, edited version of the video was the one uploaded to social media. The edited version does not show the full scale of the story, including how the animal was killed traditionally.

In the extended video, the man grabs a traditional Aboriginal hunting stick, known by the Wirangu, Kokatha and Mirning people, as a "Jooding."

The Aboriginal man then used the hunting stick to kill the wombat, a traditional hunting method practiced by his people for more than 60,000 years.

However, traditional Elders from the region say, the constable has been “demonised” by mainstream media for simply practicing his cultural rights.

Traditional Owners from the remote community of Yalata on the Nullarbor, also say the officer in question has done nothing wrong, and regularly goes hunting to bring food back for community members. 

“When he was in Yalata on weekends and off-duty, he always goes out hunting and when he go out hunting, he always get Malu [Kangaroo] and wombat,” said Mimma Smart from Yalata Community.

Watch The Point live at 8.30pm Wednesdays on NITV (Ch. 34) or catch up at SBS On Demand. Join the conversation on Twitter, #ThePoint.