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Supporters rally around Bruce Pascoe following AFP referral

Supporters rally around Bruce Pascoe following AFP referral

Indigenous author Bruce Pascoe has been referred to the Australian Federal Police based on the accusation that he is incorrectly claiming to be Indigenous.

The allegation was originally made by Aboriginal businesswoman Josephine Cashman, who directed to the office of the Home Affairs Minister, Peter Dutton.

Ms Cashman is a critic of Pascoe and wants the government to set up a formal register that will assess the Aboriginality of individuals.

While the complaint was received on Christmas Eve, no formal investigation has been launched as of yet.

A spokesperson for Dutton’s office confirmed that forwarding the allegations to the AFP was standard practice, and the action did not reflect the views of his office.

Pascoe is widely known for his best-selling non-fiction book, Dark Emu, which was published in 2014. Drawing on historical evidence, the book aims to show that Aboriginal people farmed and prospered in large villages prior to colonisation.

The book challenged many previous assumptions about Indigenous Australians and their original lifestyles.

Pascoe identifies as being of Tasmanian descent and Yuin by cultural law.

Dark Emu has spurred a series of other projects, including a dance performance, a children’s book and an upcoming television series on the ABC.

The book won the 2016 Indigenous Writer’s Prize in the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards, as well as Book of the Year. It was also shortlisted for the 2014 History Book Award in the Queensland Literary Awards, and for the 2014 Victorian Premier’s Award for Indigenous Writing.

Pascoe, who has been fighting bushfires at his home in Mallacoota in Victoria, was unavailable for comment at the time the allegations surfaced.

His son, Jack Pascoe, gave a statement saying: “We stand by the identity of our family. The insinuation that my father has fabricated his heritage is hard to take because for him it’s an issue that has been part of the public discourse for 40 years.”

Since then, Pascoe has commented that he is ‘hurt’ by the allegations.

He has said that he has not yet been contacted by the AFP and has not met Ms Cashman.

“I’m not going to speculate on what she’s done or why she’s done it, because I don’t know her,” Pascoe told the ABC.

Many have rallied around Pascoe on Twitter, offering support by encouraging people to buy Dark Emu.