Monday, 9 June 2008

End the Intervention! National Day of Action on Saturday June 21!

from Aboriginal Rights Coalition

Endorsed by the national conference called by the Aboriginal Rights Coalition on Sunday May 25 in Sydney attended by over 200 people.

  • Repeal all “NT intervention” legislation

  • Restore the Racial Discrimination Act

  • Fund infrastructure and community controlled services

  • Sign and implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples- Aboriginal Control of Aboriginal Affairs

June 21 will mark one year since the Howard Government announced the NT intervention. Far from improving child welfare, the intervention has created a new wave of dispossession and is compounding social problems.

The Racial Discrimination Act has been suspended, land taken over and business managers imposed on communities.

The universal quarantining of welfare payments, the closure of many Community Development Employment Projects (CDEP) and the compulsory acquisition of Aboriginal property has forced thousands of people from their communities into urban centres.

Bagot town camp in Darwin, for example, has increased in population from 500-1200 people since the intervention. People are facing extreme hardship without jobs, services or stable accommodation.
While the Rudd Labor government made a symbolic apology for the Stolen Generations, in practice, it has retained and expanded Howard’s explicitly racist intervention laws. The government refuses to acknowledge the social break down taking place. They continue to deny protection under the Racial Discrimination Act.

Aboriginal people are suffering stark discrimination as they are forced to stand in segregated queues in Centrelink, in supermarkets and in schools. The practice of traditional culture is becoming impossible for many, unable to travel due to welfare restrictions. As Lyle Cooper, Vice President Bagot Community has said, “I thank you Prime Minister Rudd for your apology…(but) it’s an invasion all over again. We are being told where to shop, what to eat, how to act and how to live”.

Communities continue to stand up against the intervention. Scores of representatives from “prescribed areas” traveled to join the 2000 strong Canberra Convergence at the opening of the new Parliament. Many more will come from communities around the Northern Territory to protest in Alice Springs and Darwin as part of the national protests on 21 June.

One of the strongest examples is Yuendumu, where a strategy of non-cooperation has held off repeated attempts by the government to take over local programs and implement “income management”. Jeannie Nungarrayi Egan from the community council has said, “No body likes it, we have to control our own community, we’re going to push out the quarantine”.

Social Justice Commissioner Tom Calma recently released a report which demonstrates how NT intervention legislation contravenes numerous UN charters to which Australia is signatory, including International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR); on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR); and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD).

In July Jenny Macklin, the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs will begin a review of the Intervention. We need to bring thousands of people out onto the streets around the country to ensure grass-roots voices are no longer ignored. The new Government must break with the assimilationist policies of the Howard era. They must act on the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. A massive injection of funds and resources into communities is badly needed, but cannot come at the expense of basic human rights. Only an approach which respects self-determination will lead to improvements in community life.

Stop the intervention, Stop the Racism - Human Rights for all!

Sydney: 11am, The Block, Redfern

contact Monique Wiseman 0415410558 or Paddy Gibson 0415800586

Alice Springs - Mbantua: 2pm Court House Lawns

contact Barbara Shaw 0401291166 or Marlene Hodder 0889525032

Darwin: 10am Raintree park

contact Liv 0401955405

Perth: 11am Wesley Church, cnr Hay and William st

contact Natasha Moore 0434303248

Brisbane: 11am State Parliament, George st

contact Lauren 0413534125

Melbourne: 12pm State Library

contact Michaela 0429136935

Wollongong: 10am Lowden Square (east side of Wollongong Station),

contact Sheree Rankmore 42281585 or Tina McGhie 0415504589

Adelaide: details tba,

contact John Hartley 0424943990 Sue Gilby 0431112898

Rally endorsed by the Aboriginal Rights Coalition National Conference on Sunday May 25 in Sydney attended by over 200 people.

Support from Aboriginal leaders and activists includes: Barbara Shaw (Mt Nancy town camp, Alice Springs), Lyle Cooper (President of Bagot community, Darwin), Harry Nelson (President, Yuendumu community council), June Mills (Long-grass association, Darwin), Pat Eatock, Brian Butler, Shireen Malamoo, Millie Ingram, Pastor Ray Minniecon, Mitch, Peta Ridgeway, Heidi Norman, Shane Phillips

Supportive organisations include: Maritime Union of Australia (MUA NSW & NT), Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU), Railway Tram and Bus Union (RBTU NT), Australian Services Union (ASU NT), Top End Aboriginal Conservation Alliance, Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation (ANTaR NSW & NT), Indigenous Social Justice Association, Alliance for Indigenous Self Determination Melbourne, Intervention Rollback Action Group (Alice Springs), Aboriginal Rights Coalition (Darwin, Sydney, Brisbane and Perth), Socialist Alliance

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