Monday, 7 April 2008

Intervention Earthquake Shakes Top End

Media release 7/4/08 – For immediate release

Intervention Earthquake Shakes Top End

Spokespersons from the Bagot Town Camp in Darwin say they are now feeling the effects of the Northern Territory Intervention:

• The population of Bagot has risen from an average of around 500 to 1200.

• Of the 57 houses at Bagot 3 are earmarked for demolition. In the meantime all houses are vastly overcrowded, including one three bedroom house currently housing NINE FAMILIES (not just nine people.)

• Only one in five houses have either a stove or a refrigerator. Many stoves may have only one element of the stove top in working order

• An ever increasing number of newly homeless people are being forced from the more remote communities and are moving into "the long grass" (fringe dwellers) just outside of Darwin. These people are an additional burden on Bagot services, and this picture is repeated in many NT towns, including Alice Springs, Tennant Creek and Katherine.

• As elsewhere in the Territory, the only previously viable community enterprise, the community store, is excluded from the Welfare Quarantine system - which applies only to Woolworths, Coles and Kmart in the major population centers. Obviously, without customers, the community stores are facing a rapid extinction.

• Although the Welfare Quarantine only denies direct access to 50% of pensions and other Centerlink entitlements, recurring charges such as rents, gas and electrics, and chemist charges/medicines must then be deducted from the remainder. This can leave pensioners and Centrelink beneficiaries with as little as thirteen or fourteen dollars per fortnight. (Pity help the poor nicotine addict.)

• The demolition of CDEP and its servicing structures has drawn a halt to the employment of more than five hundred Aboriginals in community maintenance, and traditional land care practices and has resulted in a hugely detrimental effect on community services, health and morale.

• Suicides are reportedly increasing to almost one every week.

Bagot Elder Lyle Cooper, runs the food and nutrition program at the Bagot health clinic, 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".

Greg Eatock, from the Aboriginal Rights Coalition has drawn attention to the recently released HREOC report, in which the Human Rights Commissioner , Tom Calma, called for the Minister, Jenny Macklin to utilize her discretionary powers in an effort to minimize many of the negative social and economic impacts on Aboriginal individuals and communities.

Mr Eatock stated that the Minister "must immediately reapply the Anti-Discrimination Act (NT) of 1992 while continuing to work towards the reapplication by the Federal Government of the Racial Discrimination Act and an end to the Intervention. "

For more information contact:
Greg Eatock 0432050240
Lyall Cooper 08 89483166

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