MEDIA RELEASES

MEDIA RELEASE –FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 25 March 2014

DEMONSTRATION AGAINST RACIST LAWS AND RACIST POLICING

“TURN DOWN THE TAP BUT DON’T BE RACIST”

There will be a demonstration against racist laws and racist policing in Alice Springs this Thursday, March 21st.

Aboriginal people are being racially profiled by the police. While the alcohol laws themselves allow racist targeting, the police are even abusing these powers.

However the racism around alcohol is only one part of the racism of police in this town. Police are moving people on from public spaces and harassing people for no reason. Incarceration of adults and youths is at an all time high. Mandatory rehabilitation is punitive and has no evidence of success. The federal Stronger Futures legislation (the Intervention) has allowed this to happen and remains a racist piece of legislation.

Organiser Stacia Chester said:

“Stronger Futures makes us the weakest link. We’ve got our own minds, our own hearts, our own law, and we can make our own decisions for our own people.”

Organiser Barbara Shaw added

“The banned drinkers register saved more money for the government than having police officers guard the bottle shops. It should be reinstated. We’ve been waiting for more than 2 years to get our Alcohol Management Plan – which was initiated by our community for the community- approved by the government, a clear example of the government not listening to the people.”

The demonstration is calling for the repeal of Section 95 of the Liquor Act which allows random searching of people and seizing of alcohol. The demonstration is also calling for the police to stop racial profiling.

Organiser Alison Furber concluded with:

“It’s time now for our people to unite with our friends and our supporters to come together to give this powerful message that these racist laws, this racist policing has now got to stop”

For comment call:

Barbara Shaw: 0401 291166

Alison Furber:  0414 436136

Stacia Chester: 0414 436136

 

See copwatchalicesprings.wordpress.com for more details.

MEDIA RELEASE 24.1.2012

Ramingining Elders                         Media Release                                    28/11/11

“RAMINGINING ELDERS SAY NO TO THE SECOND INTERVENTION!”

Today, Elders of the remote NT Aboriginal community of Ramingining are shocked and angered by last week’s announcement that the fundamentally destructive measures of the intervention will be extended for another 10 years.

“We don’t want another decade of discrimination here in Ramingining. The government is extending and strengthening laws designed to assimilate Aboriginal people. We will not sit back and watch these attacks on our lives, our future, our culture and our law,” said Mathew Dhulumburrk, a 67 year old Gupapuyngu man.

“After 5 years, it feels like the water level has climbed up to our neck. Another ten years will bring it way over our heads. The government is drowning us slowly and wonders why twice as many of our young people are attempting suicide. There is no valid reason to discriminate against Yolngu in this way.”

The people of Ramingining are unhappy with the consultation process and expect better from a government that is supposed to work with them. They know that community empowerment is vital for tackling issues in the community, but the intervention leaves their hands tied.

“In the days of self-determination, senior elders of every community were asked what we wanted to do, they would ask for our ideas. Now they just come and tell us “This is it! Non-negotiable.” Only community empowerment allows us to participate effectively, but our community councils have been destroyed,” said Dhulumburrk.

Many people are feeling stigmatized by this blanket policy that brands all Aboriginal people as alcoholics, irresponsible parents and child molesters.

“The government is telling the world that we can’t look after our kids. This is lies! The government only looks at school attendance instead of looking at what and how our children are being taught. We need our bilingual education, we need more Yolngu teachers and we need elders involved in developing curriculum. We know what our kids need, but the Government is ignoring us and punishing us if we don’t do what they say.”

“In homelands in particular, and also in our larger remote communities, Yolngu are happy and safe. The Intervention is pushing Yolngu into urban towns where they are on foreign country. CDEP wages have been cut for thousands of our people and no new jobs have been created. We watch contractors come in from outside earning top dollar, while the government tells us we must work for the dole! We could be doing a lot of that work and earning that money. This hopeless situation drives people to alcohol”.

“The intervention has brought hatred. We know now for certain that the true enemy of our people is the Government and the philosophy behind this new assimilation policy. They have declared war on us, but we will fight for self-determination.”

“What happened to democracy in Australia? We don’t want to have to fight against government. We want to engage with government, we want to take control of our lives and we want to build our future, but these policies leave us penned like animals with nowhere to go.”

For more information call Matthew Dhulumburrk (0438496907)

Elders backing the statement:

Matthew Dhulumburrk                        Gupapuyngu Clan

Dhaykuli Garrawurra                                    Buyulkumirr Clan

Matjarra Garrawurra                                    Buyulkumirr Clan

Daphne Banyawarra                                    Ganalbingu Clan

Barry Malibirr                                                Ganalbingu Clan

Shirley Nulumburrpurr                        Liyagalawumirr Clan

Gilbert Walkuli                                                Gupapuyngu Clan

Jane Miyatatawuy                                    Gupapuyngu Clan

Peter Gambung                                                Gupapuyngu Clan

Trevor Djarrakaykay                                    Gupapuyngu Clan

Valerie Munininy                                    Buyulkumirr Clan

Richard Bandalil                                                Ganalbingu Clan

Yambal Dhurrurrnga                                    Liyagalawumirr Clan

Martin Garrangunung                                    Gupapuyngu Clan

Doris Rangimula                                                Djambarrpuyngu Clan

Dorothy Wiliyawuy                                    Djambarrpuyngu Clan

Tommy Munyarryun                                    Wangurri Clan

For any future information call Dave on 0487845355 or email (suttle.david@gmail.com)

———

Joint statement from Intervention Rollback Action Group (Central Australia), Darwin Aboriginal Rights Coalition and Stop the Intervention Collective Sydney – Friday November 25 2011

Stand against Macklin’s decade of discrimination – No second Intervention!

The Labor government has introduced Stronger Futures in the Northern Territory legislation that extends the racist NT Intervention for a further ten years.

Intergenerational trauma caused by past policies of assimilation and dispossession is at the root of many problems facing Aboriginal communities across Australia today.

Now under Labor’s plans, NT Aboriginal children turning fifteen in 2022 will have lived their entire life as second class citizens under Australian law.

The persecution of Aboriginal people under the Intervention has had horrendous consequences. Reported rates of attempted suicide and self-harm have more than doubled (Closing the Gap Monitoring Report). Indigenous incarceration has increased by 40 per cent. Large numbers of people are drifting away from their homelands as resources and opportunity are withdrawn from the bush.

None of this was even acknowledged in the more than 1000 pages of reports released by the government in the past month to justify the second Intervention. Other indicators of growing social crisis have been buried away from the headlines.

Minister Jenny Macklin claims her new laws are the fruit of consultation with Aboriginal people across the NT and a survey conducted in 16 communities.

But this consultation process was a sham. In numerous remote community meetings for which we have records, none of these reforms were even raised for discussion. Similarly, the “community safety and wellbeing survey” never sought Aboriginal consent or agreement for any Intervention law.

Explicitly racist laws, which vilify Aboriginal people and culture are being kept on the books including:

- “Star Chamber” powers held by the Australian Crime Commission for investigations in Aboriginal communities, including removal of the right to silence. This despite the ACC dismissing the disgraceful allegations that “pedophile rings” were operating in Indigenous communities, which led then Minister Mal Brough to legislate the powers.

- Prohibition of consideration of Aboriginal customary law and cultural practice in bail and sentencing.  Chief Justice Riley of the NT Supreme Court has said this measure means, “Aboriginal offenders do not enjoy the same rights as offenders from other sections of the community”.

- Blanket bans on alcohol on Aboriginal Land, despite consistent opposition from the Aboriginal Peak Organisations of the NT (APO NT) who have said, “The decision regarding alcohol restrictions should be for relevant residents to make… The principal effect of these widely flouted laws has been to further criminalise and alienate many residents”.

- Blanket bans on “sexually explicit or very violent material” on Aboriginal Land. These restrictions serve no purpose other than the perverse stigmatisation of Aboriginal men.

- Continued suspension of the operations of the permit system in Aboriginal townships, again in direct contradiction of APO NT who said, “communities on Aboriginal Land feel as though they have lost control… the flow on effects are overwhelmingly seen as negative and counterproductive to community safety”.

Both the Human Rights Commission and visiting UN representatives have consistently rejected the characterisation of these measures as “special measures” under the Racial Discrimination Act.

Proposed amendments to the Social Security Act will see further attacks on the rights of Centrelink recipients. These measures will initially be targeted at NT Aboriginal peoples, but have implications for all poor and marginalised communities across Australia.

- An expansion of the School Enrolment and Attendance Measure (SEAM) means chronic school attendance problems could see families cut off certain Centrelink payments entirely.

- Staff from nominated government agencies will have the power to summarily order people onto Income Management in the same way that Child Protection agencies currently do.

- Staff from nominated government agencies will be able to pass on information about clients to Centrelink, even if doing so contravenes State or Territory law.

- Income Management will follow you even if you move out of an Income Management area.

Many Aboriginal leaders used consultation meetings to protest against racist control measures and demand jobs, resources, community control over development and respect for Aboriginal culture, law and land rights.

7 of the 12 communities being targeted by the SEAM expansion operated bilingual programs, before they were shut down in 2008. Demand for the re-instatement of bilingual education was clear across the consultations.

The Stronger Futures jobs package is an insult. 50 new ranger positions and 100 “traineeships” will not compensate for the more than 2000 remaining waged CDEP positions the government will cut next April, the final nail in the coffin of a vibrant program which was the lifeblood of many communities, employing upwards of 7500 people before the NTER.

The government’s commitment of public sector work for Aboriginal people completing year 12 will only apply to designated “growth towns”. Similarly, there has been no lifting of a moratorium on new housing outside the “growth towns” despite desperate, ongoing need. The government’s own evaluation says that the 2007-8 average occupancy rate in NT communities was 9.4 people per dwelling – and the aim post-Intervention is 9.3!

The ongoing restriction of increased investment to “growth towns” was vigorously opposed across the consultation meetings.

Without CDEP, their community councils or hopes of investment into the future, many Aboriginal communities are fighting for their very survival. And racist laws and ideologies propagated through the Intervention are creating apartheid conditions in major NT centres.

We are very encouraged to see a joint statement from the Australian Council of Social Services, the Aboriginal Peak Organisations of the NT and many others calling for these new laws to be immediately withdrawn.

A campaign calling for a moratorium on government Income Management is gaining momentum, with a strong campaign in Bankstown pledging to stop its implementation in 2012. The success of this fight would be a serious blow against the Intervention.

The demands for Aboriginal self-determination and increased resources for all communities outlined in Rebuilding from the Ground Up: An Alternative to the NT Intervention, have never been more urgent. This program now has the support of campaign groups across Australia, along with Aboriginal peak bodies such as Tangentyere Council, the full-council of the Central Land Council and the North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency.

In the face of Macklin’s decade of discrimination, our groups pledge to redouble our efforts to build the resistance across the NT and Australia. All communities are viable – racism is not!

For comment contact:

Paddy Gibson, Stop the Intervention Collective Sydney 0415800586

John Leemans, Gurindji spokesperson and Intervention Rollback Action Group member 0438 345 155

For more info on our campaign groups:

http://www.stoptheintervention.org

http://www.rollbacktheintervention.wordpress.com

darwinaboriginalrights.wordpress.com

Joint statement from ACOSS, APO NT and others:

www.acoss.org.au/media/release/cooperation_not_intervention_a_call_for_a_new_direction_in_policies_affecti

More info on “Stronger Futures” and the consultation process:

stoptheintervention.org/facts/consultations-mid-2011

concernedaustralian.com.au

Statement by Mervyn Franey of Morris Soak Town Camp on the occasion of the visit of Minister Macklin 17.10.2011

MEDIA RELEASE Morris Soak 17.10.2011

MR-Gurindji_stop_Intervention

Media release       April 15 2011 for immediate release

Town camp leader outraged by Bess Price claims on Q and A

Barbara Shaw, spokesperson for the Intervention Rollback Action Group in Alice Springs and resident of Mt Nancy Town camp says that comments by Bess Price on Q and A about the “success” of the Intervention ignore the huge evidence of continuing failure.

IRAG says Mrs Price’s comments have caused distress amongst people living in prescribed areas under the Intervention, whose experiences of deteriorating social conditions continue to be ignored by government and mainstream media.

“It is outrageous that Bess Price can continue to go on national media and spread false information on the Intervention while life in our town camps and communities gets harder and harder”, says Barbara Shaw.

“We now have a massive crisis in Alice Springs as people come in from the bush because of the failure of the Intervention. On Monday night while Bess was on Q and A talking about our kids being safer, I was dealing with multiple situations of children needing emergency care.”

“The Intervention has done nothing to help – I find it harder to look after my family because I am still on the BasicsCard. If things are so good, why do government statistics show more children being admitted to hospital for malnutrition and more young people committing suicide and self-harm?  Why are more and more children being taken away from parents and put into care?”  Ms Shaw asks.

“Bess says education is the key to improving lives. But she didn’t say that Yuendumu school attendance rates have halved and are now down to only 30 per cent since the Intervention came in and bilingual education was banned by the NT government.”

Ms Shaw says she is very concerned that Bess Price is misinforming the wider community about the feelings and views of NT Aboriginal people about the Intervention.

“Marcia Langton wrote in the Australian today that Bess Price ‘resides in Yuendumu’. This is untrue and the Australian needs to correct the public record. Bess does not live under the Intervention.  She lives a comfortable lifestyle in the eastern suburbs of Alice Springs, not in a prescribed area.  She does not have a Basics Card and she does not work for the dole.  She doesn’t have her home raided.  She doesn’t have her alcohol taken away at the bottle shop,” Ms Shaw concluded.

“Bess says Aboriginal women have been given a voice by the Intervention – but which ones? Many women leaders have lost their positions of authority as community councils were closed and Government Business Managers and Shires took over. So many more have lost their jobs as Community Development Employment Projects (CDEP) close down”.

“In the last federal election, I outpolled all other candidates in remote communities in Central Australia because people agree the Intervention and Shires have failed.”

“Women do need a voice – we need for the government to listen, to scrap the Intervention and empower us with resources and jobs to go forward.”

An Alice Springs based community worker and IRAG member Marlene Hodder says, “Many Warlpiri women living in Alice Springs are very unhappy that Bess Price assumes she can speak for them.  Last year they sent a strong recorded message to Minister Macklin as she refused to meet with them on more than one occasion.  They are tired of not being listened to as they feel the Intervention is an insult to them as mothers, grandmothers and carers.”

”These women says they struggle to maintain their dignity with racist taunts being thrown at them as they walk into town and the unfairness of the BasicsCard when the reality is that there is no work for them.  Strong in their culture and staunch Christians, they pray every night for the Intervention to end.”, concluded Ms Hodder.

Contacts:  Barbara Shaw 0401 291 166

Marlene Hodder 08 8952 5032

…………………

Media Release 17 March 2011

More ‘Work for the Dole’

No Solution to Aboriginal Employment Crisis

Unions NT and The Intervention Rollback Action Group today condemned the Federal and NT government’s announcement of a $1.2 million funding package to create 100 new CDEP or ‘work for the dole’ places in Alice Springs as entrenching discrimination and poverty for Aboriginal workers.

Unions NT Secretary Adam Lampe said “The Labor government committed to halving the gap in employment outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians in a decade. But due to a continuation of Intervention policies Indigenous unemployment has drastically worsened from 13.8% in 2007 to 18.1% in 2009.”

The package is part of a $4.1 million commitment to the Alice Springs Transformation Plan aimed at reducing crime and ‘anti-social’ behaviour in the town. Member for Lingiari Warren Snowdon said the positions will be offered to disengaged young people and the unemployed and will cover landscaping, graffiti removal and preparing the town camps for postal delivery services.

Since 2008 Labor’s reforms to the Community Development Employment Project (CDEP) have left the program gutted, with participants now compelled to work for Centrelink payments, half of which is quarantined on the BasicsCard. A recently released discussion paper by peak NT organisations including the Central and Northern Land Councils estimates that under these reforms between June and September 2011 nearly 5000 Aboriginal people will be moved off CDEP wages and onto Centrelink.

Lauren Mellor, spokesperson for the Intervention Rollback Action Group said “Since the intervention and cuts to CDEP more than 3000 Aboriginal workers have been forced onto the dole queue, while the basic services they provided in remote communities like rubbish collection, housing and sewerage maintenance collapse. Policies designed to starve remote communities of jobs and resources have created economic refugees who now make up a large proportion of the population influx in urban centres.”

“If the $1.2 million committed to administer work for the dole schemes was handed to local organisations to employ Aboriginal people with award wages and conditions, it would be a long-term investment in people’s future instead of locking increasing numbers in unemployment.”

Unions NT and the Intervention Rollback Action Group call for “a strong stand against racism and for positive investment in Aboriginal communities. Unless the resources currently being spent on discriminatory bureaucracy can be redirected to employment opportunities, housing and social programs based in Aboriginal communities, the well-being and living conditions of Aboriginal people in the NT will continue to sharply deteriorate.”

Contact:

Adam Lampe, Secretary, NT Unions: 0427 415 713

Lauren Mellor, spokesperson, Intervention Rollback Action Group: 0413 534 125Media Release 2nd February 2011

Exploitation of Aboriginal workers under SIHIP

Media release October 28, 2010

National campaign launch: Jobs with Justice – Stop the NT Intervention

A national campaign demanding an end to the Northern Territory Intervention and ‘Jobs with Justice’ for Aboriginal workers will be launched on Friday October 29.

A broadly supported public statement highlighting the human rights abuses and loss of Aboriginal employment through the NT Intervention will be published in the Australian newspaper.

Endorsements include Unions NT, national trade unions such as the CFMEU, prominent individuals including Aboriginal filmmaker Warwick Thornton and major Aboriginal organisations including the Tangentyere Council and the NSW Aboriginal Land Council.

The statement argues that conditions for Aboriginal workers under the Intervention are “worse than anything the Liberals inflicted on workers under Workchoices”, with people being coerced into working for Centrelink payments half quarantined onto a BasicsCard.

Demonstrations in support of the campaign will be held in Alice Springs, Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.

Barbara Shaw, a resident of Mt Nancy town camp and spokesperson for the Intervention RollbackAction Group who have helped initiate the ‘Jobs with Justice’ campaign states:

“The government said there would be ‘real jobs’ with the NT Intervention. But three years on, Aboriginal workers tell us they are being treated ‘like slaves’, being forced to work for the BasicsCard. This is a breach of our fundamental human rights, Both Articles 17 (1 and 3) in the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (2007) and article 23 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) prohibit pay discrimination”.

“Community Development Employment Projects (CDEP) provided the main source of income and employment in Aboriginal communities before it was dismantled with the Intervention. Minister Macklin says the Intervention’s Income Management program helps people move from welfare into work. But by ripping out CDEP the government is forcing our people onto dole. Income Management will cost $350 million over the next four years. We demand that money be spent on employment and services. The government will not even guarantee funding for the 500 shire jobs set up to replace CDEP”, concluded Ms Shaw.

John Leemans, a Gurindji spokesperson, is travelling down to address the rally in Alice Springs. Mr Leemans led a 200 strong stop-work protest against the Intervention in Kalkaringi on October 20 as part of the ‘Jobs with Justice’ campaign. He says the Intervention has had a devastating impact on his community:

“All our Gurindji workers supported the strike last week because we want this Intervention abolished.”

“Prior to the Intervention we had nearly 300 CDEP workers employed. Now there are less than 40 on the program. When the government took over and abolished the community council and CDEP everything came to a halt. Everything we built at Daguragu has gone – the old CDEP office, the brick making shed, the nursery, the health clinic, the old family centre. Soon we may lose the bakery. Houses that are now under Territory Housing control are overcrowded and falling apart.”

“We walked off Wave-Hill station in the 60s because our people refused to be paid in rations. Now some of our people are being forced to work for the BasicsCard. I’m travelling down to Alice Springs to bring the message that the Gurindji people are fighting again and we need support”, concluded Mr Leemans.

Paddy Gibson from IRAG said that the devastating conditions faced by the Gurindji are being experienced across the NT.

“Workers from Ti Tree will also be traveling to join this protest. Under the old CDEP scheme they used to earn over $1000 a fortnight working for the Anmatjere community council – now they say they are paid $200 cash and $200 on the BasicsCard for the same work”.

“The government has written off the vast majority of Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory as ‘unviable’. Despite the public promise of ‘real jobs’, they don’t want to give Aboriginal people hope that they have a future living on their land. But it’s the Intervention that’s unviable. $1.2 billion spent on an army of bureaucrats and contractors getting rich, while most remote communities have been driven even further into crippling poverty”, concluded Mr Gibson.

Matthew Gardiner is Secretary of the Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers Union (NT), which covers most workers in ‘prescribed communities':

“Now is the time to get this right, using CDEP and welfare quarantining is causing problems across the NT, the real jobs that were talked about haven’t eventuated.”

“What we need now is jobs that mean something, jobs that give respect, Jobs with Justice.”

Contact:

Barbara Shaw, Intervention Rollback Action Group, 0401291166

Paddy Gibson, Intervention Rollback Action Group, 0415800586

John Leemans, Gurindji spokesperson, 0438345155

Matthew Gardiner, Secretary LHMU (NT), 0410640407

Details for national rallies

  • Alice Springs: Rally 12.30 Friday 29th October, Court House Lawns, Mparntwe, Alice Springs. Speakers include Walter Shaw (Tangentyere Council), Monica Morgan (Amnesty International) and Scott McConnell (Ingkerreke).
  • Brisbane Speakout outside Centrelink, 21 Cordelia St, South Brisbane 12pm 29 October.
  • Melbourne: Rally Friday, 29 October 2010 5.30pm, State Library of Victoria
  • Sydney: Protest at Sydney Town Hall on Friday, 29 October 2010 – Noon
  • ****************************************************

Media release… Media release… Media release… Media release…. Media
release… Media release…  27 October 2010

‘Generating none! Corporate campaign hides jobs massacre in remote communities’

On Sunday night Andrew Forrest’s “Generation One” televised its
address to the nation. But Aboriginal rights groups campaigning
against the Northern Territory Intervention say the gloss of
Generation One hides the massive cuts to Aboriginal employment as
Community Development Employment Projects (CDEPs) close down.

Only 26 jobs are listed as available in the Northern Territory on the
Australian Employment Covenant website, none of them in remote
communities. Over 7500 NT Aboriginal people were employed by CDEP
before the program began to be dismantled under the Intervention.

“The way Generation One are carrying on is disgusting, a real slap in
the face.  They come through town with a fancy road-show while
hardworking Aboriginal people are being thrown out of work by the
Intervention or are now working for the BasicsCard.  Is this the future
for the next generation in ‘prescribed areas’?” said Barbara Shaw,
Mount Nancy Town Camp resident and Intervention Rollback Action Group (IRAG) spokesperson.

“We are sick of the broken promises from government and big
corporations.  Two years ago Andrew Forrest and Kevin Rudd promised us 50,000 jobs.  But our people living under the Intervention have seen
nothing.”

Under the NT intervention people who were previously receiving over
$1000 a fortnight working in Aboriginal communities are now either
unemployed or compelled to work for quarantined Centrelink payments
that amount to between $4 – $7 cash an hour.

“The Intervention and the introduction of super Shires here in the NT
also promised us ‘real jobs’.  But bureaucrats and contractors have
gotten rich while our communities are written off as ‘unviable’ and
pushed further into poverty.  Many people do not want to have to move
off their traditional lands just to get a job.  We want proper
employment in our own communities” continued Ms Shaw.

“The hypocrisy from the Gillard government on Aboriginal employment is beyond the pale.  They have written a blank cheque for Australia’s
biggest corporations, but have actually acquired the resources of
Aboriginal organisations who used to provide CDEP,” said Jean Parker
from the Stop the Intervention Collective Sydney.

“Aboriginal people are uniting to fight back.  I have just returned
from a strike meeting in Kalkaringi attended by more than 200 Gurindji
people.  This Friday we will rally with supporters around the country
to demand an end to the Intervention and Jobs with Justice for
Aboriginal workers,” concluded Ms Shaw.

A ‘Jobs with Justice statement’ will be published this Thursday in The
Australian, is supported by individuals and organisations including:
The Hon Alastair Nicholson AO RFD QC, George Newhouse, Rachel Siewert (WA Greens Senator), Warwick Thornton, Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation, and Unions NT.

The statement calls for an end compulsory Income Management, an end
to current CDEP arrangements forcing people to work for the BasicsCard, and for the government to provide massive investment in job creation and service provision in all Aboriginal communities.

Rallies to launch the statement will be held around the country on Friday:

·       Alice Springs: Rally 12.30 Friday 29th October, Court House
Lawns, Mparntwe, Alice Springs

·       Brisbane Speakout outside Centrelink, 21 Cordelia St, South
Brisbane 12pm 29 October.

·       Melbourne: Rally Friday, 29 October 2010 5.30pm, State Library
of Victoria Streets)

·       Sydney: Protest at Sydney Town Hall on Friday, 29 October 2010 – Noon

For comment contact:  Barb Shaw (Alice Springs) 0401 291 166, Jean
Parker (Sydney) 0449 646 593

For details of rallies in each city go to: http://jobswithjustice.wordpress.com/

*******************************************

21 SEPTEMBER 2010

BasicsCard Bribery and Coercion

Aboriginal pensioners in the Northern Territory wanting to regain control of their Centrelink income are being offered $500 a year to stay on the BascisCard (where half of their money is allocated to ‘primary needs’).

Clients with limited English skills are not being offered an interpreter when approaching Centrelink to request cancellation of their BasicsCard.  Instead they are being coerced into continuing with the discriminatory system.

Centrelink has a marketing campaign under way with a variety of colourful promotional material.  Staff at Centrelink have obviously undergone intensive training in tactics to pressure already oppressed people struggling for the past 3 years under the NT Intervention to agree to continue with the BasicsCard, despite the hardship it has caused.

“The Minister Jenny Macklin has no positive statistics to support the roll-out of income management across the Northern Territory,” says Marlene Hodder, a community welfare worker based in Alice Springs. “$350 million is being spent over the next four years on this social experiment for which there is no evidence that it improves people’s lives.  She is unable to justify this huge expenditure on a discriminatory and flawed system of controlling people’s lives.  The money would be better spent on proper waged jobs for Aboriginal people,” Ms Hodder says.

Barbara Shaw, a human rights advocate who lives on a town camp in Alice Springs and struggles under income management, says Centrelink is selling the BasicsCard like a product, as if it were Avon or something people want.

“Centrelink staff are acting like salespeople,” says Ms Shaw.  “They are not giving people a choice.  People should be free to choose, not be pushed and bullied.”

“We are being told our rent won’t be paid if we cancel our BasicsCard,” Ms Shaw continued, “But there was an effective system prior to the BasicsCard called Centrepay.  If we can’t pay our rent we risk being evicted.”

“Centrelink needs to treat people fairly and respectfully, offer them interpreters and listen to what they are saying,” says Marlene Hodder.  “They have a duty of care to ensure clients understand fully that their so-called ‘bonus’ will only be paid after at least 6 months and will also be income managed.  They need to make sure their system is working properly so that rent payments can automatically be deducted from Centrelink payments (as happens for the rest of the community) and so that people can have their BasicsCard cancelled if they request it.  The system should not be used as an excuse for denying people their rights,” says Ms Hodder.

The Intervention Rollback Action Group, which advocates for Aboriginal people living under the NT Intervention, has grave concerns that this coercive system of manipulating people to stay on income management is being used across the board.  Group members believe that appropriate independent interpreters need to be available at all times to help Centrelink staff understand what their clients are saying and to make sure clients are given full information about their rights under the new income management system.

Barbara Shaw believes income management should be stopped immediately as it has made life harder for struggling Aboriginal people and is adding to the worry and stress in their lives.  “Let those who say they like it stay on it but don’t push others to be on the BasicsCard when they want to be free to run their own lives,” says Ms Shaw.

Racism as usual under Labor’s ‘new’ Income Management system

By Paddy Gibson

Labor’s new system of Income Management has been progressively rolling out across the Northern Territory since the start of August.

The new system is allegedly ‘non-discriminatory’, applying to all welfare recipients across the NT and potentially Australia.

It was also supposed to soften the grip of Income Management on ‘prescribed’ NT Aboriginal communities.  On paper, people on aged and disability pensions are now exempt.

Implementation of these reforms, however, has just meant one more round of racist, humiliating interaction with government bureaucracy for communities suffering under the Intervention.  Centrelink are doing all they can to keep Aboriginal people on the system.

Last Friday, September 17, I went into Centrelink with some elderly ladies from Ilparpa town camp on the southern fringe of Alice Springs.

The Ilparpa ladies have been staunch opponents of the Intervention since it began in 2007 and marched at the front of numerous protest rallies.

Centrelink have been telling Aboriginal organisations here in Alice Springs that 70 per cent of Aboriginal pensioners in Tennant Creek and the Barkly region have actually ‘volunteered’ to stay on the new Income Management system.

After our experiences on Friday, I’m genuinely amazed that 30 per cent managed to escape.

$350 million is being spent over the next four years on Income Management in the NT alone.  A reasonable slice of this must be being spent on marketing.  Alice Springs Centrelink is full of advertisements promising good health, pride and happiness for those on the BasicsCard.

(images from booklet attached).

May, who is 76 years old, asked me to come and sit in at her interview with the Centrelink officer.  Fluent in a number of Aboriginal languages, she speaks only broken English.

The man behind the counter was friendly.

“How can I help you today May?”

“BasicsCard.”

“You want to check your balance on your BasicsCard?”

“No, the BasicsCard is no good.  I want to stop.”

“Oh your BasicsCard isn’t working.  No worries I’ll get you a new one”.

There are so many problems with BasicsCards not working that Centrelink hand replacements out like lollies.

He came back with a shiny new card, gave May a form to sign (which she did) and got her to punch her preferred pin number into the computer.

“OK that’s it today then?”

I said, “Excuse me, but isn’t there a new system operating?  Perhaps you could get an interpreter to explain to May what her rights are if she wants to come off the BasicsCard?”

“Look I’m just not doing that any more.  Only two of the 30 or so people I asked actually came off, because if they stay on they get a bonus.”

He was referring to a $250 ‘incentive’ payment that pensioners will get every 6 months if they decide to sign up for ‘Voluntary Income Management’.  The Ilparpa ladies had heard this payment was being offered to other people and dismissed it as a ‘bribe’.  But it’s a lot of money for any struggling family.

There was no Warlpiri interpreter available, so May talked straight for herself.

“I want cash.  BasicsCard is rubbish.  I am a non-drinker and I don’t gamble, I’m a Christian woman.”

This began a 15 minute tug of war, with the Centrelink officer pulling out a number of stops to try and convince May to stay on the card.

He turned around his computer to show May the list of ‘essential items’ she could spend her BasicsCard on.

“I get paid wages, but I have to buy clothes and food too.  See, it’s no different.  It’s like we’re all on Income Management really.”

“I want cash,” she kept insisting.

“I’ve worked with communities for 25 years,” he was talking to me now.  “People come under a lot of pressure to hand their money over to their family.”

May said, “I can look after my money.  I don’t give it out.  I need cash.”

He tried one last angle, “Well if you come off the system, we won’t be able to pay your rent anymore.”

Before Income Management, many Aboriginal people had their rent deducted directly from Centrelink under a voluntary system called ‘Centrepay’.  Apparently this is no longer an option.

Asking questions, we found out that you can arrange direct deduction by talking with NT Housing.  But Centrelink will not assist to make these arrangements – unless you stay on the BasicsCard.

Worn down by the argument, the Centrelink staffer did not actually know how to take May off the system.  It took three staff crowded around his computer for another 15 minutes before everything was sorted.

One was a supervisor, who asked the Centrelink officer if he was sure May wasn’t ‘vulnerable’.

Pensioners assessed as being ‘vulnerable’ to ‘financial exploitation’ by frontline Centrelink staff can be kept on the new system against their will.  Racist assumptions about Aboriginal people being unable to look after their money continue to underpin Income Management.

Two other Ilparpa pensioners were not as lucky as May with their negotiations and are still on the card.

I interviewed Biddy when we got back to Ilparpa camp.  Biddy is very elderly and can’t walk without a frame.

When you went to Centrelink today, what did you tell them?

I told them I want to cancel that BasicsCard.  I want cash.  But they said, ‘No, no, no, no’.  The lady told me, ‘We can’t cancel this BasicsCard’.

Why did she say that?

She said it’s because of the bonus.  And also the rent.

What did she say about the bonus?

That it’s $250 every six months.

But did you want the bonus, or did you want to get cash?

No I wanted cash.  I don’t like the BasicsCard.

Why didn’t she listen to you?

Because I’m a cripple person.  I’ll try again next week.

I also accompanied Lydia during her Centrelink interview.  She has serious hearing problems and struggles to understand English.  We were told that she had ‘volunteered’ for Income Management at a previous appointment on September 1.

Once you ‘volunteer’ you can’t come off for at least 13 weeks.  Despite having no recollection of her ‘decision’, Lydia now has to go through a formal appeals process to be taken off the BasicsCard.  The appeal is being processed in Tasmania.

The Centrelink officer was most apologetic.  After checking Lydia’s record, it was revealed she was actually the officer who had ‘volunteered’ Lydia two weeks previous.

On Saturday, I saw my friend Donald at the service station and explained the ordeal to him.  He receives a disability pension and lives at another town camp. Donald is very confident and fluent in English.  But he too had to argue hard with Centrelink to be taken off the BasicsCard:

“They kept telling me it was good for me.  That I was doing really well with my finances since being on the card.  They’ve got no idea.  I’ve had that much trouble with bills since they took control”.

“I can speak up for myself. But the others, they’ve got no chance.”

(Paddy Gibson is a researcher at the Jumbunna Indigenous House of Learning, University of Technology, Sydney.  He is currently working in Central Australia.)

14/5/10

Fund jobs not a new ration system, says campaign group and union.

The Intervention Rollback Action Group (IRAG) and the Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers Union (LHMU) NT Branch have today condemned a recent announcement that $18 million in federal funding will be invested in the Central Desert Shire’s Community Development and Employment Project (CDEP).

The groups say that the new CDEP scheme is incredibly exploitative, forcing Aboriginal people to work for quarantined Centrelink payments, and that the money should be invested in fulltime jobs for local Aboriginal workers to provide Shire services.

In the past month, 86 Aboriginal workers have joined up unions as part of a ‘jobs with justice’ campaign to press these demands.

“The CDEP scheme introduced alongside the Intervention has nothing to do with community development or employment, it’s a return to the ration days where our people are being used as cheap labour – working for rations”, says Barb Shaw from IRAG.

“With the Intervention and the takeover of our Indigenous Community Councils into nine super-shires, we were told that there were going to be real employment opportunities for people in the communities – proper wages for proper work. So where are these jobs now?” concluded Ms Shaw

Miguel Occiones, from the LHMU says, “We are disappointed that there is money in the budget for CDEP and not money for ‘real jobs’, we have an opportunity that can make real difference in the bush but we continue to go down the same path of BasicCards and quarantined payments.”

Paddy Gibson from IRAG says, “This investment is of a piece with the $350 million allocated over the next four years to expand Income Management across the NT. Disgracefully, the government would rather control people’s lives and institutionalise unemployment than create opportunity and provide basic services in Aboriginal communities”.

“Shires across the Territory are systematically denying local Aboriginal people work, saying there is not enough funding. They are
relying on free labour from this work-for-the-BasicsCard scheme to provide vital services such as rubbish collection, sewage maintenance, school bus runs and aged care. These services have collapsed in many places as people leave the scheme in droves – there is no incentive to work”, continued Mr Gibson.

“Now, threats of Centrelink breaches are being used to force participation. At Kalkaringi, site of the historic Wave Hill walk off, local men are currently doing construction work, building an Art Centre. They are doing 25 hours a week for their BasicCard pay”.

“This hyper-exploitation will not be accepted. Trade unions, and growing numbers of Aboriginal workers in the NT are coming in behind a demand for investment in ‘jobs with justice’ rather than racist Intervention”, concluded Mr Gibson.

April 30, 2010

Jobs With Justice: May Day Rally Fights for Aboriginal Workers’ Rights

The Intervention Rollback Action Group (IRAG) , local trade unionists and representatives from a number of Aboriginal communities will stage a demonstration in Alice Springs this Saturday May 1st, international day for workers rights.

The protest will highlight the huge loss of employment in communities that has come with the NT Intervention, severe cuts to Community Development Employment Projects (CDEP) and the dissolution of Aboriginal Community Councils in favour of mega-Shires.

The protest will demand serious government investment to provide properly waged employment and services in all Aboriginal communities and an immediate end to new CDEP arrangements which are forcing Aboriginal people to work for their quarantined Centrelink payments.

Barbara Shaw from IRAG said, “with the Intervention and the takeover of our Indigenous Community Councils into nine super-shires, we were told that there were going to be real employment opportunities for people in the communities – proper wages for proper work. So where are these jobs now?”

“The Intervention is just a re-creation of past policies. For much of the 20th century our people worked for stations and mission managers and only got paid in rations. And here we are today being forced to work for the BasicsCard.”

“As Aboriginal people we need to fight with the unions for our rights to equal pay for equal work. Both Article 17.3 in the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (2007) and 23.2 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) prohibit pay discrimination”, concluded Ms Shaw.

Paddy Gibson from IRAG said, “The Intervention and the Shires have seen a jobs massacre in Aboriginal communities. This is part of a broader attempt to restrict resources and opportunities in communities deemed ‘unviable’ by the government and force people to move. At Ampilatwatja for example, young people are being told there is no waged work available with the Shire – they can either sign up to work for the BasicsCard or leave. Yet we have seen five outside contractors working there over the last month doing basic municipal work like lawn mowing.”

“Along with mass unemployment Jenny Macklin’s Intervention has created the most hyperexploited section of workers in Australia – BasicsCard workers. Planning to attend this protest are construction workers from Kalkaringi , currently being forced to build an Arts and Craft centre to get their ration card. This is at the site of the historic Wave Hill walk off where Aboriginal people went on strike with unions for equal pay – we are reviving this spirit this May Day”, added Mr Gibson.

Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers’ Union (LHMU) Regional Organiser Miguel Ociones concluded, “Fairness and equality has always been the trademark of Unions. We believe that if there are identified jobs that needed to be done by the Shires to provide services to the community on a day to day basis, then it should be paid with real wages. People shouldn’t be forced to work for the Basics Card if there is no fair compensation for a fair work done.”

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18th April 2010

Mark Fordham, an Aboriginal man employed until 12th April by the Barkly Shire, has been summarily dismissed after refusing to cart raw sewage and dump it on the Ampilatwatja tip.  Contractors were subsequently hired by the Shire to do this work, one of them subsequently becoming ill.

On the pretext of him not fulfilling his contractual obligations, Mr Fordham was denied leave and, after speaking out about the health risks in handling and dumping of the raw sewage, he was dismissed and told to vacate his house, along with his 2 young sons, with only 2 hours’ notice.  The Barkly Shire has told him he needs to seek their permission before he accesses any of their shire communities in the future.

Mr Fordham is due to appear in Alice Springs Court on Monday 19th April on an alleged charge of ‘making a threat to kill a person’, a charge which he denies.

The Intervention Rollback Action Group is organising a rally to show support for Mr Fordham in his efforts to highlight the abominable situation of unacceptable work and health practices in the Barkly Shire.

Raw sewage left uncovered at Ampilatwatja tip
———————————————————————————————–
Media Release 8/4/2010
Raw sewage dumped in NT ‘prescribed community’
On Tuesday April 6, 3000 litres of raw sewage was dumped by the Barkly
Shire at the local tip at Ampilatwatja, a ‘prescribed community’ under
the NT Intervention. The sewage is still sitting uncovered in the tip.
The dumping was ordered by Paul Stevenson, temporary Shire Services
Manager. Stevenson is also employed as Regional Housing Manager for
the Shire.
One of the two contractors employed for the job fell sick and was
flown to hospital that evening. The contractors had no training
dealing with sewage. No gloves, masks or other safety equipment was
used during the job.
Alyawarr spokesperson Richard Downs led a walk-off from Ampilatwatja
in July 2009, following the failure of government agencies to deal
with sewage overflowing into the streets of the community.
Downs has called for the NT Intervention to end immediately, for
proper council jobs to be created for local people and for community
control to be restored to the Alyawarr. A protest will be held at
Ampilatwatja on Tuesday to press these demands.
Local shire staff refused to co-operate with dumping the sewage. But
the local works Manager Mark Fordham also fell sick after attending
the scene.
Mark Fordham said, “This just shows clearly the attitude the Shire and
the Intervention have to Aboriginal people – they want to keep people
in the dark. They have consistently refused to employ local people or
pay the proper wages that are needed to deliver services here in
Ampilatwatja. Now the new manager decides to push the sewage problem
out of sight, out of mind by dumping it where people will get sick
instead of paying the money to truck it to Alice Springs”.
“I called up the Environmental Protection Authority, the Shire
President and spoke with local politicians. But the Shire still went
ahead with this gross breach of its responsibilities. That truck
dripped sewage all over the community, including outside the school”,
concluded Mr Fordham
Richard Downs said, “Aboriginal land seized by the Federal Government
through the NT Intervention must be returned to the community
immediately. Under Jenny Macklin’s new Intervention laws, compulsory
5-year leases are being classified as “special measures”, which we
still cannot challenge using the Racial Discrimination Act. They say
these leases are to improve the living conditions of the community and
particularly the children – yet raw sewage has been dumped near our
school for them to play in”.
“The Government Business Manager and the new Shire manager must
resign. They have created mass unemployment here and contract out
almost all the work. For the rest, they are forcing our people to work
for the BasicsCard. After three years of Intervention we have been
left with the most appalling living and working conditions in
Australia. It’s clear they don’t want to Close the Gap – they want to
close our communities down and force people into town”, concluded
Downs.
For more information contact: Richard Downs or Mark Fordham on 0889529610
Tuesday April 13 at 10am: Community protest at Ampilatwatja NT.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Media Release 31 March 2010

Federal Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin needs to stop perpetuating misinformation about income management and its supposed benefits, particularly to children, says a spokesperson for the Intervention Rollback Action Group, which is based in Alice Springs.

There is no evidence, either in Australia or internationally, that income management helps underprivileged people to deal with issues arising from their circumstances.  The measure in fact goes again the government’s own policy of social inclusion.  Extending the measure to other areas of disadvantage around the country will not help people who are struggling to cope with issues impacting on their lives but will add to their psychological and financial stress.

“Out of the hundreds of people we have spoken to over the last 2 ½ years, no-one has said they like income management or find it a ‘useful tool’ as the Minister keeps stating” says Marlene Hodder from the Intervention Rollback Action Group based in Alice Springs.  “No-one has actually said it is good for them and is helping them manage their money.  If people were given a real choice they would opt not to be income managed.”

“Mothers are finding it hard to provide for their children and families,” reports Barbara Shaw from Mt Nancy Town Camp.  “People are now walking out from community stores with less food than before the intervention.  It’s hard for old people who don’t have ID.  It’s hard for people who have to spend $200 on transport to get to a major centre and aren’t able to pool their money,” Ms Shaw added.

Life has become harder for people on low incomes struggling to survive and deal with the extra requirements under the system and the difficulties of having an uncertain and split income.  Lack of access to services such as transport and telephones is an added stress.

The group’s recent research findings show that many Aboriginal people are now being forced to work for the dole and receive half their pay on Basics Card.  Barbara Shaw asks “How can people be happy when they’re working for the dole as cheap ‘slave labour’ and then getting only half their pay?”

“The real jobs that were promised are just non-existent.  Minister Macklin is ignoring her own department’s reports and all the expert findings. She is planning to spend another $350 million on this ineffective means of controlling people’s incomes and their lives – money desperately needed to provide employment and basic services” says Paddy Gibson from the Intervention Rollback Action Group.

Contacts:  Marlene Hodder 0438 816 851; Paddy Gibson 0415 800 586; Barbara Shaw 0401 291 166.

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Media Release Thursday 4 March 2010

Statement from the Alyawarr walk-off camp re NLC support for a Nuclear Waste Dump at Muckaty

To Kim Hill, Chairman of the NLC

In your recent press statements, you say consultation has been carried out with traditional leaders of Muckaty station who approve of a nuclear waste dump site to go ahead. Yet there are other Aboriginal leaders, elders and family’s voices who are against the proposal not being heard. They have been completely shut out of any consultation.

The Land Council should be aware all lands are shared and managed in a way with other clan family groups. You and your Anthropologists should know that the land is not only connected and managed by a particular Traditional Owner but through country, dreaming, spirituality. It is part of the extended network of family group lines.

You and your organization should be embarrassed hiding behind legislation that suspends the Aboriginal Land Rights Act (1976). You know people have no rights, under Howard’s and now Rudd’s dump laws, to challenge you in court and say you have failed to consult properly.

What a disgrace that a Land Council could be part of drafting and supporting laws that denies Land Rights to Aboriginal people.

Why support a waste dump on an area where there is earth tremor occurrence? Is it for money?, has the government paid out the 12 million dollars yet? And who to, how much of that is for your organization?

We know some of that waste dump money is earmarked for housing. Like a puppet you have been praising the SIHIP Intervention housing program in the media, even though you know it will deny housing to all the homelands and most communities across NT. Why should the people at Muckaty have to give up their land for a nuclear dump in exchange for new housing?

You also stated that you won’t be making the contract with the government public, due to commercial-in-confidence. If your organization truly believes in Aboriginal customs and ways then you should know you do not hide information from our people. Your organizations approach is no different to the state and federal governments, of divide and rule.

The Alyawarr people stand with the people of Muckaty – for Land Rights not nuclear dump sites.

Under the NTER Measures Aboriginal people are devastated, homeless, blanket cover income managed, permits and land taken away, men are branded as sexual abusers, as having a pedophile ring, embarrassing blue signages on entrance to all home lands, town ships, we’ve lost all Aboriginal corporations and associations, assets and infrastructures. Targeted mainly on Aboriginal people, if this is not racism and discrimination, then what is.

Aboriginal leaders in organizations and government agencies across the NT make up your mind, either you support our people and come on board with us or continue to be puppets and be bought off and controlled by the governments, while our people are at a cross roads of destruction.

Alyawarr, Anungu (APY lands) Warlpiri, Anmatjirra, Arrente, Warramungu, NSW Land Council people. We are now joining together to make a stand at Uluru and will be calling on our Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal friends, Unions, Churches to stand with us.

I’m now urging NLC, CLC, and Aboriginal leaders to come back to us to stand with us as one, through country, dreaming. To stand for human rights, land rights, sovergnity and not native title.

Richard Downs, spokesperson for the Alyawarr walk-off camp

Contact 0428611169

richard.downs12@gmail.com

interventionwalkoff.wordpress.com

—————————————————————————————-

NATIONWIDE PROTESTS TO MARK TWO YEARS SINCE THE APOLOGY

Protest actions around the country on Saturday 13th February will mark two years since the National Apology to the Stolen Generations when Prime Minister Rudd committed the government to “a future where this Parliament resolves that the injustices of the past must never, never happen again”.  There will be rallies in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth and Alice Springs calling for an immediate end to the Northern Territory Intervention and to show support for Aboriginal communities standing up against the government’s racist laws.

Speakers at the Alice Springs rally will include members of the Maritime Union and the CFMEU who have worked with the Ampilitawatja community in building a ‘Protest House’ at the walk-off site and walk-off spokesperson Richard Downs along with members from outback communities, town camps and outstations who are resisting long-term leases over their land and intervention control measures.  The protest house has been completed in less than two weeks to highlight government inaction on the chronic housing crisis across the NT.

Professor Larissa Behrendt from Jumbunna Indigenous House of Learning will launch a new book “This Is What We Said” at the Alice Springs rally.  This book puts on record views about the NT Intervention that were expressed by Aboriginal people during the NTER consultations held between June and August last year, which the government has falsely claimed show support for income managment.  The book is also being launched in Sydney and Adelaide on 13th February.

Under mounting international and domestic pressure about the human rights abuses of the Intervention, Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin has introduced legislation to reinstate the Racial Discrimination Act.  However, the RDA will still remain suspended until 31st December 2010, and discriminatory aspects of the Intervention such as income management and alcohol bans are being rebadged as ‘special measures’ and will extend the Minister’s powers to bring Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people under income management.

Barbara Shaw, leader of the Intervention Rollback Action Group based in Alice Springs, is calling on people around the country to attend a rally to protest the proposed new laws.  “If you can’t get to a rally, please lobby politicians to support the legislation that the Greens introduced into Parliament last November which would bring back the Racial Discrimination Act straight away with no strings attached,” Ms Shaw says.  “Let’s do away with the NT Intervention and start respecting Aboriginal people”.

Activities this coming weekend in Central Australia are:  Prescribed Area People’s Alliance Meeting, Friday 12th February; rally and march Saturday; 13th February starting at 10 am at the Flynn Church lawns; ceremony and opening of protest house lunchtime at Honeymoon Bore (Ampilatwatja Walk-off Site) Sunday, 14th February.

Contacts:  Barbara Shaw 0401 291 166,  Lauren Mellor 0413 534 125,  Marlene Hodder 8952 5032.

NT Intervention continues to violate human rights. “Self-determination not assimilation”, say Aboriginal rights activists.

Thursday 10th December, 2009

Today, to mark International Human Rights Day, Aboriginal rights activists and supporters Australia-wide call for the immediate and unconditional repeal of the NT Intervention, to be replaced with local community development models of self determination.

The uncompromising call for “self-determination not assimilation’’ comes one week after the United Nations Special Rapporteur Anand Grover described the NT Intervention as a “direct breach of Australia’s international human rights obligations”.

Despite announcements by Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin that the Intervention will be brought in line with Australia’s human rights obligations through the reinstatement of the Racial Discrimination Act (RDA), all discriminatory aspects of the legislation are set to continue.

The government continues to ignore the recommendations of the Human Rights Commission and various committees and bodies of the UN to immediately and unequivocally reinstate the RDA and has instead announced in its last parliamentary sitting that the RDA will remain suspended until December 2010.

Monique Wiseman from Stop The Intervention Collective Sydney (STICS) said, “The Rudd government’s commitment to suspending the RDA for another 12 months is a commitment to racism, human rights violations and misery on the ground for affected Aboriginal communities.

Special measures’ have been announced to maintain the discriminatory nature of intervention measures such as compulsory acquisition of land”.

Ms Wiseman continued, “The government’s own progress report released last month has proved the intervention is a disaster. Child malnutrition is up 13%, domestic violence is up 61% and substance abuse is up 77%. The evidence speaks for itself”.

The continued suspension of the RDA and proposed expansion of income management has been met with fierce criticism from a broad range of organisations including Amnesty International, ANTaR, St Vincent De Paul and welfare rights groups.

Punitive welfare regimes have been proven to increase hardship not remedy it. The projected expansion of welfare quarantining will not make it less racist. Indigenous people will remain overwhelmingly affected”, continued Ms Wiseman.

The answer is empowerment. This is clearly outlined in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Self-determination not assimilation! ”, concluded Ms Wiseman.

The suspension of the RDA has been used as a bargaining tool to pressure Alice Springs Town Camps to sign 40 year leases to avoid permanent compulsory acquisition by the government.

Town camp resident and member of the Intervention Rollback Action Group (IRAG) Barbara Shaw stated:

People are living in third world conditions here and yet the government made the delivery of basic services and rights conditional on the rolling back of land rights. No other group in Australian society would be treated in this way.

Human rights are for everyone, everywhere. There needs to be more education about human rights and the international treaties Australia is signatory to“, continued Ms Shaw.

Marisol Salinas, from the Melbourne Anti-Intervention Collective said, “The disempowerment of local Aboriginal organisations through the abolition of community controlled CDEP and, in particular, the mainstreaming of Indigenous housing services, is a disgrace. The top down imposition of the intervention has attempted to paralyse communities.

Current CDEP workers are no longer paid through their local Aboriginal organisation but instead through Centrelink. Many are working for income management, being paid with basic cards. This marks a shameful return to the ‘working for rations’ days. Aboriginal workers are entitled to basic rights not basic cards and that means equal pay, continued Ms Salinas.

We need to replace the intervention with a genuine community engagement model that supports communities to develop and implement their own solutions. Funding needs to be channelled to grass-roots communities, not ineffective government bureaucracies. Aboriginal people must have full access to their inalienable human rights”, continued Ms Salinas.

We will hold a national day of action on February 13 2010, the two year anniversary of the Apology, to call for an immediate end to the NT Intervention. We will chant from our hearts, as we always do, ‘Self-determination not assimilation. Stop the Intervention, Human Rights for All!!”, Barbara Shaw announced.

For more information contact:

Barbara Shaw on 0401291166 or Hilary Tyler 0419 244 012 (Alice Springs)

Monique Wiseman on 0415410558 or Olivia Nigro on 0401955405 (Sydney)

Marisol Salinas 0413 597 315 or Sue Liegh 0466 480 331 (Melbourne)

Sam Watson 0401 227 443 (Brisbane)

http://www.rollbacktheintervention.wordpress.com

http://www.interventionwalkoff.wordpress.com

www.stoptheintervention.org

=====================


MEDIA RELEASE – 26 November 2009

On behalf of my fellow applicants I am making a brief statement in relation to the court findings.

We were pleased to hear we won the two court injunctions back on 6 August, today we are sadden by the court’s rulings.

With the case, we were trying to give Aboriginal people affected by the government’s policies a chance to take part in the decision-making processes.

We exercise our right under the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which this government finally supports.

Life is getting harder for our people.  We are still being stigmatised, demoralised and disempowered even more.  The government needs to work with our people and not dictate to us.

Our people have the answers to issues affecting them.  Pay us the respect we are entitled to by listening to us.  Give us the support services we need to tackle all the issues that affect everyone everywhere.

We now have to clear the road to make way to move forward together.  So what we’ve been trying to fight for all along is the opportunity for people to take part in decision-making so our situation can get better. Australia can not keep making discriminatory policies just for Aboriginal people of this country.

The government’s whole approach makes us Aboriginal people feel disempowered and that our views don’t count.

For the government’s ‘Close the Gap’ policies to be effective, a community-based approach must be adopted to make sure that Aboriginal people are supported and empowered to improve their lives and living conditions.

Barbara Shaw, Mt Nancy Town Camp, Mpartnwe-Alice Springs

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‘Inept’ consultations ignored Indigenous views

By Samantha Donovan for PM

PM | abc.net.au/pm

=====================

Statement of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people, James Anaya, as he concludes his visit to Australia

Canberra/Geneva, 27 August 2009

Download Statement of Special Rapporteur here

The Government of Australia is to be commended for taking significant steps to improve the human rights and socio-economic conditions of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples of Australia, as well as for its recent expression of support for United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and for its apology to the victims of the Stolen Generation. After several days in Australia listening and learning, however, I have observed a need to develop new initiatives and reform existing ones— in consultation and in real partnership with indigenous peoples—to conform with international standards requiring genuine respect for cultural integrity and self-determination.

Over the past 11 days, I have met with Government authorities, representatives of indigenous communities and organisations, and others, in Canberra, South Australia, Western Australia, the Northern Territory, Queensland and New South Wales. I have visited a number of indigenous communities in both remote and urban areas, and have collected information from several sources. I would like to express my appreciation for the support of the Government and to the indigenous individuals and organisations that provided indispensible support in planning and coordinating the visit. I would also like to express my appreciation to the United Nations Information Centre. While I must now take some time to review and analyse the substantial amount of information I have received, and to follow up with further exchanges of information with the Government, indigenous peoples of Australia, and other sources, I would like to provide here a few preliminary observations.

During my time in Australia, I have been impressed with demonstrations of strong and vibrant indigenous cultures and have been inspired by the strength, resilience and vision of indigenous communities determined to move toward a better future despite having endured tremendous suffering at the hands of historical forces and entrenched racism. It is clear that these historical forces continue to make their presence known today, manifesting themselves in serious disparities between indigenous and non-indigenous parts of society, including in terms of life expectancy, basic health, education, unemployment, incarceration, children placed under care and protection orders, and access to basic services.

Given these disparities, the Government has developed and implemented a number of important initiatives in order to “close the gap” of indigenous disadvantage within a wide range of social and economic areas, with a stated emphasis on women and children, and these programmes must continue to be improved and strengthened. I would also like to stress that I have learned of numerous programmes in place by indigenous authorities and organisations at the local, regional and national levels that have been working effectively to address the many problems that their communities face.

Aspects of the Government’s initiatives to remedy situations of indigenous disadvantage, however, raise concerns. Of particular concern is the Northern Territory Emergency Response, which by the Government’s own account is an extraordinary measure, especially in its income management regime, imposition of compulsory leases, and community-wide bans on alcohol consumption and pornography. These measures overtly discriminate against aboriginal peoples, infringe their right of self-determination and stigmatize already stigmatized communities.

I would like to stress that affirmative measures by the Government to address the extreme disadvantage faced by indigenous peoples and issues of safety for children and women are not only justified, but they are in fact required under Australia’s international human rights obligations. However, any such measure must be devised and carried out with due regard of the rights of indigenous peoples to self-determination and to be free from racial discrimination and indignity.

In this connection, any special measure that infringes on the basic rights of indigenous peoples must be narrowly tailored, proportional, and necessary to achieve the legitimate objectives being pursued. In my view, the Northern Territory Emergency Response is not. In my opinion, as currently configured and carried out, the Emergency Response is incompatible with Australia’s obligations under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, treaties to which Australia is a party, as well as incompatible with the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, to which Australia has affirmed its support.

I note with satisfaction that a process to reform the Emergency Response is currently underway and that the Government has initiated consultations with indigenous groups in the Northern Territory in this connection. I hope that amendments to the Emergency Response will diminish or remove its discriminatory aspects and adequately take into account the rights of aboriginal peoples to self determination and culture integrity, in order to bring this Government initiative in line with Australia’s international obligations. Furthermore, I urge the Government to act swiftly to reinstate the protections of the Racial Discrimination Act in regard to the indigenous peoples of the Northern Territory.

Beyond the matter of the Northern Territory Emergency Response, I am concerned that there is a need to incorporate into government programmes a more holistic approach to addressing indigenous disadvantage across the country, one that is compatible with the objective of the United Nations Declaration of securing rights for indigenous peoples, and addresses not just social and economic wellbeing, but also the integrity of indigenous communities and cultures, and their self-determination.

This approach must involve a real partnership between the Government and the indigenous peoples of Australia, to move towards a future, as described by Prime Minister Rudd in his apology to indigenous peoples last year, that is “based on mutual respect, mutual resolve and mutual responsibility,” and that is also fully respectful of the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander peoples to maintain their distinct cultural identities, languages, and connections with traditional lands, and to be in control of their own destinies under conditions of equality.

Given what I have learned thus far, it would seem to me that the objectives of the closing the gap campaign, the Emergency Response, and other current initiatives and proposed efforts of the Government will be best achieved in partnership with indigenous peoples’ own institutions and decision-making bodies, which are those that are most familiar with the local situations. It is worth stressing that during my visit, I have observed numerous successful indigenous programmes already in place to address issues of alcoholism, domestic violence, health, education, and other areas of concern, in ways that are culturally appropriate and adapted to local needs, and these efforts need to be included in and supported by the Government response, both logistically and financially. In particular, it is essential to provide continued funding to programmes that have already demonstrated achievements.

I did observe a number of Government partnerships with local initiatives that appear to be succeeding, but I also heard many accounts of situations in which Government programmes fail to take into account existing local programmes already in place, hampering their ultimate success. In this connection, I am concerned about any initiatives that duplicate or replace the programmes of Aboriginals and Torres Straight Islanders already in place, or that undermine local decision-making through indigenous peoples’ own institutions. In addition, international human rights norms, including those contained in the United Nations Declaration, affirmatively guarantee the right of indigenous peoples to participate fully at all levels of decision- making in matters which may affect their rights, lives and destinies, as well as to maintain and develop their own decision-making institutions and programmes. Further, adequate options and alternatives for socio-economic development and violence prevention programmes should be developed in full consultation with affected indigenous communities and organisations.

It is also necessary to ensure the meaningful, direct participation of Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander peoples in the design of programmes and policies at the national level, within a forum that is genuinely representative of the rights and interests of indigenous peoples. In this regard, I welcome the initiative that is supported by the Government to move towards development of a model for a new national indigenous representative body and emphasise that indigenous participation in the development of this body is fundamental.

At the same time, I would like to echo the statements I have heard from indigenous leaders of the need for indigenous peoples themselves to continue to strengthen their own organisational and local governance capacity, in order to meet the challenges faced by their communities, and in this connection I note the importance of restoring or building strong and healthy relationships within families and communities.

I would also note a need to move deliberately to adopt genuine reconciliation measures, such as the proposed recognition of the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander peoples in a charter of rights to be included in the Constitution. I am pleased that the Government has expressed its willingness in this regard, and I urge it to provide a high priority to this initiative. As has been stressed to me by the indigenous representatives with whom I have met, constitutional recognition and protection of the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander peoples would provide a measure of long-term security for these rights, and provide an important building block for reconciliation and a future of harmonious relations between indigenous and non-indigenous parts of Australian society.

Furthermore, it is important to note that securing the rights of indigenous peoples to their lands is of central importance to indigenous peoples’ socio- economic development, self-determination, and cultural integrity. Continued efforts to resolve, clarify, and strengthen the protection of indigenous lands and resources should be made. In this regard, government initiatives to address the housing needs of indigenous peoples, should avoid imposing leasing or other arrangements that would undermine indigenous peoples’ control over their lands. I also urge the Government to comply with the recommendations concerning indigenous lands and resources made by the treaty-monitoring bodies of the United Nations, including the recommendation of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination to advance in discussions with Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islanders about possible amendments to the Native Title Act and finding solutions acceptable to all.

Finally, I would like to reiterate the importance of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples for framing and evaluating legislation, policies, and actions that affect the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders Peoples. The Declaration expresses the global consensus on the rights of indigenous peoples and corresponding state obligations on the basis of universal human rights. I recommend that the Government undertake a comprehensive review of all its legislation, policies, and programmes that affect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in light of the Declaration.

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Media release     *For immediate release 26 May 2009*      Media Release

National support for Tangentyere Council’s strong stand against takeover

This morning the Intervention Rollback Action Group (IRAG) met with the Tangentyere Executive Council to inform them of the national support building for the Council’s decision to stand strong against the federal government’s lease deal and takeover of their town camps.

“The government’s justification for the takeover is to improve the situation in Alice Springs town camps, but in two years of the intervention not a single house has been built despite the so-called emergency. Every community needs housing and services immediately, but people shouldn’t be forced to sign over their land” said Lauren Mellor from the Intervention Rollback Action Group.

“The government is trying to blackmail Indigenous communities by denying people basic services unless they sign long term leases and give away their lands. The government is hoping their unjust actions to take over Aboriginal land and close homelands will go unnoticed by non-Indigenous and Indigenous Australians. This is not the case” said Pru Gell from the Intervention Rollback Action Group.

The executive was read a statement opposing the Federal Government’s takeover that is being widely circulated and endorsed nationally by organisations and individuals titled Statement Opposing the Commonwealth’s Proposal to Compulsorily Acquire the Alice Springs Town Camps.

Extracts from the statement read:

“We recognize the right of Tangentyere Council and town camp residents to self-determination. Town camp residents have called upon governments to address overcrowding and poverty in their communities over several years. More often than not, their demands have been ignored.”

“We recognize the long struggle for land by both town camp residents and Aboriginal land holders throughout Australia. We condemn the Federal Government’s policy of withholding funding for desperately needed housing in Aboriginal communities, before Aboriginal people relinquish control of their land.”

“It is disgraceful that the party who championed the first land rights legislation in Australia is holding impoverished Aboriginal communities to ransom. We offer our full support to the Tangentyere Council in their struggle.”

A large delegation of town camp presidents and residents from town camps, communities and homelands will be travelling to Darwin for the third Prescribed Area People’s Alliance (PAPA) meeting in June. The meeting will shape their response to the Northern Territory and Federal government’s push for assimilation, denial of Aboriginal people’s rights to self-determination and the continued takeover of Aboriginal land.

A rally of town camp residents and supporters, targeting both the NT government and federal government over its announcement of homelands closures and the compulsory acquisition of Alice Springs town camps, will take place on Thursday this week in Alice Springs.

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Media release                        *For immediate release 24 May 2009*Media Release
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Issued from Alice Springs 19 January 2009 – for immediate release
BASICS CARD BUNGLE CAUSES HUNGER
All of Friday and late into Saturday night, Aboriginal people under
welfare quarantining in Alice Springs were unable to access their
money using the Basics Card.
This meant that anyone trying to buy food or drinks and other goods
were not able to do so, due to a “glitch” in the Basics Card system.
Many Aboriginal people, after traveling (often on foot) to the
supermarket to buy food and a cool drink, the temperature being around
38 degrees, were turned away at the checkout when their card refused
to work. Many people also travel from remote communities to use the
Basics Card.
The Alice Springs Centrelink office, usually open on a Saturday to
assist people on Income Management, was closed.  It is unknown whether
this problem occurred throughout the Northern Territory.
The Intervention Rollback Action Group is demanding Minister Jenny
Macklin take responsibility for the bungle. IRAG will take their
demand for an end to the NT Intervention directly to the Federal
Parliament during a protest convergence in Canberra on Tuesday
February 3.
Barbara Shaw, from Mt Nancy town camp and IRAG says this latest
incident is just another example of how Income Management is seriously
disadvantaging Aboriginal people.
“We went in mid-afternoon on Saturday to do some shopping and they
said that the basics card system was down. My sister in law wasn’t
able to buy milk and nappies for her baby. How many others have missed
out on feeding their children? Jenny Macklin says more food is being
bought with this system. But we are going hungry”.
“Centrelink is always mismanaging funds and people are losing money.
IM has put me behind on my bills and now Radio Rentals are going to
repossess my fridge. Three weeks in a row $70 of my food credit has
been misplaced. We need control of our own money. This legislation is
racist and must be repealed”, concluded Ms Shaw.
Marlene Hodder, a worker with the Intervention Rollback Action Group
in Alice Springs, is appalled that this is happening to the most
impoverished people in the community.
“This welfare quarantining system is not helping people at all.  The
government has already wasted hundreds of millions of dollars of
taxpayers money on this disastrous system. That money should be spent
on programmes and services to help people who are struggling to
survive and want help with budgeting and financial management.”
“People from across the NT have contacted us to join the trip to
protest in Canberra. Minister Macklin must take responsibility for the
hunger she is forcing on people and stop covering up the truth about
this racist Intervention”, concluded Ms Hodder
Contact:  Marlene Hodder <SKYPETMPTAG0/> or Barbara Shaw <SKYPETMPTAG1/>
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NT DELEGATION TO CHALLENGE INCOME MANAGEMENT

12 January 2009

NT Aboriginal delegation to challenge Income Management in Canberra

A delegation of Aboriginal people from “prescribed areas” in the Northern Territory will challenge the “quarantining” of their Centrelink entitlements while in Canberra for a protest convergence.

The group will leave from Alice Springs on January 28. They will join with supporters from around the country for a convergence against the NT Intervention and for Aboriginal rights, culminating in a major demonstration on Tuesday February 3, the opening day of parliament.

While in Canberra, delegates on the “Income Management” system imposed by the Intervention will be forced to negotiate with Centrelink to have 50% of their entitlements distributed as store cards or deposited as credit in Canberra shops.

The delegation argues that these measures are in breach of legislative protections against discrimination that exist in the ACT. These include the Human Rights Act 2004, which establishes a “bill of rights” for the ACT.

A letter requesting support has been sent to the ACT Human Rights Commission and the group is seeking legal advice.

Delegation leaders say that the Income Management policy is racist, onerous and forcing them into further poverty.

Barbara Shaw, resident of Mt Nancy Town Camp and member of the Intervention Rollback Action Group and the Prescribed Area People’s Alliance, says the Income Management system has made her poorer and is losing her money:

“Before Income Management we had the voluntary Centrepay system. I was in control of my money and always in credit on my bills because I nominated a certain amount myself. Income Management hasn’t paid enough to my bills. Now, I’ve fallen way back. So they’re going to repossess my fridge. So when I go shopping with my ‘basics card’, where am I supposed to put my food?” said Ms Shaw.

“For the last 3 weeks Income Management has misplaced $70 food vouchers supposed to go to the Tangentyere shop. It’s happening to a lot of people that Centrelink is losing their money. I am supposed to get a voucher every week out of both payments – out of my family allowance and out of my parenting payments”.

“When we are in Canberra we will be demanding our human rights and demanding all our money is paid to us in cash”, concluded Ms Shaw.

Valerie Martin, Yuendumu resident and member of the Prescribed Area People’s Alliance, says that the Income Management system makes it particularly hard to travel and is calling for all supporters of Aboriginal rights to join the protests in Canberra:

“We need support, more and more, whoever feels that this Intervention is wrong. We want to see many people come out to support us and hear our voices. It’s really bad how they’re treating us, taking away our rights. With the quarantining we are struggling to get the money to survive. My daughter has been sick in the hospital in Adelaide – but because our moneys are quarantined I’ve had to battle hard, even for basic things like doing our washing. How are people supposed to survive?”

Marlene Hodder, from the Intervention Rollback Action Group, is working to support the delegation traveling to Canberra:

“Income management is a nightmare for many people.  Most Aboriginal people know how to manage their money and their lives.  Agencies need to work with people who have problems and need support, instead of the government wasting millions of dollars on imported Centrelink and other government workers.  Taxpayers’ money is being wasted whilst Aboriginal people’s lives are becoming harder.”

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Laynhapuy Homelands Association

MEDIA RELEASE

Thursday, 21 May 2008

No future for Yolngu living on homelands

The Northern Territory government’s A Working Future policy has left most Yolngu living on traditional lands without one.

Speaking on behalf of the Laynhapuy Homelands Association, Ms Yananymul Mununggurr said the new policy has shown the NT government has either refused, or is unable, to fully understand the cultural significance of homelands.

“Just days after the release of a ground breaking report outlining the major health benefits to Yolngu living on country1, the NT government announces a policy that relegates our homelands to third world conditions, if not extinction.

“We see this as a major betrayal of the trust of our people,” Ms Mununggurr said.

“We’ve been engaged in ‘consultation’ that has yet again proved meaningless.

“Where is the economic modeling, the data collection or cost-benefit analyses recommended by the NTG’s own consultant, Mr Patrick Dodson, in establishing these new town centres?

“Nowhere.”

Ms Mununggurr said members of the Association were surprised at the inclusion of Papunya as one of the NT government’s twenty “growth centres” that will now be fully serviced and funded towns.

“We heard the Chief Minister Paul Henderson (on ABC Radio 105.7 Drive 20.5.09) say these 20 towns they’ve selected are the biggest in the NT.

“But that’s not true. Their own information says so.”

According to the NTG Bush Telegraph website, Beswick (Wugularr) community has an estimated population of 450 compared to Papunya with an estimated 342 people.2

“If you add Barunga to Wugularr, which is what government departments do considering the 30km distance between them, there’s a combined population of around 800, so why did they miss out while Papunya is included?

“There doesn’t seem to be a lot of thought behind this policy.

“The decision not to fund new housing for our homelands condemns Yolngu to further overcrowding, declining living conditions and ultimately the extinguishment of our traditional culture.

“How does that fit with the recent Rudd Labor Government’s signing of the UN Rights of Indigenous Peoples?”

For further information: Yananymul Mununggurr 0447 827 027

1 www.cdu.edu.au/ser/documents/HCHPMediaRelease.pd

2 www.bushtel.nt.gov.au/northern_territory/community_search_display?comm_num=131

=======================================================

“HUMAN RIGHTS FOR INDIGENOUS PEOPLE IN AUSTRALIA IS A FARCE”

Media Release: 22 December 2008

NT Aboriginal communities set to Converge on Canberra
Resistance to the Intervention is strengthening across the Northern Territory.
People from NT Aboriginal communities are preparing to take their protest directly to the federal government on the first day of parliament, February 3 2009.
On 7 November 2008 the Prescribed Area People’s alliance, whose meetings have involved over 150 people living under the Intervention, issued a statement:
“The NTER must be immediately repealed… We call for everyone who supports Aboriginal rights to converge on Canberra for the opening of Parliament in 2009″.
The convergence has been endorsed by the full council of Central Land Council, the key representative body for the 24,000 Aboriginal people living across the region.
Planning is taking place with Aboriginal rights organisations and activists around the country for two days of workshops and discussion at the Aboriginal Tent Embassy in Canberra on February 1 and 2 before a major rally on Tuesday February 3.
The NT delegation is also planning to meet with politicians to lobby for repeal of the Intervention laws and substantially increased funding for community controlled services.
Valerie Martin from Yuendumu said, “We need support, more and more, whoever feels that this Intervention is wrong. We want to see many people come out to support us and hear our voices. It’s really bad how they’re treating us, taking away our rights. With the quarantining we are struggling to get the money to survive. My daughter has been sick in the hospital in Adelaide – but because our moneys are quarantined I’ve had to battle hard, even for basic things like doing our washing. How are people supposed to survive?”
Elaine Peckham from the Iwupataka Land Trust and the Intervention Rollback Action Group said, “We’ve already been through many struggles, for land rights, for native title. Now we have the Intervention which has taken control of our communities in the Centre. It’s very discriminatory and very hurtful. It’s like a big cloud over us. It’s time for us to say enough is enough, we need to start getting together and talk up – not on our own but as a voice with everyone else strong and loud. We can not sit back and let others take control of our lives. It’s going to keep continuing if we don’t speak up and let our voices be heard out there”.
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15 December 2008

People from Central Australia are calling on the Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin, to sign theUnited Nations’ Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, after she publicly supported its principles in a speech at the World Indigenous Peoples’ conference on education in Melbourne on Thursday the 11th of December.

Barbara Shaw, organiser for the Human Rights Day rally in Alice Springs which was held on SaturdayDecember 13th, asked “Why support something in principle if you’re not committed to carrying it out?”

Ms Shaw also backed Indigenous leader Patrick Dodson in his recent criticisms of influential Indigenous spokespeople Warren Mundine, Marcia Langton and Noel Pearson. “Why is Macklin listening to only 3 handpicked Aboriginal advisers ,  who aren’t even living in the Northern Territory? They are no Aboriginal leaders of ours. And yet they are advising the government on racist policy that does not affect them.

“What Jenny Macklin needs to do is actually come out to the Territory and sit down and talk to each andevery person in all of the 73 prescribed communities, and see how the Intervention is affecting us. We are living below the poverty line as it is. We live in 3rd world conditions.

“We’re being denied our human rights,” Ms Shaw added.

More than 200 people attended the rally and concert in Mparntwe (Alice Springs) on the weekend, which was part of a national day to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the UN Declaration of Human Rights. Performers included Warren H Williams, Sunshine Reggae Band (Ikuntji) and Simpson Desert Band (Titjikala).

Rallies were also held in Sydney, Perth, Melbourne and Brisbane to oppose the Human Rights violations enacted in NT Intervention legislation..

Harry Jakamarra Nelson from Yuendumu, who spoke at the Mparntwe rally said “Aboriginal people have come full circle from ration days and assimilation to self determination and land rights. Now the government is taking us back to ration days again and managing our lives.”

Phillip Wilyuka from Titjikala stated clearly: “Intervention is a interfering with Anangu life, with Aboriginal life. Let’s get together as Aboriginal people.. .get up and go to Kevin Rudd and say, where is the promise, where is the sorry that you have said to Aboriginal people?  These are the issues that we need to bring up, face to face, coming together as all Anangu people.

“Lets get behind one another and stand strong and be counted.” Mr Wilyuka concluded.

The rally was organised by the Intervention Rollback Action Group and supported by the Central Land Council Full Council.

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NT government outstations policy condemned

2/12/08

A protest will be held today against the outstations policy recently released by the NT government.

The protest will take place at 1pm on Tuesday December 2nd outside the Centre for Appropriate Technology on Priest St, Alice Springs, before a 2pm public consultation on the policy hosted by the NT government.

Outstations residents and Aboriginal rights campaigners are concerned that the proposed policy changes will force many people to leave their homelands and move into urban centres.

Changes include a moratorium on housing construction on outstations and cut backs in the resources currently provided to homelands.

Elaine Peckham, resident of an Iwupataka Land Trust outstation and IRAG member said, “The NT government is taking the same approach with their outstations policy that we have seen through the NT Intervention. They are disrespecting people and taking away from Aboriginal people basic rights to services expected by all other Australians. We are like second class citizens.”

“Income management has already made it harder to live on our outstations. All these changes have had a big impact on people’s lives and we don’t feel like we have a voice. We need our service providers to be fully funded so we have that voice – the government needs to listen to us”.

“By saying only some outstations will receive services they are playing that divide and rule again. The NT government is also taking control of tenancy management away from the community. We are facing rent increases that I can’t afford as a pensioner”, concluded Elaine Peckham.

Barbara Shaw, from Mt Nancy town camp and IRAG said, “My family was handed back native title to their country in 1988 and now we will have to fight for the right to stay on that country. With the Intervention it’s bad enough – people always have to come into town for Centrelink, or have no money for basic needs, like diesel for the generator”.

“Outstations have never been properly funded. Many kids want to go to school, but there is no funding for buses that have been requested for a long time”, concluded Barbara Shaw.

Paddy Gibson from the IRAG said, “This is the latest in a string of policies from the NT government aimed at assimilation of Aboriginal people”.

“They have used the Intervention to seize control of community housing and are denying Aboriginal children the right to speak their own language in schools. They are denying new housing to all but a handful of communities and are trying to force them to sign away their land for many generations. Racism and forced migration will not close the gap”, concluded Paddy Gibson.

For more information contact:

Barbara Shaw 0401291166 Paddy Gibson 0415800586

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MEDIA RELEASE OCTOBER 27, 2008

Today, Monday October 27th, Harry Nelson, former Yuendumu Council President, presented Minister for Indigenous Affairs Jenny Macklin with a statement signed by 236 residents in a meeting at the community before the Minister opened the new pool, funding of which predates the intervention.

The statement read:

‘We, the residents of Yuendumu, want you to listen to the following statement and take our message back to the Federal and NT Governments:

When John Howard and Mal Brough lost their seats, we were happy. But now you are doing the same thing to us, piggybacking Howard and Brough’s policies, and we feel upset, betrayed and disappointed.

We don’t want this intervention!

We talked to the Review board, and now the Government is not even listening to the report, and is keeping this intervention going almost unchanged. It is an insult to us.

This is our land. We want the Government to give it back to us. We want the Government to stop blackmailing us. We want houses, but we will not sign any leases over our land, because we want to keep control of our country, our houses, and our property.

We say NO to income management. We can look after our own money.

We want the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 reinstated now, not in 12 months.

The Government Business Manager is useless, expensive, and we don’t need them. We want our community councils back instead. We want community control, not Shires. We don’t want more police, we don’t want more contractors, we don’t want more government people.

Everything is coming from the outside, from the top down. The government is abusing us with this intervention. We want to be re-empowered to make our own decisions and control our own affairs. We want self-determination. We want support, funding and resources for things coming from our community, from the inside.

Yuendumu has a lot of things to be proud of. Our community programs, like the Mt Theo program, the bilingual education program, Warlpiri media, the Old People’s program, Warlukurlunga arts centre, childcare, the youth program, should be supported, celebrated, and used as a model for other communities.

We want to keep our bilingual education program and use our own language to teach English, maths, and other things in schools.

We want you to give us respect and dignity, and stop telling lies about our people.

We want the Government to listen to us, talk with us, consult with us, and do things proper way.’

Peggy Brown, in her welcome to country at the pool opening, talked up strong in defense of Yapa country, in reference to Government pressure to sign leases over the community or housing stock in exchange for housing.

This is our land,’ she said. ‘Government gotta support yapa. We want to keep control of our land.’

‘I will not rest until these issues are sorted out,’ said Mr Nelson, after presenting the statement. ‘Jenny Macklin did not properly read the statement and respond, so we will be expecting a formal response from her.’

For more information, contact: Harry Nelson; Peggy Brown; Valerie Martin; Robbie Wallit;

c/o Yuendumu Mining Co. <SKYPETMPTAG2/>

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MEDIA RELEASE: OCTOBER 24, 2008

Prescribed Area People’s Alliance condemns Macklin, says Intervention widening the gap

“Far from protecting women and children, the Intervention is creating more vulnerability and disadvantage in NT Aboriginal communities. The Intervention measures do not offer protection but continue unwanted paternalistic control” said Barbara Shaw, a mother of four, from the ‘prescribed’ area Mt Nancy Town Camp, Alice Springs.

At an International Indigenous Solidarity Conference this weekend in Melbourne, NT Aboriginal people will call for an immediate end to the NT Intervention and the implementation of the 97 recommendations of the Little Children Are Sacred Report. They bring south the demands of a ‘Prescribed Area People’s Alliance’ meeting in Alice Springs on September 29, which saw over 100 people from affected areas come together against the Intervention.

“The Intervention has done nothing good for Aboriginal people. Intervention money is not going towards Aboriginal communities but white bureaucrats. There is still no employment, no training and our children are still disadvantaged” said James Gaykamangu a senior Yolngu elder from Millingimbi.

“This Intervention is no good. Its not working for the kids, the kids are missing out. Its harder for families with Income Management. Its harder to get food since the Intervention. When the food runs out, we have to turn to our family members”, said Mark Lane from Kalumpulpa community 110kms outside Tennant Creek.

“The Intervention is displacing people with drinking problems, forcing them km’s from their communities, putting them in unsafe situations. We need a safe living area where can look after each other”, said Diane Stokes from Tennant Creek.

“Too much authority has been taken away from Indigenous people. Too much racial discrimination. Jenny Macklin needs to understand this intervention isn’t closing the gap, its widening the gap” James Gaykamangu said.

“We have our own system of government, our own customary law that works for our people. The government must deal with issues proper way, with respect and understanding. We need to work together, Aboriginal people and the government as partners. We don’t want a second apology for this Intervention” Mr Gaykamangu continued.

Ronnie Agnew, President of Knuckeys Lagoon Town Camp Darwin “We’ve already waited over 12 months for the reinstatement of the Racial Discrimination Act. 12 months more is too long, we want an immediate end to this racist Intervention. Each community has different needs and the government must stop this one size fits all approach and work with each community to address those needs”.

Media contacts: Barbara Shaw <SKYPETMPTAG1/> James Gaykamangu <SKYPETMPTAG2/>

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Media Release-October 11, 2008

“Terrorist” style police raid in Alice Springs town camp – Intervention blamed, protest planned

On the night of Thursday October 9, a large number of police participated in a raid of the Kunoth town camp in Alice Springs. Residents say that the raid has terrified the local community.

Police jumped over fences to enter the camp, displayed rifles, pushed and abused residents and trained a laser on the chest of one man.

Police claimed they were looking for weapons, following a tip off from the fire brigade that there were guns in a car that drove back to the camp. A miniature toy gun was later found on the dashboard of the car (photo attached – higher resolution photo available on request).

The NT Intervention is being blamed for the incident. Police have been given new powers to enter “prescribed areas” without warrant many police have been brought into town who have no experience dealing with local communities.

This criticism comes following accusations that heavy-handed behaviour by Intervention police was responsible for the death of a young man in Arnhem Land last week. NT Justice Minister Chris Burns and the Australian Police Federation have also recently criticised Intervention police for culturally insensitive behaviour.

Local residents, along with the Intervention Rollback Action Group, will stage a protest outside the Alice Springs police station on Monday October 13 at 9am, before the delivery of an official complaint to the police.

“There was a big mob of police here. They come running in like they were looking for terrorists. We’ve never had that here before. I have a heart condition and my parents too”, said Donald Kunoth, vice-president of Kunoth town camp

“Apparently there were guns stolen in Alice Springs earlier in the week. And they just assumed it was our Aboriginal kids. Its so scary to see your kids get harassed like that. At gun-point. One of them could have been shot by accident. They even had bullet proof vests on. Lights were shining into the camp from outside and that blinded us. What if someone came walking out with a stick? They could of been shot”, concluded Donald Kunoth.

“We were just watching a TV program about the death in Arnhem Land after police actions. Little did we know it was going to happen in our yard”, said Maxine Carlton from Kunoth town camp.

“One copper that I took in to search the rooms was stationed in Alice and he said to me ‘we know you mob Kunoth family that live in this block, we know you mob sort your own problems out’. That’s why I think it’s the Intervention cops who organised raid, like Chris Burns said, they get chucked in there and they don’t have the training. We’re not living freely like we used to in our town camps, you know, we have to keep looking over our shoulders”, concluded Maxine Carlton.

“We’ve got two out there also at Utopia from this Intervention thing…they don’t know what they’re doing out there. They don’t know what they’re role is, they don’t know who to talk to, they don’t ask either, the Intervention just put them there and that’s it. That’s how that one died up there in Arnhem Land. They don’t know who to talk to”, said Eva Kunoth from Utopia, who witnessed the raid.

“This little girl was sleeping and the police just came in and shake the humpy (where little girl is sleeping), and we live in the humpy, the police come in with rifles, pointing them at my uncle, they was like a sniper with red light, laser come on his chest, pointed, just for no reason. Like soldiers, just like a soldier”, said Robbie Petrick from Kunoth town camp

“The local cops come in and ask where the grog is hidden, and we just tell them the others, Intervention mob, they just come raging in you know. Its just outrageous. Disgrace”, said Josephine Thompson from Kunoth town camp.

“We need human rights you know. That’s why we feel sad. Its been just like we been chained up again, like our ancestors did in the past. They were chained up and dragged like animals. We don’t want that to happen again, for our children, and their children you know. We gotta stand for our rights”, concluded Josephine Thompson.

“The Intervention was supposed to protect children. But the children are more scared now because of these police. I have been calling the Intervention an invasion since the start. And now here it is – they invaded our community”, said Valerie Martin from Kunoth town camp.

A protest will be held outside the Alice Springs police station on Monday October 13 at 9am.

For more information call:
Maxine Carlton 0417854790. Maxine can arrange interviews with others from Kunoth Town camp.

Paddy Gibson 0415800586. Paddy can arrange interviews with others from Kunoth town camp.

Barbara Shaw 0402291166. Spokesperson for the Intervention Rollback Action Group, Alice Springs

Eva Kunoth with toy gun

Eva Kunoth with toy gun

——————————————————–

Media release- October 9, 2008

Segregated service delivery demonstrates racism of Intervention

The Alice Springs Intervention Rollback Group (IRAG) has today criticised the Intervention’s ‘income management’ system for creating racially segregated service delivery in Alice Springs. They argue that this demonstrates clearly the underlying racism of the Intervention.

Aboriginal people from areas ‘prescribed’ under the Intervention are being forced to line up in a separate queue in the Foodland IGA supermarket on Lindsay Ave, when attempting to shop with the newly introduced ‘Basics Card’. One register has been marked with a computer printed sign that reads’

“ATTENTION CUSTOMERS – BASICS CARD – CAN ONLY BE USED AT THIS REGISTER”. (image attached)

Barbara Shaw, from IRAG and Mt Nancy town camp said, “Aboriginal Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin says that this new basics card ‘makes it easier to buy essential items’, well why doesn’t she try and do her shopping on this card?”

“We need our full entitlements in cash. I still am restricted from buying what my family needs. There is no way we can check our balance on the card without getting shops to ring up Centrelink. This is creating tension and fostering more racism in the town of Alice Springs as customers get angry and call for separate queues like the one we discovered today at Eastside shops”.

“Our Senator Warren Snowden argues the ‘system is working well’, is racially segregated service delivery his idea of a well-functioning system? This intervention is creating apartheid right here in Australia”, continued Ms Shaw.

“On Monday September 29 we held a ‘Prescribed Area People’s Alliance’ meeting here in Alice Springs with over 100 affected people. Everywhere the Intervention is being experienced as a racist policy taking our people backwards. Many Studies have shown that racism has a negative effect on health and community well being. We demand the re-instatement of the racial discrimination act and an immediate end to the Intervention”, concluded Ms Shaw.

Paddy Gibson, from the Intervention Rollback Action Group commented, “There were also separate queues for Income Management in Centrelink until our group threatened protest”.

“The Rudd Government are refusing to release recommendations from its ‘review team’, who are calling for re-instatement of the Racial Discrimination Act, because it knows the Intervention laws are racist to their core. They could not operate with the RDA in place”

“It’s not just queues – large ‘basics card’ signs in shops and ‘prescribed area’ signs on entering communities are constant reminders there are two classes of people. Hundreds of thousands of dollars badly needed in communities is being spent controlling the lives of Aboriginal people. Meanwhile, housing and basic infrastructure is being denied to communities unless they extend the Intervention’s 5 year leases out to 40 years of more”.

For more information contact Barbara Shaw on 0401291166 or Paddy Gibson on 0415800586

——————————————-

Media release…Media release…Media release…Media release…Media release…

1 October 2008

“Not one day more”
National Convergence condemns delay to NT Intervention Review

“Every day the government stalls on repealing the NT Intervention is another day of unnecessary suffering for the Aboriginal people in the NT and another day that this racism shames our country,” said Monique Wiseman from Sydney.

Over 200 peope have travelled to Alice Springs this week to protest the intervention and support communities resisting the Intervention’s measures. The historic covergence brought together people from prescribed areas in Aboriginal communities, Aboriginal town camps and outstations, with supporters and working groups from Canberra, Brisbane, Adelaide, Sydney, Northern NSW, Melbourne, Darwin, Newcastle and Perth.

We don’t need a review to gauge the failure of the Intervention. Listening to elders escribe the humiliation an paid of welfare quarantines, store cards, and forced leasing of their homelands is enough,” said Lauren Mellor from Brisbane.

“The delay in release the Review findings, announced just one day before the deadline, is an outrage. Every week now Jenny Macklin is increasing pressure on communities to sign leases, and the government has spent millions to roll out a “smart card” to entrench the welfare quaratine. But submissions to the Review have slammed the paternalism at the heart of the Intervention. It’s no wonder the review board is in crisis and unable to release its findings,” continued Lauren.

“They can pass legislation to impose on us in one night, but with three months they still can’t assess the damage they’ve done”, said Barbara Shaw from Mt Nancy town Camp.

Yesterday interstate visitors listened to speakers from prescribed areas at a large rally that marched through central Alice Springs and out to “The Gap”, at the entrance of town.

“Yesterday we marched united through “The Gap”. This is a historic step to close the gap that the Howard government created between Aboriginal communities in the NT and urban Australia. The intervention has demonised Aboriginal people, said all our men are paedophiles, and we are all alcoholics and child abusers. Now people have come from around the country to see for themselves that we are suffering under this intervention,” said Barbara Shaw, the Mt Nancy resident who hosted visitors to camp on her property.

“People have travelled so far to show their support for our strong stand against these policies. Word will go out across the Territory that we have support in the cities,” continued Barbara.

Today groups have travelled to the affected communities in Mutitjulu, Yuendemu, and around the Tangentyere Council Alice Springs Town Camps. Traditional owners in these communities have invited visitors to come and stay in the communities and talk with residents.

“We are conducting a people’s review of the Intervention. People are telling us that the intervention has taken them backwards, for example to the days of the “dog-tag system” an rations. This return to the policies of assimilation shames us all. It exposes the lie in the Prime Minister’s vow in February to never return to the policies of the past,” said Monique.

For comment, call Barbara Shaw: 0402129166, Monique Wiseman 0415410558 (Sydney) or Lauren Mellor 0413534125 (Brisbane).

————————————————

11 August 2008

Media release- for immediate release

Labor’s intervention roll out contributes to low voter turn-out: campaigners

Anti-intervention campaigners in Alice Springs have today argued that a lack of confidence amongst Aboriginal people in the political process has contributed to the historically low voter turn-out in the NT government elections.

They have also criticised the electoral process, which gave very little time for potential candidates and voters to get organised.

Only 67% of eligible voters turned out to the polls on Saturday, with extraordinarily low turn-outs in some areas, such as 40% in Stuart electorate.

Barbara Shaw, from Mt Nancy town camp and the Intervention Resistance Action Group said, “Many Aboriginal people voted Labor in the federal election because of what Howard and Brough did to us with the intervention. But in the last 12 months neither the new Rudd government, or NT Labor have done anything to reverse these destructive policies. In fact they continue to push them on us”.

“No one had any confidence in this election, people think ‘why should I care?'”.

“I am worried that the racist, conservative element has gained ground. The CLP are no voice for people on the ground, only business owners. They talk about “law and order”, but this shows an ignorance about why social problems are getting worse. They support an intervention which is forcing large numbers of people into town, without services to support them”.

Paddy Gibson, from the Intervention Resistance Action Group said, “The shameful process around this election has contributed to the right-wing swing. From when this election was called by NT Labor, people had extremely limited time to register as candidates. We know of a number of community leaders who wanted to contest the role the NT government is playing in major attacks on Aboriginal people, but had no time to get organised”.

“Similarly, the short time frame has made it difficult to organise access to polling booths, particularly for people in remote areas. People whose lives are being seriously affected by the NT intervention have been stopped from expressing their concerns and this de-legitimises this election”.

contact:
Barbara Shaw 0401291166
Paddy Gibson 0415800586

——————————————————————

4 August, 2008

Media release- for immediate release

Intervention increasing hardship in Tennant Creek: NT election candidates challenged on policies

The Intervention Resistance Action Group (IRAG) from Alice Springs is challenging candidates in the upcoming NT election to speak out against the destructive effects of the Intervention, criticising NT Labor’s commitment of $280million to continue the Intervention for another four years.

IRAG visited Tennant Creek last week to conduct extensive interviews with local Aboriginal people about the effects of the NT Intervention. They report deteriorating living conditions, distress and increasing hardship resulting from the introduction of the “income management” system and the racist approach of the Intervention.

Dianne Stokes, a Warumungu – Warlmanpa woman and community spokesperson currently staying in Tennant Creek told the group, “This Intervention is the biggest problem in Tennant Creek. People from remote communities are coming into Tennant. They don’t want to be here, but they have to come in and see Centrelink and do their paperwork and go to the shop here. They can’t put it back to the community they have to use it here in this town. Then it’s hard for them to get back out bush”.

“This is making overcrowding worse. More people living in town camps now, like three families living in a house. Some of us we sleep outside. Three old people sleep in a cage area here. They got nowhere to stay because that Intervention brought them into town and they can’t leave”.

Margaret Limmerick, who is currently on the income management system in Tennant said, “When the Intervention started off I thought it was really good. Now I end up just walking out (from Centrelink) without anything in my hand, no money, just paper to go shopping every time in the Foodbarn”.

“Centrelink are holding $3000 of mine in income management. One time I asked them to give me some to go down to Alice Springs, they said, “you can’t take it out”, but I don’t drink. They said I can only spend that money at Little Rippers (variety store) or Foodbarn. But I got my rent too, my power, my phone. I couldn’t use it on any of these things”.

Barbara Shaw, from the Intervention Resistance Action Group in Alice Springs said, “A lot of old people we have spoken to believe this new law is taking them back to the old ration days and the old dog tag days. This is another way of controlling us, where we are limited to stay in one place”.

“The Intervention is leading to more hardship in Tennant Creek. But candidates in the upcoming NT government elections were saying nothing about its destructive effects. Tonight I challenged candidates at the election forum in Alice Springs– will you speak up against the suspension of the NT Anti-Discrimination Act currently in place? Will you call for the implementation of the 97 recommendations of the Little Children are Sacred Report commissioned by the NT government?”.

“We want the resources, consultation and support recommended in this report, not punitive laws. We also demand to know why NT Labor have quietly committed $280million to the ongoing roll-out of the Intervention, while its future is supposed to be currently under review?” Ms Shaw concluded.

For more information contact Intervention Resistance Action Group:
Barbara Shaw 0401291166
Paddy Gibson 0415800586

We recognize the right of Tangentyere Council and town camp residents to self-determination. Town camp residents have called upon governments to address overcrowding and poverty in their communities over several years. More often than not, their demands have been ignored.

We support the recent decision by the Council to reject the Commonwealth’s proposal that would transfer control of housing and tenancy management to the Northern Territory Government. Representatives from all town camps voted to maintain community control. This is vital because of a long history of neglect and indifference to the needs of Aboriginal people by Northern Territory Housing. People rightly fear eviction and rent-increases that are beyond their capacity to pay. It is critical that Aboriginal people have the power to shape their own destinies.

We condemn Minister Macklin’s proposal for the Commonwealth to compulsorily acquire the town camps of Alice Springs. We call on the Commonwealth to respect the independence of the Tangentyere Council and to act in good faith in all of its negotiations with the Tangentyere Council.

We recognize the long struggle for land by both town camp residents and Aboriginal land holders throughout Australia. We condemn the Federal Government’s policy of withholding funding for desperately needed housing in Aboriginal communities, before Aboriginal people relinquish control of their land.

It is disgraceful that the party who championed the first land rights legislation in Australia is holding impoverished Aboriginal communities to ransom. This Government has lost its moral compass. We offer our full support to the Tangentyere Council in their struggle.

Endorsements are requested from individuals and organisations. Please circulate amongst your networks. Please reply to stoptheintervention@gmail.com before 5pm on Thursday 28th of May to indicate support.

——————————————————————————————————————————————————————–

MEDIA RELEASE 20 March 2009

Aboriginal people brief Barack Obama before his meeting with Kevin Rudd

Aboriginal people from many parts of Australia, including the NT homelands, are expressing their strong opposition to their treatment by the Australian Government in statements sent to US President Obama this week.

Dr Djiniyini Gondarra, a Traditional Owner of Elcho Island wrote:

I am writing to you as a fellow black citizen of the world, to express my concerns

about Australian Government policy, both past and present, which has suppressed

Aboriginal culture, languages, land, law and its people since invasion over 200

years ago.

In summary, my people are treated with neither the rights of sovereigns or citizens

of this country. We have been abandoned, and left somewhere in between; dying of

diseases only found in 3rd world countries and fighting for rights that so many other

countries have enshrined in their Constitutions.

Barbara Shaw from Mt Nancy town camp in Alice Springs wrote to President Obama:

… We are asking you to raise these matters with Kevin Rudd when you meet with him this month. Our people are extending an invitation for you to visit our Town Camps, Outstation/Homelands and Remote Communities and to meet with us personally.

Barbara Shaw said today:

“I will also be making a presentation on racial discrimination at the Durban Review in Geneva between 20-24 April, focusing on how the Australian Federal Government used the rights of the child as a special measure to rollout the Northern Territory Emergency Response legislation Intervention without any free, prior and informed consent consultation with our people.

How can compulsorily acquiring our lands for five years be a ‘special measure’?

How can seizing our land assist in child protection?

The Intervention is not protecting our children. Instead it is pushing Aboriginal people further below the poverty line and the new Rudd government has not made any positive changes to the Intervention.

The Australian federal government talks about closing the seventeen year life expectancy gap between non-Indigenous and Indigenous Peoples. With the current situation of the intervention, the gap is actually widening.

Barbara Shaw concluded:

“We have been forced into assimilation as far as we can go and we will not hand over our country because we belong to it and it belongs to us.  The Aboriginal and Islander struggles are an ongoing fight between grassroots and governments.”

Some of the letters and statements sent to Barack Obama are on the front page of this website.

———————————————————————————————————————————-

Media release… media release… media release… media release… media release…

26 January 2009 – for immediate release

ABORIGINAL LEADER REFUSED SERVICE IN ALICE SPRINGS

An Aboriginal leader from Alice Springs was refused service at the “24 hour shop” in Alice Springs on Todd St last night, Sunday January 25.

Barbara Shaw, from Mt Nancy town camp and the Intervention Rollback Action Group (IRAG) had her basket of shopping taken away and was told to go and shop at Coles Supermarket when she wanted to pay for her shopping with a combination of cash, keycard and basics card.

This incident comes just one week after the failure of the ‘basics card’ system in Alice Springs denied Aboriginal people living under the Intervention the ability to buy food for two days.

“I needed to buy food for my family and a power card to get electricity for my house. But the shop keeper just took the basket off me and said, ‘I don’t want the humbug – you have to go to Coles”, said Barbara Shaw.

“Why should I have to walk all that way to get food? And Coles don’t even sell power tickets. We are suffering, needing to pool cash, keycards and basics cards just to get essential items. How many other people are denied food in this way?”

Marlene Hodder, from the Intervention Rollback Action Group, argues that that segregated service delivery and an inability of people to access food with their income managed funds are both common place under the Intervention.

“While people around the country celebrate Australia day, Aboriginal people are still denied the protection of the Racial Discrimination Act and are facing open segregation”.

“No one in our community should be treated this way.  Aboriginal people often don’t have the transport to be shunted from pillar to post. The Intervention has brought only increases in hardship and racist treatment”.

“We hear so many stories of people denied food because Centrelink has mismanaged their funds, or of people being forced to line up in separate queues”.

“Jenny Macklin loves making unsubstantiated claims that people are better fed on Income Management.  But she has been silent about the failure of the basics card system last weekend and silent about consistent complaints of growing racism.  She must take responsibility for this failing system”, concluded Ms Hodder.

IRAG is organising a large delegation of Aboriginal people from the NT to travel to Canberra to demand an end to the Intervention and rally for Aboriginal rights on the opening day of parliament, Tuesday February 3.

“Many more people want to come and protest this year compared to last year. 12 months since the apology, the Gap is widening and things are getting harder for our people”, said Barbara Shaw.

For more information contact:

Barbara Shaw      0401 291 166 or Marlene Hodder 0438 816 851

—————————————————————————————————————

Media release                        *For immediate release 24 May 2009*Media Release

Takeover of Aboriginal Land marks Opening of Reconciliation Week

Today Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin marked the opening of Reconciliation Week by announcing that Alice Springs town camps will be compulsorily acquired.  The announcement has been met with outrage by town camp residents.  The move comes after Tangentyere Council, acting on behalf of town camp residents, rejected a 40 year lease deal which precluded all Aboriginal control and management of camp housing which would put decision-making and resources into the hands of Territory Housing.

The community housing model proposed by Tangentyere Council and the ability of residents to have input into housing management has been flatly rejected by the government.  The community housing model was to be run by the Central Australian Affordable Housing Company, which Minister Macklin helped establish in March last year but has now been rejected in favour of a government takeover.

Residents represented by Tangentyere are opposed to Territory Housing management of the camps due to the high rate of evictions and predicted rent increases under government management.  Many Aboriginal people who have been former residents of NT Housing have already experienced evictions, with the most common reasons being for cooking kangaroo tail in the backyard or for having relatives from the bush visit. People are concerned they will have nowhere to go if evicted from town camps under Territory Housing, which already has a three year waiting list for new occupancy.

“This is an appalling decision by the federal government.  It marks the start of a takeover for all Aboriginal communities who reject government leases.  If the government were genuine about consultation with communities it would not be blackmailing people with long-term leases and the threat of compulsory acquisition” said Hilary Tyler from the Intervention Rollback Action Group in Alice Springs.

“You can’t take someone’s land without free, prior and informed consent.  It is very hypocritical of the Government to endorse the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples when the Intervention contravenes at least 26 articles.  By keeping the Racial Discrimination Act (1975) in place it goes to show the Government of Australia is in fact racist.” says Barbara Shaw from Mt Nancy town camp.

A rally of town camp residents targeting both the NT government and federal government over its announcement of outstation closures and the compulsory acquisition of Alice Springs town camps will take place later this week in Alice Springs.

———————————————————————————————–

Takeover of Aboriginal Land marks Opening of Reconciliation Week

Today Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin marked the opening of Reconciliation Week by announcing that Alice Springs town camps will be compulsorily acquired. The announcement has been met with outrage by town camp residents.  The move comes after Tangentyere Council, acting on behalf of town camp residents, rejected a 40 year lease deal which precluded all Aboriginal control and management of camp housing which would put decision-making and resources into the hands of Territory Housing.

The community housing model proposed by Tangentyere Council and the ability of residents to have input into housing management has been flatly rejected by the government. The community housing model was to be run by the Central Australian Affordable Housing Company, which Minister Macklin helped establish in March last year but has now been rejected in favour of a government takeover.

Residents represented by Tangentyere are opposed to Territory Housing management of the camps due to the high rate of evictions and predicted rent increases under government management. Many Aboriginal people who have been former residents of NT Housing, have already experienced evictions,  with the most common reasons being for cooking kangaroo tail in the backyard or for having relatives from the bush visit.  People are concerned they will have nowhere to go if evicted from town camps under Territory Housing, which already has a three year waiting list for new occupancy.

“This is an appalling decision by the federal government. It marks the start of a takeover for all Aboriginal communities who reject government leases. If the government were genuine about consultation with communities it would not be blackmailing people with long-term leases and the threat of compulsory acquisition” said Hilary Tyler from the Intervention Rollback Action Group in Alice Springs.

“You can’t take someone’s land without free, prior and informed consent. It is very hypocritical of the Government to endorse the United Nation Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples when the Intervention contravenes at least 26 articles. By keeping the Racial Discrimination Act (1975) in place it goes to show the Government of Australia is in fact racist.” says Barbara Shaw from Mt Nancy town camp.

A rally of town camp residents targeting both the NT government and federal government over its announcement of outstation closures and the compulsory acquisition of Alice Springs towncamps will take place later this week in Alice Springs.

27 Responses to “MEDIA RELEASES”

  1. Bob Durnan August 13, 2008 at 6:23 pm #

    Some of this is a load of baloney. There must be much more to the story of the woman who claims “Centrelink are holding $3000 of mine in income management. …[Centrelink] said I can only spend that money at Little Rippers (variety store) or Foodbarn. But I got my rent too, my power, my phone. I couldn’t use it on any of these things”. People are encouraged by Centrelink to use IM money to cover such costs, and most people do so as well as spending it on food & variety stores. I am certain that a bit of sensible enquiry by the unnamed journalist would have produced a more accurate & enlightening account of this particular situation.

  2. Paddy Gibson August 14, 2008 at 7:27 pm #

    Dear Bob,

    I am sorry you believe this mother’s story to be “a load of baloney”. However, as someone who personally sat in her front yard and recorded it from her, then accompanied her to Centrelink the following day while Barbara Shaw (quoted on the press release) argued with Centrelink staff for an alternative approach, I can assure you that it is true. If this does not satisfy, perhaps you could call now retired MLA for the region Elliot McAdam, who informed us of this particular woman’s situation and himself phoned Centrelink to advocate on her behalf (unsuccessfully) for further verification.

    Under “income management’, all lump-sum payments are 100% quarantined. In this case, Margaret had just received a large pay out from Centrelink. It was money they owed her, following “end of financial year” calculations which showed a discrepancy in their payments to her over that year of $3000. For some reason Centrelink staff were operating under instructions to only allow these lump-sum payments to be spent at the supermarket or the local variety store. I heard the staff member say this. After literally 20 minutes of negotiation the staff member finally conceded that some of the money would be able to be put towards her children’s lunches as part of the “school nutrition program”, but was very concerned at the irregularity of this.

    The reality is that the intervention is a racist, paternalistic “load of baloney”. The point is not why Centrelink gave this particular directive, but why Margaret is in this position at all. The only reason this woman was not entitled to cash, like every other mother in Australia on a similar benefit, is because she was living in a town camp, an Aboriginal community “prescribed” under the intervention in min-June 2007. She now lives in public housing, but the restrictions follow you, even if you move interstate.

    This sort of administrative nightmare is just one example of how the quarantine has proved extremely difficult to negotiate for large numbers of people, making access to food and other necessities harder. Only the suspension of the Racial Discrimination Act allows this restriction on the rights of Aboriginal people to the pensions, parenting allowances, student allowances and unemployment benefits etc we are all entitled to by law. The RDA should be immediately re-instated and the explicitly racist intervention laws repealed. If some people want access to help managing their entitlements through centrelink, then some of the untold millions currently being spent on punitive control could be put towards seriously supporting the many under-resourced community-based initiatives that existed prior to the intervention.

  3. kirsten murray January 23, 2009 at 6:58 am #

    My heart goes out to all for the racist and ignorant approach by the govt to ‘solve’ the social problems in NT communities… I am 100% behind you Paddy and Barbara and othe elders, and I want to be there in Canberra in Feb to show my support. Wot else can I do? I (besides give money – I am a pensioner myself)… Write to the govt myself? I am just some unqualified gubba, but i do have a koori child, and i see how wrong the govt’s approach is… I know it isnt the right way..

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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  19. 18/09/2011 Sydney speaking tour of anti-intervention campaigner Barbara Shaw – 3-9 October 2011 « WGAR - September 30, 2011

    [...] Rollback Action Group (IRAG) Media Releases: [scroll down page] http://rollbacktheintervention.wordpress.com/media/ [Barbara Shaw is often quoted in the media [...]

  20. 06/10/2011 Public Forum launching a national campaign calling for a Moratorium on Income Management « WGAR - November 1, 2011

    [...] Rollback Action Group (IRAG) Media Releases: [scroll down page] http://rollbacktheintervention.wordpress.com/media/ [Barbara Shaw is often quoted in the media [...]

  21. Oppose Gillard’s Intervention | Chris White Online - November 26, 2011

    [...] Explicitly racist laws, which vilify Aboriginal people and culture are being kept on the books including: read further here http://rollbacktheintervention.wordpress.com/media/ [...]

  22. Our Generation » Ramingining elders say No! to more Intervention - December 6, 2011

    [...] Today, Yolngu elders of Ramingining community in NE Arnhem Land are shocked and angered by last week’s announcement that the fundamentally destructive measures of the intervention will be extended for another 10 years. “We don’t want another decade of discrimination here in Ramingining. The government is extending and strengthening laws designed to assimilate Aboriginal people. We will not sit back and watch these attacks on our lives, our future, our culture and our law,” said Mathew Dhulumburrk, a 67 year old Gupapuyngu man. Read their Statement HERE [...]

  23. 26/11/2011 “Cooperation not intervention: a call for a new direction in the Northern Territory” « WGAR - December 26, 2011

    [...] against Macklin’s decade of discrimination – No second Intervention! IRAG: http://rollbacktheintervention.wordpress.com/media/ 25 Nov 11: “Joint statement from Intervention Rollback Action Group (Central Australia), [...]

  24. 20/11/2011 “Federal Government betrays NT communities with second Intervention” STICS « WGAR - December 26, 2011

    [...] Rollback Action Group (IRAG) Media Releases: [scroll down page] http://rollbacktheintervention.wordpress.com/media/ [Barbara Shaw is often quoted in the media [...]

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