INVASION DAY ALICE SPRINGS 2015

25 Jan

STATEMENT FROM CENTRAL AUSTRALIA TO MARK INVASION DAY 2015

We believe that our voices are not being heard since 2007, since the Intervention was put on us.  Our people have been impacted, hurt from it.  But we have not given up and we are still speaking up, but we are finding it very hard.  We ask: “When are our voices going to be heard?”

The Summit of Aboriginal people who came from all around the country embarked on Alice Springs, Mparntwe, and gave us hope.  Finally, we all came together to hear what is happening to the people on the ground here.

The Intervention has made it so hard for us to live on land and in our communities. Many have left and those that stay are being punished with inadequate services and programs. Many communities were forced to sign 40 year leases and hand over control of their land to the government.  We are entitled to be supported to live on our land.

Now they want to destroy our traditional ownership of the land by dismantling the historic NT Land Rights Act 1976.  The federal government’s Forrest Report wants to turn back the clock on Aboriginal people.  It wants to take control from our Land Trusts and make Aboriginal land open for private ownership.  We know what this means – our country will be destroyed by companies that want to mine it or dump nuclear waste on it.   We demand Aboriginal control of our land.

The Intervention also forced the Basics Card on us, which quarantines half of the Centrelink payment.  We are treated like children and told how to spend our money.  We are humiliated on a daily basis when we go shopping.  Reports show that the Basics Card is not working, it is not having healthy outcomes for Aboriginal people.  But now the government wants to put us on a “Healthy Welfare Card” where 100% of our money will be quarantined.

The Basics Card is an expensive programme that isn’t working.  It should be abandoned.  People wanting to be income managed can do this through Centrepay.

The Intervention has not produced jobs for our people – it has taken them away. They took away work from communities when they stopped the CDEP and left people with nothing to do and no way to make a living.  This forced people off their homelands and into towns to look for work.  But there is little work for Aboriginal people in the big towns and many end up on the street being harassed by police or in jails. They said they would bring back the CDEP, but they didn’t.  We need real jobs with real wages in our communities.

We are being kept in poverty and more and more Aboriginal children are being taken from families and put with foster parents, usually non-Aboriginal people.  They are being taken till they reach 18 years old.  Governments are judging us by their standards and way of life and not recognising the efforts being made to care for kids and keep families together, in spite of poor housing, low incomes, lack of work and ill health.  This child removal has to stop.

Funding to legal services to help support people dealing with children being taken, to help deal with unfair criminal charges, and to help keep our people out of jail has been cut.  All Aboriginal legal services need proper funding to deal with the ongoing issues that are damaging our people.

Youth services are now not supported.  Our kids are turning to crime out of boredom or despair with many of their family members being locked up, often for minor offences such as not paying fines.  More and more young people have no hope and are turning to harming themselves.  Our young people are our future.  We need to protect them and nurture them, not drive them to lives of crime.

This Intervention is never going to go away unless people from other states get behind us.  And these policies that are forced on us are going to affect us all.  What they do here first they will do to every Aboriginal person around the country.

We need to all stand together and demand our rights – rights to land and culture, education our way, proper jobs with equal pay, fair systems not discrimination, self-determination, respect for us as Aboriginal people.

We have not given up.  We need our voices to be heard.  We ask the Freedom Summit in Canberra on the 26th to 28th of January to take up our struggle, talk about what is happening here and help us stop government attacks on our human rights.

 Invasion Day 2015

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