IRAG WORKING GROUP MEETING
IRAG will be holding a meeting on Sunday, 5th March, 5 pm at Barbara Shaw’s place (Mt Nancy, Alice Springs.) If you don’t know her address please send us a message on our facebook page.
There is much to talk about and much to do in the lead up to our big gathering in Alice Springs in June.
TEN YEARS OF INTERVENTION: MEETING MPARNTWE-ALICE SPRINGS 24th-26th JUNE 2017
Planning is now under way for a gathering in Mparntwe-Alice Springs in June to give people living under the NT Intervention or are affected by these and the Stronger Futures laws the opportunity to discuss these laws and to discuss how to proceed into the future.
Meetings are held every Sunday at 5 pm at Barbara Shaw’s place, Mount Nancy Town Camp (unless otherwise notified, if Barbara is out of town).
We are now fundraising as bookings need to be made for meeting venue/s and to cover travel costs for people from communities.
Our bank account details for bank transfers/direct deposits are:
Bendigo Bank Alice Springs
Account No: 134 157 049
Account Name: Intervention Rollback Action Group
Media Release 22nd June 2015
Stand Up for People, Country and Culture
End the Intervention
Stop Forced Community Closures
Black Australia is now in a state of emergency, with devastating and unacceptable rates of poverty, incarceration, suicide and child removal – the result of a long history of dispossession, genocide, linguicide and neglect by government.
Strong communities and culture have been proved to be the way for a healthy life, so it is vital that Australia’s First Nations people be supported and enabled to continue to live on their land with the same access to clean water, housing and essential services that the wider community takes for granted.
Global protests against forced community closures and funding cut-backs have reached close to one hundred cities with tens of thousands of people taking part, but we need to see people on the streets in their millions to defend justice and freedom for First Nations communities.
Aboriginal people, communities, land and culture are under unprecedented attack from Territory, State and Federal Government policies.
In Western Australia many communities are under threat of closure as ongoing federal funding for remote Aboriginal communities has been withdrawn. Communities on the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara lands in the far north of South Australia are also under threat. Federal funding is now being withdrawn from Northern Territory communities in the same way as has happened in Western Australia.
It is now eight years since the start of the Northern Territory Intervention. The numbers of Aboriginal people incarcerated have more than doubled, reported rates of attempted suicide and self-harm are have increased almost 500%, child removal rates have increased more than three-fold, and there is more alcohol-related domestic violence.
The federal government’s new Indigenous Advancement Strategy is a debacle that has cut hundred of millions of dollars of funding from Aboriginal organizations and services and has led to further job losses in Aboriginal communities and organisations.
Federal Budget measures taking funding from Aboriginal housing and putting it into degrading and exploitative Work for the Dole measures will further disempower and humiliate people and drive them from their communities.
These measures are seen as an overt strategy to further dispossess some of the most vulnerable people in Australian society and destroy culture and hard fought land rights in direct contravention of Australia’s obligations under the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
This is a call to the Alice Springs community to join national and international actions and Stand Up for Aboriginal Communities, Land and Culture at a rally at 12pm Sunday 28th June 2015 at the Courthouse Lawns, Alice Springs.
Kenny: 0447 497 748
Marlene Hodder: 0438 816 851
Barbara Shaw: 0499 494 363
The Intervention Rollback Action Group is made up of volunteers from community groups and organisations who meet regularly to discuss issues that arise from the impact of the Northern Territory Emergency Response (Intervention/Invasion).
The group supports individuals and community groups to deal with those issues and take appropriate action.
Actions in the past have included conducting surveys at Centrelink, tackling Centrelink about segregated queues for clients needing “Income Management” cards, giving advice about complaints mechanisms, visits to communities to hear and record people’s stories of their experiences, organising meetings, rallies and workshops including the First Meeting of the Prescribed Area People’s Alliance; organising people from prescribed areas to travel to major centres including attendance convergences at the Tent Embassy in Canberra and protests at the opening of Parliament in February 2008 and 2009; lobbying politicans; fundraising; organising petitions and submissions.
In 2009 we met with Irene Khan, General Secretary of Amnesty International, when she visited Alice Springs. IRAG was asked to host the visit to Central Australia of Professor James Anaya, Special Rapporteur on the rights of Indigenous Peoples, and we organised a series of meetings with various community groups, town camps, and a visit to Yuendumu.
We have supported town camp residents in their challenge to the takeover of their homes. We are supporting the Ampilatwatja people in their walk-off protest and in their efforts to maintain their inherent rights.
The group meets regularly and consistently works to increase Aboriginal involvement in the meetings and to raise awareness amongst prescribed area people of how their rights are being infringed.
IRAG networks with other support groups around the country and together we work to increase awareness throughout the wider community of the true impacts of the racist intervention.
Contacts are: Barbara Shaw 0401 291 166 or Marlene on 08 8952 5032.
Discussion Paper for Minister Jenny Macklin
Alice Springs, July 10, 2008
Thank you for the invitation to participate in this round table discussion about the Intervention.
Thank you Prime Minister Rudd and Minister Jenny Macklin for the apology to the Indigenous people of this country, to the Stolen Generations. This was a long overdue acknowledgement of the devastating impact of previous governments’ racist, colonialist policies.
However, in the shadow of the apology, we are still living and suffering under the racist Intervention legislation imposed by the Howard government before the federal election.
Parliamentarians are elected representatives of the people; therefore you should be representing our needs. If your government is genuine about ‘closing the gap, you must undertake genuine community consultation to determine appropriate service provision for Northern Territory Aboriginal communities.
2. The Intervention is hurting people
Our working group in Alice Springs has been conducting surveys outside Centrelink offices in the Northern Territory, asking people from prescribed areas to comment on how the Intervention is impacting on them. Over 90% of respondents expressed opposition to income management provisions and the overwhelming majority are opposed to all Intervention measures.
Elaine Peckham from Golden Mile said, “Young people are angry, they see how the Intervention is hurting, shaming old people, they have no way of expressing themselves”. Barbara Shaw from Mt Nancy Town Camp in Alice Springs said, “The Intervention is causing conflict within families”. The added burdens that come through negotiating income management, being disempowered within our communities and consistently experiencing racist treatment have made lives harder. This is having negative impact on child and community welfare.
3. Not evidence based
The new Labor government has made a key commitment to evidence based policy making in Aboriginal Affairs. However the Northern Territory Emergency Response Intervention legislation and Taskforce recommendations cannot be considered evidence based. There is no evidence that any of the punitive controls support the wellbeing and safety of children, encourage healthy and strong communities or to support communities to ‘close the gap’. Many international studies demonstrate that only approaches that respect self-determination will lead to improvements in community life.
As Social Justice Commissioner Tom Calma has said, “I am a firm believer that many of the answers to Indigenous problems can be found in Indigenous communities. Please remember, from self respect comes dignity, and from dignity comes hope.” (HREOC speech made at the Launch of the Social Justice Report 2007 , 31 March 2008, Sydney).
4. Lack of information on the Intervention
Communities are not aware of all aspects of the Intervention, and there has still not been sufficient information provided in language for people to fully understand all of the Intervention measures.
If someone is in support of increased housing or alcohol restrictions, this doesn’t necessarily mean they are for the Intervention. People should not be forced to give up their basic human rights in order to have access to services.
Many people are still unaware of other parts of the Intervention, for example General Business Managers’ powers. Placing GBM’s in communities is disempowering to the elders and community leaders, and leases are taking away people’s rights to negotiate for their country. The government should be supporting local people to develop and retain the skills to manage their communities.
From the surveys conducted in Alice Springs, it was identified that many people don’t understand what the changes to the lease arrangements for their communities entails. People don’t know if they will get their country back. Many people are concerned there is a hidden agenda with these lease arrangements.
5. Viability of communities
We had long thought that moving people from their country into urban centres was a key intention of the Intervention. Cuts to CDEP and the imposition of income management have already forced many people into Alice Springs. There are not the resources to cope with this influx, creating new social problems in major urban centres.
The Intervention Task Force report and Minister Jenny Macklin’s comments to media on June 21 suggest that an agenda of population transfer will now be more directly pursued. It has been indicated that numerous communities, if deemed “unviable”, will be denied access to basic services through the Intervention process. Research shows that people on country live more healthily. Off country, people lose power, people get sick. Is that what government wants?
This policy is tantamount to assimilation. ‘Prescribed area’ people have their connection to the land. The government can’t move people off the land; they have their connection through stories. People who are custodians, they belong to that country. Our ancestors fought long and hard to live on their country.
Under this paternalistic control the government is telling us how to shop, where to shop and now the Taskforce report is telling us Aboriginal people on ‘prescribed areas’ where to live. We cannot accept this. People have been here for a long, long time, and will be here for a long, long time.
Communities are viable. Racism is not.
1. Immediate repeal of the NT Emergency Response Intervention Legislation
2. Reinstatement of the Racial Discrimination Act (1975) and the NT Anti-Discrimination Act and guarantee their operation in all future legislative decisions.
3. Implementation of the 97 recommendations of the Little Children Are Sacred Report.
4. Consultation with individual communities to determine what infrastructure and services are required at each discrete Aboriginal community in the Northern Territory and across Australia.
Mount Nancy Town Camp
Phone: 0401 291 166
July 7, 2008