Call for Actions in Solidarity with Aboriginal Communities in the Northern
Territory of Australia
'There was an old man who walked off the station up at Wave Hill because
he didn't wanna get paid in vouchers or rations. We don't wanna be paid in
vouchers or rations anymore!'
- Barbara Shaw
In June 2007 the Australian government began the intervention into
Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory. The Racial
Discrimination Act 1975 was suspended to allow this legislation to be
passed. Under the guise of "child protection", the government compulsorily
acquired five year leases on Aboriginal land permits. It put in place a
welfare quarantine system whereby people living in "prescribed areas" -
Aboriginal town camps and remote communities, whether elderly, students,
single, or members of families - have half their welfare payments paid in
the form of "store cards". These are gift cards (aka ration cards) that
can be spent at approved stores - namely corporate chain stores in Alice
Springs, Katherine and Darwin, regardless of the distance of communities
from these major centres, or the lack of transportation available to
people from remote areas.
'[The intervention] makes us prisoners in our own country. These people
are talking about their monies. How'd you like it if I came to your house
and quarantined all the public servants, everyone who makes a wage.
Quarantined your wages. Go up to Parliament House on Wednesday and say:
'All you politicians, here's your ticket for $150, $50 a ticket. You go
and do your shopping in Alice Springs.' How do you reckon they'd feel? And
yet they can impose these laws on us.'
- Mauri Japarta Ryan
'We shouldn't have to beg, borrow... or steal. We are not children getting
pocket money. We are not animals being told what to do. We are a people, a
proud people, the first people. And we need to tell the Parliament here
today where to stick the intervention policy.'
'Kevin Rudd has said his apology will contain an affirmation never to
repeat past wrongs, but this is precisely what his government is doing
rolling out Howard's intervention. He is continuing the genocidal policy
of the stolen generations and the Howard years.'
The intervention has also meant increased police powers in camps and
communities in the N.T., increased racial discrimination, and racial
vilification of all Aboriginal parents as neglectful, and all Aboriginal
men as abusive.
'This intervention is a weapon. It's a weapon to break down Aboriginal
and it's a weapon to break down the cultural maintenance that Aboriginal
people have maintained throughout past governments.'
- Walter Shaw
This legislation was implemented without any consultation with Aboriginal
communities about what they need or want. Despite government rhetoric
about "saving the children", none of the 97 recommendations of the Little
Children Are Sacred report, said to have brought about the intervention,
have been implemented. No additional housing, health or education services
have been provided for communities. The intervention has only made it more
difficult for families to access food, pay rent, raise funds for community
programs, and care for children.
'We stood up we explained exactly what we've implemented in Alice Springs.
Our own grog and rehabilitation centre. Our own children's centre, where
they can go and play safely. All those things we've fought long and hard
for, people have chucked their pension money in to keep these things
going. We've had cake stalls. Now the government is withdrawing all of
this funding. So I don't know how in all of this our children are
supposed to be safe.'
'So lets be really clear on this, that there hasn't been a house built for
an Aboriginal person, there hasn't been a school, a kindergarten, or a
high school built for Aboriginal people, and that's all we've ever begged
for, is the same standards as everybody else. That's all we want:
equalness. And a house and a school and a job to look forward to is
basically our human rights.'
One year on, and recent threats by the Federal Government to stop funding
essential services in remote communities, which it says are "unviable",
seem only to confirm what many Aboriginal people and supporters have been
saying all along - that this intervention is designed to move people off
communities and into major centres, to reassert control over Aboriginal
people, and to free up Aboriginal lands for mining and other development
'The Northern Territory is not a state, doesn't have the same rights under
the Constitution of this country created in 1901, we are second rate
citizens in our own country. That is part of why the intervention is
there. Why didn't it happen in New South Wales? Why didn't happen here in
Canberra? Victoria?... the whole lot? Why? Because they can't do it. They
don't have the power under legislation to overrule the states. And if you
look under the ground in the Northern Territory there's masses of
- Mauri Japarta Ryan
'When we talk about the land grabbing... When you look at the town camps
within the townships, they're prime real estate, and that's what they're
after. They're after our land.'
- Walter Shaw
The government currently has an intervention "review team" going into
Aboriginal communities to assess the progress of the intervention. The
findings of the review will be announced on September 30, 2008.
We are calling for people all over the world to demonstrate their
solidarity with the Aboriginal communities of the Northern Territory on
this day, with rallies, marches, demonstrations at Australian embassies,
boycotts of Australian tourism or exports. What is happening in the
Northern Territory is apartheid. It is a second invasion. We demand that
* Stop the N.T. intervention
* Reinstate the Racial Discrimination Act
*Provide jobs, services, resources and infrastructure for ALL people in
this country, with consultation and community control
*Recognise and respect Aboriginal land rights and human rights in Australia
We want this intervention squashed and we want the Prime Minister elect
Kevin Rudd and his Minister for Indigenous Affairs to come down to all
Aboriginal communities and do it properly. There's a right way of doing
business and there's a wrong way. And this is wrong.'
- Walter Shaw
'We gotta scrap this intervention. We gotta focus on the real things:
that's the health, housing and education.'
- Barbara Shaw
We've gotta tell Kevin Rudd he's gotta get rid of the intervention laws!
And then he's gotta recognise our sovereignty to our country! Which means
that we own from one end of the country to the other end. There's never
been any treaty signed in this land. We've been waiting, and we're still
waiting. It is about our sovereignty. This land is ours. Always was and
always will be, Aboriginal land.'
- Isobelle Coe
We want Aboriginal Control of Aboriginal Affairs!
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