Communities must determine NT Intervention future
NATIONAL MEDIA RELEASE: JUNE 21, 2008
ONE YEAR IS ENOUGH: Communities must determine future of NT Intervention
To mark one year of the NT Intervention, on Saturday June 21st, Community Reviews of the Intervention will be held in Darwin and Alice Springs, with solidarity events in eight other cities and towns around the country (details below). These events will give voice to the people and communities who are directly affected and expose the reality of life under the Intervention.
Kevin Rudd and Jenny Macklin insist that the Intervention is achieving positive outcomes, however, one year on, many people on the ground fail to see how the Intervention measures target child sexual abuse.
Furthermore, people surveyed outside Centrelink in Darwin and Alice Springs have said the Intervention has resulted in significant negative consequences, including:
- Disempowerment through the loss of control of land and community governance
- Increased hardship for families, the elderly and disabled under Income Management
- Increased urban drift with no increased services in towns
- Inefficient direction of allocated Intervention funds for health initiatives, with duplication of services
"You have no idea what effect it has done to our people… Our dream of improving our lifestyle and standards has been shattered. Not completely, we are still fighting… I'm asking you people, my friends, support us. We don't want Intervention, second invasion," says Harry Nelson from Yuendumu Community Council.
"Intervention is bad. It makes it harder for us" said one Darwin town camp resident, during a round of surveys conducted in the Top End in early 2008_.
Most significantly, the continued suspension of the Racial Discrimination Act (1975) denies protection to affected communities and has seen the emergence of blatant racism and cultural insensitivity in service delivery, particularly policing. A recent report_ detailed significant health ramifications stemming from social and institutional racism, thereby increasing doubt as to the ability of the Intervention to improve health outcomes.
"[It is] definitely discrimination towards Aboriginal people… Treat First Australian People fairly" said another community member.
Lyle Cooper, president of Bagot community council, who has travelled to Melbourne to speak, says "I have come down here to let this mob know; the Emergency Response is no longer an emergency, it has stagnated, it is going round in circles. They are still experimenting on black fellas in the Northern Territory. It is hard to see how things will change with the Racial Discrimination Act still removed".
Earlier this week, Minister for Indigenous Affairs Jenny Macklin, in her opening address to the 'Communities in Control' conference, stated that 'For the poorest and most disadvantaged, complex and rapid change brings with it even greater social isolation. Powerless to manage and deal with external change, they are at risk of being swamped by hopelessness and the feeling that they have no control over their lives'.
After one year of the rapid and complex Intervention changes, individuals and communities are experiencing first hand this disempowerment. It is time for the Government to take seriously its own rhetoric and hand back control of Aboriginal affairs to Aboriginal people.
"They take away our way. [I] would like… not [to be] discriminated against for being black. To run our community culture respect way, not dictated by government," said a resident of a remote prescribed community.
The Review of the Intervention, scheduled to begin in July, is of great concern to many communities, considering the Government's apparent agenda to continue rolling out certain measures, like Welfare Quarantine (Income Management), regardless of the outcome of the review. Furthermore, there are fears the panel is dominated by pro-intervention members, and there is skepticism whether people from all affected communities will truly have their voices heard and their concerns acted upon.
Aboriginal communities in the NT and across Australia must determine their own future. The Community Reviews in Darwin and Alice Springs this Saturday will provide an opportunity for many people to share their experiences and ideas. People from 'Prescribed Areas', and many supporters around the country, have repeatedly called for the re-instatement of the Racial Discrimination Act, alongside service delivery in line with the principles of self-determination and effective community development.
"The time has come to stand together and say enough is enough, we don't want paternalistic control by the governments any more. However we should be entitled to the same services as the rest of Australia." says Barbara Shaw, Mount Nancy Town Camp resident in Alice Springs.
One year of Intervention - Enough is enough.
NATIONAL DAY OF ACTION – EVENT DETAILS
Mpantwe- Alice Springs : 2pm Court House Lawns
Darwin: 10am Tamarind Park
Sydney: 11am, The Block, Redfern
Canberra: 12am Garema Place, Civic
Perth: 11am Wesley Church, cnr Hay and William st
Brisbane: 11am State Parliament, George st
Melbourne: 12pm State Library
Wollongong: 10am Lowden Square (east side of Wollongong Station)
Adelaide: 2-4pm, Parliament House steps
Tasmania: 11:30am, Parliament House Lawns, Hobart
_ All survey respondents wished to remain anonymous.
_ "The Impact of Racism on Indigenous Health in Australia and Aotearoa: Towards a Research Agenda" by Yin Paradies, Ricci Harris & Ian Anderson