WGAR News: Northern Territory Intervention into Aboriginal communities (17 Oct 09)

WGAR: Working Group for Aboriginal Rights (Australia)

WGAR website: http://wgar.info/

NT Intervention articles
Other Aboriginal articles


- Background on the Northern Territory Intervention

Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
Northern Territory National Emergency Response


- Media Releases & Statements

Council of Churches of Western Australia:
Statement on Reinstatement of the Racial Discrimination Act NT
[scroll down page] http://www.socialpolicyconnections.com.au/Portals/3/docs/church%20statem...
9 Oct 09: "The Executive of the Council of Churches of Western Australia (CCWA) welcomes the move of the Federal Government to reinstate the Racial Discrimination Act in the Northern Territory, and calls for the Federal Government to go further to review all Aboriginal policies to ensure that they are in line with Australia’s international obligations, especially those now involved with the Northern Territory Intervention."

Australian government accused of disempowering Aboriginal peoples
8 Oct 09: " ... In a statement issued today Richard Downs accuses the Australian government of disempowering Aboriginal peoples: "The NT Emergency Response (NTER) measures have disempowered Aboriginal people. The suspension of the Racial Discrimination Act has taken away our rights. It has taken away our land rights, our ownership and control. We have no say in the running of our communities or lands. There is no self-determination. We are taking our message to the Australian public to let them know exactly what is happening under the NTER. We need to get rid of the racial discrimination policies that are imposed by the federal government!" "

Australia must honour its obligations under International Law
[download the document] http://www.socialpolicyconnections.com.au/Portals/3/docs/Julian%20Burnsi...
7 Oct 09: "In April this year Australia joined 144 other countries in giving public support to the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. In conjunction with this, the government announced its intention to reinstate the Racial Discrimination Act in the Northern Territory during the spring sitting of Parliament. ... Australia has given its very public support to the Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. It is essential that the directions provided by Professor Anaya be given serious attention, as government strives to implement new legislation that will fully comply with its international obligations. Julian Burnside AO QC"

Intervention walkoff's Blog - Statements - Appeal to our Church leaders:
28 Sep 09: "Our fathers you came to us in our peoples need in last 200 years, our needs now are much greater, our cultures, traditions and custom, are holding on by a single strand. Return to us once again and walk with us as one people, share with us our journey to stand against racist policies that create divisions. Richard Downs, Spokesperson for Alyawarr people"

Victorian Council of Churches:
A Statement from the Executive of the Victorian Council of Churches
"The Executive of the Victorian Council of Churches (VCC) calls upon the Federal Government to take the opportunity provided by the reinstatement of the Racial Discrimination Act to review all Aboriginal policies to ensure that they are in line with Australia’s international obligations. UN Special Rapporteur Professor James Anaya has pointed out that the Northern Territory Intervention, in its current form and in its delivery, “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. Australia is a party to both treaties. The intervention is also incompatible with the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which Australia supports”."

National Council of Churches in Australia NATSIEC:
Media Statement - NATSIEC supports Special Rapporteur’s findings
[scroll down page] http://www.socialpolicyconnections.com.au/Portals/3/docs/church%20statem...
31 Aug 09: "The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Ecumenical Commission (NATSIEC) has welcomed the statement by the UN’s Special Rapporteur on his recent visit to Australia. Graeme Mundine, Executive Secretary of NATSIEC, said that Professor Anaya had visited Australia at the invitation of the Federal Government and during his short visit had talked to a wide range of Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. Mr Mundine described the remarks by Professor Anaya as insightful, but also expressed concern at comments rejecting Anaya’s statement."

Media Release by the Uniting Church:
Territory Intervention highlighted for UN Rapporteur
[scroll down page] http://www.socialpolicyconnections.com.au/Portals/3/docs/church%20statem...
20 Aug 09: "The Uniting Church in Australia has taken its vehement opposition to the Northern Territory Emergency Response to the United Nations. The Uniting Church has written to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of Indigenous People, currently visiting Australia, to draw his attention to the concerns being expressed by Indigenous members of the Uniting Church."

- Events

Intervention walkoff's Blog: Speaking Tour - Brisbane
"Brisbane - Saturday 17th October, 1.30pm, Kurlipa Hall, 174 Boundary Street, West End With Reverend Aunty Alex Gater, Aboriginal Women For Change
Brisbane - Monday 19th October, 1pm, Room 214, Gordon Greenwood Building (32), University of Queensland."

Stop the Intervention: Speaking tour - Ampilatwatja walk-off against NT Intervention; 6 - 20 October 2009
[scroll down page] http://stoptheintervention.org/

- Video

Intervention walkoff's Blog - Video:
[scroll down page] http://interventionwalkoff.wordpress.com/video/
"October 7, 2009 Ampilatwatja speaking tour forum at UTS, Sydney.
The NT Intervention in Crisis, Why Jenny Macklin must resign
... Speech by Chris Graham, Editor National Indigenous Times
... Speech by Richard Downs"

- Speeches

Stop the Intervention: Ampilatwatja Walk-off
Oct 09: "Richard Downs' Speech"

Social Policy Connections: Legal profession statements October 2009
Oct 09: "This is an edited extract of the Archbishop Daniel Mannix Memorial Lecture delivered on Tuesday by Alastair Nicholson, former chief justice of the Family Court of Australia. ... A formal treaty with indigenous people might be the catalyst for more meaningful engagement, which the intervention has not achieved, says Alastair Nicholson. ... "

- Radio & Audio

(Central Australian Aboriginal Media Association):
14 Oct 09: "* Tasmanian Aboriginal rights campaigner arrested at a protest. ...
* A visiting senior human rights lawyer says Tangentyere town camp residents must be provided with an opportunity to participate with decision making of their own lives."

ABC Radio National: Late Night Live: Ampilatwatja Protest
13 Oct 09: "A conversation about the protest by elders and others from the Ampilatwatja community in central Australia. Three months ago over a hundred people walked out of the small community and refused to go back until the federal government responded to their complaints about the lack of consultation and restrictions placed on them under the Northern Territory Emergency Response.
Guest: Richard Downs, Spokesman for the Ampilatwatja community protest.
Presenter: Phillip Adams
Story Researcher and Producer: Chris Bullock"

(Central Australian Aboriginal Media Association):
13 Oct 09: "Unresolved issues with an Utopia community store."

CAAMA Radio Morning News
(Central Australian Aboriginal Media Association):
12 Oct 09: "The Fed. Government has once again critisiced after delaying action in dealing with housing needs for Indigenous Australia."

CAAMA Radio News
(Central Australian Aboriginal Media Association):
9 Oct 09: "Federal Opposition Indigenous Affairs spokesperson Tony Abbott says he can understand why people are disappointed with the Emergency response."

CAAMA Radio Morning News
(Central Australian Aboriginal Media Association):
8 Oct 09: "A leading Australian Human Rights lawyer says Labour needs rework or scrap racist [elements of the NT intervention]"

Intervention walkoff's Blog - Audio:
2 Oct 09: "Richard Downs speaking in Sydney at the start of the Ampilatwatja walk off east coast speaking tour"

- Opinion

On Line Opinion: The Northern Territory In(ter)vasion
14 Oct 09: "The saga of the Intervention will continue until Prime Minister Rudd appoints a competent Minister for Indigenous Affairs who can relate to Aborigines in a way which respects their dignity, listens to what it is they have to say, and upholds their rights to have the same protection against racial discrimination as other Australians. Such a Minister might even try to act in ways which are compatible with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples." John Tomlinson, a visiting scholar at QUT

Solidarity: It’s time to unite
Oct 09: "In July Aboriginal elders from the Ampilatwatja community began a walk-off protest against the Intervention. Solidarity spoke to Richard Downs, one of the protest leaders. Where has the idea of the walk-off come from? In the 1940s a few of our Alyawarr elders, now in their mid-80s, were involved in a walk-off from Lake Nash station. They were standing up to get the same rights as the white people."

Solidarity: Intervention fuels racist violence in Alice Springs
Oct 09: " ... The blame for increasing racism lies at the feet of the federal government. Barbara Shaw, a resident of Mt Nancy town camp and spokesperson for the Intervention Rollback Action Group says, “We’ve got racial tensions in this town because of the NT Intervention. They suspended the Racial Discrimination Act to roll out a policy which treats Aboriginal people as second-class citizens. This opened the door for more racism from the general community”." Lauren Mellor

Green Left: NT walk-off: solidarity needed
10 Oct 09: "On October 9, 100 people gathered at the Manning Clark Centre at the Australian National University, to hear about the Northern Territory intervention and the inspiring Alyawarra people’s walk-off at Ampilatwatja in the NT. The speakers were Harry Nelson from Yuendumu, NT, walk-off spokesperson Richard Downs, and Michael Anderson, founder of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy in Canberra." Lara Pullin, Canberra

Green Left: NT walk-off: Indigenous community defies racist intervention
10 Oct 09: "In early October, Green Left Weekly visited the Alyawarr people’s walk-off camp, three hours north-east of Alice Springs. ... Ampilatwatja, part of around 300 square kilometres handed back to the Alyawarra people in 1976, is one of the communities compulsorily acquired under the intervention. Elders at the walk-off camp told GLW they felt shame and anger at the discriminatory measures of the intervention." Peter Robson & Emma Murphy

Arena: Contracting Out Indigenous Futures
Sep 09: "Noel Pearson and Peter Sutton both take an assimilationist turn writes Geoff Sharp ... Noel Pearson, as Indigenous activist and intellectual, has consolidated his national prominence of late; some even suggest that he is on course to emulate Obama by moving on to seek election as a federal parliamentary figure. ... " Geoff Sharp, General Editor of Arena Publications

- Discussion Paper

CAEPR - Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research:
Ideology, Evidence and Competing Principles in Australian Indigenous Affairs:
From Brough to Rudd via Pearson and the NTER
William Sanders - Discussion Paper 289 / 2009
13 Oct 09: "Abstract: This paper tracks the recent rise of ideology and evidence discourse as a way of describing good and bad Indigenous affairs policy. Expressing dissatisfaction with this discourse, it suggests a slightly more complex analytic way of thinking about Indigenous affairs involving three competing principles; equality, choice and guardianship. ... " William Sanders

- News

National Indigenous Times:
Indigenous demountable housing to be put on Christmas Island
16 Oct 09: "Plans to relocate demountable housing from Alice Springs to Christmas Island have sparked a barrage of criticism, with the Rudd government accused of pilfering from impoverished Aboriginal people. The dongas will be used to provide housing as well as recreational and office facilities at the rapidly filling detention facility."

Australian: Mal Brough says use dongas in Northern Territory to house asylum-seekers
16 Oct 09: "FORMER federal indigenous affairs minister Mal Brough says demountable buildings being sent to house asylum-seekers should be used to ease the accommodation crisis in indigenous communities, despite claims they fail to meet national guidelines."

ABC: Alice's unused demountables rile Brough
15 Oct 09: "Former federal Indigenous affairs minister, Mal Brough, says it is appalling that demountables sitting in Alice Springs for three years have not been used as emergency accommodation in the town. ... The organisation managing town camps in Alice Springs says demountables are not suitable for housing Aboriginal people."

Australian: Asylum housing 'not pilfered'
15 Oct 09: "DEMOUNTABLES previously used to house asylum-seekers in Woomera are on the way to Christmas Island detention centre amid claims the Rudd government is "pilfering" crisis accommodation intended for indigenous communities."

ABC: Indigenous Australians 'making way' for asylum seekers
15 Oct 09: "The Federal Opposition has criticised the Government's decision to send demountable buildings to Christmas Island to house extra asylum seekers."

ABC: Town camp residents 'denied investment say'
14 Oct 09: "A human rights lawyer says a $100 million investment in Alice Springs town camps will not achieve the Federal Government's aims unless residents have a greater say in how and where new houses are built. Ben Schockman is representing town camp residents opposed to a 40-year-lease deal signed between the camp housing associations and the Government earlier this year."

Australian: Indigenous housing to go to boat people
14 Oct 09: "THE Rudd Government has been accused of pilfering from Aborigines over claims it plans to relocate demountable housing from Alice Springs to Christmas Island."

St Marys Star: 'This is 2009, not the 1700s'
13 Oct 09: "TREGEAR was the sixth stop in Richard Downs' national speaking tour on the Northern Territory intervention. A big turnout packed Wundunarrkoo Hall on Sunday to hear one man's views on the restrictions Aborigines face in remote Northern Territory communities. ... it's the removal of Aboriginal land rights that has angered communities the most."

ABC: Leader of an Aboriginal protest group arrested
13 Oct 09: "The spokesperson for Tasmania's Aboriginal centre has been arrested during a vocal protest outside a community cabinet meeting in Hobart. ... Indigenous protesters have gathered outside, holding banners and waving aboriginal flags. They are angry about the Federal Government's quarantining of welfare payments for Aborigines in the Northern Territory."

ABC: Call for Army to hasten remote housing
13 Oct 09: "The independent Member for MacDonnell says the Northern Territory Government must start considering radical initiatives to get houses built in remote Indigenous communities. Alison Anderson deserted Labor over concerns the Strategic Indigenous Housing and Infrastructure Program would deliver less than half the promised houses."

Impunuty Watch: Oceania: Australian Aboriginal Leader and Advocates Criticize NT Intervention
12 Oct 09: "Aboriginal elder Richard Downs, along with various political and legal adversaries, has accused the Australian government of racism against the aboriginal people. Downs criticizes the NT Emergency Response (NTER) measures, stating that the measures have disempowered Aboriginal people." Cindy Trinh, Impunity Watch Reporter, Oceania

ABC: Community store issues causing 'division'
12 Oct 09: "The president of the Barkly Shire, Rosalie Kunoth-Monks, says a delay in resolving issues at a community store is causing division in the Utopia homelands."

SMH: Government considers tracing welfare money
11 Oct 09: "PEOPLE who receive family assistance payments or welfare could have their purchases tracked via barcodes as part of a new income-management system being explored by the Federal Government. Spending would be controlled by making welfare and other payments available through Eftpos-style cards that could allow recipients to buy only products such as food, clothing and household goods."

National Indigenous Times:
Intervention undoes 50 years of progress: Aboriginal elder
9 Oct 09: "The Northern Territory intervention is a racist policy that undoes fifty years of progress, Aboriginal elder Richard Downs says. Mr Downs is on a speaking tour to rally support for a protest camp set up outside the Ampilatwatja community in the NT. Residents of the camp say they won't move back into the community until the intervention measures are lifted."

ABC: Indigenous housing ‘beset by delays’
9 Oct 09: "The Federal Opposition has criticised the Government for delaying action in dealing with housing needs for Indigenous Australia. A report this week has revealed that 11,000 homes are needed just to meet extreme needs. The Opposition's Indigenous affairs spokesman, Tony Abbott, has just been on a tour of central Australia and says the Federal Government's remote Indigenous housing program for the NT is beset by delays."

Brisbane Times: Australia close to a charter of rights
8 Oct 09: "If Australia had a humans right act the Northern Territory intervention would have been struck down, the author of a government report recommending such a charter says. Similarly, tough anti-terror laws allowing for detention without charge, and the locking up of asylum seekers' children, may also have been scuttled, according to National Human Rights Consultation committee chair Frank Brennan."

National Indigenous Times:
Racist intervention measures must be dumped or reworked: lawyer
7 Oct 09: "A leading human rights lawyer says the federal government must rework or scrap racist elements of the intervention program in remote Indigenous communities and honour Australia's obligations under international law. Labor is moving to reinstate the legislation that allowed some of the more controversial measures to be rolled out. But Julian Burnside, QC, said Australia would fail as a signatory to a number of UN conventions and violate its own laws, unless there are changes to the intervention's "overtly discriminatory" measures."

National Indigenous Times:
Royal commission needed into Indigenous housing: CLP
7 Oct 09: "A Country Liberal MLA is calling for a Royal Commission into Indigenous housing in the Northern Territory. Opposition Indigenous affairs spokesman Adam Giles says Aboriginal people in remote communities are living in dilapidated, unsafe homes which they have no hope of ever owning or improving."

National Indigenous Times:
Cop shops prove Labor committed to NT intervention: Macklin
7 Oct 09: "The Rudd government is to spend $50 million over three years building five new police stations in remote Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory. Labor has been accused of killing off the federal intervention into remote communities after axing the role of operational head. But on Tuesday Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin said the push to build more cop shops proved the commonwealth was committed to strengthening the intervention."


- Media Release

ANTaR: Rights Report a good start but Indigenous rights left in the “too hard” basket
13 Oct 09: "ANTaR today welcomed the release of the report of the National Human Rights Consultation. "We welcome the dawning of a human rights culture and legal framework in Australia which this report represents," ANTaR President, Dr Janet Hunt, said today. "However it appears that the distinctive rights of Australia's First Peoples have been left in the too hard basket. Yet the Report itself makes clear that the consultations, especially those with many Indigenous participants, clearly indicated that these rights need protection."

- Special email bulletin

ANTaR SA: Special email bulletin -- 'Britain must compensate Aboriginal people for radioactive fallout'
[scroll down page] http://antarsa.auspics.org.au/
"ANTaR SA and ALRM have re-issued this statement on 24 August 2009 (pdf 88kb), with some amendments to the statement initially circulated on 6 August. Some inaccuracies in the statement have been pointed out to us, in relation to the references to compensation and Maralinga Tjarutja - we are seeking to clarify these points. We apologise for any misunderstanding caused. ANTaR SA and ALRM are re-issuing the statement because the core issue remains - the radioactive fallout from the 1950s British atomic tests went to many places in Australia, and all Aboriginal people ought to have access to pursuing compensation for damages from this fallout."

- Scientific Report

Alyawarr speakers from Ampilatwatja, Fiona Walsh and Josie Douglas. 2009.
Angka Akatyerr-akert: A Desert raisin report,
Desert Knowledge Cooperative Research Centre, Alice Springs.

- Opinion

Solidarity: Punitive welfare won’t improve education
Oct 09: "Conservative Aboriginal leader Noel Pearson has used recent school attendance figures to trumpet the success of the punitive Family Responsibilities Commission (FRC). The FRC, designed by Pearson’s Cape York Institute, began operating in four Cape York Aboriginal communities in 2008. It has the power to quarantine welfare payments in response to problems such as child school attendance." Paddy Gibson

- Radio

Indigenous radio station 98.9FM Brisbane
Let's Talk - Indigenous presented talkback:
6 Oct 09: "Tiga Bayles spoke with Chris Graham, Editor of The National Indigenous Times."
Listen to this interview on-line:

- News

National Indigenous Times:
Aboriginal rights need to be acknowledged: ANTaR
14 Oct 09: "Australia might be one step closer to adopting a charter of human rights, but activists say it must acknowledge Aboriginal people as the nation's first people if it wants to end racism. ... Australia is currently the only western democracy without a legislated charter of rights, and Dr Hunt [president of the Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation (ANTAR)] said action was long overdue."

National Indigenous Times:
Garret remains tight-lipped on future of Uluru rock climb
9 Oct 09: "Federal Environment Minster Peter Garrett remains tight-lipped about the future of the Uluru rock climb, more than 20 years after he sang at its base about Aboriginal land rights."

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WGAR: Working Group for Aboriginal Rights (Australia)