WGAR News: Reinstatement of the Racial Discrimination Act (RDA) (21 Oct 09)

WGAR: Working Group for Aboriginal Rights (Australia)

WGAR website: http://wgar.info/

Reinstatement of the Racial Discrimination Act (RDA)
NT Intervention articles
Other Aboriginal articles


- Urgent Action

Amnesty International Australia - Working to Protect Human Rights:
No conditions, no excuses Mr Rudd
14 Oct 09: "Suspending the Racial Discrimination Act (RDA) allows racially discriminatory actions to occur - and this is exactly what happened in the roll out of the Northern Territory Intervention. ... The Federal Government has promised to take steps to reinstate the RDA as soon as next week. However, the Government is proposing to designate some discriminatory practices, such as welfare quarantining, as a ‘special measure’ to allow them to continue. Such ‘special measures’ would defeat the purpose and the spirit of the reinstatement of the RDA. It is important that the reinstatement of the RDA should contain no loopholes to allow racial discrimination to continue. Call on the Federal Government now to reinstate the RDA in full… no conditions, no excuses! ... Take action now - Send a letter to the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, by clicking on the ACT NOW button on right-hand side of this page."

- News

ABC: Amnesty demands changes to intervention
19 Oct 09: "Amnesty International is calling for people to write to the Prime Minister to demand immediate changes to the Northern Territory intervention in Aboriginal communities. The Federal Government has promised to reinstate the Racial Discrimination Act, but says it will keep welfare quarantining in remote communities."

SMH: Aboriginal intervention plan rebadged to meet race discrimination laws
18 Oct 09: "THE Federal Government's intervention into indigenous communities will be rebadged as a positive measure as part of its plan to make the policy comply with anti-discrimination laws. Legislation reinstating the Racial Discrimination Act is expected to be introduced into Parliament as soon as this week." Stephanie Peatling

National Indigenous Times:
Rudd govt should rework or scrap intervention: QC
15 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."


- Background on the Northern Territory Intervention

Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
Northern Territory National Emergency Response


- Activities

Rollback the Intervention: Support
Oct 2009: "Current work (October 2009) [by IRAG - Intervention Rollback Action Group] includes informing and supporting Alice Springs town camp residents in their efforts to get the federal government to listen to their concerns about the proposed takeover of their land and homes. These efforts have also been supported by the Human Rights Law Resource Centre who have helped lodge court cases in the Federal Court in Melbourne. IRAG is also working on helping residents put in submissions to the government about their concerns regarding Minister Macklin’s threat of compulsory acquisition of their town camps if they don’t sign over their land for 40 + 40 years. ... A campaign is continuing to pressure the government to keep its pre-election promise to reinstate the Racial Discrimination Act."

- Events

Stop the Intervention: Ampilatwatja Walk-off Info
Report on Ampilatwatja speaking tour
Oct 09: "The recent visit to Sydney of Richard Downs, spokesperson for the Ampilatwatja walk-off in the Northern Territory and Harry Nelson from Yuendumu (NT) was a great success. The strong stand taken by the community at Ampilatwatja and the clear leadership shown by Richard and Harry galvanised profound support for the fight against the Intervention. Stop the Intervention Collective Sydney has been able to more seriously engage with a range of progressive organisations and the campaign is building momentum within the trade union movement. Following some significant contributions from unions and individual supporters, enough money has been raised to sink a bore to supply water for the walk-off camp."

Socialist Alternative: Tour builds solidarity for Aboriginal walk-off
Oct 09: "In July, Aboriginal people walked off the government-controlled community of Ampilatwatja in the Northern Territory. Protesting against years of racism and government neglect, the people of Ampilatwatja (pronounced "umblud-witch") have established a permanent protest camp, vowing not to return to a life under government control. Now, a speaking tour down the east coast of Australia has started to galvanise union and community support for the protest, and for other Aboriginal communities resisting the Northern Territory Emergency Response (NTER, or Northern Territory Intervention)." Jerome Small

Green Left: ‘Stop toxic racism!’
19 Oct 09: "MELBOURNE — “The government wants the land because there’s uranium underneath it!” Aboriginal activist Robbie Thorpe told a vibrant October 16 rally protesting against the NT intervention. He was referring to the compulsory acquisition of Aboriginal land, one of the intervention’s policies. “Racism has reared its ugly red face.” Aboriginal people and supporters called on the federal government and Aboriginal affairs minister Jenny Macklin to halt the intervention and reinstate the Racial Discrimination Act."

Green Left: NT intervention: ‘a land grab’
19 Oct 09: "The Ampilawatja walk-off national speaking tour is spreading the word about life under the Northern Territory intervention and the Aboriginal elders who have walked off their community in opposition."

- Photo

Sydney Indymedia: Richard Downs portrait
19 Oct 09

- Interview

Socialist Alternative: Interview with Aboriginal activists Richard Downs and Harry Nelson
Oct 09: "On Friday 16 October, Richard Downs and Harry Nelson addressed a packed public meeting of 240 people at the MAYSAR Aboriginal gym in Fitzroy, Melbourne. After the meeting Richard Downs spoke to Christine Brown from the Nunga Wangga show on Radio Adelaide, and Ford D from Socialist Alternative magazine. ...
Christine Brown: Can you tell us what led you to walking off your community? ...
Ford D: In your opinion what is exactly behind the Intervention? Why are they doing this?"

- Opinion

National Indigenous Times:
Margin Notes: Why Jenny Macklin earned an Ernie
15 Oct 09: "EVA COX* nominated the Minister for Indigenous Affairs in the annual Ernies. Here she explains why the NT intervention is both racist and sexist. Once a year, Sydney feminists gather for the annual Ernies' awards dinner, named after a deeply sexist trade unionist and run by a group of feminist politicians." Dr Eva Cox, a prominent Australian feminist and a lecturer at the University of Technology, Sydney

- Radio

CAAMA Radio news
(Central Australian Aboriginal Media Association):
19 Oct 09: "Federal Government is reportedly wanting to promote the Intervention as a positive thing."

Indigenous radio station 98.9FM Brisbane
Let's Talk - Indigenous presented talkback:
13 Oct 09: "Glen Dooley - Karen Dorante spoke with North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency (NAAJA) Principal Legal Officer, Glen Dooley. They spoke about diversion programs in Communities, Indigenous kids in court, incarceration of Indigenous people, Northern Territory Intervention, legal system and the legal education DVD."
Listen to this interview on-line:

- News

Green Left: Racism begets violence in Alice Springs
19 Oct 09: "Five Alice Springs men have been charged for the July 25 bashing of Aboriginal man ... The killing is part of a spate of racist violence that has plagued Alice Springs over recent months. ... The rise in racist violence comes in the context of federal government policies that clearly discriminate against Aboriginal people - the NT intervention."

SMH: All-in communities will be death of the Yolngu, elder says
17 Oct 09: "Ancestral homelands are a life force, Lindsay Murdoch reports. Gawirrin Gumana is deeply troubled. Sitting in a wheelchair with his Order of Australia insignia around his neck, the most senior traditional leader in Arnhem Land warns that white men's politics threaten his Yolngu people's future."


- Activities

What’s Working: Aboriginal women have answers themselves
2009: "Having white people tell you what to do once again is repeating history. By taking control of our own land the government is taking control of our heart and spirit
Mitch, an Eastern Arrente woman from the Engawala community ...
Below are some stories of the many programs that are working in education, health, the law and other areas. ... "

- Opinion

National Indigenous Times:
The Pointed View: More wrongs than rights
15 Oct 09: "There was a lot of hope in the ALP's national human rights consultations, but once again the losers are Indigenous people, writes PROF LARISSA BEHRENDT*. After a nation-wide consultation process, the National Human Rights Consultation Committee has produced its report. It recommends that there be a Charter of Rights for Australia. But what does it say on the rights of Indigenous people?" Larissa Behrendt, a Professor of Law at the University of Technology Sydney

- TV

Coming Up

ABC1 TV: Message Stick - Maralinga: The Anangu Story: Part One
"6:00pm Friday, 23 Oct 2009 ... 50 years ago secret atomic tests were carried out at a place called Maralinga in South Australia. The traditional Aboriginal communities were to be moved but somehow they were covered in radioactive fallout. Part 1 of 2."

See this related link: 'Britain must compensate Aboriginal people for radioactive fallout'
[scroll down page] http://antarsa.auspics.org.au/

- News

National Indigenous Times:
Rights debate heats up as report handed down
15 Oct 09: "A report into the findings of nationwide human rights consultations has found overwhelming support for a Human Rights Act in Australia. It also found that the protection of Indigenous rights is still a central concern. The National Human Rights Consultation Report, outlines the findings of The National Human Rights Consultation Committee, which was commissioned by the federal government in December last year to determine which human rights should be protected and promoted in Australia." Madelaine Sealey

National Indigenous Times:
Abbott views 'outdated': CLC
15 Oct 09: "One of Australia's most powerful Aboriginal land councils has lashed out at opposition spokesman on Indigenous affairs Tony Abbott, accusing him of holding "outdated and purely ideological" views. Mr Abbott said that he was going to investigate whether the Central Land Council (CLC) should be broken up into a set of smaller bodies."

National Indigenous Times:
School rise not due to welfare reforms: Sarra
15 Oct 09: "Tough welfare reforms in Cape York are making it harder, not easier, to get kids to attend school, despite attendance almost doubling in one community, a leading Indigenous educator says. Dr Chris Sarra accused the Family Responsibilities Commission (FRC) of taking undue credit for the jump in attendance from 37 to 63 per cent at Aurukun in the past year."

National Indigenous Times:
Black jail rate jumps due to sentencing, report says
15 Oct 09: "An increase in the number of juveniles and Indigenous people sent to jail in NSW is being attributed to tougher sentencing in courts, not an increase in crime. The NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research has released research showing the adult Indigenous imprisonment rate rose 48 per cent between 2001 and 2008."

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WGAR: Working Group for Aboriginal Rights (Australia)