Public forum “Stronger Futures” means “stolen futures” for NT communities

Stop the Intervention Collective Sydney Media Release 26 November 2012

Public Forum
“Stronger Futures” means “Stolen Futures” for NT communities.
NT Aboriginal leaders to speak out against the Intervention at human rights day forum

On 6 December, the Stop the Intervention Collective Sydney (STICS) will hold a major forum on the NT Intervention to mark Human Rights Day.

The meeting will also mark twenty years since Paul Keating gave his famous "Redfern Speech" which recognised the destructive impact of colonisation on Aboriginal people.

The NT Intervention is a return to these colonial-style policies. The Gillard government has pushed ahead with the ‘Stronger Futures’ legislation and has extended the Intervention for a further 10 years. This policy is destructive to Aboriginal people and their communities.

Communities are at breaking point. Shameful statistics show what 5 years of backward policies can do:
· attempted suicide and self-harm (in 2007 there were 57 incidents, in 2010 there were 183, in 2011 there were 261)
· skyrocketing incarceration (as of March 2011 there had been a 40% increase in Indigenous incarceration since 2007)
· school attendance rates (dropped from 62.3% in 2007 to 57.5% in 2011).

"Efforts by Aboriginal people in the NT to resist the Intervention, and its extension under so-called “Stronger Futures”, require urgent support from across Australia, this is a defining human rights issue," said Paddy Gibson from STICS.

Respected central Australian Aboriginal Elder, Rosalie Kunoth-Monks OAM will address the forum. She will discuss the implications of the recent NT election, when many Aboriginal people voted to change the government as a protest against the Intervention and similar assimilationist policies being driven by the NT Labor government.

Her speech will also focus on grass-roots initiatives being taken by Aboriginal people to resist Intervention policies, which she says have only exacerbated social crises in NT communities.

Despite the passage of Stronger Futures laws which extend the Intervention until 2022, many communities are refusing to sign long-term leases with the Commonwealth and have issued directives that Intervention and Shire staff leave their land.

Other speakers include Rosalie’s granddaughter Amelia Pangarte Kunoth-Monks, a youth leader from the Utopia homelands who has lived on the "Income Management" system and veteran journalist Jeff McMullen.

"The legitimacy of the Intervention is in tatters. Aboriginal anger at top-down policies has swept the NT Labor government from power. The government's own statistics show suicide rates, Aboriginal incarceration, alcohol fuelled violence and unemployment have all markedly increased since 2007. Plans for an expansion of income management have hit a brick wall of opposition, including union bans on implementation that have stopped any referrals for compulsory income management here in NSW".

"This forum aims to help build a strong movement behind leaders like Rosalie Kunoth-Monks fighting for an alternative approach based on self-determination, the right to live on homelands and basic justice", concluded Mr Gibson.

"This forum will mark 20 years since Paul Keating’s Redfern Speech. Where has the hope and conciliatory feeling of 20years ago gone? Why have Aboriginal rights and conditions gone backward since? The greatest attack has been the Intervention" said Emily Bullock from STICS.

"In 2008 there was the Apology to the Stolen Generations, but still the removal of children continues at alarmingrates, made easier by the Intervention. The policies finance bureaucrats to remove children but offer no support for families to keep children safe."

"Communities have no control over their own finance or property. We are in solidarity with communities defending what little “land rights” they have won by refusing to sign the so-called voluntary leases on offer".

"The Intervention has created apartheid right here in Australia. This situation must change. Please join us on 6 December to address this and fight the attacks on the human rights of the First Australians", concluded Ms Bullock.

This situation must change. Please come to the public forum.

6.30 pm on 6 December 2012
Tom Mann Theatre, 136 Chalmers St, Surry Hills, Sydney

Visit these links for further reading;
http://www.stoptheintervention.org/
http://stoptheintervention.org/facts
http://australianpolitics.com/1992/12/10/paul-keatings-redfern-speech.html
http://www.australianbiography.gov.au/subjects/kunothmonks/
http://stoptheintervention.org/feb-13-2010-protest/speech-jeff-mcmullen

Listen to Rosalie Kunoth-Monks’ speech on 7 November 2012:
http://www.concernedaustralians.com.au/media/ADTD_launch_speech_Rosalie_...

For more information contact
Paddy Gibson 0415 800 586
Emily Bullock 0432 105 438
STICS email: stoptheintervention@gmail.com

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