We members of the Prescribed Area Peoples’ Alliance have made the following statement from our June 18-19 meeting in Darwin.
Everybody else has their rights. Aboriginal people aren’t recognised. They don’t want to listen to us because they want our land. We are our own leaders, passed down through our families. We don’t need leaders in parliament to speak. We can use our own voice. The government says they support the declaration of the rights of indigenous peoples but they haven’t made it legal. The government has to make it legal. All Aboriginal people are being treated as second class citizens.
We mob gathered here from all over. Black people and their supporters need to stand and fight together. We Aboriginal people are getting big problems from the mainstream system. We’re disempowered. The intervention is taking our rights away. We need to be recognised, even though we are a minority in Australia. Support us to fight both the Federal and NT government, their system and what they’re doing to us.
Assimilation and rights to culture
We are who we are. They want to make Aboriginal people into white people. They are pushing us into a corner. That will mean they will take away everything that we belong to. Our culture and lore would be lost. If we go the white man way and they don’t recognise our culture they control you by the laws they make.
The Intervention is an attack on Aboriginal people’s identity.
White law is not working otherwise we wouldn’t be sitting here talking about the intervention.
We shouldn’t have separate Aboriginal policies. Racism cuts us away. It feels like we’re not citizens of Australia. People discriminate against us in every way. We don’t have our rights.
We went through racism and hardship at school in the old days, and today our children are still going through that. There is still a lot of prejudice. The government is running us down altogether under the intervention. It’s demeaning to us.
We want the government to reinstate the Racial Discrimination Act (1975). Human rights for all. Empower the law, bring it out in the open. Bringing back the Racial Discrimination Act will empower us again.
Homelands and communities
Homelands are our traditional country. It’s where we teach our kids about our culture. It’s been handed down from generation to generation. We need to keep the traditional ties to our land.
People are healthier and stronger living on homelands. Eating traditional foods. It’s the right environment to raise kids.
Everybody pays rent but there are no basic services like running water for our homelands. The government says no more funding for services.
If people are forced to leave off homelands they will lose everything, their identity. When the communities are empty the bulldozers will come in. Why would we give it up now, after what our old people went through to get it?
We sat on the land and protested to get the land to begin with, and that’s how we will keep it. We are not moving! These are our homelands. We fought long and hard to get native title and now they come with this policy of denying of services and resources. It’s wrong.
We are going to stay there forever - We are not moving!
Government demands regarding homelands
We need more housing on our homelands and provide basic services like phones, water and electricity. We want help to set up our own enterprises on homelands. We need public transport to help people get home and out of town. We should have rights for public housing on homelands.
Both governments must respect and recognise people living on homelands.
Government business managers
The GBMs think they’re the controller. As Traditional Owners we don’t have a say anymore. They’ve got the policy and procedures manual behind them and think they wield the power. They made all these rules down in Canberra, never consulted with us and the GBM just tells us all the new rules. They are working against our people.
In communities GBM’s houses get put up in a matter of days, but we’re still waiting for houses and schools.
The government is not accountable to communities. We have to prove where every dollar is spent, why don’t they?
Government demands regarding GBMs and public servants
We’ve got people with skills that can do the work of the government business managers, people from our communities should be managing our communities.
The basics card is discriminatory to us all. We have had no consultation. It’s taking away our rights and degrading us. It’s disempowered us. It’s very racist. We are going backwards to the welfare days.
Little children are sacred, but under the Intervention they are going hungry.
The basics card makes it hard to travel for cultural obligations. Basics card cannot be used to help family out with food when you’re stayng with them. Basics card takes away our ability to contribute and our independence. It makes it hard to travel for funerals and cultural business.
Nothing has changed since the basic card has been introduced. It’s gotten worse and worse. It’s not doing anything for the kids. They’re saying its working but where is their accountability? Show us the figures - where it is helping?
We need more support for those that need help with income management, not blanket quarantines for everyone. It’s making it harder for us to live day to day. The kids are suffering too. Income management should be voluntary. We need to fight for our rights – they’ve been taken away from us.
We want basic rights – not Basic cards!
Demand regarding income management:
The Income Management system should be voluntary
The government will only give you a house if you sign a lease. Our houses are broken down. We don’t believe the government’s promises anymore. We’ve come to a dead end. The only way we can get services and housing is to sign a lease.
They’re pushing us into a situation where land is the name of the game. They want the minerals that are in the sacred lands right across the territory. They want to take the town camps now but there are always strings attached. The government will control the country then. We want to stay in control. We need to work together. We don’t want the government to take over our communities and camps.
The government is only promising housing to a few communities who sign leases. All the rest miss out. It’s causing argument and division between communities. We are all in this together. We want housing without signing a lease.
Demands for government re housing
We want houses without having to sign leases and give up our land.
We want houses on remote communities and homelands. We want proper infrastructure. We need electricity and water, we don’t want to have keep using generators and water trucks. We need proper roads to our communities.
We feel shame. This policy is continuing to put us down. There is no consultation.
People need to have ownership over decisions that affect their community.
Jenny Macklin says she is talking to people in the communities, but everytime we invite her to come meet with us she refuses.
Demand regarding consultation:
Proper consultation is government coming to our homelands or communities, sitting down with us without a time limit and listen and talk to us face to face. Listen to our ideas. Talk to us properly. What we want. Come out to our homeland.
We didn’t come on the boat with the Government, they need to understand we had our own language before they came with English. We want to keep passing it on.
Demand regarding bilingual education:
We want the government to support bilingual schools. We want Aboriginal languages taught in schools. All schools should have cross-cultural training for teachers. Bilingual language is keeping our culture alive and strong.
This intervention was supposed to be about helping Aboriginal people. Health and education should be the first priority. It’s a disgrace.
People needing medical help have to travel into town. Pregnant women have to travel long distances on buses to give birth. We used to have a mobile clinic that visited outstations.
The government has made a lot of cut backs to health and mothers’ services on communities.
The government says they’re closing the gap, but it’s getting wider. Under the intervention policy the government said they’re going to make it better for indigenous people - better in housing, education and health. They say they’re closing the gap in a few years but it’s not getting smaller, it’s getting bigger and bigger. It’s dividing the nation and getting worse for everyone.
Demand regarding health:
We want Aboriginal controlled medical services to be fully-funded. Remote communities need clinics with full-time staff.
Under the intervention police have Star Chamber powers where they can hold Aboriginal people for longer periods.
Police should not be able to enter our ceremony. The police think that we are low down people.
Deaths in custody are increasing. We should have independent people investigating any deaths in custody. We don’t trust the police. Police should have permits to search our houses and people.
Demand regarding police:
Implement the recommendations from the report into Aboriginal deaths in custody.
Statement made by members of the Prescribed Area Peoples’ Alliance from:
Angkelengklwe, Blank Tank, Harry Creek, Sixteen Mile, Angulur, West Waterhouse, Iteyepinpye, Laynhapuy homelands
Yuendumu, Finke, Papunya, Tara, Ntaria, Mutitjulu, Galawinku, Ramingining Milingimbi communities
Hidden Valley, Palmers, Mt Nancy, Trucking Yards town camps
Stop the Intervention: Self Determination not Assimilation
No takeover of Aboriginal town camps
Full funding, housing and services for all communities
No blanket welfare quarantines
Reinstate the Racial Discrimination Act
Aboriginal control of Aboriginal affairs
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