WGAR News: Protest House at the Alyawarr people's walk-off camp (16 Feb 10)

WGAR: Working Group for Aboriginal Rights (Australia)

WGAR website: http://wgar.info/

Protest House at the Alyawarr people's walk-off camp
Racial Discrimination Act - New legislation
Other NT Intervention Articles


- Background

Intervention walk-off's Blog: http://interventionwalkoff.wordpress.com/

- Articles

The Northern Myth: Kevin Rudd’s “clanging gong” rings hollow at the Ampilitawatja walk-off camp
15 Feb 10: "I got up early yesterday morning to drive 300 kilometres – most of it over rough roads muddy and puddled by recent storms – from Alice Springs to the Ampilitawatja walk off camp, where a ceremony would be held to hand-over a house recently donated to the walk-off campers by a generous donor and good “friend in the south”. Lots of other friends of the walk-off camp – from the north, south, east and west – also made the long, hot trek out to the walk-off camp to celebrate the occasion ... " Bob Gosford
[Includes impressive photos!]

Solidarity: Black and white unite to build protest house
Feb 10: "A “protest house” built at the walk-off camp established by the Alyawarr people, is set to be opened on February 14. It will coincide with national demonstrations against the NT Intervention. Many Alyawarr walked off their community at Ampilatwatja, 350kms northeast of Alice Springs, in July last year. They set up camp outside the boundaries of the “prescribed area” established by the Intervention. The strong stand at Ampilatwatja has become an important focal point for the national campaign. ... " Paddy Gibson

Green Left: Our Common Cause: A brilliant showcase of solidarity
14 Feb 10: "In October, when Ampilatwatja walk-off spokesperson Richard Downs toured the eastern states with Yuendumu elder Uncle Harry Nelson, ... They also made a very specific appeal for solidarity: for trade unionists with the appropriate skills and qualifications to travel to Ampilatwatja to help build a house. This is something the government had failed to do, despite housing being promised to NT Aboriginal communities in exchange for the rights that the intervention took from them." Tony Iltis

Age: 'Outcast' Aborigines stage red desert walk-out
13 Feb 10: "Sixty-eight years later Mr [Banjo] Morton has led another walk-off, this time from Ampilatwatja, a settlement in central Australia's red desert country, ... But three kilometres away at Honeymoon Bore volunteers this week poured a concrete slab, and a $25,000 kit home donated by an Adelaide company arrived by truck and was expected to be erected in time for a traditional smoking ceremony opening tomorrow." Lindsay Murdoch

Green Left: NT protest house: union solidarity with Aboriginal struggle
12 Feb 10: "On February 14, the house was launched with traditional Alyawarr songs and dancing as well as speakers including MUA Sydney branch secretary Paul McAleer. A bus load of Anangu from the APY lands in South Australia joined the celebrations. Elder Banjo Morton told GLW: “That's the way we wanted it with the unions helping us. All different people working here together, helping us with the walk-off.”" Emma Murphy, Ampilatwatja

Socialist Alternative: Unions help build a house of Aboriginal resistance
12 Feb 10: "A house being built at a protest camp against the NT Intervention will be publicly opened on Sunday 14 February at Honeymoon Bore, near Ampilatwatja. ... Trade unions from around the country have come in behind the walk-off. Representatives from the CFMEU, AMWU, AWU, LHMU and Unions NT have sent volunteers to help build the house, with donated materials."

- Slideshow of construction of Alyawarr Protest House

Picasa Web Albums - Tim - Walk Off Project
"Laying a concrete slab for the protest house being by the Alyawarr people of central Australia as part of a protest against the federal government's intervention program."

- Photos at opening of Alyawarr Protest House

The Northern Myth: Kevin Rudd’s “clanging gong” rings hollow at the Ampilitawatja walk-off camp
15 Feb 10


- Background

WGAR News: New NT Intervention laws that extend welfare quarantining (12 Feb 10)

- Opinion

On Line Opinion: Discrimination as usual for Australia’s Indigenous policy
15 Feb 10: "The Government says that Bills now before the Parliament fulfill its promise to reinstate the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth) so that the Northern Territory Emergency Response complies with Australia’s human rights treaty obligations. However, in reality, passage of these Bills would deliver business as usual: discrimination, disempowerment and disappointment." Robyn Seth-Purdie

SMH: Checks and balance awry in welfare rework
13 Feb 10: "The federal government's commitment to 'evidence-based policy' falls short when it comes to payments management. ... It is not overly dramatic to say the government is setting about the biggest overhaul of the social security system since it began. At first glance the changes look like little more than a tinkering with the intervention into indigenous communities in the Northern Territory. ... " Stephanie Peatling

Green Left: Macklin's cynical Aboriginal policy
13 Feb 10: "Minister for Aboriginal affairs Jenny Macklin will move in March to restore the Racial Discrimination Act (RDA) in the Northern Territory. But the move has been described by Aboriginal advocates as a cynical ploy. ... Macklin’s change will mean that the RDA would be restored in December and income management would be rolled-out to other welfare recipients in the NT ... The government plans to extend welfare management to welfare recipients in the rest of Australia over time." Peter Robson

SMH: Far-reaching welfare reform quarantined from evidence
13 Feb 10: "No friends, no money, and no support in high places. Australians reliant on welfare payments - we once called it social security - have not a speck of political clout. They are easy targets for a government hell-bent on showing its tough side, and getting out of a bind."

Crikey: Failure to restore Racial Discrimination Act means double jeopardy for Aboriginal people
12 Feb 10: "The legislation to change the basic social security system is attracting some very interesting tensions. The Government has nastily linked a range of legislation that has different constituencies and the conflicts are emerging. The Government has surpassed itself in political trickiness and manipulation by trying to play various groups against each other." Eva Cox

Solidarity: New laws will entrench Intervention’s racism
Feb 10: "The changes will do nothing to end the racist measures of the Northern Territory Intervention. Worse, the delay in the reinstatement of the RDA allows the government enough time to force communities to sign over their land on 40-year leases, without the risk of court challenges. This will provide the government with a much greater scope to control the lives of the people in these communities." Ben Dharmendra

- News

ABC: Welfare quarantining under Senate spotlight
15 Feb 10: "A Senate inquiry into proposed changes to social welfare will sit in Darwin today. Government legislation aimed at making income management compulsory for many people on welfare benefits has been introduced to Parliament. ... Greens Senator Rachel Siewert, who is on the committee, says there have been about 30 submissions to the Senate. "Virtually all of the submissions are opposed to legislative changes," she said."

See submissions to the Senate Inquiry:

ABC: Welfare quarantine changes 'still discriminate'
15 Feb 10: "Today, a Senate committee sitting in Darwin heard from the North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency. It believes the proposed changes to welfare quarantining could still conflict with the Racial Discrimination Act because Aboriginal communities could be disproportionately affected."

ABC: Abbott criticises welfare reforms
14 Feb 10: "Federal Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has criticised the Government's moves to make welfare quarantining measures comply with the Racial Discrimination Act. Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin has introduced legislation that will make income management compulsory for disadvantaged people."

Age: Banker lashes welfare controls
11 Feb 10: "GOVERNMENT moves to expand ''welfare quarantining'' across the country are paternalism gone mad, Australia's most senior indigenous banker says. As Prime Minister Kevin Rudd releases a progress report on his ''close the gap'' targets today, NAB's senior manager of community finance, Glen Brennan, said indigenous people needed more power to control their finances, not less."

Koori Mail: AMSANT supports NTER reform bill
[scroll down page] http://www.koorimail.com/index.php
11 Feb 10: "THE Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory (AMSANT) has called on all political parties to pass proposed federal legislation to reform the NT Emergency Response. AMSANT Chairperson Stephanie Bell says the bill, which seeks to introduce compulsory income management for welfare recipients nationwide, isn't perfect but deserves support because it would restore Indigenous rights under the Racial Discrimination Act."

Koori Mail: Mounting criticism over welfare plan
[scroll down page] http://www.koorimail.com/index.php
10 Feb 10: "CRITICISM is mounting over Federal Government plans to reinstate the Racial Discrimination Act in Aboriginal communities under the Northern Territory intervention, by extending compulsory income quarantining to all Australian welfare recipients."


- Background to the Northern Territory (NT) Intervention

Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
Northern Territory National Emergency Response

STICS (Stop the Intervention Collective Sydney):

IRAG (Intervention Rollback Action Group):

Intervention walk-off's Blog:

WGAR (Working Group for Aboriginal Rights):

- Opinion

Solidarity: Town camp takeover sets back Aboriginal control
Feb 10: "After four years of struggle, the federal government has finally secured 40-year leases over the Aboriginal town camps in Alice Springs, represented by the Tangentyere Council. The takeover push started before the Intervention, when Liberal Minister Mal Brough announced that no new houses would be built in the camps until 99-year leases were signed by Tangentyere. Despite a desperate need for resources, town campers consistently refused to sign away their land. ... " Paddy Gibson

- News

ABC: Indigenous camps 'crying out for transport'
14 Feb 10: "An Alice Springs town camp resident says people in remote Indigenous communities are finding it difficult to get transport because of the changeover from councils to shires. Barbara Shaw says when local Aboriginal councils controlled council assets, including vehicles, local communities had access to them to get to medical appointments and for other transport needs."

Australian: Income card failing to prevent `humbug' in Tiwi Islands
13 Feb 10: "INCOME-QUARANTINING was supposed to stop young Aboriginal people hassling their elders for money, but on the Tiwi Islands, just north of Darwin, residents say there is still "too much humbug"."

Croakey: The latest on the Australian Crime Commission’s invasion of medical records and patient privacy
12 Feb 10: "It’s taken some of Australia’s finest legal minds, but after two years of deliberation the result is clear-cut. The Australian Crime Commission — the clandestine organisation set up to do battle with organised crime — can legally seize the medical records of Aboriginal children and adults in the NT."

ABC: Expectations too high: Indigenous housing boss
11 Feb 10: "Remote community residents cannot expect major upgrades to their homes when they are refurbished, the manager of an Aboriginal housing program says. The executive director of the Strategic Indigenous Housing and Infrastructure Program, Andrew Kirkman, says an average of $75,000 will be spent on each of the 2,500 houses due for repairs."

Koori Mail: Houses at last
[scroll down page] http://www.koorimail.com/index.php
10 Feb 10: "THE largest Indigenous housing program ever undertaken in Australia has finally delivered its first houses. The remote community of Wadeye, south-west of Darwin, is celebrating the completion of two three-bedroom houses under the Strategic Indigenous Housing and Infrastructure Projects (SIHIP) program. And more are set to follow, with a number of slabs poured and electricity and sewerage connected."

National Indigenous Times:
Commonwealth strikes deal to takeover Ilpeye Ilpeye
4 Feb 10: "The Rudd government took steps on Monday to compulsorily acquire the Alice Springs town camp of Ilpeye Ilpeye, utilising legislation under the Northern Territory Emergency Intervention, while cutting a deal with traditional owners who will receive "just terms" compensation under the new deal."

- Radio

Indigenous radio station 98.9FM Brisbane
Let's Talk - Indigenous presented talkback:
11 Feb 10: "Blair McFarland - Karen Dorante spoke with Blair McFarland from the Central Australian Youth Link Up Service (CAYLUS). They spoke about the Northern Territory Intervention and Indigenous Health Issues."
Listen to this interview on-line:

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WGAR: Working Group for Aboriginal Rights (Australia)


I have no doubt that this ALP policy to 'control & assimilate' will fail and do great damage, just as it did as it did from 1788 up the the Referendum and beyond. Disrespect always fails, and always elicits disrespect in response..

The only thing that will succeed will be a face-to-face offering of genuine relationship, genuine concern, genuine confrontation, and genuine help of the kind that is required. Genuine potential leaders must be identified and given face-to-face human support. Those that then receive majority community support under secret ballot must continue to be personally supported and have scope for devising and applying local policy.

I would urge the government to change their policy NOW. The admin. culture itself is 'disconstructive' as an Aboriginal friend used to say. The policy would have succeeded in noticeable ways by now if it were going to. Advancement will take place quite quickly if the conditions are right, and will never occur otherwise, in my view.

If the public service is to be effective, an identical policy of respect at all levels both within, towards staff, and with the public will be required. The traditional hierarchical public service style will never succeed in a face-to-face engagement with the public, and this explains the present government's failure in a number of administrative areas beyond Aboriginal affairs. Public administration today needs to learn to operate on ecosystemic lines, requiring mutual and organisational responsibility from all staff, free of the personally alienating power relationships that cause such general incompetence.

- Ned Iceton, Lecturer in Community Development, retired.