300 people braved the Melbourne cold and drizzle on Friday 4th March, standing in solidarity with exploited workers in the Northern Territory, demanding Aboriginal rights. We chanted for equal pay and jobs with justice. We called for an end to the 'work for rations' system of many Aboriginal people living under the racist NT Intervention. Friday's protest was at its most lively when we took to the march along Swanston Street. We reclaimed the corner of Bourke and Swanston, the symbolic heart of Melbourne, and heard from Jenna Tipuamantumirri from the Tiwi Islands. Jenna explained the devestating impact that welfare quarantining has had on herself and her family. Highlighting the racism of the BasicsCard system, Jenna made the case that the government's assimilationist policies were motivated by the desire to push Aboriginal people off their land.
The march then continued up Swanston Street to Federation Square. For a moment, we claimed the stage of Fed Square chanting 'Always was, always will, Aboriginal land'. Jacob Grech as a representative of the Victorian Trades Hall Council accepted the thousands of signatures that we have received on our petition demanding justice for CDEP 'Aboriginal work-for-the-dole'