WGAR News: "a bad government policy that ... has set the community back decades" Tracker

Newsletter date: 6 July 2012

* Tracker: The truth about Toomelah
* Amy McQuire: CDEP: A timeline of destruction
* CAAMA: Pat Turner challenges Government on Intervention!
* NLC: NLC disappointed with passing of 'Stronger Futures' legislation
* Socialist Alliance: Stolen Futures: 10 more years of racism
* Lee Rhiannon: Vigil against Income Management starts in Bankstown
* More 'Stronger Futures' Legislation related articles
* Background to 'Stronger Futures' new NT Intervention laws
* Background to the Northern Territory (NT) Intervention
* Nicole Watson: Forget the courts, let’s turn to the tents
* SBS Living Black: Stories From Sandon Point [Bulli, near Wollongong, NSW]
* The Wire: NAIDOC Week: stories from the Tent Embassy
* Other Tent Embassy Articles
* Background to the Aboriginal tent embassies
* Chris Graham: Does violence have a place in Aboriginal protest?
* The Wire: Staggering rates of mental illness among Indigenous prisoners


- Analysis / Opinion

agendaTracker: The truth about Toomelah
5 Jul 12: "NATIONAL: The tiny NSW town of Toomelah has made headlines, and once again it’s because of poverty and community dysfunction. But why has a community that’s received so much attention over the years failed to thrive? CHRIS GRAHAM takes an in-depth look at the town, and a bad government policy that, above all others, has set the community back decades. For a very small town, Toomelah makes an awful lot of headlines. And in its recent history, there have been three that perhaps most defined the community’s history." Chris Graham, Walkley Award and Human Rights award winning writer, managing editor of Tracker

- Related Analysis / Opinion

agendaTracker: Part of the solution, part of the problem
4 Jul 12: "NATIONAL: Aboriginal affairs in Australia is paved with the corpses of people with good intentions. Some of them are bureaucrats. Some of them are politicians, writes CHRIS GRAHAM. And many of them are journalists. I am, of course, referring to the recent coverage of the crisis engulfing the small NSW Aboriginal mission town of Toomelah. While some media outlets like the Sydney Morning Herald and the 7.30 report acknowledged residents’ views that the closure of CDEP was the major cause of the community’s problems, most media coverage –with the notable exception of the Koori Mail – has focused on the problems, rather than the causes." Chris Graham, Walkley Award and Human Rights award winning writer, managing editor of Tracker

agendaTracker: Backtracker: The puzzle of the long road to recovery
4 Jul 12: "NATIONAL: The media would have you believe the problem of child sexual abuse in Toomelah has been ignored. BRIAN JOHNSTONE* gives you the facts. Casual observers of recent mainstream media reports could be forgiven for thinking nothing has happened in Toomelah and Boggabilla since Justice Marcus Einfeld was moved to tears by the rampant racism and appalling living conditions he witnessed while compiling his landmark Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Report a quarter of a century ago." Brian Johnstone, Walkley and Human Rights award-winning journalist, employee of the New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council

agendaTracker: CDEP closure a wrecking ball
4 Jul 12: "NATIONAL: The closure of the Community Development Employment Scheme proved to be a wrecking ball for Toomelah. And, no-one in the Federal Government can argue they were not warned about the tragic effect the closure of the scheme would have on a fragile community. The disastrous impact on the isolated community was there for all to see in a report by Darren Coyne in the Koori Mail in February 2010." Brian Johnstone, Walkley and Human Rights award-winning journalist, employee of the New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council

agendaTracker: The facts on Toomelah: NSWALC responds
4 Jul 12: "NATIONAL: After media reporting of the problems in Toomelah began to descend into claims and counter claims of ‘closure of the community’ and ‘conspiracies to drive residents from their land’, Acting CEO of the NSW Aboriginal Land Council, Les Turner issued a wide-ranging media release. It’s reprinted here in full.
CLAIM: Some media have reported the NSW Aboriginal Land Council would like to "shut Toomelah down".
FACT: The NSW Aboriginal Land Council has been working to ensure that the residents of Toomelah receive the same basic services as all other NSW residents. ... "

- Related Video

SMH: Time for tears is past: threat to disband black settlement
7 May 12: "A QUARTER of a century after Marcus Einfeld wept at the sight of Toomelah's children playing in raw sewage, the community has been told it must accept an intervention-style takeover or face the demolition of the township and relocation of residents. ... The threat of drastic action to tackle poverty, poor health, truancy, rundown infrastructure, alcohol and drug abuse, violence and chronic unemployment was made during a series of meetings between government agencies and residents over the past three weeks."


- Background

agendaTracker: CDEP: A timeline of destruction
4 Jul 12: "NATIONAL: A timeline of the rise and fall of CDEP. ...
2012: In this year’s budget, Labor announces further plans to wind back CDEP in the Territory. From July 1, 2013 CDEP will be rolled into the $1.5 million Remote Jobs and Community Program." Amy McQuire, a Darumbal and South Sea Islander woman, editor of Tracker


- Audio

Central Australian Aboriginal Media Association:
Pat Turner challenges Government on Intervention !
4 Jul 12: "One of most experienced Aboriginal bureaucrats to have prevously worked in the Australian Public Service has spoken of her extreme concern as she saw events unfold leading up to the Howard Governments Intervention into Northern Territory Aboriginal communities. Pat Turner, an Arrernte and Gurdanji woman from Mapperwente Alice Springs, was CEO of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission from 1994-98. and served as Deputy secretary in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. ... "


- Media Release

Northern Land Council: NLC disappointed with passing of 'Stronger Futures' legislation
29 Jun 12: "Northern Land Council (NLC) Chief Executive Mr Kim Hill has expressed disappointment that the “Stronger Futures” Bill passed through the Senate unamended overnight. Mr Hill said the NLC, together with other member bodies of the Aboriginal Peak Organisations Northern Territory (APO NT), still had a number of concerns with elements of the legislation which will be implemented in the Territory’s remote communities following the end of the so-called “intervention” in August this year and will remain in place for the next 10 years.
"There is certainly a level of frustration with the consultation process in the lead up to the formation of this legislation," Mr Hill said.
"Meeting with Aboriginal peoples and then doing all the talking isn’t consultation - we feel there needed to be a lot more listening. ... ""


- Statement

Stolen Futures: 10 more years of racism
GLW: http://www.greenleft.org.au/node/51556
5 Jul 12: "The Socialist Alliance released the statement below on July 5. * * *
The Socialist Alliance extends its unwavering support to the Yolngu Nations and all other clans and nations across the Northern Territory, as they mourn the passing of the Stronger Futures legislation.
Against the repeated wishes of Aboriginal people, the federal Labor government, supported by the Coalition, slipped the legislation through the Senate at 2am on June 29.
A last ditch attempt to refer to legislation to the Parliamentary Committee for Human Rights failed, as did the Greens’ amendments that sought to remove the more punitive and damaging aspects of the laws. ...
But this government is driven by a racist and neoliberal ideology, not by evidence-based best practice.
Yolngu Nations spokesperson Djiniyini Gondarra has flagged a possible High Court challenge. Community leaders across Arnhem Land and down through the centre, while reeling with grief and anger at yet another slap in the face, are vowing to continue the fight ... "


- Audio

Rachel Siewert: Vigil against Income Management starts in Bankstown
4 Jul 12: "On Monday 2nd July Lee joined Aboriginal elders, community activists, trade union officials and locals to oppose the rollout of Income Management in Bankstown. Bankstown local government area will be one of five national income management trial sites. The program quarantines up to 70 per cent of welfare payments to some people. It first started in the Northern Territory intervention. ... Only 66 shops in Bankstown are authorised to accept a BasicsCard, leaving out markets and many smaller speciality stores, such as Halal and Vietnamese stores. More than 50 groups have voiced their opposition to the IM policy that is increasingly viewed as discriminatory, punitive and top down. Protesters will be outside Centrelink Bankstown for the next two months if you would live to participate in the campaign. ... To hear Lee's speech, click on the play button below. Lee is being introduced by a committed activist - Paddy Gibson who is a senior researcher with the Jumbunna Indigenous House of Learning."

- Event

Event: Rally: Mon 2 July 2012: Bankstown, Sydney, NSW
Event: Vigil: Mon 2- Fri 13 July 2012: Bankstown, Sydney, NSW
Outside Bankstown Centrelink
Say No to Government Income Management!
Rally speakers include:
Mark Boyd, Chris Christodoulou, Sue Gillet, Paddy Gibson,
Brett Holmes, Sally McManus, Senator Lee Rhiannon,
Gerard Thomas, Representatives from local organisations
Resolutions: http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=379047862158737
Event details: http://www.facebook.com/events/313139055441943/
Event details: http://www.facebook.com/events/313139055441943/permalink/313139065441942/


- Audio

Central Australian Aboriginal Media Association:
CAAMA Radio Online News 04.07.2012
4 Jul 12: "Yolngu Nations Assembly spokesperson, Dr Djiniyini Gondarra has put the Gillard Labor Government on notice and says that the fight against the Stronger futures legislation is not over."

- Interview

Right Now: Interview with Commissioner Mick Gooda - Human Rights in Australia
4 Jul 12: "RN: ... Could you please share your thoughts on Stronger Futures?
[Mick Gooda] The Australian Human Rights Commission looked at Stronger Futures from a human rights perspective; in terms of what needs to be done to make it compliant with human rights standards. We accept that there are special measures in there for issues related to community safety, but we do need checks and balances in there to make sure people’s human rights are observed, particularly in relation to things such as income management, which can have a significant impact on Aboriginal people. We’ve got to be vigilant. ... "

- Analysis / Opinion

ABC The Drum Opinion: Indigenous intervention: we need action over mourning
5 Jul 12: "Indigenous leaders have expressed their anger over the Stronger Futures legislation. They have even declared a day of mourning to show how much they oppose the continuation of an intervention to address the problems facing many Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory. So why is it that some Aboriginal leaders are angry and are in mourning? Could it be that they are angry because they themselves have done very little in the past to prevent the problems we hear about today and have heard about for many years?" Anthony Dillon, researcher and lecturer, University of Western Sydney

- News

Australia: Labor at war over welfare plan
6 Jul 12: "INTERNAL Labor Party opposition to the Gillard government's welfare reforms will come to a head at the party's annual NSW conference next weekend. Key figures on the party's Left confirmed yesterday they would ask the conference to condemn the extension of income management from the Northern Territory intervention to selected underprivileged communities nationally, including Bankstown in south-western Sydney."


Last updated: 4 July 2012



Last updated: 1 July 2012



- Analysis / Opinion

agendaTracker: Forget the courts, let’s turn to the tents
3 Jul 12: "NATIONAL: Grassroots political advocacy will achieve more for Aboriginal people than the legal system, writes NICOLE WATSON*. On the evening of Invasion Day 1972 four young Koori men – Michael Anderson, Billy Craigie, Tony Coorie and Bertie Williams, created the first Aboriginal Embassy on the lawns of the federal parliament. It says something of their combined genius that among those now replicating their actions are individuals who were not yet born in 1972. ... there are now Aboriginal Embassies in Western Australia, Victoria, New South Wales and Brisbane." Nicole Watson, Murri lawyer and researcher, Jumbunna Indigenous House of Learning, University of Technology, Sydney


- Audio Interviews

SBS Living Black: Stories From Sandon Point: This Place Is Timeless
By Michelle Lovegrove
5 Jul 12: "Uncle Peter Button was one of the original people who was there in those extraordinary days after the discovery of Kuradji, and who helped set up Kuradji Embassy up in 2000. 12 years later - he still a rock of support for caretaker Uncle Dootch Kennedy."

SBS Living Black: Stories From Sandon Point: Canberra Started It All For Us
By Michelle Lovegrove
5 Jul 12: "Memories of the call for support in Canberra, 1972. Elder Uncle Richard Archibald, from the New South Wales north coast, has been living in Wadi Wadi country since the 1960's. He's also the man who spent five years fundraising, to raise enough money for himself and a group of community members, to bring home the spirits of Aboriginal soldiers at the Kokoda Trail in Papua New Guinea. But many years ago - 40 years ago in fact - Uncle Richard was also one of the many young people who travelled to Canberra in 1972, to support their countrymen at the new Tent Embassy."


- Audio

The Wire: NAIDOC Week: stories from the Tent Embassy
Produced by Lisa Burns
4 Jul 12: "NAIDOC Week is in full swing with events all over the country, bringing people together to celebrate the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. This year’s theme is the 'Spirit of the Tent Embassy: 40 Years On'. Associate Professor Irene Watson, from UniSA’s David Unaipon College of Indigenous Education and Research, was there at the very first Tent Embassy in Adelaide back in 1972.
Featured in story:
Irene Watson, Associate Professor, University of South Australia, David Unaipon College of Indigenous Education and Research"


- News

Newcastle Herald: Tent embassy tribute at museum
4 Jul 12: "THE Aboriginal tent embassy was a small gesture that has grown into a big symbol for indigenous Australians. To mark 40 years since the embassy was established in Canberra, Newcastle Museum has transformed its lawn into a "symbolic rally", with signs representing Aboriginal protests and achievements since 1972. "We often forget how much effort has gone into the Aboriginal rights movement since 1972," museum deputy director Julie Baird said. "NAIDOC’s theme [Spirit of the Tent Embassy] this year started us thinking ... "

ABC Brisbane: Tents still stand in Musgrave Park
4 Jul 12: "Forty years ago four Aboriginal men set up tents on the lawns of Parliament House in a bold statement about indigenous sovereignty in Australia. Although those tents have been forcibly removed a number of times the site remain an iconic part of the social and political landscape. The significance of that movement is still being felt today in indigenous communities across Australia, provoking a revamped national response in 2012. Sovereign Aboriginal embassies were established in cities and towns across Australia, none drawing more attention than the embassy in Brisbane."

ABC Perth: The Tent Embassy on Heirisson Island is gone, but the protest is not over
4 Jul 12: "The theme for this year's NAIDOC week is the spirit of the Tent Embassy, but the mood at what was the Perth Tent Embassy is subdued. The tent and banners are gone, for a start. And the ambassadors themselves. On Sunday, the opening day of NAIDOC week, the activists behind the short-lived tent embassy on Heirisson Island announced they would hold a sovereignty ceremony, but only seven people turned up. Nevertheless, they say their fight for a fair land rights deal for the Nyoongar people of South-West WA will continue."


Last updated: 4 July 2012



- Video

TrackerVision: Does violence have a place in Aboriginal protest?
2 Jul 12: "NATIONAL: Aboriginal people are routinely told that 'Violence is never the answer'. But when it suits white interests, violence is frequently the answer. It was the answer when Australia participated in the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan. And it is frequently the answer when Australian police want to bring Aboriginal people to heel. ... In this video, Tracker managing editor Chris Graham is speaking at the 2012 Sydney Writer’s Festival, on an essay he wrote for the new book, Left Turn (published my Melbourne University Press) in which he makes the case for the place of 'violence' in Aboriginal protest." Chris Graham, Walkley Award and Human Rights award winning writer, managing editor of Tracker


- Audio

The Wire: Staggering rates of mental illness among Indigenous prisoners
Produced by Natalie Muller
3 Jul 12: "Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are overrepresented in Australian prisons, and once there, they’re also more likely to suffer from mental illness. New research published in the Medical Journal of Australia this week has found a staggering three quarters of indigenous inmates in Queensland’s prisons have a mental disorder. The findings point to a serious gap in culturally-appropriate mental health services in the justice system. Kimina Andersen is one of the papers’ authors and statewide coordinator for Indigenous Forensic Mental Health from Queensland Forensic Mental Health Services. She says the problem isn’t unique to Queensland, and while the findings are disturbing, they’re not surprising.
Featured in story:
* Kimina Andersen - Statewide Coordinator, Indigenous Forensic Mental Health, Queensland Forensic Mental Health Services
* Eileen Baldry - Professor of Criminology at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, UNSW"

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WGAR: Working Group for Aboriginal Rights (Australia)
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