‘Stronger Futures’ means ‘Stolen Futures’
The Stop the Intervention Collective Sydney released this statement on November 26.
The Stop the Intervention Collective Sydney (STICS) will hold a major forum on the NT intervention to mark Human Rights Day on December 6.
The meeting will also mark 20 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 five years of backward policies can do:
· Attempted suicide and self-harm — in 2007 there were 57 incidents, in 2010 there were 183, and 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 former NT Labor government.
Her speech will also focus on grassroots 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.
Gibson said: "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."
Emily Bullock from STICS said: "This forum will mark 20 years since Paul Keating’s Redfern Speech. Where has the hope and conciliatory feeling of 20 years ago gone? Why have Aboriginal rights and conditions gone backward since? The greatest attack has been the intervention.
"In 2008 there was the apology to the Stolen Generations, but still the removal of children continues at alarming rates, 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 December 6 to address this and fight the attacks on the human rights of the First Australians.”
[The forum will be held on December 6 at 6.30pm at Tom Mann Theatre, 136 Chalmers St, Surry Hills, Sydney.]