Aboriginal elder welcomes union’s income management bans

Djiniyini Gondarra.

Uniting Church minister and prominent opponent of the NT intervention, Reverend Dr Djiniyini Gondarra, recently sent the letter below to the NSW Public Sector Association (PSA).

Last month, PSA members in government Community Services Centres began union bans against implementing income management for welfare recipients in Bankstown.

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To our courageous sisters and brothers in NSW,

We would like to congratulate NSW Public Service Association members for taking the courageous step of enforcing bans against the implementation of income management in Bankstown. Your confident actions will protect the rights and dignity of your clients and your community.

It will also play a key role in stopping the full rollout of income management in NSW as part of the extension and expansion of the Northern Territory intervention.

It is inspiring and uplifting for us to see how strongly child protection workers oppose key intervention policies. It also undermines the credibility of the NT intervention as a whole, and we hope that workers here in the NT and across the country will follow your lead to demonstrate and enforce community opposition to these painful policies and stop the expansion in its tracks.

Many of us have been fighting against the NT intervention since it began in 2007, and we are still fighting its continuation under the deceptively named “Stronger Futures” legislation.

The implementation of income management in our communities has created real hardship, bitterness and confusion as our freedoms have been undermined. Many of us have been through this oppressive “ration days” mentality before and reliving it has been devastating.

You are right to oppose these attacks on your community, and we hope that together, the strength of our actions can defeat these paternalistic policies in NT, NSW and across the country.

The Yolŋuw Makarr-Dhuni (Yolŋu Nations Assembly) is a newly formed representational body covering the eight Yolŋu nations of North East Arnhem Land. We are working through traditional governance structures and represent 8 000 people in Maningrida, Miliŋinbi, Raminginiŋ, Gapuwiyak, Galiwin’ku and Yirrkala as well as many smaller homeland communities.

We are writing to offer our full support for any actions you may organise, or in the event of any attacks on your members or the union as a result of these bans or any other direct action in opposition to income management.

While we are writing on behalf of Yolŋu people, we know there are many others right across the Northern Territory that are hurting and fighting. We know that they would also support the actions you are taking, and we are pleased to hear that you also have the support of Unions NSW and the NSW ALP.

In Solidarity,
Yolŋu Makarr-Dhuni Spokesperson: Rev Dr Djiniyini Gondarra OAM.

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