Alyawarr Protest House film draws crowds

Issue 

More than 60 people attended Brisbane's premiere screening of a new documentary by Sydney's Actively Radical TV about the construction of the Alyawarr people's Protest House at their walk-off camp near Ampilatwatja in the Northern Territory.

The film has interviews with unionists from across the country who worked with the community to build the house. It also features community members and leaders.

The evening was hosted by the Brisbane Aboriginal Rights Coalition (ARC) and raised funds for a Justice Bus Trips to Alice Springs, to attend Aboriginal solidarity events being held in July.

Indigenous leader Sam Watson opened the event with a welcome to country. He also gave the audience an update on the third inquest into the death of Palm Island man Mulrunji Doomadgee.

He said Mulrunji's assailant, Senior Sergeant Chris Hurley, had again escaped charges.

Queensland Council of Unions Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander industrial officer Gwen Taylor spoke of the importance, and long history, of union solidarity with the Aboriginal struggle.

On the project to build the protest house, Taylor asked, “Was it really that difficult to build a house? We built a house in two bloody weeks!”

Before the protest house was opened in February, the government’s Aboriginal housing program, with more than $600 million in dedicated funds, had built just two houses in two years, Taylor said.

She also spoke of the highly paid non-Aboriginal contractors who, since the intervention, were being given jobs previously done by Aboriginal workers. “We want those facilities … built by local people, not contractors”, she said.

ARC activist and law student Connie Andrews explained the reasons behind the NT intervention, particularly the relationship between mining and the intervention land grab.

“For the territory government to be implementing initiatives like ‘Bringing Forward Discovery’, which is a four-year plan to encourage exploration and mining in the Northern Territory, is not a coincidence”, Andrews said.

“I believe the mining industry and the government was waiting for an opportunistic time to grab resource-rich Indigenous lands. The intervention, I believe, is about facilitating those agendas.”

ARC activist Dominic Hale, an organiser of the Justice Bus Trips, highlighted the importance of broad solidarity with the Aboriginal struggle.

[Copies of the film The Ampilatwatja Walk-off vs. the Intervention can be ordered from info@artresistance.com.au]

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