Dodson uses peace prize speech to slam NT intervention

November 8, 2008

Pat Dodson, a Yawuru man from Broome, Western Australia, used his Sydney Peace Prize acceptance speech on November 5 to slam the Northern Territory intervention. He described it as a "crude, racist and poorly considered policy".

Dodson, a former chair of Reconciliation Australia and current chair of the Lingiari Foundation, said the intervention laws, which involved suspending the Racial Discrimination Act, were "some of the worst ever passed".

"The failure by the government to enter into a dialogue and negotiation over the nature of the engagement with the Aboriginal society of the Northern Territory will be seen by Australians in the future as a model for worst-practice imposition of public policy", Dodson said.

For his criticism of the NT intervention and other Rudd government Indigenous policies, Dodson has been attacked by former ALP national president Warren Mundine.

Dodson has criticised Mundine for supporting "assimilationist policies". Mundine has been an vocal supporter of the intervention. He is also enthusiastic about the $20 million the government will spend on 2000 scholarships for Aboriginal children to attend private secondary schools.

According to Dodson, Aboriginal people have to be centrally involved in determining solutions for their problems "and be resourced to do so".

Dodson said that drug and alcohol problems in some Aboriginal communities are "primarily outcomes of the exclusion of many Aboriginal people from access to services and resources related to health, education and substance abuse programs over many years and several generations".

The Sydney Peace Prize, which begun in 1998, is awarded by the Sydney Peace Foundation, a non-profit organisation associated with the University of Sydney. Past recipients include Palestinian academic Hanan Ashrawi in 2003 and Indian novelist and activist Arundhati Roy in 2004.

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