Forum discusses future of Aboriginal rights movement

February 29, 2008

On February 25, 100 people attended a forum at the Redfern Community Centre called "After sorry — where to for Aboriginal rights?".

The forum heard from Bev Manton, chairperson of the NSW Aboriginal Land Council, and Phil Bradley from the NSW Teachers Federation and Reconciliation Western Sydney. Bradley outlined some of the steps both his groups are taking to promote further awareness of Aboriginal issues in our schools and communities.

Shane Phillips, from the Aboriginal Rights Coalition, and the National Aboriginal Alliance, spoke about the need for unity — both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal — in the fight for Aboriginal rights.

Finally, Nicole Watson, from the University of Technology, Sydney, pointed out the importance of familiarising ourselves with policy under the new government of PM Kevin Rudd, because while we can be "cautiously optimistic" about Aboriginal rights under an ALP government, we will need to use their own policy against them in order to get it implemented. Primary among the demands of the movement, she argued, should be the right of Aboriginal people to self-determination and control of their own affairs, providing examples of the improvements in social problems when this policy has been genuinely followed.

The forum also decided to help build national protests on the 13th of each month against the quarantining of welfare payments to Indigenous people, associated with the ongoing NT intervention. In Sydney, there will be a picket of Redfern Centrelink at 12.30pm on March 13.

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