New film about Ampilatwatja protest house


In February, about 20 people from Victoria and NSW (and three from Germany), spent two weeks constructing a protest house with the people of Ampilatwatja. Actively Radical TV, a Sydney community-based video group, went to document the building of the protest house.

Ampilatwatja is a small community 300km north of Alice Springs and home to the Alyawarr people. The walk-off began on July 14 when members of the community decided to leave the town's boundaries due to the NT intervention's harsh control measures.

The intervention's failure to repair the community's crumbling infrastructure had, among other things, resulted in raw sewage running through their streets. The community said enough was enough.

This film tells the story of the building of the protest house. It features interviews with unionists and activists that worked together on the project. The just struggle of Indigenous people for basic rights, even in such a remote area as the deserts of Central Australia, was expressed as motivation for the unionists to travel there and work in 40 degree heat to help this courageous community.

The union movement has a long history of support for Indigenous rights in defiance of government policy. The Ampilatwatja Walk-off Protest vs the NT Intervention interviews community members such as Banjo Morton, Richard Downs, and unionists like Paul McAleer, Maritime Union of Australia Sydney branch secretary; Kara Touchie, the Australian Council of Trade Unions Indigenous officer and those who worked on the house including Tim Gooden, Geelong Trades and Labour Council secretary.

The film interviews people about the Basics Card and the problems in the communities that the NT intervention has failed to address. It covers a community meeting to get the Ampilatwatja community store back as well as plans to build an alternative to the intervention that will have Aboriginal community control and develop infrastructure, such as housing, that was promised, but not delivered, by the intervention.

Richard Downs, spokesperson for the Ampilatwatja walk-off camp says: "The intervention has meant the total disempowerment of Indigenous people in the NT. The government now makes no attempt to consult or engage with Aboriginal organisations on any issues or partnership projects … It has taken Indigenous rights back 40 or 50 years."

The Ampilatwatja Walk-off Protest vs the NT Intervention will premiere at the Addison Rd Centre, Marrickville, Sydney on April 29, at 6.30pm.

Performers will include Munkimuk and Ebony Williams, Emma Donovan, Radical Son, Nadeena Dixon, Ozi Battla and Charlie Trindall. For information, phone (02) 9564 1277 or 0417 220 504 or email . Speakers include Richard Downs, Paul McAleer, and Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union delegate Howard Byrnes. Sponsored by Stop the Intervention Collective Sydney (STICS), Maritime Union of Australia, Green Left Weekly, Art Resistance Community TV, Socialist Alliance and Resistance.

Funds raised will help the Ampilatwatja walk-off protest camp to continue.