NT elders condemn intervention

More than 400 people attended a February 7 forum that condemned the federal government’s intervention into Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory.

The forum was organised by Concerned Australians. It coincided with the launch of a public statement addressed “to the people of Australia” by seven Indigenous elders. The statement asked for support to “help to put an end to the nightmare that Northern Territory people are experiencing on a daily basis”.

The authors of the statement — Dr Djiniyini Gondarra from Galiwin'ku; Rosalie Kunoth-Monks from Utopia; Harry Nelson, from Yuendumu; Miriam Rose Ungunmerr-Baumann from Nauiyu; Djapirri Mununggirritj from Yirrkala; Dhanggal Gurruwiwi, from Yirrkala and George Gaymarani Pascoe from Milingimbi — all addressed the forum.

Gondarra told the meeting: “I wouldn't be here if the intervention was good. It's not a special measure, why is it only targeting Indigenous people in the NT?"

Kunoth-Monks said: "When I was called to Geneva to testify on the effect of the intervention, I was not sure how to express the loss of dignity and loss of rights we felt. I had to go out of Australia to feel like a member of the human race, away from the control. We have Government Business Managers who write reports not only on communities, but also on individuals who even dare to answer back.

"The intervention has caused much destruction, there is no housing, little infrastructure and the recent rain has shown the neglect, especially the leaking sewerage. All infrastructure is second grade, not built according to building programs."

Nelson said: "We have experienced very enormous pressure on our community as it has been targeted by the government as a hub town. This has led to much hardship in the last few years. After a year of the intervention, our council was taken over, thrown out, our rights taken away. Our shire is now run from Alice Springs."

Ungunmerr-Baumann said: "We are in a unique situation as we did not accept a 5-year lease on our community. The shires have moved in and the people been disempowered. There have been many suicides and people are very depressed."

Mununggirritj said: “The intervention has led to chaos, destruction in the minds of grassroots people, destroying what we had. We need to sort this out with your help."

Speakers also addressed the destructive impact of the NT government’s restrictions on teaching in Indigenous languages in NT schools.

[For more information on Concerned Australians visit www.concernedaustralians.com.au .]

Comments

I too ask why is the intervention being targeted at and strictly enforced in Aboriginal communities only? Some of the living conditions on the islands in the Torres Straits are third-world conditions, I've lived there for a few months. Why isn't there an intervention policy for them as well? Some non- indigenous housing commission estates are well below the expected living conditions yet they remain untargeted. Closing the gap is a load of bull****! The Australian government trys to project a positive and harmonious image overseas but in all reality they are hiding behind a smoke screen the same as they did over 222 years ago. Come to the lucky country Australia! Lucky for whom? Certainly not lucky for the very first inhabitants of Australia the timeless Aborigines. White Australia still has a BLACK heart and history!

despite its lack of evidence that the policy has worked, Federal Labour have rolled out mandatory income management (food stamps) to long term all unemployed in the NT, partly so that they can claim they are no longer discriminating. they intend to roll this out to the rest of Australia, for 'special' disadvantaged areas starting July this year, which is in itself discriminatory. wouldnt it be nice if the government bank guarantees and middle class welfare had such strings attached? well no, actually, but it would be fair if we are out to punish people.

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