Rally for national ‘Close the Gap’ day

Saturday, March 9, 2013
Gurinji memorial day. Photo: Peter Boyle

The Stop the Intervention Collective Sydney released the statement below on February 28 to promote an anti-racism rally planned for March 21. Details are at the end of the article.

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The Northern Territory intervention has been a disaster — but the government is set to expand “income management” to cover even more people from July this year, including in Bankstown.

Government statistics show that since 2007 in the NT incarceration has increased 75%, reported rates of attempted suicide and self-harm are up almost 600%, child removal rates increased 70% and there is more alcohol related domestic violence.

In 2012, the Labor government passed new legislation, Stronger Futures, which extends the main measures of the NT intervention for another 10 years.

Stronger Futures legislation also extended income management to five new "trial sites" around Australia, including Bankstown in Sydney. But a strong campaign uniting Aboriginal people, community organisations, migrants and trade unions has stopped income management in its tracks. Virtually no one has been placed on compulsory income management in Bankstown.

The Public Service Association (PSA), which represents child protection workers, has voted to ban income management and has made no referrals. They are refusing to be part of the expansion of the racist NT intervention.

The government is trying to break the ban. New rules mean that from July, compulsory income management will apply automatically to anyone in Bankstown who is under 25 and exiting prison, young people who are “unable to live at home” according to Centrelink, and people on a “special benefit” due to homelessness or other circumstances.

If we act now, we can stop this happening and defend the rights of some of the most vulnerable people in our community — ex-prisoners and homeless youth.

Justice for Kwementyaye Briscoe

Kwementyaye Briscoe was an Anmatyere man who died in the Alice Springs watch house on January 5 last year. Briscoe family spokesperson Patricia Morton-Thomas says her nephew was "a victim of the NT intervention ... The NT has become a police state".

While Kwementyaye was intoxicated, police threw him head first into a counter and gave him no medical check. He never regained consciousness after the assault. He was thrown face down on a mattress and died from positional asphyxia. Police played their iPods and checked the internet while he lay dying.

Greg Barnes, President of the Australian Lawyers Alliance, has said that police could be culpable for manslaughter or “failure to rescue” charges. About 33,000 people have signed an online petition calling for police to be charged. But the [department of public prosecutions] refused to investigate the case. We need to keep up the fight for Kwementyaye Briscoe and all those who have died in custody.

The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination falls each year on the anniversary of a massacre of anti-apartheid protesters. This year it is also “Close the Gap” day.

Join us for a protest to demand an end to Apartheid-style policies in Australia. The gap cannot be closed with racism.

[The rally will take place on March 21 at 12.30pm outside the office of Labor MP Tanya Plibersek, 150 Broadway (opposite Broadway shopping centre). For more information, visit stoptheintervention.org.]