NT intervention

Two of the central figures in a major media and government scandal that erupted in the lead-up to the launch of the Northern Territory intervention will speak in Sydney on September 3, in their first public engagement together. Tjanara Goreng Goreng, a former Howard Coalition government official-turned-whistleblower, and Chris Graham, the founding editor of the National Indigenous Times, will speak address a public forum, at the University of Technology, Sydney, hosted by the Stop the Intervention Collective Sydney (STICS).
Voters’ stunning rejection of both major parties has left neither likely to form a government in its own right. Whichever party governs, it will have to rely on the support of at least three and probably four independents, with Andrew Wilkie's chance of taking Denison from Labor firming.
Greg Eatock, a well-known Indigenous activist in Sydney, passed away aged just 51 on August 24. His early death, from chronic health problems, was more proof of the shameful 11.5-year gap in life expectancy between Indigenous and non-Indigenous males in Australian. One of Greg's brothers, Ronald, had already passed away, aged 27. Greg came from a family with a four-generation history of political activism. His great grandmother, Lucy Eatock, and her husband William were veterans of the great 1890s shearers’ strike. Lucy later moved to Sydney from Queensland.
On August 16, Darwin was the venue for a screening of Our Generation, a landmark new documentary about the plight of Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory living under the repressive NT intervention. The film focuses on the effects of the intervention on the Yolngu people of East Arnhem Land, which coincided with a move by the NT Labor government to move people off traditional homelands and into larger towns (the “hub town” policy).
Equality of access and outcomes in Indigenous education was a key demand at the 2010 Garma Festival, held over August 6-10. Up to 1200 visitors from around Australia and the world joined 2-3000 Yolngu people for the famous festival in north-east Arnhem Land. Each afternoon, clan groups from across Arnhem Land, Kunnunurra, Groote Eylandt and Central Australia performed traditional song and dance. Evenings featured Aboriginal bands from across the Top End, and films by and about Aboriginal issues. The mornings were dedicated to forums and workshops.
Amnesty International has launched a campaign to revoke the Northern Territory intervention that discriminates against Indigenous communities, as the Australian government tries to justify its continuation to the United Nations (UN). On August 5, Amnesty said: “Over three years, the Northern Territory Emergency Response has taken away many rights from Aboriginal communities.” It urged people to email the leaders of Australia’s major political parties to “demand that, regardless of the election outcome, the Australian Government must respect the rights of Indigenous people”.
“Always Was, Always Will Be, Aboriginal Land: The struggle for Aboriginal rights”, was the title of an August 3 forum in the Brisbane Activist Centre sponsored by Socialist Alliance and Resistance. Speakers were Murri activist and SA Queensland Senate candidate Sam Watson and Ewan Saunders, SA candidate for the seat of Brisbane who has recently returned from the Justice Bus Ride to the Northern Territory.
During the lead-up to the federal election, there has been almost total silence on Aboriginal rights and the Northern Territory intervention. Aboriginal communities and towns across the NT have suffered three years of income quarantining, compulsory leases over land and housing, a bilingual education ban in schools and cuts to funding for employment programs and services. The corporate media and politicians have ignored the problems caused and made worse by these racist and paternalistic policies.
BLUE MOUTAINS — About 60 people filled the Family Hotel bistro on July 24 to see Actively Radical TV's new film on the NT intervention, Alyawarr Walk-Off Protest vs Northern Territory Intervention. The event, organised by Green Left Weekly and the Socialist Alliance, also heard a reportback from the recent anti-intervention convergence in Alice Springs and the “Justice Tour” bus trip. Many participants expressed disgust at the Labor government’s role in the intervention. Many were also amazed at how little coverage there was in the media about the issue.
On July 15, 25 Justice Ride participants returned from their trip across Queensland to Alice Springs for the Defending Indigenous Rights convergence over July 6-9. The trip to Alice Springs took four days each way, so there was plenty of time for us to get to know each other, discuss local Aboriginal rights campaigns, such as those against black deaths in custody, and take in Australia’s beautiful and ancient landscape.
Ewan Saunders, Socialist Alliance candidate for Brisbane, recently returned from the Justice Ride to Alice Springs. * * * On July 14, after almost 50 hours spent on the road over four days, I, along with about 20 others, rolled back into Brisbane at 11.30pm. The trip back from Alice Springs was the last leg of a two-week Justice Ride that changed the lives of a busload of people, many of whom hadn’t considered themselves “activists” before the bus left on July 1.
From June 30 to July 20, a group of Aboriginal rights and environment activists from New South Wales used a decommissioned red school bus to travel to Alice Springs. The purpose was to expose government and media silence over the appalling conditions and treatment of Aboriginal people living under the NT intervention. The passengers attended the Defending Indigenous Rights convergence in Alice Springs. They also visited town camps and remote communities to witness the effects of the intervention’s discriminatory measures such as income quarantining and compulsory land leases.
The Order of Mates celebrated beside Sydney Harbour the other day. This is a venerable masonry in Australian political life that unites the Labor Party with the rich elite known as the big end of town. They shake hands, not hug, though the Silver Bodgie now hugs. In his prime, the Silver Bodgie, aka Bob Hawke or Hawkie, wore suits that shone, wide-bottomed trousers and shirts with the buttons undone. A bodgie was an Australian version of the 1950s English Teddy Boy and Hawke’s thick grey-black coiffure added inches to his abbreviated stature.
The Council of Single Mothers and their Children (CSMC) has taken a stand, in solidarity with Indigenous single mothers in the Northern Territory, against the income management and Basics Card scheme. These policies were part of the NT intervention, rolled out across Aboriginal communities in 2007. Legislation passed in the Senate on June 21 amended the Social Security Act to allow income management to also be applied to non-Aboriginal people, across the NT and then eventually across Australia.
About 250 people attended the Students of Sustainability (SoS) conference at Flinders University in Adelaide over July 4-8. A highlight of the conference was the attendance of the Indigenous Solidarity Rides bus full of passengers on their way from Newcastle to the convergence at Alice Springs. They presented workshops on the NT intervention, its effects on Aboriginal communities and the struggle to repeal the racist laws.
On June 30, 31 mainly young activists set off from around NSW in an old converted school bus, for the “Indigenous Solidarity Rides” heading to an Aboriginal rights convergence in Alice Springs over July 6-11. At the same time, 25 activists from Brisbane headed to the convergence, also in a bus, as part of the “Justice Ride”.

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