Call for Solidarity with Aboriginal People in the Northern Territory

24 10 2007

Stop the Invasion!

International Day of Action, November 17th

In June this year, the Australian Prime Minister, John Howard,
announced that there would be a ‘National Emergency Response’ to
combat child abuse in Aboriginal communities in the Northern
Territory. The measures announced included the quarantining of half of
all welfare payments, the abolition of the Community Development
Employment Program, the appointment of managers for 73 prescribed
communities, compulsory sexual health examinations of children, and
the abolition of the permit system, amongst other things.

These measures are a violation of human rights, and is obviously
racist and authoritarian. The passage of the Emergency Response
legislation is dependent on the suspension of the Racial
Discrimination Act, and the Northern Territory Native Title Act.
Federal police and the military have been sent into the NT to enforce
these measures.

Aboriginal people that work through the Community Development
Employment Program (CDEP) manage their own wages and money.
Abolishing CDEP will push people onto welfare and the welfare income
management system that allows for quarantining and tight control of
how people’s money is spent. Many people running businesses on CDEP in
remote outstations are already being forced to move into larger
regional towns. The extraordinary measures give the Federal Government
power to seize lands and property without compensation. The owners of
those lands and properties have no right of appeal. Lands will be
leased for five years, but the government has plans to extend these
measures for 99 years. It is entirely up to ministerial discretion
whether rent is paid on those lands or not.

The Federal Government has appointed non-Indigenous business managers
to the ‘prescribed’ communities.  These managers have the power to
decide who lives in a community and who must leave; they can observe
any meeting of an organisation working at the community, they can
change any local programme. Many Aboriginal communities consider these
measures, often being administered by under-prepared military
personnel, as an invasion rather than an intervention.

These measures return Aboriginal people to the days of mission
stations, where life was tightly controlled by authoritarian managers.
It is a return to times of colonial control on Aboriginal life, and
the complete absence of any autonomy or self-determination. The
removal of basic property rights as enjoyed by all other Australians,
with the abolition of the permit system, is a gross violation of human
rights. Even the Northern Territory police oppose this measure, for
the likely adverse effect it will have on crime.

Some $570 million is being spent on these measures. Half of that money
will be spent on the salaries of 700 new bureaucratic positions
created to regulate this intervention. $88 million will be spent on
measures to control the incomes of Aboriginal people on any government
payment (including aged pensions and veterans payments).

This is an insult to the hard work of Aboriginal people who have been
campaigning for basic services in remote communities. Roads, schools,
health care, housing and social services are desperately needed by
these communities. It is estimated that the housing backlog alone for
Northern Territory Aboriginal communities is half a billion dollars.
Moreover, with the publication of the Closing the Gap report by Oxfam
earlier this year, it has been shown that Indigenous life expectancy
is 17 years below that of non-Indigenous life expectancy.

A week and a half ago, the Australian Prime Minister, John Howard,
announced the Federal election for November 24th.

This came shortly after Australia voted against the UN Declaration on
the Rights of Indigenous peoples (along with Canada, New Zealand and
the USA).

It is time to stand up for justice for Indigenous peoples everywhere,
to demand either a change of policy, or a change of government!

One week before the Australian Federal election, on November 17th,
various groups across Australia will be taking action to show
opposition to the Federal government’s intervention into the Northern
Territory. We hope that those outside Australia will join us in
calling for an end to this government, an end to racist, colonialist
policies towards Indigenous people, and support for the strong
self-determination that Indigenous people demonstrate every day.

With allegations that the Australian Federal government is
manipulating international media about the intervention, it is vitally
important that information about the intervention and views of
Indigenous people in the Northern Territory are widely disseminated
through social justice networks. Please use your community and
activist media to promote the interests of Indigenous Australians, and
Indigenous people worldwide!

Learn more:

National Aboriginal Alliance:
Combined Aboriginal Organisations of the Northern Territory –
alternative to the government’s Emergency Response:
Women for Wik:
Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation:
Koori Mail:

Things you can do:

1. Organise a protest outside the Australian Consulate in your nearest
city. Make it clear that the Howard government’s shameful opportunism
on human rights is gathering international criticism.
2. Donate to the National Aboriginal Alliance. Find out more on their
website, here:
3. Spread the news of this horrendous violation of human rights to as
many people as possible. Write an article about it, post to your blog
about it, send the news to your friends via email. Encourage your
friends to speak out about it as well.
4. If you are part of a political organisation, collective, or group,
please send your words of solidarity and support to the National
Aboriginal Alliance. Send messages of solidarity to: secretariat at
nationalaboriginalalliance dot org.
5. Write letters to Mal Brough, the Minister for Indigenous Affairs,
or John Howard. You can find guidelines here:



One response

6 11 2007
mick lambe

Federal political oppression of Aboriginal people

The Children are sacred

Dear Kerry O’Brien and 7.30 researchers,

I have just returned from the Northern Territory. I want John Howard to explain why house to house raids without warrants are being conducted by the Australian Federal Police (AFP) in all of the Alice Springs town camps.

I also want to know, why at least two of the senior women who toured major cities speaking out against a uranium waste dump on their traditional lands have been raided by the AFP on warrants issued by a Federal Magistrate in Canberra – their furniture slashed with knives, belongings damaged, laptops and mobile phones seized, and phones tapped.

Continues …


I was told by one of the women that the warrant gave 12 hours access to her home, and that she was told that the measures were justified because of the security crackdown for APEC ministers. One of those women is an elderly grandmother.

I have also been told by town camp residents that the AFP has set up surveillance on all households in the town camps, and have photographed without consent, every Aboriginal child in those town camps.

In the 1990s the AFP were successfully taken to court for exactly the same violations in Redfern.

Please report on this disgraceful conduct, and pursue a full explanation from the Howard Government.


Jennifer Martiniello
Member, Advisory Board
Australian Centre for Indigenous History,
Australian National University

Aroha Groves


See also

by Jennifer Martiniello

Urgent Action – Family Impact Assessment on NT Intervention

– Aug 16, 2007

Howard’s New Tampa – Aboriginal Children Overboard
– June 25, 2007

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