Friday, 22 June 2012

“It was kinder being shot”: Indigenous panel attacks Labor on the fifth anniversary of Intervention

See the published version of this story at Green Left Weekly 

Last night at the Arena Project Space in Melbourne, Indigenous speakers lashed out against the Labor government's five-year-old NT Intervention.

Rosalie Kunoth-Monks, the ex-mayor of Barkly shire, from Utopia, NT, made her thoughts on Labor leadership clear:

That redhead lacks maternal instinct.”

She explained that Indigenous people in the NT are being “traumatised” by the government policies and drew parallels between her current nightmare and that faced by the Jews during the Holocaust of World War II.

It was kinder being shot than being under the care of Macklin.”

Dr Gary Foley, the event chair, called the actions of Jenny Macklin, the Federal Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, a“significant portion of the problem”. His goal for the night was to raise awareness.

Barbara Shaw, a descendant of the Kaytetye, Arrernte, Waripiri and Warumungu people, described how her community was taken by surprise at the start of the 2007 Intervention. “Newspapers are not delivered here...we were rounded up into a basketball stadium, and told the new laws.”

It makes me feel sick as a mother.”

Shaw described how an 11 year old boy was locked up for four weeks. Incarceration rates of Indigenous Australians have increased by 30% since the Intervention began.

She went to the second consultation “just to add colour”. Essentially social workers and government bureaucrats were the majority at the “local” consultations.

Panelist Jon Altman, ARC Australian Professorial Fellow at the ANU Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research (and token white fella), pointed out that 80% of Indigenous adults in the NT were on government support. “It is destructive of Aboriginal societies with only one end game: assimilation.”

Les Malzer, co-chairperson of the National Congress of Australian first peoples, reminded the audience that it was time to “stand up and fight for people's rights”. He demanded that more people scrutinise the June 21, 2007 bills that “legislated away rights....against the people of the NT in particular.”

Mr Malzer made links to other indigenous groups facing discrimination around the world, stating that Australia continues to discriminate against Indigenous people.

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