In my self-centred frenzy of spruiking the new family T shirt empire, I missed the National day of Action on the Northern Territory Intervention yesterday. So here’s a roundup of links and commentary from Australia and the US. After all, the election focus has switched back to “responsible economic management”, especially of middle-class white peoples’ mortgages, so we all need a reminder that a couple of months ago, the Australian government sent the army into aboriginal communities and is to annex their land, all in the name of protecting children.
Sadly, one doesn’t have to be a cynic to tell that this was a political stunt (as well as highly convenient now that they won’t be tying up all that lovely uranium. To some people, this may sound strangely familiar). To quote the National Sorry Day commission,
– there are the 339 Recommendations from the Deaths in Custody Report, released in 1990.
– there are the 54 Recommendations from Bringing Them Home Report, released in 1997.
– now there are another 97 Recommendations from the Little Children are Sacred Report, released in June 2007. This makes a grand a total of 490 recommendations.
It is agreed amongst commentators that most of the earlier 393 recommendations until June 2007 either have been absolutely ignored, or implemented in an ineffectual manner through inadequate funding, limited resources and insufficient service providers and staff.
Here’s some of the bloggers who responded to the day of action:
(L)isten up. Your worldview is broken beyond repair. Aboriginal peoples aren’t withered obsolete organs, to be seen only in terms of their utility or troublesomeness. You don’t get to do whatever you want with them. You don’t GET to decide whether to keep them, treat them, or excise them. They are human beings to be respected, not irritating vestiges or evolutionary curiosities. They have societies and a dynamic heritage of their own, as well as being part of a broader Australian society. They form sovereign nations.
Start listening to equal humans, to equal nations. Treaty, now.
As you can hopefully see, there is nothing even remotely right, sensible or well-intentioned about these actions. They breach the Racial Discrimination Act, violate property laws, strip citizens of personal autonomy, push people onto welfare and then restrict their access to it. And the intervention does these things to only one racial group within the population.
Instead of working with Aboriginal people, the government is working specifically against them, including appointing non-Aboriginal managers of communities. This is not a dialogue, it is not help, it is not intervention, it is quite frankly invasion.
*Brownfemipower also gives the call to action a kick along (she was already across, and writing about, this issue before), and gives a hat tip to
*Firefly at She who Stumbles, who explains the abolition of Community Development Employment Program (CDEP) – part of the “intervention” – and the likely consequences. She’s the originator of the call to action. Thanks, Firefly.
The call to action contains many useful links. I’d add to that the Little Children are Sacred report (warning – PDF), which – contrary to the intention of its writers – was used by the federal government to launch the “intervention”. The report listed 97 recommendations. As the Sorry Day quotation mentioned above, the government ignored all of the report’s recommendations, including the first, which was to work together with aboriginal leaders to form a co-ordinated response to abuse and disadvantage.