Working Group Aboriginal Rights news

WGAR: Working Group for Aboriginal Rights (Australia)

24 OCT 2008:

Greens media release: NTER review a sham – ALP backs racial discrimination

23 Oct 08: “The Australian Greens have denounced the decision by the Rudd Government to ignore the recent Northern Territory Emergency Response review and to push ahead with income quarantining regardless of the evidence — labelling the Government’s commitment to the review
“an empty sham.”

“This confirms that Indigenous Affairs Minister, Jenny Macklin never intended to pay attention to the review report,” said Senator Rachel Siewert today. …

The ALPs empty promises about ‘social inclusion’ and ‘evidence-based policy’ are clearly dead in the water,” she said.”

ABC: Macklin overrules key intervention finding
23 Oct 08: “The Federal Government will keep compulsory
income management in Indigenous Northern Territory
communities, contrary to advice given by its own
independent review. However, it will reinstate the Racial
Discrimination Act, which was also another key
recommendation of the review, but not for another 12 months
when intervention measures will enter a longer-term
development phase.”

ABC PM: Government flags long-term NT intervention phase
23 Oct 08: “The Federal Government’s announced its keeping
the Northern Territory intervention in place for another 12
months, before moving to what it calls a “long-term,
development phase”. The Government will also keep the
controversial compulsory income management measures. An
independent review board recommended earlier this month
that they be stopped. The independent board also
recommended compensation to communities for the five-year
acquisition of Aboriginal land. Indigenous Affairs
Minister Jenny Macklin agrees.”

ABC 7.30 Report: Govt responds to Northern Territory intervention review
23 Oct 08: “Kerry O’Brien interviews Indigenous Affairs
Minister Jenny Macklin on the Government’s response to a
review of the Northern Territory intervention.”

Age: Intervention in Aboriginal communities stays
24 Oct 08: “THE NORTHERN Territory indigenous intervention
will continue for at least another year. The Rudd
Government rejected recommendations to water down the
controversial policy. … Priscilla Collins, chief
executive officer of the North Australian Aboriginal
Justice Agency, said remote communities will be
“devastated” to know welfare quarantining remains. …
Peter Yu, chairman of the board that reviewed the
intervention, said last night he was upset with Ms
Macklin’s decision to continue income quarantining.”

ABC: Aboriginal leaders divided over intervention response
23 Oct 08: “But the head of an Alice Springs-based
Aboriginal medical service says the Federal Government
should be immediately reinstating the Racial Discrimination
Act. Stephanie Bell from the Central Australian Aboriginal
Congress – an organisation represented on the intervention
review board – says the Government has turned its back on
Aboriginal people. … An Alice Springs Town Camp resident
has also condemned the Federal Government for overriding
the recommendations that the Act be restored immediately.
Mount Nancy Town Camp spokesperson Walter Shaw says Ms
Macklin is weak for going against her own independent
review board.”

ninemsn: Govt to retain NT welfare controls
23 Oct 08: “The federal government will maintain strict
controls on Northern Territory Aborigines’ welfare money,
ignoring a key recommendation of its hand-picked
intervention review board. … The Australian Greens
denounced the government’s decision to keep income
management in place. … Australians for Native Title and
Reconciliation National Director Gary Highland said Ms
Macklin was continuing with the blanket, one-size-fits-all
approach of the Howard government.”


ABC: Complaints over welfare card violence, says ombudsman
17 Oct 08: “The Commonwealth Ombudsman says he has received
complaints about welfare cards causing violence when
introduced as part of the Northern Territory intervention.
Professor John McMillan says he has received over 550
complaints about issues connected to the intervention since
it was introduced last year.”

Greens: NT Intervention Complaints
20 Oct 08: “Senator SIEWERT-In terms of the intervention,
what have the major complaints been about? Have they been
about the welfare cards-or the store cards?
Prof. McMillan [Ombudsman]-The largest single topic of
complaints has been income management issues and, within
that, store card issues. There have also been a number of
complaints about communication issues-for example,
complaints that people did not understand the substantial
amount of new information that was presented by a number
of different government agencies. There were also some
complaints about cultural sensitivity of government
agencies. I might say that government agencies have been
quick to respond to those. And we have received some
complaints about the nutrition program. And, as I
indicated earlier, there is the CDEP.”

Greens: HREOC cuts & NT Intervention
[HREOC has had its budget cut by 14%]
20 Oct 08: “Senator SIEWERT-I would have thought that,
given the issues around the Northern Territory intervention
and the rather controversial exemption from the Racial
Discrimination Act, you would have had quite a lot of
contacts around these issues. Would that be a correct
Mr Calma-We have. We have in the past. Since the cuts, we
have had to be very discerning as to what travel we
undertake. … Our capacity to travel and consult and to
hear the complaints is very, very limited.”


GLW: Hearts beat in the Centre
18 Oct 08: “On September 30, more than 400 people gathered
on the courthouse lawns in Mparntwe-Alice Springs to demand
an end to the Northern Territory intervention. From
Newcastle, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, Melbourne and across
the NT they came to listen and learn the truth of what’s
happening on a daily basis to Aboriginal people living in
proscribed areas. In the beating sun they were welcomed to
country and heard numerous speakers, both supporters and
people from proscribed areas. Statements were read from
residents of Darwin town camps unable to attend, and a
local Greens councillor read out a statement from Senator
Rachel Siewert offering the Greens’ continual support.”

Solidarity: Converging against intervention in Alice
Oct 08: “OVER 200 people from around Australia travelled to
join hundreds more from the NT in a protest convergence
against the NT intervention in Mparntwe-Alice Springs from
September 29 to October 3. Activists camped at the
“prescribed area” Mt Nancy town camp, in solidarity with
all targeted Aboriginal communities. … The campaign
network, both amongst “prescribed area” people and
nationally, has grown much stronger through the convergence.
Already, there are reportback meetings being organised in
affected communities and major cities around the country.
Plans are developing for a national day of action around
human rights day on December 13 and discussion is beginning
about a convergence on Canberra for the opening of
parliament next year.”

Catholic Leader: NATSIEC urges rethink on NT intervention
10 Oct 08: “Executive director of the National Aboriginal
and Torres Strait Islander Ecumenical Commission (NATSIEC)
Graeme Mundine last week called for the Rudd Government to
“rollback and rethink” the Northern Territory Intervention.
Mr Mundine also called on the Federal Government to
“unequivocally declare its support for the United Nations’
Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People”. The
NATSIEC head’s comments followed the September 30 gathering
of several hundred people in Alice Springs to demand the
rollback of the Northern Territory Intervention.”


Central Land Council media release: Minister Looks for a Distraction
15 Oct 08: “The overwhelming message we get from our 93
members throughout CLC’s region – the southern half of the
Northern Territory – is that Aboriginal people want to
retain their permits. And in our survey for our review of
the Northern Territory Emergency Response, 94 per cent of
respondents said they wished to retain the permit system.
This was also a finding by the Northern Territory Emergency
Response (NTER) review board.”

Age: Safeguarding privacy for Aboriginal communities
10 Oct 08: “THE permit system was the mechanism by which
the traditional owners of freehold Aboriginal land
controlled access to their land and to their communities
-that is until the “emergency response” removed the permit
system from public areas in prescribed communities. Chair
of the Northern Land Council Wali Wunungmurra, in Canberra
recently to lobby for the reinstatement of the permit
system, described it this way: “It’s about our cultural
survival. Aboriginal land is private property and we would
like to keep it that way.” ” Frances Morphy and Howard Morphy


Indigenous radio station 98.9FM
Let’s Talk – Australia’s only Indigenous presented talkback:
17 Oct 08: “Karen Dorante caught up with Professor of Law
and Director of Research at the Jumbunna Indigenous House
of Learning at University of Technology in Sydney, Larissa
Behrendt. They talked about the Northern Territory
Emergency Response.”
Listen to this interview on-line:

ABC AM: Aboriginal outstations facing closures
18 Oct 08: “Former senator Amanda Vanstone scathingly
called them “cultural museums”, but for many Aborigines in
the Northern Territory outstations are simply called home.
They’re small remote settlements often housing just one or
two extended families. They were set up in the 1970s to
move people away from the problems of larger Aboriginal
communities. But this week the Northern Territory
Government said it was too expensive to provide services,
and the outstations might be forced to close.”

ABC PM: Court stops medical record release
17 Oct 08: “A decision in the Federal Court may hamstring
investigations into child sex abuse in Aboriginal
communities. The nation’s peak criminal intelligence agency
the Australian Crime Commission tried to get the medical
records of eight young girls in a Northern Territory
community as part of efforts to uncover sexual abuse. The
health clinic refused and the ACC took the clinic to court.
The Federal Court has ruled that the tactics of the
investigators didn’t take into account the best interests
of the children, and the medical records don’t have to be
handed over.”

ABC Awaye!: What Comes After Sorry?
11 Oct 08: “It has now been nine months since Kevin Rudd
apologised to the members of the Stolen Generations. While
this symbolic event was very important for Indigenous
Australians Professor Larissa Behrendt of UTS maps out what
needs to be done next to help communities to build strength,
good health and education. In this wide ranging speech,
given at a public forum at UTS, she examines the NT
Intervention and other government initiatives to look at
what works and what doesn’t.”


Northern Territory News: NT clinic records to stay secret
18 Oct 08: “A TERRITORY health clinic yesterday won a
Federal Court fight to keep medical records of young
Aboriginal teens pregnancies, Implanon use and STD
infections secret from an emergency intervention

Australian: Petrol-sniffing on the rise in Top End,25197,24508817-5013172,00.html
17 Oct 08: “PETROL-SNIFFING is far from dead — it is
breaking out across the Top End, possibly as a result of
alcohol restrictions introduced under the federal
Government’s intervention in Northern Territory

SNAICC News: Consultation and engagement the key to making
Aboriginal communities safe for children
14 Oct 08: “SNAICC welcomes the NTER Review Board’s Report
and calls on the federal government to stand by its promise
to act on an ‘evidence-based’ report in order to secure the
safety and well being of NT Aboriginal children.”

ABC: Indigenous housing program going in slow motion, say residents
13 Oct 08: “Residents and workers in the Aboriginal
community of Maningrida are complaining that the year-old
Federal Government intervention has failed to produce
essential new houses and lift living standards, with people
still living in filthy and overcrowded conditions. One of
the major problems identified by the former Howard
government’s intervention was overcrowding and the
possible links between that and child abuse.”

Australian: NT outstations’ days in the sun are over,25197,24478304-2702,00.html
11 Oct 08: “THE Northern Territory Government is to unveil
a radical shift in policy, refusing to fund the creation of
any new Aboriginal outstations and arguing that the days of
people moving into the bush and demanding government
services are over.”

ABC: Commission starts welfare quarantining in N Qld
10 Oct 08: “The Family Responsibilities Commission says it
has begun to quarantine people’s welfare payments in four
far north Queensland Aboriginal communities.”

Solidarity: Selective quarantining tried in Queensland
Oct 08: “WHILE THE restoration of the RDA would force some
changes to the Northern Territory welfare quarantine
legislation, it is likely that these would be modelled on
the Queensland intervention legislation. This uses
“behavioural triggers” to bring people under the Family
Responsibilities Commission (FRC), a government body which
reviews and administers income management.”

Age: Macklin promises Wadeye makeover with a difference
10 Oct 08: “It is hoped $650 million will help fix
Aboriginal housing woes. … Yesterday, visiting Wadeye,
federal Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin announced
details of the biggest upgrade of indigenous housing in the
Northern Territory, a $647 million package that will
deliver 980 new homes and upgrades to 2500 others. Wadeye
will get between 70 and 100 new houses, almost half the
number needed to fix the community’s chronic overcrowding.”

The Court: Aboriginal Property Rights “Down Under”
7 Oct 08: “Since I am currently “down under” visiting
Sydney, Australia, I thought that this may be a good
opportunity to look at a case that is presently before the
Australian High Court involving Aboriginal property rights.
The former Liberal federal government, lead by John Howard,
implemented a compulsory five-year intervention program in
the Northern Territory whereby the federal government
received exclusive possession of over seventy communities,
including the Maningrida township in Arnhem Land, pursuant
to five-year leases in an attempt to abolish child sexual
abuse and reduce crime. Under this process, the
Commonwealth introduced alcohol and pornography bans as
well as welfare restrictions, took control of township
leases, cancelled the permit system and increased police
presence in the area. The present Labour government has
continued this intervention program; however, it has been
met with a large amount of resistance by Northern Territory
indigenous communities, including the elders in Maningrida
Township and the Bawinanga Aboriginal Corporation.”

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WGAR: Working Group for Aboriginal Rights (Australia)