ANTaR media release – Alice Springs town camps – and online petition

Town camps takeover a low point in Indigenous affairs

31 July 2009

The reluctant acceptance of a government take-over of town camps in Alice Springs represents a low point in Indigenous affairs, ANTaR (Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation), said today.

“It’s a sad day when the government feels it’s won a victory by coercing Indigenous people into signing away control over their communities”, ANTaR spokesperson Dr David Cooper said.

The government has achieved its aims, according to Tangentyere’s Executive Director, William Tillmouth, by putting a gun to the head of Tangentyere.

Australians should be concerned at what this indicates about the government’s commitment to re-set its relationship with Indigenous people.

Service providers like Tangentyere Council have worked for generations in the face of government neglect to provide better conditions for town campers.

Sign ANTARs Petition:

“Instead of scape-goating tactics and removing their rights, the government needs to work constructively with town campers and their organisations to enable them to assume responsibility for the development of their communities.

“The evidence tells us that improved outcomes will come with greater, not diminished empowerment of communities, in conjunction with needs-based resourcing, and no amount of government spin or bureaucratic control can alter this”, Dr Cooper said.

The housing deal being forced on town camps and other Aboriginal communities also contradicts the approach being taken by the government in the broader community.

While in mainstream Australia 70% of the Australian Government’s $6.4 billion Social Housing Initiative will go to community housing, Indigenous communities are being locked out of community housing. This denies them any meaningful control or decision-making role. Instead they will be forced to accept control by a government authority – Territory Housing – with a poor record in relation to Indigenous housing.

Territory Housing policies will lead to increased rates of evictions and consequent problems associated with continuing high rates of homelessness.

“ANTaR calls on the Australian Government to abandon its counter-productive approach to remote Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory”, Dr Cooper concluded.