I am proud to have been an Indigenous member of the NT Parliament since
My electorate of Stuart covers some of the most remote communities in the
country and I’m passionate about making sure our people have a strong voice
at the highest levels of decision making.
In this bulletin, I’d like to introduce myself to you and keep you up to
date with who I’m speaking to and what I’m standing for.
State Member for Stuart
ALICE SPRINGS NAIDOC LAUNCH
5.30pm Wed July 11, 2012
- I’m very proud to be here to launch our local NAIDOC celebrations in Alice Springs
- This year’s NAIDOC theme celebrates the 40th anniversary of the tent embassy.
- It made me think about the impact of the embassy on us here in Central Australia and how many of the issues the founders of the tent embassy fought for are still relevant today.
- In many ways it was the result of the frustration Aboriginal people felt at not being listened to by government, at not having a voice in decisions that were being made about their lives and their future.
- This is the basis of why I decided to get into politics – to make sure that indigenous people have a strong voice in decision making, to do my best to ensure the needs of people living in some of our most remote communities are taken into account, to make a difference.
- I’m a big believer in getting the job done, working with families and communities to improve lives on a grass roots level, as well as working on broader policy in areas like housing, education and the environment.
- I am proud of many of the achievements we have made, working together.
- For the first time we have young indigenous men and women going to secondary school in their communities, and graduating from high school.
- There have been improvements in housing, and right here in Alice Springs there are 85 new houses on town camps, a new visitor accommodation park – 500 extra beds to help deal with overcrowding and homelessness.
- Today I was out in the southern Tanami, celebrating the declaration of the country’s largest Indigenous Protected Area.
- The event acknowledged for traditional owners the importance of their country and their knowledge and is a good example of how government can work with people on the ground in a real partnership to keep country and culture strong.
- That’s not to say we can rest on our achievements – there is so much more to do to address the enormous disadvantage that exists in many areas, especially in the bush.
- But this has to be done in partnership with indigenous people, taking account of their knowledge, their wishes and their ideas for their lives, their families and their communities.
Not the way its been done – not by an intervention that is forcibly imposed.
When I use the word “Intervention” I am talking about the plethora of imposed Commonwealth control measures that are now in force in the “prescribed communities”.
I am not talking about those non-contentious initiatives that had the backing of the NT Government and most of the affected communities, measures which did not require coercive enabling legislation to take effect. Measures like special Commonwealth funding grants for things like safe houses, the restoration of women’s and children’s services additional teachers, and the building of new housing and infrastructure.
These things cannot be used as a justification for drastic Intervention – in my book they are about addressing basic needs and disadvantage.
The intervention is bad policy and is bad for people. We need the Commonwealth to work with us to address the huge need that stills exists, especially in the bush. But not the way its been done…
I think this is at the heart of what the founders of the tent embassy were fighting to achieve – changing the way things were being done.
We have built on their achievements but the fight is far from over.
- Labor and indigenous Territorians have a strong and respectful partnership that goes back many, many years.
- We have achieved a great deal together – but there is still much more work to do … I look forward to doing it together.