Human Rights Day

[Editorial Note: Please show your support for indigenous Australians  that lost their land under this settler state.]

From Lauren Mellor, Aboriginal Rights Coalition

To help with getting the Human Rights Day [HRD] statement out and endorsed by as broad a selection of organizations and individuals as possible below are the list of endorsements already received.

Human Rights Day


2pm Saturday, 13 Dec 2008

Queens Park

The great news is that the Central Land Council in the NT have endorsed both human rights day and the Canberra Convergence after the Intervention Rollback Action Group went to the full council meeting over the last few days and successfully got a unanimous motion up on conference floor.

Many of the 80 delegates were very excited about the prospect of going to Canberra and standing up to fight about this! Also, Mick Dodson, Director of the ANU National Centre for Indigenous Studies has just signed on.

Prescribed Area People’s Alliance (PAPA) meeting, Alice Springs, November 7th 2008; STICS (Stop the Intervention Collective Sydney); Professor Larissa Behrendt, Director of Research at the Jumbunna Indigenous House of Learning UTS; Mark McMillan LLB GDLP LLM Senior researcher; Alison Vivian BSC Dip Ed LLB LLM; Women’s Reconciliation Network NSW; The Edmund Rice Centre for Justice and Community Education; Gordon & Elaine Syron, The Keeping Place/Black Fella’s Dreaming Museum; Jeff McMullen, Journalist, author, film maker CEO Ian Thorpe’s Fountain for Youth; Illawarra Lands Council, NSW Reconciliation Council, Tribal Warrior Association; Dr Susan Greer; NSW Aboriginal Lands Council, South Sydney Greens; Medical Association for the Prevention of War, NT Branch; George Newhouse B.Com, LL.B, Human Rights Lawyer representing the Prescribed Areas People’s Alliance in the United Nations; QUT Student Guild; Just Rights Queensland; Nala Mansell-McKenna, State Secretary, Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre; Working Group for Aboriginal Rights Canberra; Patrick Byrt, Chairperson SA 2008 International Human Rights Day Committee; ANTaR Victoria; ANTaR NSW; ANTaR SA; Roma Mitchell Human Rights Volunteer Service Roma Mitchell Community Legal Centre Inc; Chris Barry; Darwin Aboriginal Rights Coalition; National Indigenous Alliance for Self Determination (Victoria); Maritime Union of Australia, NSW Branch; Nicole Watson, Lawyer, Jumbanna Indigenous House of Learning.

Upcoming ARC Stalls to build for the Dec 12th Rock against Racism fundraiser for Lex Wotton, and the Human Rights Day rally:

West End Markets, Davies Park (riverside entrance) from 8am, Saturday November 29th and 8am, Saturday December 6th.

If you have some spare time come and help out leafleting for our upcoming events and talking to people about the campaign. Call 0413 534 125 if you can’t find us on the day.

Minutes from last ARC meeting (Wed 26 Nov):

attendance: lauren m, rob n, rachel, surrya, sam w, mark g, liz t, leigh, alf r, apologies: carl t

-HRD statement and rally:

awaiting confirmation of march permit and queens park booking

speakers – sam w to chair, michael williams, greens, lez malezar, nerida all to be confirmed

endorsements – lauren m and ian c to visit unions, awaiting responses from antar qld, greens, qld council of civil libs, australian lawyers alliance, reconciliation qld, anti-discrimination board, pls, sisters inside

-lex wotton fundraiser: venue has changed and needs to be confirmed (checking out ahimsa and kurilpa hall), four bands confirmed, start time 7pm dec 12th, leaflet will be out by this weekend, triple z to sponsor and help promote.

-canberra convergence: national phone hookup to discuss plans for convergence on parliament house around feb 3 opening of parliament next year. there is a draft call-out statement (below) for the convergence based on the human rights day statement.

The idea is to have something that we can use to build for the Canberra convergence that will be easy to get organisations already supporting the Human Rights Day statement to put their name to.

If you have any comments on the draft statement wording and demands please email the list or by 4pm Monday 1st December (time of next national hook-up).

If you would like to have your phone number included in the next hook-up text or call paddy on 0415 800 586 by same time next monday.

Human Rights Day Statement

Stop the racism – Aboriginal Australia Demands Action

Re-instate the Racial Discrimination Act;

Repeal the NT Intervention laws

Aboriginal Australia still waits for human rights.

Aboriginal people are 13 times more likely to be in prison than non-Indigenous
Australians and horrific deaths continue, as highlighted by recent
events on Palm Island. Aboriginal babies die at more than twice the
rate of the non-Indigenous population. The Stolen Generations still
wait for compensation. Land rights are under increasing threat by
mining companies and waste dumps and by the government’s push for
leases to remove community control over community land.

In March this year, Human Rights Commissioner, Tom Calma said, “The
most revealing indicator that the NT intervention was not consistent
with human rights principles was the provision at the centre of the
legislative machinery used to support the intervention, namely
suspending the operation of Racial Discrimination Act.”

Yet the Rudd government says the Racial Discrimination Act will remain
suspended and a blanket welfare quarantine from which there is no
appeal will be maintained for at least the next year.

Under the Northern Territory Emergency Response (NTER), leases and
government business managers have been imposed on prescribed

The only houses built with Intervention funds in twelve months of the
Intervention have been for the business managers many of which are
unoccupied. ‘Prescribed’ communities have been offered millions in
housing only if they lease their land to the government for 40, 60 or
even 90 years.

Successful programs run by local communities dealing with issues of
alcohol abuse, domestic violence and education, have been discarded as
the NTER has taken bureaucratic control. The recommendations of the
“Little Children Are Sacred” report are being ignored.

The NT Intervention is based on Racial Discrimination:

An Intervention that relies on the suspension of the very Act designed
to protect people from racism, makes a mockery of any claim that it is
for the benefit of Aboriginal people.

To suspend the RDA for another year, means yet another year in which
the human rights of Aboriginal people are trampled on.

Welfare rights are non-negotiable:

The Intervention represents a wholesale attack on Australia’s
commitment to universal social security rights. “Income management”
means Aboriginal people are treated as second class citizens. Some
communities literally rely on the uncertain delivery of food parcels.
Others are left with no money to attend funerals or ceremonies, or
even buy Christmas presents.

Self-determination – Aboriginal control of Aboriginal affairs:

“For old people the intervention is bringing up bad memories of the
past, the old days, the ration days, the dog tag days and the mission
days” (Women’s statement from the inaugural Prescribed Area People’s
Alliance, September 29 2008).

The federal government has taken control of the prescribed communities
dictating which communities will get basic housing, leaving others
overcrowded; which stores will thrive, and which will be forced to

Some communities deemed “unviable” will be denied funding and basic
welfare rights.

The women of the Prescribed Area People’s Alliance declared, “we want
to strongly maintain and practice our culture. We want to stay in our
communities and pass on traditional knowledge to the future

Rather than provide real jobs and empower Aboriginal organizations and
communities, their survival is being threatened by the move to abolish
CDEP nationally.

Never Again

In February 2008, Prime Minister Rudd apologized to the Stolen
Generations committing the government to, “A future where this
Parliament resolves that the injustices of the past must never, never
happen again”.

But injustices are being perpetuated under the NT Intervention. The
paternalism that created “the gap” between the lives of Aboriginal
people and the rest of Australia is being fostered by the

New assimilation policies are being imposed on another generation as
language rights are restricted and Aboriginal people are forced to
leave their homelands to access basic education and any prospect of
future employment.

The solution to the poverty and disadvantage of Aboriginal communities
begins with self-determination – allowing effected communities to
decide what programs are needed and how they will be implemented.
The Labor government’s own NTER Review (14 October 2008) stated,
“…addressing specific concerns of Aboriginal communities does not
require the exclusion of fundamental human rights such as the Racial
Discrimination Act.”

We will therefore converge on Canberra on the opening day of
parliament, 3 February 2009, to say no to racism and demand justice
for Aboriginal Australia.

– Immediately reinstate the Racial Discrimination Act
– Repeal the NT Intervention laws
– Justice Not Jail – Stop Black Deaths in Custody
– Community control and full funding for all Aboriginal services
–housing, health and education. Stop the cuts to CDEP
– Full welfare rights for all. End the punitive welfare quarantine.
– Immediately sign the International Declaration on Indigenous Peoples

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