Resolutions from the Defending Indigenous Rights Conference

Hi ARC mob,

Below are some of the main resolutions coming out of the Defending Indigenous Rights: Land, Law and Culture gathering held in Alice Springs between the 6-9 July. There are several more resolutions which will be available on the Intervention Rollback Action Group website in the next couple of days, and can be accessed at www.rollbacktheintervention.wordpress.com

If you’ve got any questions or feedback on any of these or follow up on the conference please don’t hesitate to get in contact with myself, or at rollbacktheintervention

in solidarity,
Lauren

Resolutions from the Defending Indigenous Rights Conference Alice Springs 6-9 July 2010.

We the people in attendance at the Defending Indigenous Rights conference held in Alice Springs from the 6-9th July 2010 stand in solidarity with Aboriginal people of the Northern Territory to condemn the NT Intervention. We call on all political parties to call for the abolition of the NT Emergency Response legislation and return rights of self determination and restore control over Traditional lands, including remote communities, homelands, and town camps.

1. Women’s Statement

To Prime Minister Julia Gillard:

We, the women, mothers, grandmothers, aunties, sisters in support of our men who are the shared caregivers of the NT wholeheartedly demand the NTER be abolished immediately.

The media has heralded your promotion to PM as a breakthrough for women. All this talk is a slap in the face for Aboriginal women whose communities are being devastated by this government’s racist intervention.

For three years the removal of our human rights has been justified with lies about protecting women from violence and feeding our children. We are living proof of the damage it has caused to us as Indigenous peoples of the NT who are trying to survive, live and practice our way of life. Shame on you!

We call on you, and Federal Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin, to abolish this law that takes away our human rights as Indigenous peoples of this country.

Minister Macklin consistently claims that women support Income Management and the Intervention. This is not the truth. Under current policies we have no choice and no change and now a big cloud is covering our struggle and journey. The Working Futures policy is about closing our homelands and communities. This is damaging and destructive to our families, our language, law, culture, everything that is important to us. This is our identity, passed down through generations, and this is what makes us the oldest unique culture in the world.

Income Management, cuts of the Community Development Employment Program (CDEP), the bi-lingual education ban in schools, compulsory five year leases over our land and housing – all these measures are taking away our control over our lives and our communities. Your legal discrimination against us has given a licence to racists to abuse us in the street, in supermarkets and to attack our kids at school.

We call for the immediate end of the NT Intervention and the resignation of Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin.

2. Worse than Workchoices: Exploitation of Aboriginal workers must stop! Jobs with Justice now.

The Rudd government committed to halving the gap in employment outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians in a decade. But due to a continuation of Howard era policies such as the NTER, the gap is becoming far wider. ABS data released on June 3 shows that Indigenous unemployment has drastically worsened from 13.8% in 2007 to 18.1% in 2009. The employment to population ratio of Indigenous males in remote areas decreased 6% in just one year 2008-09.

Minister Macklin has promised to deliver ‘real jobs’ for Aboriginal communities through the NT intervention. Instead, thousands of CDEP positions have been lost.

At the end of 2010, 500 ‘real jobs’ created to replace some of the lost CDEP positions in remote shire councils face the axe. The Commonwealth is refusing to release the $8.5 million per year needed by the NT government to keep the jobs. Many Aboriginal communities serviced by these shires already suffer atrocious living conditions which shame Australia – 500 more job losses will be devastating.

Worse than Workchoices

Under the new CDEP scheme designed by the federal Labor government, Aboriginal people no longer receive wages. They are being forced to work providing vital services such as rubbish collection, school bus runs, sewerage maintenance, construction and aged care in exchange for quarantined Centrelink payments.

There are cases of people working between 25-40 hrs a week for a base rate of approximately $120 cash and $110 on the Basics Card – that is $4 an hour plus rations. Centrelink is threatening to cut off payment entirely if people do not participate in CDEP. This is far worse than anything the Liberals inflicted on workers under Workchoices.

Minister Macklin has referred these shocking revelations to a departmental enquiry and to Fair Work Australia. But this is not good enough. The gross exploitation of Aboriginal workers must stop immediately. The government is planning to spend $350 million (over 4 years) to expand income management across the NT. This money is desperately needed to create real jobs in remote communities and ensure the provision of basic services.

We call on the trade unions, State Labour councils and the ACTU to endorse this statement, provide funds for its publication and help organise members to attend a national day of action in September to push these demands.

The government must act immediately to:

-Guarantee the 500 threatened Shire jobs

-End compulsory income management

-End current CDEP arrangements forcing people to work for the BasicsCard

-Turn all CDEP positions into fulltime waged jobs

-Provide massive investment in job creation and service provision in all NT communities.

3. No to Radioactive Racism

The nuclear industry continues to have a disproportionate impact on remote and Indigenous communities in Australia and overseas. Nuclear projects leave a lasting legacy of environmental contamination and adverse social issues. The NT Intervention, NT government ‘Working Futures’ and other regressive and paternalistic policies are stripping communities of funding and resources and pushing Traditional Owners and communities to consider high impact projects like uranium mines and nuclear waste dumps in exchange for essential services which are basic human rights.

The Defending Indigenous Rights gathering calls for full government investment to provide services for all communities. The gathering supports the strong stance taken by the Electrical Trades Union in banning their members from working on nuclear projects and commends the support of the Maritime Union of Australia, Unions NT and the Australian Council of Trade Unions in solidarity with Muckaty Traditional Owners opposing the federal radioactive waste dump.

The gathering supports the upcoming Australian Nuclear Free Alliance meeting and will start work to support delegates to attend the conference.

We commit to immediate and ongoing protest actions in cities/towns and a blockade at Muckaty if the site is announced and the community calls for support.

4. Defend Aboriginal Languages – Scrap the Bi-Lingual Education Ban

Stop the erosion of Aboriginal language rights. The government is denying Aboriginal people our identity and culture through the Bi-lingual education ban.

The Defending Indigenous Rights gathering calls on the Australian Education Union to pledge support for any teachers who refuse to follow the policy of assimilation being enforced on NT communities – the restrictions on teaching in Aboriginal languages. That all conference participants work to get signatures on the AEU petition against the Bi-lingual Education Ban and works with teachers around the country to build forums and protest actions.

5. Indigenous Media and Media Representation

The Defending Indigenous Rights gathering i) calls for a boycott of the National Indigenous Times, and ii) condemns the ABC Lateline program.

i) The conference congratulates Chris Graham, Amy McGuire, Larissa Behrendt and others who have edited and written for the National Indigenous Times over many years. They have reported the truth about Aboriginal affairs, an area characterised by mainstream media racism and propaganda. This conference condemns the push to run a pro-Intervention editorial line in the current National Indigenous Times to gain access to government funding. We call for a boycott of National Indigenous Times while this sell-out strategy continues. We support efforts by former NIT staff to establish alternative forums for news and critical analysis of Indigenous issues.

ii) That this conference calls upon the Federal Minister for Communication to investigate the ABC’s Lateline program of reporting false, inaccurate, misleading statements on Aboriginal communities in its program of 2005 of alleged sexual abuse in Mutitjulu. Participants of this conference condemn the ABC on this program and call for an on-air apology in casting all Aboriginal communities in a derogatory light. Particularly the male participants at this conference condemn child/sexual abuse and agree that those matters should be properly investigated without racist targeting of all Aboriginal communities.

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