Town camp leader outraged by Bess Price claims on Q and A

Media release    April 15 2011 for immediate release

Barbara Shaw, spokesperson for the Intervention Rollback Action Group in Alice Springs and resident of Mt Nancy Town camp says that comments by Bess Price on Q and A about the “success” of the Intervention ignore the huge evidence of continuing failure.

IRAG says Mrs Price’s comments have caused distress amongst people living in prescribed areas under the Intervention, whose experiences of deteriorating social conditions continue to be ignored by government and mainstream media.

“It is outrageous that Bess Price can continue to go on national media and spread false information on the Intervention while life in our town camps and communities gets harder and harder”, says Barbara Shaw.

“We now have a massive crisis in Alice Springs as people come in from the bush because of the failure of the Intervention. On Monday night while Bess was on Q and A talking about our kids being safer, I was dealing with multiple situations of children needing emergency care.”

“The Intervention has done nothing to help – I find it harder to look after my family because I am still on the BasicsCard. If things are so good, why do government statistics show more children being admitted to hospital for malnutrition and more young people committing suicide and self-harm? Why are more and more children being taken away from parents and put into care?” Ms Shaw asks.

“Bess says education is the key to improving lives. But she didn’t say that Yuendumu school attendance rates have halved and are now down to only 30 per cent since the Intervention came in and bilingual education was banned by the NT government.”

Ms Shaw says she is very concerned that Bess Price is misinforming the wider community about the feelings and views of NT Aboriginal people about the Intervention.

“Marcia Langton wrote in the Australian today that Bess Price ‘resides in Yuendumu’. This is untrue and the Australian needs to correct the public record. Bess does not live under the Intervention. She lives a comfortable lifestyle in the eastern suburbs of Alice Springs, not in a prescribed area. She does not have a Basics Card and she does not work for the dole. She doesn’t have her home raided. She doesn’t have her alcohol taken away at the bottle shop,” Ms Shaw concluded.

“Bess says Aboriginal women have been given a voice by the Intervention – but which ones? Thousands of women have lost their jobs as Community Development Employment Projects (CDEP) close down, many women leaders have lost their positions of authority as community councils were closed and Government Business Managers and Shires took over.”

“In the last federal election, I outpolled all other candidates in remote communities in Central Australia because people agree the Intervention and Shires have failed.”

“Women do need a voice – we need for the government to listen, to scrap the Intervention and empower us with resources and jobs to go forward.”

An Alice Springs based community worker and IRAG member Marlene Hodder says, “Many Warlpiri women living in Alice Springs are very unhappy that Bess Price assumes she can speak for them. Last year they sent a strong recorded message to Minister Macklin as she refused to meet with them on more than one occasion. They are tired of not being listened to as they feel the Intervention is an insult to them as mothers, grandmothers and carers.”

“These women says they struggle to maintain their dignity with racist taunts being thrown at them as they walk into town and the unfairness of the BasicsCard when the reality is that there is no work for them. Strong in their culture and staunch Christians, they pray every night for the Intervention to end.”, concluded Ms Hodder.

Contacts: Barbara Shaw 0401 291 166

Marlene Hodder 08 8952 5032

3 responses to “Town camp leader outraged by Bess Price claims on Q and A

  1. Thank you, Barbara Shaw, this has cleared up some confusion after a torturous meander through Mr Windshuttle of the Australian/Quadrant, Mrs Price of nicer suburbs of Alice and Ms Behernt of Harvard and all to find out who did what to a horse and why it mattered (apart from cruelty and abuse). Dont these people suffer normal human embarressment, ever think before they write or speak, or tweet? I would want to crawl under log till my complexion changed if I’d made Mr W’s remarks implying Mrs Price was a sample of the put upon women of the town camps of Alice. I tend, modestly, to conclude these people, all those mentioned above, just assume their readers only read them and their media outlets and are just lazy buggers who wont think for themselves and want someone else whose basic prejudices they agree with to spout some smart remarks for them to quote.

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  2. [Aboriginal News]

    See also – Les Malezer, co-chair elect of National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples, vows to end NT Intervention
    ABC – The Drum Opinion
    Criticism of Behrendt hides political agenda
    MICHAEL BRULL
    Aboriginal lawyer and academic Larissa Behrendt has tweeted that Aboriginal leader Bess Price, who appeared on Q&A last Monday night, was more offensive (in her views on the Northern Territory intervention) than a show she’d seen where a man had sex with a horse. … http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/56868.html

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  3. Today’s (15 April 2011) AUSTRALIAN reports:

    “Professor Behrendt claimed her (tweet to Bess Price) was taken out of context, saying she had been watching the profane television series Deadwood.”

    Perhaps Aunty would agree with the characterisation ‘profane’ – although some of the more evil characters in Deadwood do speak in the high prose of biblical reference. I certainly do not accept the impression given by the AUSTRALIAN that Deadwood provides viewing of ‘acts of bestiality’ for Australian intelligentia.

    ABC promo material for its TV ‘Deadwood’ states:

    “With its unflinching realism, adult themes and wickedly inventive storylines, Deadwood is an intense, character-driven drama that takes elements of the traditional western and turns them upside-down.”

    In all the condemnation and calls for her scalp, Prof Behrendt is to be congratulated for one thing.

    Her choice of TV viewing — that is if the Australian report is true and Behrendt does actually watch ‘Deadwoood’.

    But given the trouble the good professor is in, I doubt that Aunty can count on her remarks to improve Deadwood’s ratings.

    Personally I have watched Deadwood. I am yet to see any acts of bestiality but have seen a lot of inhumane things done to people. I do see Deadwood as a satire of the US as a 19th century settler state showing how capitalism was established by corruption, the railroad, and the law of the jungle.

    If you have not seen Deadwood, it is the TV equivalent of another western, “There will be blood”. That film tells the story of a silver miner-turned-oilman on a ruthless quest for wealth during Southern California’s oil boom of the late 19th and early 20th centuries — i.e. the birth of modern capitalism.

    The events Deadwood depict begin just two weeks after Custer’s defeat at Little Big Horn – otherwise named the ‘Battle of the Greasy Grass.’ This was an armed engagement between combined forces of Lakota, Northern Cheyenne and Arapaho people against the 7th Cavalry Regiment of the United States Army

    It’s a shame that the British did not suffer a defeat of its militiary occupation in 1788. It’s a shame also that the Australian government does not have a similar setback on its more recent intervention (with military assistance) in the NT .

    However the Intervention may yet prove to be the federal government’s last stand, along with the war in Afghanistan and its support for Apartheid Israel, in what, I hope, may one day become known as the ‘battle of the long grass’.

    Ian Curr
    April 2011

    PS I don’t have a twitter account, it’s too easy to become a twit.

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