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15/6/09 for immediate release
Testimony proves intervention consultations ‘farcical’.
Campaigners against the Northern Territory Intervention have criticised the ‘community consultation’ process initiated by Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin as farcical.
As the consultations began today, testimonies of people living in ‘prescribed areas’ demonstrate a strong anger that compulsory Income Management will continue and that meetings are taking place without adequate notice.
Minister Macklin is relying on the consultations to help characterise Intervention powers as ‘special measures’ under the Racial Discrimination Act, which require the informed consent of affected people.
Imelda Palmer is a teacher and community leader in Santa Teresa, where consultations were held today. She says she received no notice for the meeting.
“Not many people know about this meeting. I only found out when the ABC journalists came to interview me. I walked up and there were maybe 12 or 17 people sitting around the table. That’s not good enough. It should have been a public meeting out in the open, for the whole community, not behind closed doors. It needs to be one voice out there in the open if this is proper consultation”.
Ms Palmer is angry that the government has already decided to continue with compulsory Income Management.
“Why did she send out a team from her government bodies with their discussion paper to talk about the Intervention? What’s that for when behind our back she’s on the media saying it’s going to keep being compulsory. That’s not fair. When the people write down that we don’t want that Basics Card, or anything like this Intervention, are they going to listen to them?”
“We are all Australians, we are all in one country. Why treat the indigenous people like that, with the Basics Card? It’s outright discrimination. The whole Intervention isn’t working in communities. The community has just been going down since they started. People are confused. We are suffering because the government is taking the power away”.
Barbara Shaw, from the Intervention Rollback Action Group in Alice Springs, will lead a large delegation from Central Australia to a meeting of the Prescribed Area People’s Alliance, beginning in Darwin on June 17 and culminating in a rally on June 20.
“The minister said nothing about these consultations when she came up here last Thursday to address Aboriginal leaders and elders. When it comes to consulting with Aboriginal people affected by the racist Intervention you need to talk to everybody in the communities and not just the ‘yes’ people and the hand-picked people. A lot of independent information has been given to the Minister but she has not respected or responded to any of it.”
Natalie Wasley, from the Stop the Intervention Collective in Sydney, has just returned from Tennant Creek, another site of today’s consultations.
“I was in Tennant last weekend and met with many community leaders. People expressed their ongoing anger at the Intervention, but no one mentioned these consultations. After reading media reports this morning that FaHCSIA were in Tennant Creek, I called a worker at the local cultural centre and a young mother from Mulga town camp who despises Income Management. Neither had been told”.
“Support for people resisting Intervention measures is growing around the country. We will rally in Sydney on June 20 as part of national mobilisations for Aboriginal rights. The government needs to stop their farcical ‘consultations’ and act on the demands coming consistently from across the prescribed areas – end the Intervention now”.
For more information contact:
Imelda Palmer (Santa Teresa) 08 89560714
Barbara Shaw (Intervention Rollback Action Group) 0401 291 166
Natalie Wasley (Stop the Intervention Collective, Sydney) 0429 900 774
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Source of media release: IRAG <email@example.com>
IRAG (Intervention Rollback Action Group) Website: http://rollbacktheintervention.wordpress.com
This media release was posted by Working Group for Aboriginal Rights (WGAR) as a community service, with the kind permission of Natalie Wasley. Please note, WGAR is not the author of this media release.