Archive for January, 2009

25/01/09: NORTHERN TERRITORY INTERVENTION: CARD BUNGLE CAUSES HUNGER

Posted in NEWSLETTER on 25/01/2009 by D

Contents:
Basics Card Bungle
Intervention Opinion
Intervention News

BASICS CARD BUNGLE:

Media Releases:

Basics Card Bungle Causes Hunger
http://sydney.indymedia.org.au/story/basics-card-bungle-causes-hunger-nt-intervention-welfare-quarantining
19 Jan 09: “All of Friday and late into Saturday night,
Aboriginal people under welfare quarantining in Alice
Springs were unable to access their money using the Basics
Card. This meant that anyone trying to buy food or drinks
and other goods were not able to do so, due to a “glitch”
in the Basics Card system. Many Aboriginal people, after
traveling (often on foot) to the supermarket to buy food
and a cool drink, the temperature being around 38 degrees,
were turned away at the checkout when their card refused to
work. Many people also travel from remote communities to
use the Basics Card. … The Intervention Rollback Action
Group is demanding Minister Jenny Macklin take
responsibility for the bungle. IRAG will take their demand
for an end to the NT Intervention directly to the Federal
Parliament during a protest convergence in Canberra on
Tuesday February 3.”

Greens: Government fails to provide for welfare quarantined families
http://rachel-siewert.greensmps.org.au/content/media-release/government-fails-provide-welfare-quarantined-families
20 Jan 09: “The Australian Greens said today the failure of
the Basics card system which left potentially thousands of
people unable to access money for food was yet another
example of the flawed approach of income quarantining. “It
is outrageous that families cannot get access to their
money in order to buy even basic groceries. Some people
travelled hundreds of kilometres to stores that allow use
of the card, only to find that the system was down and they
had no way of paying,” said Australian Greens Senator
Rachel Siewert. The Greens also criticised Centrelink for
their failure to provide for families unable to purchase
groceries over the weekend due to the system failure. …
“The Greens opposed the introduction of any kind of welfare
quarantining from the start. This is not the way to address
underlying causes of disadvantage in this country,” she
[Senator Siewert] concluded.”

Radio Interview:

ABC AM: Welfare payment glitch prompts calls to end income management
http://www.abc.net.au/am/content/2008/s2469674.htm
20 Jan 09: “Barbara Shaw and her sister-in-law from the
Mount Nancy town camp travelled into Alice Springs on
Friday afternoon to go shopping. Like many other Aboriginal
people living in the Northern Territory, Mrs Shaw has her
welfare payments quarantined. Half her money goes onto a
card which she can use only to buy groceries and other
essentials at selected shops. But on Friday afternoon the
BasicsCard stopped working.”

News:

NIT: Bungle leaves Aboriginal people hungry: activist
http://www.nit.com.au/story.aspx?id=16851
20 Jan 09: “Some Aboriginal people across the Northern
Territory were unable to buy food or other essentials over
the weekend because of a “glitch” in the income management
(IM) system. Angry residents are now calling on federal
Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin to take
responsibility for the bungle. … Centrelink general
manager Hank Jongen on Monday admitted there had been an
“outage of the system”, which prevented transactions from
being processed. … Protesters plan to converge on
Canberra for the start of the parliamentary year to demand
an end to the income management system.”

NIT: Macklin must ensure welfare bungle never happens again: Law Society
http://www.nit.com.au/breakingnews/story.aspx?id=16859
20 Jan 09: “The federal government must reassure Aborigines
there won’t be a repeat of a welfare bungle that left some
people without food and other essentials, the Northern
Territory Law Society says. A hardware malfunction
prevented Indigenous people from using their BasicsCards to
purchase goods over the weekend. … NT Law Society
president Duncan McConnel on Tuesday called on federal
Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin to promise
indigenous Territorians there would be no future
disruptions.”

ABC: Govt urged to make back-up plan for failed BasicsCard
http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2009/01/20/2470414.htm
20 Jan 09: “The Northern Territory’s Law Society says the
Federal Government should be prepared to guarantee payments
to stores if the income management store card system fails
again. Indigenous people in the NT and remote WA were
unable to buy food for 12 hours last week when Centrelink’s
BasicsCard system experienced computer problems. There have
been reports that full shopping trolleys had to be left at
check-outs because of the problem. About thirty welfare
recipients at Darwin’s Bagot Community were hit by the
glitch.”

ABC Darwin: Welfare quaranting glitch reported in Alice Springs
http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2009/01/19/2469419.htm?site=darwin
19 Jan 09: “An Alice Springs town camp resident says she
has been told some people on welfare were left unable to
buy essential items on the weekend. Barbara Shaw from the
Mount Nancy camp says people told her there was a problem
with the bank which holds funds tied to the BasicsCard. …
Mrs Shaw says she is concerned the problem wasn’t isolated.”

ABC Alice Springs: Welfare quarantining made me feel like a scab: pensioner
http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2009/01/21/2471061.htm?site=alicesprings
21 Jan 09: “A 73-year-old pensioner from Central Australia
says he feels like a ’scab’ because his $1,000 bonus from
the Federal Government has been quarantined. Russell
Clifford works and receives welfare payments, but his
welfare money is quarantined because he lives in the Finke
Community, a prescribed area under the Federal
Intervention. Mr Clifford’s disappointment comes amid anger
over a 12 hour technical fault with the BasicsCard system
last weekend which prevented residents in other communities
from accessing their money.”

INTERVENTION OPINION:

GLW: A town like Alice: alcohol and the Intervention
http://www.greenleft.org.au/2009/779/40165
17 Jan 09: “The immense relief we felt when the new Kevin
Rudd Labor government made the wonderful apology to
Aboriginal Australians soon after taking office was
misplaced. Rudd and the new minister for Indigenous affairs,
Jenny Macklin, are extending the Intervention. They are not
in a hurry to restore the Racial Discrimination Act. …
There is no doubt that for those who have real alcohol
dependency problems, the choices are very limited. There
are no rehabilitation units or help to lure people away
from alcohol, just prohibition.” Sue Gilbey

Socialist Alternative: The intervention was never about helping aborigines
http://www.sa.org.au/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1893&Itemid=125
Jan 09: “The answer is that the intervention was never
intended to help Aborigines; it’s there to drive people off
the land they have lived on for thousands of years and into
towns like Alice Springs and Mount Isa. These towns aren’t
being given any funds to deal with increases in population,
and the dispossessed are now being subjected to
unbelievable racism and barbarism, all so the mining
companies can keep making profits unhindered.”
Jacob Carswell-Doherty reports from the NT town of Utopia

INTERVENTION NEWS:

GLW: Demanding justice for Aboriginal Australia
http://www.greenleft.org.au/2009/779/40185
18 Jan 09: “The following is abridged from a call for a
convergence in Canberra on the opening day of federal
parliament, February 3, to say ‘no’ to racism and demand
justice for Aboriginal Australia. … “

GLW: Peace walk for Aboriginal rights
http://www.greenleft.org.au/2009/779/40166
17 Jan 09: “Aboriginal activists launched a “peace walk” on
January 9 from Sydney to the steps of Parliament House in
Canberra in protest against the continuation of the NT
intervention and the mining of nuclear materials on
Aboriginal land — policies that they label “Rudd’s betrayal
of Aboriginal people”. … The activists are calling for an
end to the NT intervention, which began under the previous
Howard government and placed many Aboriginal people living
there under a “welfare quarantine” system.”

GLW: CDEP under attack from ALP
http://www.greenleft.org.au/2009/779/40169
17 Jan 09: “The Federal Labor government has decided to
push ahead with major changes to Indigenous welfare despite
outrage from affected Aboriginal communities. On December
19, Indigenous affairs minister Jenny Macklin announced
that Community Development Employment Projects (CDEP) would
be abolished in all non-remote areas. This will
significantly affect rural and regional communities,
forcing participants to join the ranks of the unemployed.
… The reforms to CDEP, where it is retained, will also
include the requirement for participants to move cities to
accept jobs. These changes will give the government the
power to force Aboriginal people off their land.”

Australian: No job, no house must be the rule for Aboriginal communities: minister
http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,24914445-5013871,00.html
15 Jan 09: “HOUSING should not be provided to remote
Aboriginal communities where there are no jobs and people
are unable to pay rent or service a mortgage, says former
Labor minister Gary Johns. In a paper to be released today
by the Menzies Research Centre, Dr Johns argues that money
spent on remote community housing has been “generous and
well-targeted” but has resulted in wrecked houses and
dependent communities.”

14/01/09: NORTHERN TERRITORY INTERVENTION: PEACE WALK; CONVERGENCE ON CANBERRA

Posted in NEWSLETTER on 14/01/2009 by D

Contents:
Peace Walk – Sydney to Canberra
Convergence on Canberra 2009
Myths and Facts
Speech by George Newhouse
Intervention Child Health checks
Intervention News

PEACE WALK – SYDNEY TO CANBERRA:

Media Release:

Peace Walk Condemns Toxic NT Intervention
http://sydney.indymedia.org.au/story/peace-walk-condemns-toxic-nt-intervention
9 Jan 09: “Walking to a nuclear-free sovereign beat,
17-day walk demands an end to NT Intervention.
TODAY Friday 9 January 2009, 6am, Sydney: A delegation of
community members and activists will begin a 17 day peace
walk from Sydney to the steps of Parliament House in
Canberra calling for recognition of Indigenous Sovereignty,
an end to the NT Intervention and an end to Australia’s
involvement in the dangerous nuclear-fuel cycle. An
Aboriginal Tent Embassy has been set up in Victoria Park,
Sydney to launch the walk. Itinerary attached.”

News:

9 News: Indigenous activists begin rights walk
http://news.ninemsn.com.au/national/716605/indigenous-activists-begin-rights-walk
9 Jan 09: “A group of Indigenous activists and community
members have begun a 17-day walk from Sydney to Canberra
seeking an end to the Northern Territory intervention. …
The activists will also converge on Parliament House on
February 3 – the first day back for federal parliament in
2009 – to protest for Aboriginal human rights. “The NT
Intervention is the most recent attack on our human rights,
our collective rights as Indigenous peoples and our
sovereign rights as the true custodians of these lands,”
activist Darren Bloomfield said in a statement.”

To support the Peace Walkers en route with drinks, food, money;
or even to walk with them for a time:
Ring Inge on the Walk on 0418 345 686.
Also, the walkers with need a support vehicle.

CONVERGENCE ON CANBERRA 2009:

Statement:

Stop the racism …
http://rollbacktheintervention.wordpress.com/
[scroll down page] http://stoptheintervention.org/
“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
Intervention and the renewed push for assimilation. The
solution to the poverty and disadvantage of Aboriginal
communities begins with self-determination – allowing
affected communities to decide what programs are needed and
how they will be implemented. The Labor government’s own
NTER Review (13 October 2008) stated, “…addressing
specific concerns in Aboriginal communities does not
require the exclusion of fundamental human rights such as
the Racial Discrimination Act.” “

To endorse the Convergence on Canberra 2009, please E-mail:
rollbacktheintervention@gmail.com
and
stoptheintervention@gmail.com

Media Release:

Intervention Rollback Action Group:
NT Aboriginal delegation to challenge Income Management in Canberra
http://www.sydney.indymedia.org.au/story/nt-aboriginal-delegation-challenge-income-management-canberra
12 Jan 09: “A delegation of Aboriginal people from
“prescribed areas” in the Northern Territory will challenge
the “quarantining” of their Centrelink entitlements while
in Canberra for a protest convergence. … While in
Canberra, delegates on the “Income Management” system
imposed by the Intervention will be forced to negotiate
with Centrelink to have 50% of their entitlements
distributed as storecards or deposited as credit in
Canberra shops. The delegation argues that these measures
are in breach of legislative protections against
discrimination that exist in the ACT. These include the
Human Rights Act 2004, which establishes a “bill of rights”
for the ACT.”

News:

SMH: Aborigines to converge on ACT in protest
http://news.smh.com.au/national/aborigines-to-converge-on-act-in-protest-20090113-7fyc.html
13 Jan 09: “Aboriginal protesters will converge on Canberra
for the start of the parliamentary year to demand an end to
income management (IM). A key plank of the federal
intervention to stamp out child sex abuse, IM ensures half
of people’s welfare money is spent on essentials, instead
of alcohol, drugs and gambling. But critics of the blanket
quarantining system say the policy is “racist and onerous”,
and forces Aborigines further into poverty.”

Fundraising:

Rollback the Intervention: Art Work For Sale
http://rollbacktheintervention.wordpress.com/335/
“This is the start of our art sale to raise funds to take a
delegation of Northern Territory Prescribed Area people to
Canberra for the Convergence on 1-5 February 2009.”

MYTHS AND FACTS:

Stop the Intervention: Myths and Facts
http://stoptheintervention.org/facts
“Reality check on the NT intervention:
1. Myth – The intervention is improving the lives of
Aboriginal people in the NT …
2. Myth – The intervention is designed to address child
sexual abuse in Aboriginal communities …
3. Myth –  Successive governments have “thrown money” at the
remote communities, and yet conditions continue to worsen …
4. Myth – Evidence shows children are eating better since
the intervention …
5. Myth – Racial discrimination is ok because the Rudd
Government wants to “Close the Gap” …
6. Myth – Aboriginal women in the NT support the
Intervention”

SPEECH BY GEORGE NEWHOUSE:

Stop the Intervention:
Human Rights Day Speech by George Newhouse
http://stoptheintervention.org/facts/speeches/hr-day-13-12-08
13 Dec 08: “Today is supposed to be a celebration. It’s 60
years since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. But
we can’t enjoy this momentous event when Australian
Aboriginals are being subjected to Government sanctioned
racism. I’m not speaking about individual acts of racism
but a co-ordinated legislative campaign directed at
Aboriginal Australians. No one could argue about the
importance of protecting women and children, which was the
ostensible reason for the so called “Intervention”, but in
reality there is not even a tenuous connection between many
of the measures and the disease they are alleged to cure.
For example – How does taking Aboriginal Land under 5 year
leases protect little children? It doesn’t and that makes
that law racist and a breach of Australia’s International
obligations.” George Newhouse

INTERVENTION CHILD HEALTH CHECKS:

Australian Indigenous Health Bulletin:
Progress of the Northern Territory Emergency Response child
health check initiative: preliminary results from the child
health check and follow-up data collections
http://healthbulletin.org.au/articles/progress-of-the-northern-territory-emergency-response-child-health-check-initiative-preliminary-results-from-the-child-health-check-and-follow-up-data-collections/
9 Jan 09: “Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2008)
… The report acknowledges that follow-up care was
required due to the chronic nature of the conditions
treated. It concluded that many of the conditions could be
controlled through health intervention however, prevention
required attention to the poor living conditions, poverty,
overcrowding and inadequate nutrition experienced in the
communities.”

INTERVENTION NEWS:

WA Today: NT stores ‘better run’ than in WA
http://www.watoday.com.au/wa-news/nt-stores-better-run-than-in-wa-20090101-78dz.html
5 Jan 09: “Veteran Aboriginal activists say remote
community stores are now much better run in the Northern
Territory than those west of the border. … Peter Yu,
former chairman of the Kimberley Land Council, finished a
stint this year chairing the Federal Government’s Northern
Territory Emergency Response Review. Under the emergency
response, remote community stores had to be licensed. “For
all the negative aspects (of the NT intervention) the
licensing of stores has had a positive benefit,” he said.”

ABC: Intervention ‘a mark of the failure of self-government’
http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2009/01/02/2458095.htm
2 Jan 09: “The former chief minister of the Northern
Territory, Paul Everingham, says the federal government was
wrong to split responsibility for Aboriginal affairs when
it granted self-government 30 years ago. … And a former
minister in the Fraser federal government says the
mismanagement of the declaration of the Territory’s
self-government created the environment that led to last
year’s federal intervention. Fred Chaney says the Northern
Territory has never recovered from the way the Commonwealth
withdrew.”

ABC: NT Govt’s outstations policy ‘on track’
http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2008/12/29/2456081.htm
29 Dec 08: “The Northern Territory Government says it’s on
track to have a new policy framework for Aboriginal
outstations by June next year. … The Deputy Chief
Minister Marion Scrymgour says the consultation process has
encouraged debate about how the outstations can be used
more productively. “There are homelands that are viable,
unfortunately we have a whole lot of outstations that
aren’t viable, and we’ve gotta look at what are the
opportunities that we can take and do, to utilise that
unused infrastructure that is out there in those remote
communities.” “