Two days from now, on June the 18th, the Australian Senate will decide whether or not to extend the infamous Northern Territory Emergency Response (NTER) for another ten years. The controversial piece of legislation opened the doors to one of the most abhorrent attacks on Indigenous rights in the past decade.
Heard enough? Visit StandForFreedom.org.au to learn what you can do to help.
Immediately after the legislation was passed, back in 2007:
- the land titles of 73 indigenous communities were replaced with short-term (five year) leases;
- The communities lost the power to restrict who had access to their lands;
- All Indigenous people on Welfare in the communities had 50% of their payments ‘quarantined’ (All payments were to be cut off if children fail to attend school, or if they were considered “at risk” of abuse)
- Alcohol, Tobacco, and Pornography was banned
- The government gained powers to ‘observe’ any meeting held by Aboriginal or non-Aboriginal organizations in those communities;
- The government gained powers to seize the assets of Aboriginal or non Aboriginal organizations which are providing services to the communities;
The legislation further suspended the Racial Discrimination Act (because the intervention was racist); empowered a non-aggressive military invasion; barred Community meetings unless an official government appointee was available; shut down several community-based services; allowed for surprise raids; and made health checks mandatory for all indigenous children.
As noted several times on Intercontinental Cry, no Indigenous people from the effected communities were consulted before NTER became legislation. A consultation process was carried finally out in 2009; however, many communities were not able to participate in that process because the government failed to tell them about it.
Over the years, the mainstream media has also gone o considerable lengths to justify the racist program by promoting irrational scientific myths, outright lies and pejorative notions about mental health and sexual abuse, as well as race, culture and what it means to be “Indigenous.”
In fact, as it turned out, the entire premise of the intervention was an outright lie. In 2010, Chris Graham, former editor of the National Indigenous Times, peeled back the layers of an ABC Lateline program that aired almost exactly one year before the NTER was enacted. The program, which paved the way for the intervention, was propaganda. For instance, an “anonymous former youth worker” that appeared in the program to testify about the horrors he had witnessed, turned out to be a high-ranking government official who worked under the Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Mal Brough, one of the main figures behind the intervention.
The government has also fought to extend the intervention, that is, to gain absolute control over the lands and peoples in the Northern Territory and elsewhere in Australia.
This horrid saga could be behind us as soon as next month. The 5-year term of the Northern Territory Emergency Response runs out in August 2012.
That is, unless the Australian senate says otherwise. On June 18th, the senate will make a decision on the proposed Stronger Futures legislation which aims to extend many elements of the Northern Territory Intervention for another 10 years, and give the government even more control over Indigenous Peoples lives and lands.
Before June 18 rolls in, please take a moment to raise your voice in support of the Indigenous Peoples of Australia:
Petition 1: Australian Government: Stop “Stronger Futures” and support Aboriginal self-determination in the NT
Petition 2: Stop the next indigenous intervention – bring self-partnership back to Aboriginal policy making
Support as an Organization: If you are an organisation and want to support the campaign, you can organisationally endorse the Yolngu Statement and join its growing list of supporters, asking that the Government withdraw the Stronger Futures legislation.
For more information check out: StandForFreedom.org.au and OurGeneration.org.au