All Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory are concerned about the Federal Action. However, Aboriginal people are diverse and they are responding to the Federal action in different ways. This page records cultural responses to the Federal Action.
Aboriginal Leaders Fight Federal Government
Ben Langford, NT News - 5th August 2007
Territory Aboriginal leaders will fly to Canberra tomorrow in an 11th-hour attempt to stop the Federal Government's intervention in NT Aboriginal communities.
A meeting of more than 30 of Australia's top indigenous leaders in Arnhem Land yesterday drafted letters to Prime Minister John Howard and Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd calling on them to halt legislation that is expected to take control of Aboriginal communities and wind back the permit system.
The letters demand the Prime Minister meet with a delegation from the meeting, led by former Cabinet minister John Ah Kit and National Indigenous Television chief executive Pat Turner, to discuss the leaders' concerns.
"It's our culture on the line here, it's Howard moving to get rid of Aboriginal people and everything they stand for and it's something that we're not going to put up with," Mr Ah Kit said.
Describing the intervention as a return to the mission days, Ms Turner warned Aboriginal Australians could collectively rise to oppose the changes.
"In any national emergency in this country it is convention for the Prime Minister to visit that area and the Leader of the Opposition," she said.
"There has been no courtesy paid to the Aboriginal people of the NT in this national emergency."
Labor politicians were summoned to yesterday's meeting, in the Garma Festival at Gulkula, 40km from Nhulunbuy, which involved leaders including Pat Dodson, Pat Anderson, John Daly, Tom Calma, Jackie Huggins, Murrandoo Yanner, Marcia Langton and Yolngu hosts Galurrwuy and Mandawuy Yunupingu.
NT Senator Trish Crossin said she would not vote for the legislation if it winds back the permit system and takes control of Aboriginal land.
But Opposition Aboriginal Affairs spokeswoman Jenny Macklin, at Gulkula yesterday, would not commit to opposing the legislation.
See: NT News
Click to read: Eddie Mulholland, Chief Executive Officer, Miwatj Health Aboriginal Corporation. Monday 6 August 2007. Garma Speech
This intervention is having a heavy impact in Eastern Arnhem Land, thoughperhaps the heaviest impact has yet to be felt. A brief conversation written by Waymamba is attached to this e-mail, I hope you have time to read it.
I would guess that there are few people who have evena moderate understanding of the breadth of the impact that the intervention is going to have on the East Arnhem population. There has been no consultation with Yolngu. People are aware that small teams of people are visiting towns Yolngu towns in some cases with no notice. Reports from some Yolngu are that the teams have been unable to answer many of the questions being asked.
I'd like to comment only one aspect of the intervention, the transference of all CDEP (Community Development Employment Program) wages to Centrelink payments.
If you would like information on other aspects of the intervention please visit this website: http://da.r-w.in/
At the time of writing this e-mail all peoples living in Indigenous areas prescribed by the Minister will have their CDEP payments converted to Centrelink payments. Without exception all people receiving Centrelink payments (including such benefits as service pensions) will have 50 per cent of their money quarantined.
This is a racist policy that unnecessarily targets the most vulnerable and marginalised peoples in Australia, and again treats them as wards of the state.
This quarantined money can only be spent at designated shops.
This will have severe ramifications for people such as the residents of Mapuru, the place where the Arnhem Weavers live. Mapuru is a small town on the mainland adjacent to Elcho Island in North-east Arnhemland. It has a population of about 150, and with about 40 children attending school every day. The residents of Mapuru have struggled to stay on their country for over 35 years because they are determined to forge a future for their children, but it now seems with the 'Intervention' these struggles might have been in vain.
For nearly 6 years the people of Mapuru have been successfully running their own community co-op. The co-op runs on a non-profit basis and benefits all community members. In the co-op people can only buy healthy foods, fishing lines, tyres and othernecessities needed to stay at Mapuru.
Two years ago the Mapuru co-op won a National heart foundation award for their initiative. In the co-op you cannot buy soft drinks, chips, lollies or many of the other foods that are bad for health.
The co-op is not a registered organisation but is run on a trust basis by the residents. With the changes from CDEP to Centrelink payments and the compulsory quarantining of 50 per cent of people's income, people will not be able to shop at their local co-op. They will be forced to shop at Galiwin'ku which is a charter flight away or drive many hours to Gapuwiyak. People will not have enough money to pay for chartersand food. If a solution cannot be found then implementation of this policy will force people to leave their country at Mapuru, and move them into the town of Galiwin'ku where they are unwelcome, unsafe and unrepresented. This will have a severe and detrimental effect on the health of the Mapuru residents and their children.
These forced changes will also result in the closure of the ecotourism business that the residents have been successfully running for five years. Theecotourism business Mapuru residents operate like the co-op has been initiated and funded entirely by Mapuru residents without any external assistance.
Regards to all,
Co-ordinator: Yolngu Languages and Culture:
Charles Darwin University
Darwin, NT 0909, Australia
Northern Territory Traditional Owner Speak Out
Aboriginal Women Have Answers Themselves
Report of the Balgo Women's Law Camp - Blue Hill (Tanami Track), 24-27 August 2007
Blackfellas Daily Prayer
Read "Prayer for Deliverance from Extinguishment" by Alec Donald Wilson
Welcome to Willowra Community
The Willowra community is dealing with this issue through the use of humour.