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Issue #1539      14 March 2012

Action call at Canberra rally

Aboriginal people from the Northern Territory and Bankstown in Sydney rallied in Canberra last week demanding that the Senate rejects the proposed Stronger Futures legislation.


Aunty Isabell Coe surrounded by supporters at the Canberra protest. (Photo: Joseph Mayers, courtesy of Koori Mail)

Outside Parliament House, campaigners described the proposed new laws as discriminatory and the consultation process as a joke.

Activist Barbara Shaw from the Mt Nancy town camp in Alice Springs said the legislation should be withdrawn, saying billions of dollars had already been wasted on the first Intervention.

“These laws continue the demonisation of Aboriginal people and culture,” Ms Shaw said. “The untold story is the ever-increasing incidents of attempted self-harm and suicide that are occurring.

“We’ve had a 40 percent increase in Indigenous incarceration and these figures will get worse with harsher alcohol laws. More and more Aboriginal children are being removed from families.

“There is a deteriorating social situation in the larger towns, as people move in from the bush due to loss of autonomy, resources and opportunities that will continue under ‘Stronger Futures’.”

Bankstown Elder Daphne Lake said the proposed laws would control what people buy and ban alcohol.

“It’s like the Welfare Board back again. And with income management they may as well be handing out rations,” she said.

Little understanding

Stop the Intervention Collective spokesman Paddy Gibson said it was extraordinary that the legislation had been able to pass through the House of Representatives with so little debate and so little understanding amongst the MPs about what was at stake.

He said the protest was to confront politicians with the reality that after five years of resistance under the NT Intervention, Aboriginal people now faced a further ten years of management if the legislation becomes law.

The rally was part of a campaign, Stand for Freedom, which has been launched online. At the time of going to press, 4,672 people had signed the petition, which calls on the government to withdraw the legislation.

“It has been developed without the free and informed consent of Aboriginal communities and it will give the government ten more years of control over Aboriginal people and their lands,” the petition says.

In a letter to Prime Minister Julia Gillard, Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, and other ministers, the policy underlying the legislation is described as reflecting the “assimilationist and paternalistic views of government towards Aboriginal people from the 1890s to 1960s”.

“Furthermore, the legislation seeks to deal with complex social and economic disadvantage through government regulation and the undermining of individual freedom.”


More information about the Stand for Freedom campaign is available at www.standforfreedom.org.au

Koori Mail  

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