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Issue #1647      July 16, 2014

Seven years on, Intervention under attack

Protest rallies were held in Sydney and Alice Springs on June 21 to mark seven years of the NT Intervention, calling for an end to the controversial legislation and for Aboriginal people to be empowered to solve their own problems.

Up to 150 people joined the Intervention Rollback Action Group (IRAG) on the Courthouse Lawns in Alice Springs to protest against the laws, introduced in 2007 by the Howard government and continued under Labor with the “Stronger Futures” legislation.

IRAG founding member Marlene Hodder said the government has not listened to the people. “The Intervention has done untold damage for Aboriginal people, in demonising them and creating lack of respect,” she said.

“It’s increased racism – but people are going to start standing up now. It’s about empowering the people.”

IRAG claims the laws “were founded on an ideology of land acquisition, control and assimilation” and that children are being taken away from their parents in higher numbers than at any stage during the era of the Stolen Generations because of so-called neglect.

But Hodder said it was poverty that was a direct result of years of government policy cutting funding for Aboriginal services, education, health care and real jobs in communities.

“The underlying issue is that the government wants to get people off the land,” she said.

That view was echoed in Sydney, where more than 200 people at the rally organised by the Stop The Intervention Collective Sydney (STICS) heard how “$1 billion had been spent on these draconian laws which have only resulted in the further disempowerment of the people”.

Aboriginal representative of the National Union of Students Kyol Blakeney asked the gathering exactly what “emergency” the government was responding to.

“I can tell you, it’s not the health of Aboriginal people and it’s not the wealth of Aboriginal people, not housing, not infant mortality or deaths in custody. What they are responding to is the natural resources below those sites, the land itself,” he said.

Indigenous Social Justice Association president Ray Jackson said the Intervention “was brought in on gross lies, on a smoke screen to cover up the theft of land already won back by the traditional owners of the Northern Territory. The lands were now lusted after for their minerals”.

In the NT, IRAG is now organising a strategic campaign to bring about an Intervention rollback and galvanise support for the cause.

The group has prepared a statement for Prime Minister Tony Abbott and NT Chief Minister Adam Giles, calling for change.

“The Howard government implemented policies to justify their blatant lies of our men, demonising them, by labelling them as paedophiles, sex offenders, organising sex slaves rings. This was the Howard government’s excuse to further control; to destroy self-determination, ownership of land; implement Stolen Generation, income management (what we eat, where we shop, what we buy, etc),” the statement reads.

“It is now our time to expose the blatant lies to all our people and the rest of the Australian people, to take actions upon these false allegations.”

Koori Mail

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