Aboriginal Rights Coalition
Aboriginal Control of Aboriginal Affairs

Media release: No evidence for racist WA welfare quarantine

Media release 28/2/08 – For immediate release

No evidence for racist WA welfare quarantine

The Aboriginal Rights Coalition (ARC) has condemned the Federal Aboriginal Affairs minister Jenny Macklin for her decision to roll out welfare quarantine provisions into West-Australian Aboriginal communities.

ARC argues the measures, modeled on those currently in place in the Northern Territory as a result of the federal intervention, are racist, deny fundamental human rights, will compound disadvantage and contradict evidence-based research.

ARC is organising demonstrations at Centrelink offices around the country on Thursday March 13, to protest the ongoing NT intervention and the extension of welfare quarantining into Queensland and Western Australia.

“The many Aboriginal communities we have been working with in the NT, who are experiencing quarantines first hand, say the restrictions are racist and demeaning, making people poorer and daily life harder”, said Greg Eatock from the Aboriginal Rights Coalition.

“Jenny Macklin claims that “evidence” will be the ‘the one criteria which guides Labor policy’. Yesterday’s decision to expand the welfare quarantine came in response to a state coroner’s report that indicated high levels of suicide in many Aboriginal communities in WA. But the concept of the quarantine flies in the face of all the evidence-based research focussed on addressing the issue of indigenous suicide.”

“Professor Stephen Cornell from Harvard University’s Project on American Indian Economic Development, for example, has demonstrated that there is a direct correlation between declining suicide rates and increases in resources allocated to allow for self-government and community based services”.

“So where are the funding commitments? Where are the plans to empower communities? Punitive, dis-empowering measures such as welfare quarantines will only compound the problems facing Aboriginal communities in WA”.

“On the opening day of parliament, thousands of people Converged on Canberra against the NT intervention. On March 13 we will take action with Aboriginal communities in the NT and people around the country to demand the immediate repeal of the Northern Territory Emergency Response legislation and the extension of racist laws into other states”, concluded Eatock.

“How much consultation has taken place with communities in WA? Do they know about the devastating impact that these welfare policies have had here in our communities? That we went without over Christmas, that people are struggling to get food?” said Barbara Shaw, a resident of Mt Nancy town camp near Alice Springs, who is organising protests on the 13th March.

“The quarantine is causing chaos for our people. Jenny Macklin needs to stop the intervention and fix the problems it has caused, not extend them into other areas”.

For further comment and information contact:
Greg Eatock: 0432050240
Barb Shaw (NT): 0401291166

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