Aboriginal Rights Coalition
Aboriginal Control of Aboriginal Affairs

Media Release: NATIONAL DAY OF PROTEST AT CENTRELINK TARGETS WELFARE QUARANTINING

NATIONAL DAY OF ACTION – END DISCRIMINATORY WELFARE QUARANTINING: Monday 14th April

A coalition of Aboriginal Rights groups around the country will protest on Monday at Centrelink offices to highlight the ongoing discrimination of welfare quarantining under the NT ‘Emergency Intervention’, and expose the detrimental impacts of the quarantine roll out.
In February, the Canberra Convergence saw over 2000 people gathered from around the country to protest the NT Intervention. In solidarity with the Centrelink events, many of the Central Australian delegates of the Convergence who live in ‘prescribed’ areas under the Intervention, will meet in Alice Springs with concerned community members, to create a letter to send to Kevin Rudd and Jenny Macklin to voice how and why they oppose the Intervention legislation.

End Quarantining
At the start of April, the Rudd Government commenced racist quarantining of welfare payments for an additional 1,190 Aboriginal people, taking the total to more than 7,700 people across 29 communities.
This rollout is occurring despite increasing complaints to the Commonwealth Ombudsman and evidence that the Intervention violates Australia’s international human rights obligations, as documented in HREOC Social Justice Commissioner Tom Calma’s recent Report.
Surveys undertaken in Darwin and Alice Springs over the past month have shown that discriminatory welfare quarantining is creating real problems for people and communities on the ground:

  • Difficulty transporting a fortnights worth of groceries back to communities from major centres, where people are forced to use their ‘store cards’.
  • This is especially difficult for those with disabilities or aged pensioners who are caught up in the blanket nature of the quarantining.
  • Communities which once pooled resources for major purchases such as homewares and car registration can no longer do so, leaving them worse off
  • People are facing increased difficulties in saving and budgeting for essential expenses outside of food and rent, such as school fees
  • In major urban centres, such as Darwin and Alice Springs, service providers have reported increased numbers of people coming in from communities, who are afraid to return home or find they are unable, due to the intervention changes.

Above all, Aboriginal people are experiencing shame and humiliation as they struggle to come to terms with this imposed and racist legislation that blames them rather than works with them to overcome decades of disadvantage – ”I thank you Prime Minister Rudd for your apology…(but) it’s an invasion all over again. We are being told where to shop, what to eat, how to act and how to live’ says Lyle Cooper, Vice President Bagot Community, Darwin

EVENTS AROUND THE COUNTRY:

DARWIN
Monday 14th April
Palmerston Centrelink Office 9am – 12pm
Casuarina Centrelink Office 9am – 12pm
Contact:
Lyle Cooper (08) 89483166 (Vice President Bagot Community)
Liv Nigro 0401 955 405 (Darwin Aboriginal Rights Coalition)


ALICE SPRINGS

Monday 14th April
Community Meeting 9 -12pm, followed by delivery of letter to Warren Snowden’s Office (local member)
Contact: Barbara Shaw 0401291166
Marlene Hodder 0438 816 851

SYDNEY
Monday 14th April: 6pm
Redfern Community Centre
Speakers: Vince Forrester from Mutijulu (NT)
Monique Wiseman (Darwin Town Camp feedback)
Darren Dick (HREOC – info on recent Social Justice Report)
Contact:
Greg Eatock 0432 050 240 (Sydney Aboriginal Rights Coalition)

PERTH
Monday 14TH April: 12pm
Midland Centrelink
Keane St, Midland
Contact:
Natasha 0434 303 248 or Annolies 9299 6453 (WA Aboriginal Rights Coalition)

MELBOURNE
Sunday 13th April: 12pm
cnr Bourke and Swanston Sts, city
info stall about the intervention and the negative effects it is having on
Aboriginal communities in the NT

Monday 14th April: 10am
protest and info stall outside Fitzroy Centrelink
62-70 Johnston St, near cnr Bourke St
Contact:
Michaela Stubbs 0429136935 (Alliance for Indigenous Self-Determination)

ADELAIDE
Monday 14th April
Centrelink Topham Mall, City: 12pm

BRISBANE
Picket Anna Bligh’s Office
3pm Monday April 14th
Suite 1/90 Vulture Street, West End.
Speakers: Sam Watson and Les Malezer

Media Release prepared by Darwin Aboriginal Rights Coalition, on behalf of the groups organising events detailed above. Contact: Alyssa Vass 0402 680 337

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