Aboriginal Rights Coalition
Aboriginal Control of Aboriginal Affairs

UNITE AND FIGHT! ARC National Conference this month!

70 years since the Day of Mourning.

Friday 23rd May: Opening forum
6:30 pm at Australia Hall, 150 Elizabeth Street, Sydney

Saturday 24th and Sunday 25th May:
Panels, Discussion & Workshops
Redfern Community Centre, Hugo Street, Redfern

Speakers include:
Larissa Behrendt
Vince Forrester
Tom Calma (tbc)
Heather Goodall
Sam Watson
Mick Dodson (tbc)
Barbara Shaw

Conference sessions include:
*History of the struggle
*Unions and Aboriginal rights
*Resisting the new paternalism

Almost one year since the NT intervention began, there is a pressing need for the Aboriginal Rights movement to come together, consolidate recent gains and plan for the fight ahead.

The new Rudd Government has made some important symbolic gestures – from the apology through to commitments to ‘Close the Gap’ in Indigenous health. But for communities in the NT, Rudd is now the face of an intervention which is causing a new wave of dispossession and, as argued by Mutitjulu elder Vince Forrester, “a return to Apartheid”.

Welfare quarantines, the destruction of Community Employment Development Projects (CDEP) and the compulsory acquisition of Aboriginal lands, businesses and services has forced thousands of people from their communities into urban centres. There they are met with racism and police repression – 190 people were taken into custody in Alice Springs on 4-5 April in an operation targeting “anti-social behaviour”.

The ideas of paternalism, assimilation and the free-market driving the intervention, and pushed so hard by the Howard government, are impacting on Aboriginal policy across the country. From the Queensland government’s decision to continue holding stolen wages “in trust”, the “mainstreaming” of Indigenous services which continues, through to the burgeoning national roll out of punitive welfare policies, a policy consensus has emerged in government and media against self-determination.

The new government is actively campaigning for retention and expansion of the explicitly racist intervention laws. They refuse to acknowledge the social break down taking place. They continue to deny Aboriginal people the basic human rights of protections against discrimination or rights to appeal.

2,000 people marched in Canberra on February 12, demanding an end to the intervention and campaign groups have been established iwn the major cities. Many trade unionists and activists in the broader community have recognised the need to actively challenge the racism of the intervention and renew the fight for Aboriginal rights around the country.

The upcoming conference aims to strengthen the networks that have been formed through this campaign. This conference will look to successful struggles from the past and hear from the strong communities leaders of today – to advance the politics of self-determination and forge demands and strategy for the ongoing campaign against the intervention.

Any groups wishing to become more involved in the campaign through organising and running a workshop at the conference are invited to register their interest with the organisers. For further information, please contact aboriginalrightscoalition @ gmail . com (with spaces removed).

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