Aboriginal Rights Coalition
Aboriginal Control of Aboriginal Affairs

[Media Release] Data shows intervention is a disaster: national rallies planned

Media release – 5/6/08 for immediate release

Extensive surveys conducted by activist groups in Darwin and Alice Springs demonstrate that the federal government’s intervention in the Northern Territory is compounding hardship in Aboriginal communities.

In a submission made to the Federal Senate Select Committee on Regional and Remote Indigenous Communities last week, Darwin Aboriginal Rights Coalition (DARC) outlined the findings of their research into attitudes towards and experiences under the Intervention with a focus on Income Management – the compulsory welfare quarantining of Aboriginal people in prescribed communities.

“Far from supporting Aboriginal people and improving conditions, the punitive discriminatory approach taken by the Intervention has made life more difficult for families, has been disempowering to the extreme and perpetuated destructive negative stereotypes” said DARC spokeswoman Dr Alyssa Vass.

Key findings of the research include:

  • 85% of respondents do not like the intervention and see the overall changes as negative.
  • 90% of respondents experience serious problems with Income Management
  • The changes have caused problems within families for 74% and made no change for 23% of respondents.

For further details, a copy of the submission can be made available on request.

The Alice Springs based Intervention Roll-Back Action Group has conducted similar research, taking surveys of 64 people from ‘prescribed areas’ outside Centrelink. 90% of respondents expressed opposition to the ‘income management’ scheme and said that that it had caused them problems.

“We have taken delegations to Canberra against this intervention with our stories and been told by politicians we need evidence based reports. That’s why we’ve done these surveys. People are angry, confused and going poor because this quarantine system is so hard to deal with. They are experiencing a lot more racism”, said Barbara Shaw from the Intervention Rollback Action Group.

“My grandmother is one example. She had a back log over $1000 in storecards because she had no ID for the system. An 82 year old woman should not have be subjected to this. Many people are in the same situation”, concluded Ms Shaw

In response to these problems, Aboriginal Rights groups across Australia are organising major demonstrations for June 21, marking one year since the intervention was announced. Rallies will demand the repeal of all ‘NT Emergency Response’ legislation, the restoration of the Racial Discrimination Act (1975), increased funding for infrastructure and community controlled services and the implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

“We have no faith that Aboriginal Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin is serious about the upcoming ‘review’. Terms of reference have not been made public and there has been no consultation with the community about the review process. The Rudd government has already budgeted for another 20,000 people to be brought under the disasterous welfare quarantine regime”, said Paddy Gibson from the Aboriginal Rights Coalition in Sydney.

“Thousands of people across the country will demonstrate on June 21 to ensure that the voices of people suffering under this intervention are no longer ignored. Momentum is building. A broad range of organisations including the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union, state branches of Australian’s for Native Title and Reconciliation and the NT Anti-Discrimination Commission are supporting the national rallies. Life in communities gets harder each day that racism remains law. The intervention legislation must be repealed immediately”, concluded Mr Gibson.

For more info contact:
Alyssa Vass 0402680337
Barbara Shaw 0401291166
Paddy Gibson 0415800586

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