Aboriginal Rights Coalition
Aboriginal Control of Aboriginal Affairs

Final Call-Out for Canberra Convergence 2009

Support Aboriginal Rights – Get on the bus to Canberra!

Converge on Canberra 2009- 1st-3rd Feb

1. Rally for Opening of Parliament: February Tuesday 3rd 12pm.
2. Join activists from around the country in workshops at Aboriginal Tent Embassy February 1-2.
3. Donations desperately needed!
4. Canberra convergence statement – please endorse

1. Rally for Opening of Parliament: February Tuesday 3rd 12pm.

A bus from Brisbane will leave Saturday 31st January at 1pm to take people to Canberra for the national convergence to be held at the Aboriginal Tent Embassy from the 1st – 3rd of February. Seats on the bus are $60 negotiable – to book on the bus call Lauren on 0413 534 125.

2. Join activists from around the country in workshops and campaign discussions.

Workshops include discussion of the impacts of the NT Intervention and how we can stop it, attacks on CDEP (Community Development Employment Programs) and the new mainstreaming, the fight for recognition of
Aboriginal Sovereignty, and more.

There will also be a public forum on the Monday night in Canberra: The NT Intervention – Living with a Racist Policy. 7pm Monday February 2 Albert Hall, Commonwealth Ave, Yarralumla, Canberra.

Speakers include: Barbara Shaw – Mt Nancy Town Camp, Mparntwe – Alice Springs, Harry Jakamarra Nelson – Yuendumu community, Elaine Peckham – Iwupataka Land Trust, George Newhouse – Human Rights Lawyer, Jon Altman.

Aboriginal Rights Coalition members are joining people from around the country to converge and camp at the Aboriginal Tent Embassy on the lawns of Old Parliament House. Convergence organisers have arranged porta-loos and marquees, and the “Chai tent” will be providing some food for a donation. But campers are asked to bring some snacks.

People coming for the workshops and camping at the embassy need to be as close to self-sufficient as possible in the following things:

– Tent
– sleeping bag
– sleeping mat
– large water bottle
– bowl and cutlery
– mug
– snacks
– torch
– wet weather gear

3. Donations desperately needed!

Busses of people from prescribed areas in the NT are costing $20,000. On top of that, hire of a cool-room to allow food at the Tent Embassy, and porta-loos, sound systems and marquees are costing at least another $8,000.

Additionally the campaign groups have needed funds for other transport to the convergence, publicity materials etc…

Please support this effort to take the struggles of Aboriginal people directly to those making the policies that are unwinding Aboriginal self-determination. Please approach supportive organisations to donate and endorse the convergence (below is the convergence statement which can be endorsed by emailing: lauren.a.mellor@gmail.com

Transfer money to: Aboriginal Rights Coalition, Uni Credit Union
Bsb: 804 083
Account: 08 332 933
(Please include your name in the deposit so we can keep track of payments, and send an email for confirmation. If you’re transferring online don’t forget the three letter abbreviation for the account which is MEL). Include your name or organisation in the deposit description if you wish to be identified.

4. Canberra convergence statement – please endorse

Stop the racism – Converge on Canberra

– Immediately reinstate the Racial Discrimination Act

– Repeal the NT Intervention laws

– Justice Not Jail – Stop Black Deaths in Custody

– Community control and full funding for all Aboriginal services, housing, health and education. Stop the cuts to CDEP

– Recognise the culturally autonomous Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal Nations of the Australian continent and immediately end the one-size fits all approach to Indigenous affairs. Consult with communities and nation groups independently in order to develop policy in partnership with sovereign cultural law and practice.

– Full welfare rights for all. End the punitive welfare quarantine.

– Immediately adopt the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Aboriginal Australia still waits for human rights. Aboriginal people are 13 times more likely to be in prison than non-Indigenous Australians and horrific deaths in custody continue, as highlighted by recent events on Palm Island. Aboriginal babies die at more than twice the rate of the non-Indigenous population. The Stolen Generations still wait for compensation. Land rights are under increasing threat by mining companies and waste dumps and by the government’s push for leases to remove community control over community land. Labor has not adopted the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The NT Intervention is based on Racial Discrimination:

In April 2008, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner and Race Discrimination Commissioner, Tom Calma said, “The most revealing indicator that the NT intervention was not consistent with human rights principles was the provision at the centre of the legislative machinery used to support the intervention, namely suspending the operation of Racial Discrimination Act.”

Yet the Rudd government says the Racial Discrimination Act will remain suspended and a blanket welfare quarantine will be maintained for at least the next year.

An Intervention that relies on the suspension of the very Act designed to protect people from racism, makes a mockery of any claim that it is for the benefit of Aboriginal people.

Self-determination – Aboriginal control of Aboriginal affairs:

“For old people the intervention is bringing up bad memories of the past, the old days, the ration days, the dog tag days and the mission days” (Women’s statement from the inaugural Prescribed Area People’s Alliance, 29 September 2008).

Under the Northern Territory Emergency Response (NTER), leases and government business managers have been imposed on prescribed communities.

The only houses built with Intervention funds have been for the business managers, many of which are unoccupied. Only a handful of ‘prescribed’ communities have been offered funding for housing – and only if they lease their land to the government for 40, 60 or even 90 years.

Many communities, deemed “unviable” will be denied funding and basic welfare rights.

Successful programs run by local communities dealing with issues of alcohol abuse, domestic violence and education, have been dismantled as the NTER has taken bureaucratic control. The recommendations of the “Little Children are Sacred” report are being ignored.

The women of the Prescribed Area People’s Alliance declared, “we want to strongly maintain and practice our culture. We want to stay in our communities and pass on traditional knowledge to the future generations.”

Yet the NT government has announced a ban on the teaching of Aboriginal languages in schools for all but one hour in the afternoons.

This approach – of open assimilation and “mainstreaming” is being rolled out across Australia. Koori schools in Victoria are being closed by the state government.

Community Development Employment Projects (CDEP), a crucial source of support for Aboriginal communities and employment for thousands of families, are being threatened with closure nationally. People are facing the prospect of having to leave their communities in order to access employment and basic welfare rights.

Welfare rights are non-negotiable:

The Intervention represents a wholesale attack on Australia’s commitment to universal social security rights. “Income management” means Aboriginal people are treated as second-class citizens. Some
communities literally rely on the uncertain delivery of food parcels. Others are left with no money to attend funerals or ceremonies, pay for school excursions, or even buy Christmas presents.
Aboriginal communities nationally are bearing the brunt of attempts to extend the punitive “income management” regime.

Never Again

In February 2008, Prime Minister Rudd apologized to the Stolen Generations committing the government to, “A future where this Parliament resolves that the injustices of the past must never, never happen again”.

But injustices are being perpetuated under the NT Intervention. The paternalism that created “the gap” between the lives of Aboriginal people and the rest of Australia is being fostered by the Intervention and the renewed push for assimilation.

The solution to the poverty and disadvantage of Aboriginal communities begins with self-determination – allowing affected communities to decide what programs are needed and how they will be implemented.

The Labor government’s own NTER Review (13 October 2008) stated, “…addressing specific concerns in Aboriginal communities does not require the exclusion of fundamental human rights such as the Racial Discrimination Act.”

The following individuals and organisations support a convergence in Canberra on the opening day of parliament, 3 February 2009, to say no to racism and demand justice for Aboriginal Australia:

Central Land Council – Full Council

Prescribed Area People’s Alliance (NT)

QLD Aboriginal Council Mayors roundtable

Intervention Rollback Action Group (Mparntwe – Alice Springs)

Stop the Intervention Collective (Sydney)

Aboriginal Rights Coalition (Brisbane)

Working Group for Aboriginal Rights (Canberra)

Top End Aboriginal Conservation Alliance

Sunrise Health Service (Katherine)

Black GST

Camp Sovereignty

Gordon & Elaine Syron, The Keeping Place/Black Fella’s Dreaming Museum

Aboriginal Tent Embassy (ACT)

Nuclear Disarmament Party

Women for Wik

WA Aboriginal Rights Coalition

Socialist Alliance

Aboriginal Rights Coalition – Sydney

Harry Nelson (Yuendumu)
Phillip Wilyuka (Titjikala)
Barbara Shaw (Mt Nancy Town Camp)
Dootch Kennedy
Michael Mansell
Sam Watson
Robbie Thorpe
Les Malezer
Nicole Watson
Monique Wiseman
Pastor Ray Minniecon
Millie Ingram
Donna Jackson
Tiga Bailes
Irene Fisher
Dianne Stokes
Mark Lane
Jeff McMullen
Professor Larissa Behrendt (Director of Research at the Jumbunna Indigenous House ofLearning UTS)
Leonie Chester
Elaine Peckham (Iwupataka)
Eva Cox
George Newhouse (B.Com, LL.B, Human Rights Lawyer representing the Prescribed Area People’s Alliance in the United Nations)
Jon Altman
Shane Phillips
Valerie Martin (Yuendumu)
Lee Rhiannon (Greens NSW MP)
John Kaye (Greens NSW MP)
Nala Mansell-McKenna, State Secretary, Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre
Gracelyn Smallwood
Rosalie Kunoth-Monks
Robin Granites (Yuendumu)
Bertha Nakamarra Spencer (Hidden Valley Town Camp)
Michael Thompson (President, NTEU USYD Branch)
Rex Granites Japanangka (Yuendumu)
Caril Conners aka C Saville (Mindaribba Local Aboriginal Land Council member)
Kerree Parter (Regional Network Programs Officer, DEWHA, Rockhampton ICC)
Rebecca Saville (Mindaribba Local Aboriginal Land Council member)
Deborah Ruiz Wall
Daniel John Peterson
Matthew Maurer (LLB)
Irene Doutney (Greens Councillor, City of Sydney)
Genevieve Kelly (Secretary NSW NTEU)
Terry Mason (Senior Lecturer, Indigenous Education, University of Western Sydney)
Fiona McAllan (Macquarie University)

To support the Canberra protest, please E-mail:
sam.watson@uq.edu.au or lauren.a.mellor@gmail.com

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