Aboriginal Rights Coalition
Aboriginal Control of Aboriginal Affairs


Greens speech to Sydney ARC rally, July 14

On July 14, the Sydney Aboriginal Rights Coalition held a successful rally outside Redfern Centrelink, with around 50 people attending. The protest was addressed by members of the community, a representative of the Teachers Federation, and local Greens candidate, Irene Doutney. The text of her speech is attached below.

ARC rally 14 JULY 08

My name is Irene Doutney and I’m the Greens candidate for the City of Sydney Council elections,

I would like to acknowledge that we are meeting on the land of the Gadigal people of the Eora nation and I have to ask has anything really changed since that first day when the English landed in Sydney and began the oppression of the Indigenous people of Australia?

We are out the front of Centrelink today because across the country our brothers and sisters are being treated like third class citizens…..if that word citizen really applies at all

What other citizens are treated in this way….no-one! and yet the first Australians are constantly punished and treated in a way that no other group has ever had to put up with.

In Australia when I was young we looked at South Africa with its apartheid and said how good Australia was, but in reality the racist plan here was to breed our indigenous Australians out of existence.

Well hey it didn’t work and the people are still here and growing stronger year by year and justice must be given to them at last.

We have to ensure that the great wealth of this country is shared out to all of its people especially the traditional owners of the land, and that they are given the resources they need to live a decent life.

The Greens are the only parliamentary party that has called for proper restitution and compensation for all the crimes committed against the Aboriginal people, we believe there should be more than just an apology, just words.

We believe that the indigenous Australians should be compensated for all the great crimes European Australians have put them through, from stealing their land and their children to making them work without payment and live with constant abuse and dishonor but what does this government give you?…..an apology that hides the extended quarantining of benefits and the acquisition of traditional lands for god knows what purpose and exploitation – be it mining or dumping toxic waste.

Over the past year, we have met a long line of aunties and uncles from the Territory telling us about the reality of living under the intervention and our hearts cry out for what is being done in our name…..shame, shame, shame…..and that is what these people were feeling was SHAME…..

Everyone in our country deserves respect, especially the traditional owners who have cared for the land over tens of thousands of years, but what we are seeing is disrespect of the highest order. The humiliation of having your payments quarantined is never really for the recipients benefit but ultimately for control of that person……it’s a form of abuse.

I have had my payments quarantined for not reporting to Centrelink on time and it’s totally undermining and degrading. Suddenly you don’t have any money, no independence, no ability to do anything or go anywhere or even buy food.

I’ve also had to use charity food vouchers and that is equally humiliating as all the people around you, shoppers and staff know your too poor to have any cash…..judgments are made about your character simply because your using vouchers not cash.

Why should anyone be branded like that? Imagine how much worse it is for the people in the NT when this is dictated to be your way of life…just because your indigenous. This is the big stick that the Government is using to continue a disgraceful white history of racism and exploitation, while they are pretending to help the communities they are really destroying them.

Even the most basic human need for shelter is not being met for all the promises of the government.

On Wednesday the ABC reported that:

Wednesday, 09 July, 2008 ABC News

A member of the Maningrida community in the Northern Territory’s Arnhem Land says he cannot see any infrastructure changes as a result of the emergency intervention, and wants to know where the money has been spent.

San Munro says the intervention has failed to deliver on improvements in housing and health services.

He says the only visible change he can see is a few empty shipping containers where some of the intervention staff once lived, and no new houses.

Munro says he believes it is the same situation in all 73 prescribed Aboriginal communities.

“It’s disappointing for people who had hoped that the financial muscle of the Commonwealth Government would create significant improvements in the lives of these Aboriginal citizens” he said.

“Particularly in such prosperous times for our nation it simply doesn’t seem right to see Aboriginal people living 25 to a house and living in a certain level of despair about their futures.”

“Eight hundred additional Commonwealth public servants doesn’t seem to me like a good investment when Maningrida, the largest community in the Northern Territory, can’t have a dentist or a child protection worker or a youth worker”.

The Federal Minister for Indigenous Affairs Jenny Macklin has objected to the claims.

Jenny Macklin says 750 new houses will be built in remote Aboriginal communities in partnership with the Territory Government, and 2,500 houses will also be upgraded.

The Federal Government has committed about $700 million to housing but the NT Minister for Housing says they will need at least $3 billion.

Promising words from the Minister but when is it actually going to happen…..its been over a year now and it appears no housing has been built….where are the training courses that will allow indigenous young people to learn the trade skills that would allow them to build their own housing…..where are the apprenticeships that will give the communities their own brickies, sparkies, mechanics and builders…..

And what about the safe houses, the rehabilitation and detoxification units, youth facilities, counselling, and all the other services that are needed and were identified by “The Little Children are Sacred Report”…..when are they going to be supplied to the communities?

But the sad truth is these communities are being destroyed as people drift into the towns and leave their homes to be near Centrelink offices, the big supermarkets that will take their vouchers and all the things denied them in the prescribed communities.

But it will get worse as the Federal Labor government extends the intervention system to other states like Western Australia and Queensland and Ministers like Peter Garrett talk about how good it would be to extend these powers to the aboriginal people in La Perouse.

Which brings us to the disgraceful racist behaviour of the NSW Minister for Planning, Frank Sartor. Here in Redfern we have the same battle going on over building some decent housing on the Block. Minister Sartor quite openly showed his contempt for the local aboriginal community when he said there were too many black faces in Redfern. His answer was to redevelop the Block into white yuppie commercial high rises with no thought for the existing residents.

Thankfully he failed to get his hands on the Block but since then he has blocked every move by the Aboriginal Housing Corporation to build 62 new units of traditionally based housing. The Greens believe this should be a priority for the community and it should be given appropriate government funding.

We need justice for blackfellas not this racist paternalism and we need blackfellas making their own decisions and being involved in their own future development.

Now more than ever we have to fight against this interventionist mentality before it gets extended even further into our own communities. In standing up for the remote communities we are ultimately standing up for ourselves and we must continue the straggle for true justice and equality for the aboriginal people, before it’s too late and their traditional lands are stolen yet again.

Thank you for allowing me to speak today and I urge you to continue to support the work of ARC and the struggle against ongoing oppression, discrimination and racism against our aboriginal people..

The Greens will continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with you in this ongoing struggle.


End the NT Intervention – Protest July 14!

Protest Monday July 14 12:30pm
at Redfern Centrelink
140 Redfern St, Redfern

End the NT intervention!
No Racist Welfare Quarantines!
Reinstate the Racial Discrimination Act!
Fund Community-Controlled Services!
Aboriginal Control of Aboriginal Affairs!

Joing speakers from community organisations, unions, and aboriginal activists in saying NO to the racist intervention in the Northern Territory.

Organised by the Aboriginal Rights Coalition – Sydney

The ARC meets every Monday, 6pm, at the Redfern Community Centre, Hugo St, Redfern.

Contact: Greg Eatock 0432050240


[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


Call for a National Day of Action on Saturday June 21

Endorsed by the national conference called by the Aboriginal Rights Coalition on Sunday May 25 in Sydney attended by over 200 people.

– Repeal all “NT intervention” legislation
– Restore the Racial Discrimination Act
– Fund infrastructure and community controlled services
– Sign and implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
– Aboriginal Control of Aboriginal Affairs

June 21 will mark one year since the Howard Government announced the NT intervention. Far from improving child welfare, the intervention has created a new wave of dispossession and is compounding social problems.

The Racial Discrimination Act has been suspended, land taken over and business managers imposed on communities.

The universal quarantining of welfare payments, the closure of many Community Development Employment Projects (CDEP) and the compulsory acquisition of Aboriginal property has forced thousands of people from their communities into urban centres.

Bagot town camp in Darwin, for example, has increased in population from 500-1200 people since the intervention. People are facing extreme hardship without jobs, services or stable accommodation.

While the Rudd Labor government made a symbolic apology for the Stolen Generations, in practice, it has retained and expanded Howard’s explicitly racist intervention laws. The government refuses to acknowledge the social break down taking place. They continue to deny protection under the Racial Discrimination Act.

Aboriginal people are suffering stark discrimination as they are forced to stand in segregated queues in Centrelink, in supermarkets and in schools. The practice of traditional culture is becoming impossible for many, unable to travel due to welfare restrictions. As Lyle Cooper, Vice President Bagot Community has said, “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”.

Communities continue to stand up against the intervention. Scores of representatives from “prescribed areas” traveled to join the 2000 strong Canberra Convergence at the opening of the new Parliament. Many more will come from communities around the Northern Territory to protest in Alice Springs and Darwin as part of the national protests on 21 June.

One of the strongest examples is Yuendumu, where a strategy of non-cooperation has held off repeated attempts by the government to take over local programs and implement “income management”. Jeannie Nungarrayi Egan from the community council has said, “No body likes it, we have to control our own community, we’re going to push out the quarantine”.

Social Justice Commissioner Tom Calma recently released a report which demonstrates how NT intervention legislation contravenes numerous UN charters to which Australia is signatory, including International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR); on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR); and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD).

In July Jenny Macklin, the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs will begin a review of the Intervention. We need to bring thousands of people out onto the streets around the country to ensure grass-roots voices are no longer ignored. The new Government must break with the assimilationist policies of the Howard era. They must act on the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. A massive injection of funds and resources into communities is badly needed, but cannot come at the expense of basic human rights. Only an approach which respects self-determination will lead to improvements in community life.

Stop the intervention, Stop the Racism – Human Rights for all!

Sydney: 11am, The Block, Redfern
contact Monique Wiseman 0415410558 or Paddy Gibson 0415800586

Alice Springs – Mbantua: 2pm Court House Lawns
contact Barbara Shaw 0401291166 or Marlene Hodder 0889525032

Darwin: 10am Raintree park
contact Liv 0401955405

Perth: 11am Wesley Church, cnr Hay and William st
contact Natasha Moore 0434303248

Brisbane: 11am State Parliament, George st
contact Lauren 0413534125

Melbourne: 12pm State Library
contact Michaela 0429136935

Wollongong: 10am Lowden Square (east side of Wollongong Station)
contact Sheree Rankmore 42281585 or Tina McGhie 0415504589

Adelaide: details tba
contact John Hartley 0424943990 Sue Gilby 0431112898

Canberra: 12pm-2pm Garema Place, Civic, Canberra
Speakers Bob Brown, Tom Calma TBC, Music, Street Theatre

Rally endorsed by the national conference called by the Aboriginal Rights Coalition on Sunday May 25 in Sydney attended by over 200 people. Support from Aboriginal leaders and activists includes: Barbara Shaw (Mt Nancy town camp, Alice Springs), Lyle Cooper (President of Bagot community, Darwin), Harry Nelson (President, Yuendumu community council), June Mills (Long-grass association, Darwin), Pat Eatock, Brian Butler, Shireen Malamoo, Millie Ingram, Pastor Ray Minniecon, Mitch, Peta Ridgeway, Heidi Norman, Shane Phillips

Supportive organisations include: Maritime Union of Australia (MUA NSW & NT), Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU), Railway Tram and Bus Union (RBTU NT), Australian Services Union (ASU NT), Top End Aboriginal Conservation Alliance, Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation (ANTaR NSW & NT), Indigenous Social Justice Association, Alliance for Indigenous Self Determination Melbourne, Intervention Rollback Action Group (Alice Springs), Aboriginal Rights Coalition (Darwin, Sydney, Brisbane and Perth)


“Black And White Unite For Rights” Conference, May 23-25


“Day of Mourning” 70th Anniversary Forum
Friday 23 May, 6-8:30 pm, Australia Hall, 150 Elizabeth St Sydney

* Welcome to Country – Chika Madden
* MC Intro & Cultural Performance – Greg Eatock
* How far have we come? – Professor Larissa Behrendt
* Parliamentary Response – Senator Rachel Siewert (Greens, WA)
* Update on impact of NT Intervention – Barbara Shaw
Break & Acoustic Performance
* Human Rights Implications – Darren Dick HREOC
* Community Developed Approaches – Muriel Bamblett SNAICC (tbc)

Saturday 24 May, Redfern Community Centre, 29 Hugo St, Redfern

Welcome to Country – Chicka Madden
Conference Welcome – Millie Ingram

Fifty Years of Struggle: Contextualising the Campaign – Greg Eatock

The Intervention Unpacked
9.10 – 10.45 am

The Intervention: grass roots impacts – Juni Mills, Chris Poulson, Lyle Cooper
Plus Speakers from the Floor, Individual’s experiences & Communities Input

Morning Tea 10:45-11:00

Panel – Paternalism Revisited: The Intervention Unpacked (cont’d)

Welfare Management, Land Legislation, CDEP, Mission Managers, grog & pornography controls, health & education, & the impact on Child Protection – Monitoring the Intervention (Aboriginal organisations & Communities Input)

The Expanding Intervention
12-12:30 pm

Qld’s Experience – Victor Hart
WA’s Experience – Natasha Moore
NSW Experience –
SA Update – Brian Butler

12:30-1:00pm Questions

Lunch 1:00-2:00pm

Afternoon Sessions
Why the Change in Approach & Where’s It Heading?

Ideology Underlying Intervention,

What’s the thinking behind the NT Intervention? – Cathy Eatock

Which Way Forward?

International Precedents & Evidence Based Aboriginal Developments – Muriel Bamblett (tbc)

Review of NT Intervention
2:45- 3:00pm
What’s planned next? – Larissa Behrendt

3:00-3:30pm Questions

Afternoon Tea 3:30-4:00 pm

State Report Backs

State Report Backs
Alice, Darwin, Perth, Adelaide, Brisbane, Melb, Tas & Sydney – ARC & Affiliated Organisations


6-9pm – Community BBQ & performance

Sunday 25 May, Redfern Community Centre, 29 Hugo St, Redfern
Aboriginal Caucus & Concurrent Workshops

Aboriginal Caucus
National Coordination, ARC Structure, Community Issues, Future Directions

Campaign Workshops?
Engaging Unions, Broadening Support, Managing the Media and Working with Students, and the International Campaign

Lunch 12:30-1:30pm

Black & White Unite SessionKoori Caucus Outcomes
Future Directions Report Back: Where are we going & how do we get there?

Workshops’ Report Back

Workshop Recommendations: How the other 97.5% of the population can help!


Conference Close 4:30 pm

For further information, please contact aboriginalrightscoalition @ gmail . com (with spaces removed).


[NSW] Show solidarity with Aboriginal activists in the Territory: Protest at Redfern Centrelink this Tuesday May 13

Protest at Redfern Centrelink
End the racist NT intervention–no welfare quarantines

National Day of Action against NT intervention
No Racist Welfare Quarantines!
Reinstate the Racial Discrimination Act!

Rally Tuesday May 13
12:30 Redfern Centrelink 140 Redfern st

Speakers recently returned from solidarity work in NT communities

The NT intervention is sinking into deeper crisis. Thousands of people from remote communities are being forced into urban areas by the racist welfare quarantine system, compounding social problems. Aboriginal people are experiencing shame and humiliation as they are forced into segregated systems at Centrelink, in supermarkets and in schools. Ignoring these problems, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Jenny Macklin has recently threatened to extend welfare quarantines into South Australia and is refusing to reinstate the Racial Discrimination Act.

But people continue to resist. Yuendumu have held off attempts to impose the quarantine through a strategy of non-cooperation with intervention authorities and big rallies are being planned in Alice Springs, Darwin and around the country on June 21 to mark one year since the intervention. Join the groundswell against the intervention – join the protest at Redfern Centrelink this Tuesday!

Contact Greg Eatock 0432050240.


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).


Petition against NT intervention for the Federal Senate

Dear all,

With the support of activists from “prescribed areas” in the NT, the Aboriginal Rights Coalition in Sydney have initiated a national petition against the NT intervention.

Labor Senator for the NT Trish Crossin has agreed to present the petition to parliament in late June, to mark one year since the intervention and to coincide with the beginning of the official “review” process.

We are aiming to have thousands of signatures from all around the country.

Please print off the attached petition and circulate in your workplaces, organisations and communities. Return petitions to:

Aboriginal Rights Coalition, Sydney PO Box 114 Broadway by 14/06/2008.

We are also seeking public endorsement of the petition from supportive organisations. Please reply to aboriginalrightscoalition @ gmail . com if your organisation is willing to endorse.

You can download the petition from here: Petitionagainstintervention.doc


Anti-intervention campaigner joins UN delegation

Media release 17/4/08 – for immediate release

Barbara Shaw, a prominent spokeswoman against the NT intervention, will join a delegation of more than forty Indigenous people from Australia attending the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in New York.

Ms Shaw is a resident of Mt Nancy Town Camp, an area “proscribed” under the intervention. She will use the trip to strengthen support for the campaign demanding repeal of all NT intervention legislation.

This meeting of the Permanent Forum will be focussed on the situation facing Indigenous People in the Pacific. Ms Shaw will raise the issue of breaches of UN human rights protocols by the Australian government through the intervention.

Ms Shaw plans to build support for the following resolution:

The United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues recognises that the Australian ‘Northern Territory National Emergency Response Intervention legislation’ contravenes a number of articles of the
Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues therefore:

1.demands the Australian Government signs and ratifies the Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

2.demands that the Australian Government immediately reinstate the Racial Discrimination Act 1975,

3. demands that the Australian Government repeal all Northern Territory Emergency Response Legislation (2007)

4. demands that the Australian Government implement the 97 recommendations of the Ampe Akelyernemane Meke Mekarle – Little Children are Sacred report (Anderson and Wild, 2007)

It is rumored that the Rudd government will announce Australian support for the UN declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to coincide with the forum.

Ms Shaw arrives in Sydney this afternoon, April 17 at 5pm.

The delegation will leave from Sydney airport tomorrow, April 18 at 1pm.

Delegates will be available for interview and photograph at Sydney airport tomorrow morning.

For more information contact:

Barbara Shaw 0401291166
Les Malezer, leader of the delegation 0419710720