Locals speak out against the Northern Territory Intervention

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The Prescribed Area People’s Alliance is a group of Aboriginal people from communities

affected by the Northern Territory Emergency Response (NTER.) On Friday November 7,

2008, the Prescribed Area People’s Alliance held its second meeting in Alice Springs and

issued this statement.

We are outraged that, today, Lex Wotton, an Indigenous man from Palm Island, was

sentenced for 6 years for protesting the murder of another Indigenous man by a white

policeman. That policeman has since been promoted and given $100,000 compensation.

Police brutality and assessment of Indigenous people continues throughout Australia,

including here in Central Australia in our town camps and communities. It has gotten

worse since the Intervention with new powers and military style raids.

The NTER must be immediately repealed. The $1 billion that has been spent on

rolling out this legislation has been wasted and could have been spent supporting our

communities, the services and programs that we have in our communities, that are owned

and controlled by us. No one wants it.

We are tired of people who aren’t living this Intervention saying it is good for our people.

They don’t have to line up for store cards, have police come through their house or fight

to keep their homes or blocks of land.

Income management is not good for us. It’s too hard to access our money. Kids are

crying all round for money for drink, for school, but there’s nothing in our pocket. Kids

are suffering under the Intervention. Income Management has to be voluntary. People can

manage their own money.

The Intervention is racist. If this was about alcohol and children, why is it just Aboriginal

people that have this legislation, and not everyone else? Problems exist everywhere. We

are not all alcoholics and child abusers, we are strong First Nations people and we should

not be treated like this.

The Intervention has demonised Aboriginal men. The government always says that all

the women are for the Intervention and men are against it. But the majority of people in

the Prescribed Area People’s Alliance are women and strong men are standing up behind

them in support.

The Racial Discrimination Act must be immediately reinstated. It must never be

suspended again to push through another government policy. Every time it has been

suspended, it has been so the government can do something to hurt Aboriginal people.

The federal government must also sign and ratify the Declaration for the Rights of

Indigenous Peoples.

These assimilation policies destroy our culture and our lives. It is the Stolen Generation

all over again. The government just said “Sorry” to us, but at the same time they are

doing this Intervention. They will have to say “Sorry” again.

The government is refusing to build us any housing unless we sign over control of our

land for 40 years or more. We say no leases. We will not sign. Why couldn’t they help us

out with money for our housing and services? It is our right for these things. Since they

took the 5-year leases with the Intervention, they have done nothing. Why do they need

40, 80 years more? The government having this control is no good. Our lives depend on

our land. It is connected to our songlines, our culture and our dreaming.

We are angry they are threatening to close down outstations. People choose to live out

on their land on outstations. It is their home, their country. The government must provide

funding for outstations, not take it away so people have to move into town. Many people

don’t want to live in town; they want to live on their land. In town, there is already a

lot of overcrowding and problems. We had to fight hard for outstations, but now we are

going to have to fight hard to keep them.

We are angry the NT government is trying to stop the teaching of language in schools.

We need to fight for our culture and our language. Schooling must be the Aboriginal way

— we need bilingual schools, with two-way learning. Our kids need to learn in our own

languages. Culture must be kept strong.

Us mob from outstations, town camps and communities are all subjected to this racist

legislation. So we, the prescribed area people are going to stick to our decision to keep

fighting. We are not going to give up until the government stops this Intervention, listens

to us and starts working with us properly.

We call on other communities to take action, in their communities. We call for everyone

who supports Aboriginal rights to converge on Canberra for the opening of Parliament in


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