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Alice Springs gathering demands "Jobs with Justice" - 20-7-10

Media Release: Stop the Intervention Collective Sydney -  Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Press Conference -  22 July 2010


*  * * Alice Springs gathering demands "Jobs with justice" * * *


*"Indigenous Solidarity Bus Rides" return from Alice Springs, students informed and inspired*

Stop the Intervention Collective Sydney will host a forum on July 26 to hear reports from the recent Defending Indigenous Rights gathering in Alice Springs, which took place over July 6-9 and brought together 200 Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people from around the country.

Students from New South Wales travelled to Alice Springs on the Indigenous Solidarity Bus Ride, which also took them through Aboriginal communities in NSW and South Australia.

The conference discussed the negative impacts the NT intervention has had on Aboriginal communities. The conference passed many resolutions, including demanding the funds earmarked to continue the intervention policy be redirected to Aboriginal communities.

"The immense poverty and Third World conditions inflicted upon Aboriginal people was a stark feature of the convergence", said Jess Moore from Wollongong, who attended the conference.

"There were stories of communities without doctors, schools or housing, and the inability of remote communities to access fresh fruit or veggies (a lettuce cost $14(!) in one community). This was also very visible in Alice Springs with widespread homelessness among Aboriginal people."

Ms Moore was one of a group of people who, after the gathering, visited the community of Ampilatwatja, north-east of Alice Springs, to see first-hand the effects of the intervention. The complete lack of real employment for Aboriginal people was striking.

"There are people in the community who desperately want to work. And there is certainly plenty that needs doing. But with the intervention came welfare quarantining, and changes to the Community Development Employment Projects. Aboriginal people now are forced to work for the dole, and half their payment is put onto the Basics Card, which can only be used at certain stores to buy certain things.

"This is nothing more than working for rations", Moore said. "And it's happening across the Territory."

The conference resolved to build a campaign in solidarity with Aboriginal workers in the NT, demanding "jobs with justice" and "real jobs not ration cards". Stop the Intervention Collective Sydney is committed to the campaign to end the racist discrimination in the NT and provide solidarity with Aboriginal people living under the laws. Collective members participated in the gathering in Alice Springs.

"The presentation by Chris Graham titled ‘Racism in the Media: The lie that built a Northern Territory Intervention' stood out for me", said Sabine Kacha from STICS. "Chris presented the truth about the Lateline program which triggered the Little Children are Sacred report. He revealed that most of the Lateline story was fiction based on lies and intentional misrepresentation of facts.

"I was also moved hearing about the attacks on Aboriginal culture through government bans on teaching in the children's own languages. We will be doing what we can to highlight this injustice and support the teachers defying this ban."

Ms Kacha encouraged people to purchase copies of This Is What We Said, a book that dispels many myths about the intervention.

"The book was available at the conference. It is a follow-up to the Will they be heard? report analysing three of the consultations held in NT Aboriginal communities from June to August 2009. Using pictures and quotations taken from footage of actual consultations at Bagot, Ampilatwatja, Utopia and Yirrkala, it provides an account of the depth of frustration and despair of many Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory regarding the intervention."

Ella Ryan spent three weeks on the Indigenous Solidarity Ride, which is due to arrive in Hornsby this evening. "We met people who were forced to stand in separate queues at supermarkets because of the Basics Card - it's segregation and assimilation, no doubt", she said.

*PRESS CONFERENCE*: 11am. Thursday July 22, NSW Parliament House

*PUBLIC FORUM*: 6:00pm Monday July 26, Federation Conference Centre, 23-33 Mary St, Surry Hills


Jess Moore: 0416 232 349
Sabine Kacha: 0449 539 131
Ella Ryan: 0421 636 877