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New Intervention laws still breach RDA - MR by STICS

Media Release: Stop the Intervention Collective Sydney. Thursday 26th November 2009

New Intervention laws still breach RDA and will spread misery

The Stop the Intervention Collective Sydney will protest at FaHCSIA offices at 12:30pm today, against plans to expand compulsory welfare quarantining across the country and continue with discriminatory Northern Territory Intervention laws.

STICS argues that Minister Jenny Macklin's claim that Income Management (IM) is benefitting NT communities is deceitful and that the new laws will continue to breach the Racial Discrimination Act (RDA).

"Income quarantining has been a disaster for 'prescribed communities'. The government's own statistics show that reports of domestic violence are up 61%, substance abuse is up 77% and 13% more infants have been hospitalised for malnutrition. Any expansion of IM to vulnerable people across the broader community will only exacerbate social problems".

"Minister Macklin argues the suspension of the RDA is deeply resented and ‘denies dignity', but will keep it suspended until December 31, 2010. After this time, the brunt of the new IM regime will still be felt by Aboriginal people and so breaches the RDA. Most people in ‘prescribed areas' will be held on the hated quarantine against their will and the new exemption for pensioners may not kick in until July 2011."

"Minister Macklin will keep exploiting the suspension of the RDA to threaten compulsory land acquisition and force people into signing 40-year leases. Will the Minister give a guarantee her negotiations with Tangentyere Council in Alice Springs are subject to the RDA?"

"The credibility of the government's ‘consultations' is in tatters. Transcripts on the public record show clearly that control measures like Income Management were fiercely opposed, yet she continues to rely on secret ‘evidence' to say there is Aboriginal support. There was never consent given for 5-year leases or draconian police powers, now branded ‘special measures' under the RDA. These laws still stand in breach of the Act. Macklin's disgraceful position will come undone", concluded Mr Gibson.

"The NT Intervention's brutal approach of punishing marginalised people has been put at the centre of Labor's national social policy. Disgracefully the expansion will cost $340 million in the NT alone. If they truly cared about helping unemployed people, think of how many jobs that could create," said Monique Wiseman from the Stop the Intervention Collective.

"Amnesty International's Irene Kahn described the conditions in "prescribed communities" as the worst poverty she had ever seen. But there is nothing in Macklin's blueprint to improve this. The overwhelming majority of communities will not receive new housing, home improvements have just been cut back and already struggling services will wither under the new ‘hub towns' policy."

"Aboriginal people and people struggling across Australia need real support, not punishment and Intervention. Its time to stand up and fight Australia - the quarantine is coming to a suburb near you", concluded Ms Wiseman.

What: Protest about NT Intervention and welfare quarantine expansion
When: Today, Thursday November 26th at 12:30pm
Where: FaHCSIA office, 280 Elizabeth St, Surry Hills, Sydney.

Speakers include George Newhouse, human rights lawyer and Professor Larissa Behrendt, co-author of the recently released "Will They Be Heard?" report on the NTER consultations available at

For more info contact: Paddy Gibson 0415800586 or Monique Wiseman 0415410558