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Marie Ellis 4-2-13


Special STICS meeting - Monday, 4 February 2013:

  Guest speaker from the NT:  Marie Ellis, President Amoonguna community

Amoonguna Community: Intervention & Stronger Future.

Good evening ladies and gentlemen.

I would like to acknowledge the tradition custodian people of this country for allowing me to speak on their land about what the government are doing to my people.

Firstly, I would like to introduce myself. My name is Marie Elena Ellis. I am an Arrernte/Warlpiri woman from the Central Region of Alice Springs. My homeland is called Amoonguna which is situated south-east of Alice Springs.

My early childhood recollection was growing up with strong family values of Arrernte cultural law based on our kinship law policy. My grandparents were my teachers and taught me many stories and values of the people, the language and the land. The land is what we value, because it gives us everything to maintain our language, kinship law and preservation of keeping strong as people of the land.

Arrernte is my language I speak proudly, Warlpiri and many other desert dialect is spoken when I am around many of my people of the desert in Central Australia.


Dear Sydney countrymen & Fellow Australian,

My speech this evening is to share my stories of my community. The sadness, anger and the frustration my people live by every day.

In 2007 the Intervention rolled into our community to announce that they are following the direct orders from the Government in Canberra to cease community operation. By this they stopped the work process in the community.

Amoonguna community employees were shocked and confused of see all the Government officials rolling into the community with their flash government Toyota’s. They were overwhelmed to see a lot of white socks gathering around the Amoonguna office to announce the takeover of the community.

We are the First Nation people of this so called lucky country Australia, yet we are being treated like 3rd class citizens and de-valued as human beings without human rights. We live in a community that we are being told what to do.

It is sad indeed that in 2008 the government introduced the Super Shire to take over the community control for employment and maintaining the community municipal services.

The MacDonnell Shire took over our community assets and began writing their own rules to control and brain wash people in the community of this is their new rules that the people of the community must live by and abide as good community citizens of Amoonguna Community.

Let me tell you a story of my community before the take over from the Mac Shire.

It was the year 1980’s my community was in ruin and the local government of the Northern Territory and Alice Springs town council did not acknowledge my community. People in the town of Alice Springs called it the Lost City/Forbidden camp/some called it the never never go there land.

It was a time when people lived in old, run down houses with sewage problems and no service community life.

Amoonguna resident, including my sister and I moved into a three bedroom house where we cleaned, scrubbed and fixed windows and doors. For our front door we found an old door laying around the yard, we picked it up and put it against our front door entrance. We found a 44 gallon drum to put against the door to keep it closed, we were both happy. The winter season in the community drops below zero in some nights, imagine what we had gone through all those years.

 We used old boards lying around the community to put up for window to keep the cold winter air entering our rooms. We had to walk into the town of Alice Springs from Amoonguna. Travelling by car takes about 20 minutes, image the walking distance we travelled by foot during cold, freezing winter day to pay our power bills. My sister and I did this fortnightly, oh I did not mentioned that we had our baby son’s in the pram all rugged up while we both made the foot trip into Alice Springs to pay our Power and Water bills and rent. 

Amoonguna was chewed up and spat out so many times people lost the taste for it. We had people pretending to run the community and provide service; they were in it for the money and stole money from the old people. The people of Amoonguna still lived on the community, because that is their home and they did not want to leave. We the community people still stayed on and had no one to help us.

In 2004, God in heaven sent forth two beautiful Angels to help us.  Barry and Kay Breley travelled from Adelaide and I was the first person to meet and greet them at the front abandon council office.

Since meeting we immediately formed a strong council. Amoonguna Community Council Incorporated.

We were all set to Create employment for our community people on CDEP, Develop community policy that was based on community needs and

Deliver program that best suits our community people’s skills.

We the ACI: Amoonguna Council Incorporated stared our own Amoonguna Housing Construction Team which 8 young men of the community learnt on the job/training skills to build a community houses for their people in their community. It was a success, the young men build 7 houses and I am living in one of the house that my sons build whilst working and training under the Amoonguna Community Housing Team. I was so proud of him when he brought me his certificate to show me that he was a qualified builder.

Since the 2007 Intervention, he lost his job as a builder and the Mac Shire put him back to be a rubbish collector as clean-up crew. The Mac Shire made sure that people in the community were punished by giving them low, degrading jobs. This made me very emotional that the 8 young men had pride, skills and knowledge of building houses.

Amoonguna Age Care was an idea from my sister and I to look after our old people in our community and to provide services. I worked as the Aged Care Co-ordinator and successfully delivered services when needed with 100% outcome. Based on the old people’s needs, remembering that Central Desert Peoples diet is based on meat, because they grew up eating meat in the desert with their families that was the main ingredient for them. I had four women working a successful program developed by Aboriginal women for the deliverance of good service for our old people.

Since the Mac Shire Aged Care program takeover, they cooking and delivering Vegetarian meals with salads, fish and rice. Old people of the community feed their dogs with their lunch. They told me that they are not rabbits, they meat eaters. They are very unhappy with the Mac Shire delivering meals on wheels, some pulled out of the program because lacking of people proving the service.

Mac Shire makes sure that the workers related to me get fired.

In the year 2005, we the Amoonguna Council Incorporated delivered a successful municipal services for our community, they are:

1.     Parks & Garden.

2.     Rubbish pick up.

3.     Roads.

4.     Mowing residents house lawns.

5.     Day care centre.

6.     Public street lights.

7.     Sewerage.

8.     Power & Water.


Life on Amoonguna Community was a happy community with people having pride for what they achieved by having the reputation on being a successful, self-governed, based on self-determination.


Since the Mac Shire takeover my community is a sad, unhappy and emotional draining community hit hard by the Intervention.


See, we live in this so called Lucky country, lucky for some and unlucky for us blackfella.

 I hope that my story painted a picture of the Good, Bad and the Ugly side of Intervention and the Government who enforced these laws to degrade my people. The government ought to have SHAME.

 Reproduced with the kind permission of Marie Ellis.


Announcement for the meeting:

Special STICS meeting - Monday, 4 February 2013:

 Guest speaker from the NT:

Marie Ellis, President Amoonguna community

Monday February 4 at 6pm

Teachers Federation Conference Centre, Level 1, 23-33 Mary Street Surry Hills

Marie Ellis has been a leading Aboriginal voice opposing the Intervention and the devastation it has caused at Amoonguna, her community near Alice Springs. At this special STICS meeting, Marie will give us the latest news from the NT and discuss the struggle to re-establish community control and fight for the return of resources lost through the Intervention and Shire reforms.

Get involved! In 2013, STICS will meet on the first and third Monday of the month. 6pm
Monday nights, Teachers Federation Conference Centre (see above)