Stop the Intervention Collective Sydney                               Media Release                               8 March 2012


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New report damns Stronger Futures consultations


A new report, Listening but not Hearing, provides damning evidence of the disingenuous and fatally flawed nature of consultations on the future of the NT Intervention undertaken by government with NT Aboriginal communities between June and August of 2011. Former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser will launch the report tonight in Melbourne.

In the wake of the report, the Stop the Intervention Collective Sydney (STICS) has reiterated calls for the Senate to reject the Stronger Futures legislation currently being considered by the Senate. Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin has relied heavily upon these discredited consultations to justify Stronger Futures.

Listening but not Hearing was prepared by the Jumbunna Indigenous House of Learning Research Unit at UTS. It provides analysis of transcripts from nine public consultation meetings. These transcripts are the only source on the public record that document detailed proceedings of consultation meetings. The transcripts prove that the government failed to even outline most of the measures proposed by Stronger Futures during consultation meetings.

The report clearly demonstrates a stark discrepancy between community aspirations for self-determination, respect for Aboriginal culture and urgent action to address shortfalls in infrastructure and employment and the Stronger Futures legislation that will extend NT Intervention measures for a further 10 years. One sharp illustration of this is the repeated calls in consultations for the reinstatement of bilingual education programs to improve education outcomes and the focus in Stronger Futureson the use of punitive welfare cuts.

STICS spokesperson Paddy Gibson was involved in preparing the report:

"Minister Macklin simply can not sustain the fiction that her Stronger Futures laws were developed through a process of community consultation. She must withdraw these laws immediately", said Mr Gibson.

"This consultation process was tokenistic and paternalistic. Aboriginal people across the NT attended these meetings in good faith and put forward considered and thoughtful proposals on how to address unacceptable levels of disadvantage and take their communities forward. They have been betrayed once again. It is clear that the Department was never interested in Aboriginal proposals and had a predetermined agenda to continue with the Intervention."

"The analysis put forward in this report has been confirmed by the Senate Committee examining Stronger Futures. Committee Chair and Labor Senator Claire Moore last week grilled FaHCSIA representatives on the failings of their consultation process, following a barrage of criticism from NT community members during recent hearings. The onus is now on Ms Moore and other Senators to take a principled stand and reject this legislation".

"Minister Macklin is facing an avalanche of opposition to Stronger Futures. The Senate Committee has faced overwhelming opposition to the proposals. In less than two weeks ten thousand people have joined an online campaign 'Stand for Freedom' demanding withdrawal of the legislation."

"The NT Intervention has had horrific consequences for NT communities. There has been a 41 per cent increase in incarceration and a doubling in rates of attempted suicide and self-harm. If the parliament proceeds with this legislation the disgraceful 'gap' will continue to grow, not only in terms of Aboriginal disadvantage, but in the level of trust between the government and Aboriginal people and their organisations", concluded Mr Gibson.


Contact: Paddy Gibson 0415 800 586


To read a copy of the report visit

http://www.jumbunna.uts.edu.au/researchareas/listeningbutnothearing.html


For more information on growing opposition to Stronger Futures see

http://stoptheintervention.org/facts/stronger-futures-legislation
or http://www.standforfreedom.org.au