No to Forrest's Generation One, Yes to Aboriginal ‘Jobs With Justice'
Melbourne Anti-Intervention Collective - 27 October 2010
No to Forrest's Generation One,
Yes to Aboriginal ‘Jobs With Justice'
Aboriginal people deserve decent, well-paid and meaningful jobs - this is a basic human right. But these jobs won't be delivered by the Generation One billionaires' project.
On Friday at 5.30pm outside the State Library, The Greens Member for Melbourne, Adam Bandt, will be speaking in support of the campaign for ‘jobs with justice' against the NT Intervention. Mr Bandt will be joined by veteran Aboriginal rights activists Gary Foley and Robbie Thorpe, as well as union representatives, including Kevin Bracken from the Victorian Trades Hall Council, at the Melbourne event, part of a National Day of Protest.
Spokesperson for the Melbourne Anti-Intervention Collective (MAIC), Sharon Firebrace, said "Andrew Forrest's GenerationOne project has been a failure in the past. And it will continue to be the pernicious smokescreen it was set out to be. Jobs for Aboriginal people will be delivered through fighting against the interests of the people like Andrew Forrest and challenging this government. The launch of this campaign, with the support of Adam Bandt, Aboriginal elders, and unions, is a challenge to business and this government."
There are old platitudes in the GenerationOne project about education and employment, which are indicators of disadvantage, not the cause of it. Aboriginal rights activists are challenging this project.
Ms Firebrace says "There is no mention of land rights on the GenerationOne site, not one mention of the dispossession, racism and ongoing genocide that lies at the heart of Aboriginal disadvantage."
A statement - "Worse than WorkChoices" - to be launched this Friday as part of a National Day of Protest against the NT Intervention, outlines the cruel lie of both the Labor Government's "Closing the Gap" policy and the ongoing NT Intervention.
When the NT Intervention was introduced in 2007, it promised to deliver "real jobs" for Aboriginal communities. Instead, thousands of waged jobs have been lost and Aboriginal organisations have been crippled as Community Development Employment Projects (CDEP) close down.
Ms Firebrace, said "There is no such thing as justice when it comes to jobs for Aboriginal people in the top end. Vital services such as rubbish collection, school bus runs, sewerage maintenance, construction and aged care, these are being done by Aboriginal people in exchange for quarantined Centrelink payments.
"Aboriginal workers have described the BasicsCard as a return to the "ration-days" when they were paid in food instead of cash. It is exploitative and dehumanising. And it all fits in with renewed 1930s-era ‘assimilation' policy that is being flogged by the Government, and the billionaires like Andrew Forrest."
The protest in Melbourne, will be joined by actions in Alice Springs, Sydney, Brisbane and Perth. In Alice Springs, Aboriginal CDEP workers will be making the trip from the towns associated with the 1966 Gurindji walk-off [the strike which inspired the Paul Kelly and Kev Carmody song ‘From Little Things Big Things Grow'].
Last Wednesday, more than 200 Gurindji people joined a stop work meeting at Kalkaringi, to protest the NT Intervention and endorse the ‘jobs with justice' statement. The crowd was addressed by veterans of the 1966 Gurindji walk-off from Wave Hill station such as Bernard Jalyirri. A new era of Gurindji workers like P. Inverway are now speaking out, "Our people walked off Wave Hill station for getting paid in flour, tea and sugar. Now we are getting paid on the BasicsCard. We need to continue with this strike action."
The rally voted to endorse a statement demanding an end to the Intervention and ‘Jobs with Justice' for Aboriginal workers, which will be published in the Australian newspaper and launched with national protest rallies on October 29. A Gurindji delegation will travel to Alice Springs to join the protest.
Reflecting on the rally, walk-off veteran Jimmy Wave Hill said "There is too much humbug from this government...We need to follow in Vincent Lingiari's footsteps with our fight today."
MELBOURNE RALLY - National Day of Protest against the NT Intervention - Jobs With Justice now!
Friday, 29 October 2010, 5.30pm, State Library, cnr Swanston & La Trobe Sts, Melbourne
Gary Foley, Robbie Thorpe, Adam Bandt (Greens - Member for Melbourne), Adam Frogley (Indigenous Coordinator, NTEU), Kevin Bracken (Victorian Trades Hall Council), Stephen Jolly (Councillor, City of Yarra)
For more on Melbourne's campaign: www.maicollective.blogspot.com
For other actions in Australia: www.jobswithjustice.wordpress.com
Sharon Firebrace 0401 414 967,
Lucy Honan 0404 728 104 ,
Sam Salvidge 0432 803 360
‘Jobs With Justice' statement to be launched at the National Day of Protest:
Worse than Workchoices
The NT Intervention promised to deliver ‘real jobs' for Aboriginal communities. Instead, thousands of waged jobs have been lost and Aboriginal organisations have been crippled as Community Development Employment Projects (CDEP) close down.[i]
Under the new CDEP scheme designed by the federal Labor government, Aboriginal people no longer receive wages. They are being forced to work providing vital services such as rubbish collection, school bus runs, sewerage maintenance, construction and aged care in exchange for quarantined Centrelink payments.[ii]
People are compelled to work 16 hours a week for $115 cash, plus $115 credit on a ‘BasicsCard' which can only be used on ‘priority items' in government approved stores. Aboriginal workers have described this as a return to the "ration-days' when they were paid in food instead of cash.
Centrelink is threatening to cut off payments entirely if people do not participate. Unclear guidelines and the vulnerable position of many workers have seen cases of people working 30 hrs or more for no extra money.[iii] This is far worse than anything the Liberals inflicted on workers under Workchoices.
The Labor government committed to halving the gap in employment outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians in a decade. But due to a continuation of Howard era policies such as the Intervention, Indigenous unemployment has drastically worsened from 13.8% in 2007 to 18.1% in 2009.[iv]
500 ‘real jobs' created to replace some of the lost CDEP positions in remote NT shire councils face the axe next year. The Commonwealth is refusing to guarantee ongoing funding of $8.5 million per year needed by the NT government to keep the jobs.[v] Many Aboriginal communities serviced by these shires already suffer atrocious living conditions - 500 more job losses will be devastating.
The NT Intervention shames Australia. Despite recent amendments, the United Nations Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (UNCERD) ruled in August that Intervention legislation provides clear evidence of "embedded racism" against Aboriginal people. [vi ] The UNCERD report said living conditions had deteriorated for Aboriginal people under the Intervention through loss of land, property, employment, legal rights and opportunities for cultural development. [vii]
Rather than abandon failed policy, the government is planning to spend $350 million (over 4 years) to expand income management across the NT.[viii ] This money is desperately needed to create real jobs in Aboriginal communities and ensure the provision of basic services.
The government must act immediately to:
- Guarantee the 500 threatened Shire jobs
- End compulsory income management
- End current CDEP arrangements forcing people to work for the BasicsCard
- Turn all CDEP positions into fully waged jobs
- Provide massive investment in job creation and service provision in all Aboriginal communities.
see www.maicollective.blogspot.com for sources
Reproduced with the kind permission of the Melbourne Anti-Intervention Collective.