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Statements and comments


Jon Altman

Dr Kay Hollingshead

Hoeroa Robert Marumaru

Lavinia Moore

The Hon Alastair Nicholson AO RFD QC

Alexis Wright, Author


Professor Jon Altman, Researcher, ANU - 18 October 2010

It is a contradictory fantasy of the neoliberal state that remote Aboriginal development will magically result from ruthless exposure of Aboriginal people to the free market, guided by the paternalist intervention of the state into the lives of vulnerable individuals. Aboriginal-state power relations need urgent reconfiguration to end the hegemonic assault on the institutions of Aboriginal Australia. The vital role of community and culture must be recognised and valued if development is to be anything more than an insistence that Aboriginal people adopt mainstream lives. Institutions like community councils, the Community Development Employment Program (CDEP) and the Community Housing and Infrastructure Program (CHIP) all need urgent reinstatement. Without enhanced community control and governance we are likely to see deterioration, rather than much needed sustained improvement, in the livelihood and well-being of Aboriginal people in regional and remote Australia.

Professor Jon Altman, Researcher, The Australian National University

Reproduced with the kind permission of Professor Jon Altman.


Alexis Wright, Author - 18 October 2010

The millions and millions of dollars wasted on the NT Intervention could have been used more wisely and intelligently by negotiating appropriate, modern comprehensive agreements or treaties with the Indigenous Nations of the Northern Territory. This work should have begun with the Kalkaringi Statement (1998), as it should have happened with the other important statements developed by Indigenous people trying to plan a future in the Northern Territory since 1963.

The Kalkaringi Statement, developed and endorsed by senior Aboriginal people in Central Australia representing the Combined Aboriginal Nations of Central Australia, was another beginning of the Aboriginal self determining process to plan for the future by creating appropriate Aboriginal governance arrangements in the Northern Territory.

This important and serious work of treaty making begins now with another apology by the Federal Government for the suffering created to Indigenous people by the imposed intervention. People who have already suffered enough.

The work of treaty making with the Indigenous Nations of the Northern Territory should go hand in hand with a complete inquiry of the Northern Territory (Self-Government) Act 1978. This legislation has never been tested. Whereas, we have lost count of the number of times the Aboriginal Land Rights (1976) Act has been challenged, reviewed, amended and weakened.

The review of the governance arrangements of the Northern Territory (Self-Government) Act 1978 should be headed by Indigenous people of the Northern Territory of high calibre and proven long term leadership such as David Ross and Tracker Tilmouth.

It is high time for looking towards hope, rather than despair.

Alexis Wright

Author of Grog War, and Carpentaria - winner of the Miles Franklin Award for Literature in 2007
Distinguished Research Fellow
University of Western Sydney

Reproduced with the kind permission of Alexis Wright.


Hoeroa Robert Marumaru - 22 October 2010

Tena korua! [Greetings to you]

As a recognised representative for the Maori ethnic community of the Brisbane, South East Qld, region, and direct descendant of the families of the Rangitira [Chiefs], of the Iwi [tribes] of the Ngati Apa, and Ngati Whatua, I wish to express on behalf of my peoples, the solidarity of support of the Indigenous peoples of this land, in their struggle against the observed oppression of the disreputable NTER policy, continued perpetrated against them.

I wish to express the spirit of my peoples is with them, as is our hearts.

Ka kite! {keep well]

Hoeroa Robert Marumaru

Reproduced with the kind permission of Hoeroa Robert Marumaru.


Dr Kay Hollingshead - 23 October 2010

" I saw the wonderful film 'Our Generation' last night film and discussion following it. I spoke during the discussion about my concerns about the abolition of CDEP in remote communities and the possibility of changes being made to the remote area provisions to Centrelink, and the implications this may have for Aboriginal health, and for Land Rights. The film stated that the health of Aboriginal people living in remote communities and the homelands was better, both physically - through having more exercise and a greater access to a more varied and plentiful supply of bush foods - and psychologically - through being less stressed, than Aboriginal people living in townships. In the film it described Governmental plans to move Aboriginal people from remote communities and homelands into the 20 designated townships. This could be effected by changes to the remote area provisions of Centrelink (which states that if you live more than 350 km from a job centre you are not required to look for work or risk having Centrelink payments cut off).

Very few Aboriginal people reach retirement age, and those with disabilities and the aged are the only ones, under Centrelink without the remote area clause, who can choose where they live. But the aged and those with disabilities may be forced to move to the townships due to current lack of health and support services in the remote communities and homelands. If working aged Aboriginal people are forced into the designated townships they will not be able to return to live in their remote communities and homelands because there are very few, or no 'real jobs' there and now no CDEP in these areas. Thus they would be moving from an area of lower unemployment to an area of higher unemployment and so, if remote area Centrelink provisions are changed, risk having their Centrelink payments cut off for to 18 weeks if they do. This means entire communities of Aboriginal people (a large percentage of those Aboriginal people living in the NT) may become unable to maintain continuous connection with their land, and under Australian law this land could then be legally taken back by the Government. Land rights are not inviolable once granted. They are contingent on Aboriginal people maintaining continuous connection with their land.

The only way to stop this to urge the Govt. to reinstate CDEP on remote communities and create real jobs there building infrastructure necessary for the health of the children and all members of the communities. The Government says this is too expensive, saying it costs up to half a million dollars to build suitable housing on remote Aboriginal communities, but Jack Thompson (actor) has been building, in association with the Tiwi people, suitable houses for $180,000 there. The Australian Army has previously been utilized to build urgently needed Aboriginal housing in North Western Australia, and Timor and I don't understand why it is not being utilized in the same fashion during our current emergency in the NT. How much will it cost to treat the ill-health that will result from removing Aboriginal people from their land, perhaps in perpetuity, if they lose connection from their land? Aboriginal health and welfare, and preservation of language and culture from continuing habitation and connection with their land, is priceless. As can be seen so very clearly in the film, there is lots of work that desperately need doing to improve living standards needed to improve the health of the children and community in all respects, lots of potential jobs for working age Aboriginal people in remote communities. Rather than do this, it seems the Government would rather spend money building more renal dialysis machines in town to cope with the increased ill health of the Aboriginal people separated from their homelands.

It is vital that we fight the planned move to townships to try and force the Government to create, instead, jobs and infrastructure, housing, kindergartens, schools, for the health of the children and all members of the communities on remote communities and the homelands. I hope the panel following Our Generation will be able to emphasize these points following future presentations of the wonderful film they have made, and which I wish I had said, in addition to what I did say last night after the screening. Dr Kay Hollingshead (many years of experience in Aboriginal health and many years studying the problem of prevention of child sexual assault, and also adopted by Yolgnu people many years ago)."

Dr Kay Hollingshead

Reproduced with the kind permission of Dr Kay Hollingshead.


The Hon Alastair Nicholson AO RFD QC - 24 October 2010

What is the real purpose of the continuation of the NTER?

Is it to destroy the interest of the Aboriginal people in their traditional lands by means of the insidious leasing system?

Is it to force them off their homelands and into centres which will continue to be as badly administered as the present ones?

Is it to weaken their resolve to maintain their culture and live according to their own traditions?

If these aims are not its purpose, why does the Government persist with measures that will inevitably have this effect?

The Hon Alastair Nicholson AO RFD QC

Reproduced with the kind permission of the Hon Alastair Nicholson AO RFD QC.


Lavinia Moore - 28 October 2010

To whom it may concern,

I am writing this letter as my endorsement of the Jobs with Justice Campaign. This campaign seeks to address the failure of recent programmes dealing with Aboriginal communities, most notoriously, the N.T. Intervention designed by the Howard government.

The NT intervention failed to meet its stated intentions on many grounds.

One promise was to deliver "real jobs" for N.T. Aboriginal communities. No doubt Howard was intending to take a swipe at the CDEP programme, which although not always perfect, did provide local jobs and work done that benefitted local communities. I also suspect that there was some inherent racism in the fact that Aboriginal communities had some say in the running of the programme, and that probably didn't go down well with the Canberra white elite.

However, being forced to work with less that subsistence "wages" is called slave labour as far as I am concerned. Aboriginal Australians deserve real jobs with living wages. And so do all of us.

I totally agree with the opinion of the UN regarding the discriminatory nature of the N.T. intervention.

What is needed is a scheme that meets the needs of the Aboriginal people and their communities, that restores their dignity and recognises their right to determine the basic shape of the model to be used for achieving real jobs with real incomes, for themselves.

Non-indigenous Australians ought to feel ashamed if they oppose what our Aboriginal brothers and sisters are asking for. In my opinion it is nothing less than what many of us take for granted as our basic rights.

And they are our rights.

They are also the rights Aboriginal Australians possess.

Our Federal and State governments need to face up to the challenge of detaching ourselves from being stuck in the depths of discrimination and racism that exemplified the Howard Government and to do that we need to go forward (there is that slogan again!) into a future Australia that we can feel proud to be part of.

And we need to do it hand in hand with Aboriginal people.

Or in this case, following their lead.

This is a worthy cause, and I endorse it.


Lavinia Moore

Reproduced with the kind permission of Lavinia Moore.