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NT Aboriginal Elder calls for repeal of 'Stronger Futures' at Sydney Human Rights Day forum

Media Release                   Stop the Intervention Collective Sydney                                  5 December 2012


NT Aboriginal Elder calls for repeal of 'Stronger Futures'

at Sydney Human Rights Day forum


Stop the Intervention Collective Sydney (STICS) is holding a forum this Thursday night, December 6 to mark the United Nations' Human Rights Day. Speakers will also reflect on the twenty year anniversary of Paul Keating's famous "Redfern Speech", which recognised the horrific impact of colonisation on Aboriginal people.

The forum, starting 6:30pm at the Tom Mann Theatre (136 Chalmers St, Surry Hills), follows the release of a comprehensive evaluation of the income management system last week which provides clear evidence of ongoing and systematic discrimination against Aboriginal people.

Rosalie Kunoth-Monks OAM, a senior Aboriginal Elder from the Utopia homelands in Central Australia, will address the forum, demanding the repeal of "Stronger Futures" legislation. These laws continue the imposition of the Northern Territory Intervention for a further ten years.

Mrs Kunoth-Monks says that the NT Intervention is a return to the colonial-style policies Keating spoke against, and has done enormous damage to her community.

"What this is about is our survival. We have been traumatised by the NT Intervention. The decision to continue with these policies under 'Stronger Futures' for a further ten years must be immediately reversed."

"The government says they want to 'normalise' us. Well the sooner they free us from discrimination, the sooner our lives can go back to normal. We need to live on our own terms and with strength in our own customary practices. This must include a return to structures of governance in the outback that put our people in full control".

"What does it say about our government when they receive a report on income management which shows clearly that it is discriminatory and yet they are willing to carry on? I feel such pain for our young people, like my grand-daughter, who like calves branded with an iron have been singled out as second class citizens when are trying to find their place in the world and build a bright future", concluded Mrs Kunoth-Monks

Jeff McMullen, a veteran journalist and Chief Executive Officer (Honorary) of the Ian Thorpe Fountain for Youth will also address the forum. Mr McMullen has worked extensively with Aboriginal communities living under the Intervention:

"We raise our voices in Redfern twenty years after Paul Keating challenged Australians to look at the damage done by discrimination. The anniversary of that honest healing speech should compel all of us to examine our Government's enormous hypocrisy and double standards in caging Aboriginal people as second class citizens not worthy of the same rights or protection under law. The 'Stronger Futures' laws mean an Aboriginal child born in 2007 will spend their first fifteen years officially being singled out for discrimination endured by no other group in Australia", said Mr McMullen

Paddy Gibson from STICS said:

"The legitimacy of the Intervention is in tatters. The evaluation report on income management last week showed two thirds of Aboriginal people feel discriminated against and three quarters feel the system is unfair".

"The government's own statistics show suicide rates, Aboriginal incarceration, alcohol fuelled violence and unemployment have all markedly increased since 2007. Plans for an expansion of income management have hit a brick wall of opposition, including union bans on implementation that have stopped any referrals for compulsory income management here in NSW".

"Efforts by Aboriginal people in the NT to resist the Intervention, and its extension under the so-called 'Stronger Futures', require urgent support from across Australia. This is a defining human rights issue for our times", concluded Mr Gibson.


For more information or to arrange interviews with the NT speakers contact:

Paddy Gibson 0415 800 586

Forum details:

6:30pm Thursday December 6
Tom Mann Theatre
136 Chalmers St, Surry Hills

Guest speakers:

Rosalie Kunoth-Monks OAM, Aboriginal Elder from Utopia homelands, NT
Amelia Pangarte Kunoth-Monks, NT youth leader who has lived on the BasicsCard
Jeff McMullen, CEO (Honorary) Ian Thorpe's Fountain for Youth