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RDA reinstatement: continuing racist laws - MR by STICS

Media Release: Stop the Intervention Collective Sydney. Tuesday 24th November 2009

RDA reinstatement masks continuation of racist laws

The Stop the Intervention Collective Sydney (STICS) has condemned Minister Jenny Macklin's plans to introduce legislation this week, which characterise NT Intervention controls as "special measures" under the Racial Discrimination Act (1975).

STICS will hold a protest this Thursday calling for full repeal of NTER legislation and a redirection of Intervention funds to Aboriginal community organisations.

Despite the re-instatement of the RDA, core Intervention policies such as compulsory income management and 5-year leases over Aboriginal land look set to continue. STICS argues this will lead to further deterioration of conditions for struggling communities.

"Acoording to the government's own progress report released in October, the Intervention has been a $1 billion disaster. Since its introduction 13% more infants have been hospitalised for malnutrition, reports of domestic violence are up 61% and substance abuse has risen by 77%. How can Jenny Macklin justify continuing this outrage?" said Jean Parker from STICS.

"Amnesty International's Irene Kahn was shocked by conditions in prescribed communities declaring, ‘such a level of poverty is inexcusable, unexpected and unacceptable'. Macklin's blueprint doesn't even address these vital issues. The overwhelming majority of communities will not receive new housing, home improvements have just been cut back and already struggling services will wither under the new ‘hub towns' policy."

"Aboriginal community organisations need far greater resources, employment programs and empowerment. This legislation will continue to see money wasted on failed bureaucracies that are violating human rights", concluded Ms Parker.

"Racism is not a special measure. Yet again the government is trying to deceive Aboriginal people and their supporters with hollow symbolism. The apology and the UN declaration didn't stop destructive, racist policies. Similarly, the re-introduction of the RDA won't affect the government's commitment to hated Intervention laws", said Monique Wiseman from STICS.

"The government claims to have held over 500 consultations - as though Intervention policies have the support of effected communities. However, the results of these consultations were exposed as a farce the same day they were released. The consultations were subject to devastating criticisms by scholars like Alastair Nicholson and Larissa Behrendt. They've shown that the decision to continue the Intervention was made before the process started, and the government structured meetings to stifle opposition."

"Even so, no consent was given for the Intervention. Communities continue to demand that control measures end immediately. While NTER laws remain on the books Aboriginal people in the NT will continue to live in third world conditions as second class citizens", concluded Ms Wiseman.

On Thursday November 26th at 12pm STICS will hold a protest outside FaHCSIA offices, 280 Elizabeth St Surry Hills.

Speakers include Professor Larissa Behrendt, co-author of a recently released report analysing NTER consultations and George Newhouse, human rights lawyer.

For more info contact: Jean Parker 0449646593 or Monique Wiseman 0415410558