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'Scrap "failed" NT Intervention' - demands Aboriginal rights demonstration - 19-3-11

Media Release 19/03/11                                                                                             *for immediate release


‘Scrap "failed" NT Intervention'- demands Aboriginal rights demonstration

A rally and march organized by the Stop the Intervention Collective Sydney (STICS), is being held to mark the UN Day for the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination at 1pm Sydney Town Hall, Sunday 20th March.

Speakers include John Leemans, 2010 Gurindji strike leader; Nicole Watson, Jumbunna House of Learning UTS and Chris Graham, former editor of National Indigenous Times.

STICS is touring John Leemans, a Gurindji man, and a councilor and community mentor for the Victoria Daly Shire. In October 2010, he led a strike against the intervention in his community at Wave Hill. John is in Sydney as part of the Jobs with Justice campaign, to tour worksites with the support of the construction and maritime unions.

"Our communities are crying out for help. Today what we the First Nations people are facing is more serious that ever before. Today under this discriminatory law we must fight to stay alive. We want to get on with rebuilding our communities and helping our families. We need support to stop this intervention which is preventing us from being self-sufficient, blocking our self-determination and removing our human rights." said John Leemans.

"I have come to Sydney with a message for Ms Julia Gillard and the Australian government: ‘stop trying to control our lives and mainstream us into the big cities. We are Aboriginal people and we will never leave our homelands and communities. We need jobs, housing and services - in ALL communities where we live'."

"The government keeps saying it's ‘closing the gap' and pouring millions into the communities, but in my community after 3 and a half years we've seen nothing. The money is all going to bureaucrats and public servants who sit in Katherine or Darwin or Canberra and make decisions about our lives. In the communities people are still living 15-20 in a house, jobs have gone. We used to have our own road  crew, our own bakery and brick-works. We built these up over 20 years of hard work. The Intervention took that all away. Now most people are unemployed and being forced to work for the BasicsCard."

After nearly four years of the racially discriminatory NT Intervention, the policy is widely recognized as "failed". On March 3rd, The National Indigenous Times published statements from 27 Aboriginal leaders nation-wide calling on Minister Macklin to scrap the policy.

"The writing is on the wall for Jenny Macklin. As predicted the Intervention's racist control-measures are bringing Aboriginal communities to the brink of collapse. We need an urgent change of course starting with repealing these discriminatory laws" said Jean Parker from STICS.

"This weekend marks the international UN day to push for eliminating racial discrimination. It is 2011 and the Labor government still has discriminatory federal legislation that strips basic rights from Aboriginal people. The Intervention laws are still not fully subject to the Racial Discrimination Act (1975). This wholly racist policy needs to be abolished now."

For comment
John Leemans 0438 451 155
Jean Parker STICS: 0449 646 593