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20 Apr 2015 - What happened to the Intervention?

First Nations Peoples and Australian

Government Policy

- What happened to the


20 April 2015

Special report back from Paddy Gibson on the effects of current

government policies on First Nations Peoples communities.

Paddy Gibson has just returned from 12 months living in Alice Springs. At this special STICS meeting he gave a presentation looking at the continuing impacts of the NT Intervention, now known as 'Stronger Futures' on Aboriginal living conditions, incarceration and child removal rates. Paddy also discussed
how the policy architecture of the Intervention is expanding across the country and why the demand for a repeal of Intervention laws remains as important as ever.


Watch his speech:

What happened to the Intervention? - Paddy Gibson on Vimeo.

GLW - NT Intervention opened way to Aboriginal community closures - 16 May 2015
... One of the main ways you see Stronger Futures played out is raids. There are huge police incursions into communities.... The NT government has now given police the power to arrest and detain people for four hours — just on suspicion that they were going to do something....
There is another part of the system that is mandatory. If you are taken to the watch house three times, you are triggered to automatically go into an alcohol remand centre. This also acts to incarcerate Aboriginal people. Instead of jobs, justice, land, doctors, they lock people up.
The NT Intervention has doubled Aboriginal incarceration. The level of incarceration of Aboriginal people is off the scale; the highest rates in Australia's history. The number of women in prison has also skyrocketed.
The other part of the NT Intervention is the income management system. In the NT 90% of people on income management are Aboriginal — about 20,000 people.  ...
The other aspect of the Intervention is the child protection system. Before 2007 child protection did not really exist. But now there are special racially targeted child protection squads that only go to remote Aboriginal communities.
The system is like the old mission system — they ration the community, set up a racialised regime of alcohol control and a racialised child protection system. The child protection system in NT doesn’t look at white kids. It is steeped in cultural bias and racism.
There are new permanent guardian laws being introduced into the territory. That means your child is no longer your child after he or she has been taken by child welfare. These laws will sever links between family members. Under the laws the government only needs to send one letter to inform people that the child is no longer legally theirs. The court rules in favour of the government and the child is gone.
The NT Intervention closed the Community Development Employment Project (CDEP) programs. There used to be 7000 people on it. It provided a job and an income on top of the dole. All the productive assets that went with the CDEP program — the earth moving equipment, the road graders, community buses — were lost with the jobs.
Taking those assets away means there is no self-determination in communities. They are forcing people out of communities by starving them out. The conditions deteriorate and the people are forced away....
All employment programs offered by the government now are about getting people out of communities.
The NT Intervention is not just about mining companies wanting land, it is also an existential attack on Aboriginality.

Q & A:

What happened to the Intervention? - Q and A on Vimeo.

For the event on facebook:
please click here

Paddy Gibson is a senior researcher with the Jumbunna Indigenous House of Learning, University of Technology Sydney. He has lived in Alice Springs and travelled extensively in Central Australia researching the impact of State and Federal government policy on First Nations People. He is also an organiser with the Stop the Intervention Collective Sydney and co-editor of Solidarity magazine and Associate Producer of the epic documentary Utopia by John Pilger.

GLW - NT intervention ‘would have worked by now’ - 1 May 2015

... this intervention has not been a success. The Intervention constructed a system similar to the one seen many years ago at the height of assimilation policy.
I have examined this area for more than a decade and if policies of this nature were ever going to be a success they would have succeeded by now.  ...
The remote land given back to Aboriginal people under the Land Rights Act of 1976 was only granted because the colonisers had not yet found it commercially useful. Now Aboriginal people in those communities are being blamed for not fitting into the neoliberal paradigm as responsible and economically productive citizens on these lands. ...
There are a lot of other small, rural communities that get access to essential services, which are not subject to this same idea of economic viability. But those communities are predominantly populated by non-Aboriginal people. ...
Aboriginal communities have been around for tens of thousands of years. All the ecological land management work that remote-living Aboriginal people do, such as fire management, is not recognised. There is a Eurocentric binary division between work and non-work. ...
Another concerning aspect of recent interventionist Indigenous policy is increasing workfare – work for the dole – which can function as a means of driving actual wages down at the lower end of the employment market.
Aboriginal people who were once in the Community Development Employment Project (CDEP), which was voluntary and paid slightly more than the dole, are now being transferred to Remote Jobs and Communities Program (RJCP) payments, which are obligatory.
CDEP had its weaknesses and its strengths, but the RJCP is just the dole, and the program reforms the federal government has proposed have rigorous work requirements attached: 5 hours a day, 5 days a week, 52 weeks a year for welfare recipients to receive their income support payments.
Then half of that will be income managed. Or if the Forrest Review’s Healthy Welfare Card idea gets rolled out it will be 100% income management. Now that really is working for rations.

Compulsory Income Management, Indigenous Peoples and Structural Violence – Implications for Citizenship and Autonomy by Shelley Bielefeld - 17 April 2015

More of Shelley Bielefeld's Scholarly Papers

Article by Mia Pepper
National Day of Action - Friday 1 May 2015
Pushing Aboriginal people off their land for mining interests is nothing new in Western Australia, but Premier Barnett's plans to close 150 communities and gut the Aboriginal Heritage Act takes it to a new level, reports Mia Pepper
You’d be forgiven for thinking West Australia was the Wild West. The announcement from the WA Government to close 150 Aboriginal remote communities comes hot on the heels of plans to gut the Aboriginal Heritage Act.
The changes to the Aboriginal Heritage Act have two main objectives: one is to make it easier for Aboriginal Heritage Sites on the Aboriginal Heritage Register to be de-listed; the other is to make it harder to get Aboriginal Heritage Sites to be listed in the first place. One of the key factors in a site getting and staying on the register is proving an ongoing connection to the site – a logistical factor made much harder if people are being forcibly removed from remote communities. ...


Sydney March - 10 April 2015

Koori Mail - Rallies oppose closure move - 22 April 15: please click here

Stop The Forced Closure Of Aboriginal Communities - Sydney 10th April 2015
Videos of Speakers at Belmore Park

Comment by Georgina Gartland:
Well done Sydney. So great to have fabulous speakers and support of  unions, Maoris  and others. This is a complete abrogation of Federal Government responsibility."What is clear is that the Commonwealth knows full well that the consequences of the cuts will fall with brute force onto Aboriginal communities least able to defend themselves. Such behaviour is.: contemptible.
Please continue 'ongoing action'. Contact PM Abbott, Minister Scullion , your local Federal MP . 
More information:

Continue to speak to friends ...
Strong support also from Maoris MPs . This repor from NZ.  MPs planning  to sepak with labor MPs and will speak to the Australian High Commissioner in Wellington. 

Video by Paddy Gibson
Shaun Harris speaks about the forced closure of Aboriginal communities in WA - 21 March 2015 

YouTube - Fox: Australian PM’s comments shows ‘lack of understanding’  - 15 March 15
Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott is enduring widespread criticism after closing half of Australia’s Indigenous communities down saying Aboriginal people who live in remote communities have made a lifestyle choice, and he's not willing to concede his words.

Comment by Ol Weir:
One way to kill off a culture is to get the people off their land. This is not a new trick. This strategy has been used in every country where Indigenous people have been displaced by white invaders. Aboriginal Australians need a treaty to preserve their prior rights, else, in time they will be merely a curiosity,not a vibrant and unique part of the Australian Story. ...

Western Australia's Remote Aboriginal Communities are angry and frustrated at the lack of information coming out of the State and Federal Governments on the proposed closures.150 remote communities have effectively been put on notice - But nobody knows which communities are in the firing line... or how and when the state plans to act. ...