Posted Wed Oct 20, 2010 4:13pm AEDT
About 150 people are protesting in the Northern Territory community of Kalkaringi against the federal intervention in remote Indigenous communities.
The group are angry at cuts to the Community Development Employment Projects (CDEP) and say the Federal Government has not provided enough jobs to replace it.
Gurindji man Andrew Japanangka Johnson says nothing good has come from the intervention in the last three years.
“Our concern is… not only what the Government is doing to us, but we have a problem right across the Northern Territory and here at Kalkaringi,” he said.
“We try to notify the people that the Government is not treating us good and they took the permit system away from us.”
Indigenous leaders from Wave Hill in the Northern Territory say the federal intervention has not improved conditions for remote Aboriginal people.
Gurindji man Peter Inverway says the intervention promised to deliver new houses, more jobs and better conditions, but he has seen none of that.
“There’s round about 15 to 20 people staying in one house, [a] three bedroom house, and we are just still waiting,” he said.
“We want the CDEP program getting back again on the line, because there were some people working on CDEP getting real wages.”
Govt slammed for Aboriginal ‘enslavement’
Tom Morgan, AAP, October 29, 2010 – 4:09PM
Campaigners have slammed the federal government for its failure to boost Aboriginal job prospects, claiming the Northern Territory intervention enslaves communities.
Protesters at rallies in Sydney, Alice Springs, Melbourne and Brisbane angrily claimed the legislation had been an attempt to “destroy a race”.
Welfare quarantining was the cornerstone of the Howard government’s 2007 intervention, designed to tackle child abuse in remote indigenous communities.
But three years on, campaigners told the Sydney demonstration that Aboriginal workers were being treated “like slaves” as they worked for as little as $4 an hour.
Calling for the NT intervention to be binned, speakers said Community Development Employment Project (CDEP) positions should become fully waged jobs.
Campaign members also placed advertisements in national newspapers published Friday calling for “jobs with justice”.
Speaking to more than 150 supporters outside Sydney Town Hall, Rosalie Kunoth-Monks, an Aboriginal campaigner, said: “Our people in the Northern Territory are traumatised to such an extent that we do not know who to turn to.
“Action is needed to say no to the Northern Territory intervention.”
She said it “speaks volumes” that the federal government bypassed the racial discrimination act to implement the legislation.
“The legislation was to destroy a culture, destroy a race – these people have been here for thousands of years. That is wrong by any standard.”
Under Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin’s new CDEP scheme, Aboriginal workers are being required to work 16 hours a week, providing vital civil services to townships, only to be paid in credit on a BasicsCard.
Barbara Shaw, spokeswoman for the Intervention Rollback Action Group, said: “Aboriginal workers tell us they are being treated like slaves, being forced to work for the BasicsCard.
“This is a breach of our fundamental human rights.”
Protesters also said the high-profile GenerationOne campaign, a not-for-profit movement aimed at ending the disparity between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians, was doing more harm than good.
Jean Parker, of Stop the Intervention Collective, said the government had been hypocritical in backing the scheme, founded by Andrew Forrest, head of Pilbara iron ore miner Fortescue Metals.
“What’s really disgraceful is that these people – who own the casinos and the mines – have the support of the Labor government,” she said.
“But who doesn’t have the support of the government – the Aboriginal community. It’s utter hypocrisy.”
Bev Manton, chairwoman of the New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council (NSWALC), backed the rallies, saying the NT intervention “has been an abject failure on a raft of levels”.
“Apart from the physical and psychological harm done to its victims, one of its most damaging legacies has been the gradual dismantling of CDEP,” she added.
“The fate of Aboriginal labour needs to be in the hands of Aboriginal people,” she said.
|Today, workers at the small townships of Kalkaringi and Dagaragu in the Victoria River district of the Northern Territory will be out on strike over their pay and conditions.
The last time that anyone there can remember taking such drastic action was 44 years ago when Vincent Lingiari led the Aboriginal stockmen working for Lord Vestey on a seven-year walk-off that changed the course of Australian industrial history. As Kev Carmody and Paul Kelly so poignantly recorded in their song From Little Things Big Things Grow:
Lord Vestey and many of the leaders of the Gurindji walk-off are long gone from these parts, but many of the Gurindji people of Kalkaringi and Dagaragu reckon they are back in the bad old days of working for “nothing but rations” and in conditions akin to slavery.
CFMEU plug campaign in Koori Mail 6/10/10
For some workers, the struggle will never end
Andra Jackson June 16, 2010
GURINDJI member Peter Inverway grew up hearing his stockman father’s tales of once having been paid in rations, never dreaming he might one day know the same indignity.
That was until the federal government intervened in Northern Territory indigenous communities three years ago.
ABC Radio National – Video: Jenny Macklin on Indigenous employment – 16 June 2010 http://www.abc.net.au/rn/breakfast/stories/2010/2928048.htm
ABC Radio National – Indigenous jobs – 16 June 2010 – The Rudd government has set itself a target of halving the employment gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians within a decade. Part of the plan involves radical changes to CDEP, the Community Development Employment Projects program, commonly referred to as Indigenous work for the dole. But as Cathy Van Extel reports, the latest official figures point to a spiralling Indigenous jobless rate and Aboriginal communities say the loss of CDEP is creating greater social disadvantage. – http://www.abc.net.au/rn/breakfast/stories/2010/2928050.htm