The CEO of the St Vincent de Paul Society National Council, Dr John Falzon, has joined over 200 eminent Australians calling for an immediate end to the Federal Government’s disastrous Intervention in the remote communities.  

This year marks ten years since the imposition of the Federal Government’s Intervention in the Northern Territory – and a decade of continuing discrimination, racism and lack of justice towards Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The statement below, which was launched on 28 August 2017, supports the recent demands by Northern Territory Elders for an end to the discriminatory policies of the 2007 NT Intervention and the legislation that followed.

Statement of Eminent Australians on the continuing damage caused by the discrimination, racism and lack of justice towards Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, exemplified by the continuation of the Northern Territory Intervention

While the Australian nation deliberates on the future of its relationship with the First Nations of this land, most Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are focussed on the continuing discrimination, racism and lack of justice, shown towards them by Federal, State and Territory Governments in so many areas.

An obvious example is the failure of ten years of Federal Government INTERVENTION in the Northern Territory where 73 remote Aboriginal communities (and hundreds more in homelands in hinterlands) remain subjected to discriminatory legislation that no other Australian citizen endures in its crushing totality.

The signatories to this statement support the recent demands by Northern Territory Elders for an immediate repeal of the Intervention measures, some of which were strengthened and extended for ten years in 2012, by the misleadingly renamed ‘Stronger Futures’ legislation.

We support the calls by Elders in their June 29th 2017 statement for an end to government control of community living areas and the return of community control of housing, employment and local governance.

We also support their insistence on an apology and their right to determine their futures and distinctive pathways. First Nations’ voices have been increasingly ignored since the abolition of ATSIC in 2004 and the Intervention in 2007 and conditions have deteriorated.

It is time that Federal and Territory politicians acknowledged the independent assessments that the Intervention measures continue to fail and the necessity of establishing genuine self-determination and community control. All Australian citizens, black and white, are entitled to the adequate provision of services on an equitable needs basis; Indigenous people living at remote communities and on homelands have been neglected for far too long.

Aboriginal leaders are calling on governments to work with them on genuine partnerships that will see productive remote employment programs without the threat of punishment and loss of income and impoverishment; or attempts through social engineering to force people to move to larger townships and abandon their ancestral lands. The undue pressure placed on elders and communities by governments forced leases over their lands in exchange for basic services and housing must cease.

The unfair discrimination of compulsory income management and now CDP have been costly failures. It is time to return dignity and human rights to Indigenous peoples living in remote Australia.

The damage to Aboriginal families and whole communities from ten years of draconian control measures has accelerated child removal, suicide and the Indigenous incarceration rate. This can only be reduced through self-determination, community healing programs based on sound local cultural practices and an end to government legislated discrimination and intrusion into the lives of families.

Great damage has been done. We need to be serious about respecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voices. We need to heed their calls for equality, including regional agreement making, sovereign treaties and the proper recognition of their long-denied rights.

We call on the Australian government to heed the call of Northern Territory Elders for an immediate end to the racism and discrimination of the Intervention policies which are an ongoing stain on the Australian nation. It is time that Australian governments respect and negotiate with remote living

Indigenous people in good faith, demonstrate proper duty of care to them and allow all First Nations of Australia the right to self-determination.

[Click the link to the pdf document below for the full statement and list of the signatories]