My response to CIS criticisms; Elders on the Intervention

So Sara Hudson criticises me at the Drum today. I think it’s pretty insubstantial. Also note her tone

Michael Brull in his 3,000 word diatribe…

It is easy to throw stones but it is much harder to come up with solutions. Does Brull really think things would be better if the Government closed down the 18 new police stations in the Northern Territory and got rid of the additional police and teachers that the Northern Territory Emergency Response has provided funding for?

What is the intervention really? Isn’t it time for people like Michael Brull to move on and find some other bandwagon to push – what about joining the protestors ‘occupying’ Martin Place? They seem to share the same desire to protest for the sake of protesting.

But then, do the anti-intervention activists really care about the lives of remote Indigenous Australians or do they just like complaining?

Anyway, it’s not really worth responding to what she wrote, but one example is probably interesting to readers and illustrative of her style.

She writes

Anti-interventionists like Brull are vehemently opposed to income management and argue that the Howard government did not follow the recommendations in the Little Children are Sacred Report when it implemented this measure. But not widely known and buried in the Little Children are Sacred Report is the fact that Aboriginal people themselves suggested that at “least 50 per cent, if not all, of the total sum of individuals’ welfare payments [be] made in the form of food vouchers” to reduce the money available to buy alcohol. Perhaps the Howard government read the Little Children are Sacred Report more closely than the anti-interventionists.

Ok, so the report has 97 recommendations. It is not one of the recommendations. However, page 171 says:

The Inquiry was told by some people that they would
like to see at least 50%, if not all, of the total sum of
individuals’ “welfare” (Centrelink) payments made in
the form of food vouchers. The view was expressed that
this may impact positively on alcohol consumption. The
Inquiry believes it is worth investigating.
However, the Inquiry notes the provision of vouchers
has also been criticised by some because it encourages
dependency and can be seen as a return to paternalism.

This kind of tendentious approach to the evidence was the subject of my 3000 word “diatribe”.

In other news, I’m going to reprint in full a media release, because I don’t think it’s available anywhere else on the net.

“RAMINGINING ELDERS SAY NO TO THE SECOND INTERVENTION!”

 

Today, Elders of the remote NT Aboriginal community of Ramingining are shocked and angered by last week’s announcement that the fundamentally destructive measures of the intervention will be extended for another 10 years.

 

“We don’t want another decade of discrimination here in Ramingining. The government is extending and strengthening laws designed to assimilate Aboriginal people. We will not sit back and watch these attacks on our lives, our future, our culture and our law,” said Mathew Dhulumburrk, a 67 year old Gupapuyngu man.

 

“After 5 years, it feels like the water level has climbed up to our neck. Another ten years will bring it way over our heads. The government is drowning us slowly and wonders why twice as many of our young people are attempting suicide. There is no valid reason to discriminate against Yolngu in this way.”

 

The people of Ramingining are unhappy with the consultation process and expect better from a government that is supposed to work with them. They know that community empowerment is vital for tackling issues in the community, but the intervention leaves their hands tied.

 

“In the days of self-determination, senior elders of every community were asked what we wanted to do, they would ask for our ideas. Now they just come and tell us “This is it! Non-negotiable.” Only community empowerment allows us to participate effectively, but our community councils have been destroyed,” said Dhulumburrk.

 

Many people are feeling stigmatized by this blanket policy that brands all Aboriginal people as alcoholics, irresponsible parents and child molesters.

“The government is telling the world that we can’t look after our kids. This is lies! The government only looks at school attendance instead of looking at what and how our children are being taught. We need our bilingual education, we need more Yolngu teachers and we need elders involved in developing curriculum. We know what our kids need, but the Government is ignoring us and punishing us if we don’t do what they say.”

 

“In homelands in particular, and also in our larger remote communities, Yolngu are happy and safe. The Intervention is pushing Yolngu into urban towns where they are on foreign country. CDEP wages have been cut for thousands of our people and no new jobs have been created. We watch contractors come in from outside earning top dollar, while the government tells us we must work for the dole! We could be doing a lot of that work and earning that money. This hopeless situation drives people to alcohol”.

 

“The intervention has brought hatred. We know now for certain that the true enemy of our people is the Government and the philosophy behind this new assimilation policy. They have declared war on us, but we will fight for self-determination.”

 

“What happened to democracy in Australia? We don’t want to have to fight against government. We want to engage with government, we want to take control of our lives and we want to build our future, but these policies leave us penned like animals with nowhere to go.”

Elders backing the statement:


Matthew Dhulumburrk                        Gupapuyngu Clan

Dhaykuli Garrawurra                                    Buyulkumirr Clan

Matjarra Garrawurra                                    Buyulkumirr Clan

Daphne Banyawarra                                    Ganalbingu Clan

Barry Malibirr                                                Ganalbingu Clan

Shirley Nulumburrpurr                        Liyagalawumirr Clan

Gilbert Walkuli                                                Gupapuyngu Clan

Jane Miyatatawuy                                    Gupapuyngu Clan

Peter Gambung                                                Gupapuyngu Clan

Trevor Djarrakaykay                                    Gupapuyngu Clan

Valerie Munininy                                    Buyulkumirr Clan

Richard Bandalil                                                Ganalbingu Clan

Yambal Dhurrurrnga                                    Liyagalawumirr Clan

Martin Garrangunung                                    Gupapuyngu Clan

Doris Rangimula                                                Djambarrpuyngu Clan

Dorothy Wiliyawuy                                    Djambarrpuyngu Clan

Tommy Munyarryun                                    Wangurri Clan

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Comments
4 Responses to “My response to CIS criticisms; Elders on the Intervention”
  1. Trevor Stockley says:

    Yo marrkapmirri ngoy-da:l Yolngu mala Ramingining ngalapalmirri. You have recognised the enemy and the methods they are using in their war against Aboriginal adults and children in the NT. Why should Yolngu who still retain their lands, language, law and ceremony feel compelled to give up their culture and control to get less than what they had before the intervention? How can good Yolngu parents be happy to see their children forced into an English education which pays little notice, and as such disrespects their child’s traditional language and knowledge? Homelands are the heart of Yolngu culture and there too the gapman aims it yiki.
    It looks like an attack, feels like a war and that is precisely what it is. Fight back.

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