26 February 2011

ABC report: Aboriginal leaders call for end to intervention

27 February 2011

Aboriginal leaders in central Australia have welcomed comments from the man who designed the Northern Territory intervention, agreeing that it has failed.

Former Liberal Indigenous affairs minister Mal Brough introduced the intervention under the Howard government in 2007.

The policy banned alcohol in communities and restricted welfare payments.

Since Labor won government the intervention has remained in place, but Mr Brough says Labor has not delivered it properly.

Rosalie Kunoth-Monks from Utopia, 230 kilometres from Alice Springs agrees, although her agreement with Mr Brough ends there.

"It was a violation to human rights right from the beginning," she said.

"What we really needed was real empowerment. In other words, real investment and people to earn and merit what we've got on the communities."

Richard Downs from the Ampilatwatja community says the entire policy is wrong.

"[Mr Brough] waffles on about 'the next stage'. I don't know what the next stage is but he has totally disempowered the people here," he said.

"You know, I mean [they are] asking for a disaster, which is what they're getting now, with people migrating from homelands communities into townships into Alice Springs, Katherine, Tennant Creek."

Ms Kunoth-Monks and Mr Downs want the Government to end what they say is a racist approach.

THIS FRIDAY!! Stand up against the exploitation of Aboriginal workers

The momentum for this Friday's rally to 'Stop the Racist NT Intervention' is certainly building. Don't stop now!

MAIC activists have been out at various community events collecting signatures on the petition, leafletting for the protest, and talking to people about the campaign against the exploitation of Aboriginal workers.
In the process we have been making some important links with unionists, environmental activists, media workers, performers etc. The campaign is going forward in great leaps. We welcome our supporters to get more involved to take advantage of this rising tide in support of Aboriginal rights!

MAIC has weekly meetings held at New International Bookshop in Trades Hall every Monday at 6.30pm. As well as organising protests like the one this Friday, we have also in the past toured speakers from the NT, held film screenings, done band nights, special forums, organised pickets, banner painting, you name it! The more people we have involved, the more we can do.

There is much to be done before the rally on Friday. We need all our supporters to make that final push in getting the word out there. Please share the event on Facebook every day. Send emails around to folks in your networks. 
Write letters to the newspapers and call up the ABC/SBS and ask them to cover the campaign against the NT Intervention. Make a call to your union, church or community group, asking them if they are going to be marching behind a banner at the protest. Print off a poster and put it up in your staff room or front window of your house.

All of these things are a big help. Also, just coming along to the protest on the day with some family, friends or work colleagues.

See you on Friday at 5pm at the State Library!

Protest: Stop the Racist NT Intervention!
Equal Pay and Jobs with Justice!
5pm, Friday 4 March 2011
State Library of Victoria, Melbourne

15 February 2011

Vale Mark Fordham

It is with great sadness that Melbourne Anti-Intervention Collective passes on the news of the death of Mark Fordham. The collective extends its condolences to Mark's family and friends.

An inspiring Aboriginal rights activist, Mark may be best known to people in Melbourne through his public battle with the Barkly Shire over work conditions in Ampilawatja in the Northern Territory. Mark leaves an enduring legacy through his courageous stance over this issue as well as his other work campaigning against the injustice of the Northern Territory Intervention. The community of activists and unionists in Melbourne that have been fighting in solidarity with those in the Northern Territory were spurred on by Mark's commitment. He will not be forgotten. 

The ordeal that Mark was put through after he stood up to the management at Barkly Shire was appalling. After reporting on a public health hazard, a risk both for the workers he was responsible for and the broader population of Ampilawatja, Mark was fired from his job and he and his two sons were evicted from their house with only two hours notice. Mark experienced further persecution when ridiculous charges were made on him by police, all for his vigorous defense of the dignity of a town being strangled by oppressive government policy. It is highly commendable that Mark withstood the avalanche of personal attacks and held firm his determination to fight for what was right.

In July of last year, I saw Mark give his first public speech at the Defending Indigenous Rights conference in Alice Springs. Like many activists in Melbourne, I had heard Mark's story of his experiences at Ampilawatja and I was eager to hear him tell his story in person. It was one of the highlights of the conference and inspired myself, and I'm sure many others, to get further involved in the Aboriginal rights struggle. Following on from the publicity generated by the scandal at Ampilawatja, Mark embarked on a speaking tour where he told his story and detailed the exploitation of Aboriginal workers on the CDEP 'Aboriginal work-for-the-dole' scheme. In Brisbane and Sydney, he was able to raise awareness of what was happening under the NT Intervention to hundreds of workers on construction sites and wharfs, as well as students and activists. 

Mark was passionate about winning justice for Aboriginal workers, and this was reflected in his most immediate plans to organise amongst construction workers in the town camps of the Northern Territory. He was also slated to be the CFMEU delegate at this week's ACTU Indigenous Conference in Darwin. 

That an inspiring Aboriginal activist has lost his life at such a young age, only 37, is a tragedy and a profound loss to the campaign for Aboriginal rights in Australia. We take heart from the strong spirit that Mark showed, particularly in these last couple of years where we fought alongside him against the Intervention. We will draw on Mark's legacy to keep fighting for the dignity of Aboriginal workers that he was so passionately dedicated to. 

Alex Ettling on behalf of Melbourne Anti-Intervention Collective

Mark Fordham's funeral will be held on Thursday 17 February 2011 at the mosque in Alice Springs. 

07 February 2011

Help build the upcoming protest

Are you starting to see those red, black and yellow hands all over Melbourne?

 Over the last couple of weeks, MAIC volunteers have been all over town, putting up posters and leafletting. 

The campaign against the NT Intervention is definately kicking up a gear, and MAIC welcomes anyone who would like to get more involved to get in touch with us. Come along to our weekly collective meetings!

On alternate weeks, we have a meeting where sit and make decisions about the campaign group and our activities. 

And then on the other weeks, we get down to activity, which also provides an opportunity to more informally discuss what's happening with the NT Intervention. On these days, we might be painting banners, working on articles, going off in a small group to put up posters, writing media releases etc. 

If you have any special skills, we would love you to share them with us! Or if you are just enthusiastic and want to lend your had to fighting for Aboriginal rights--that's great too! Get in touch.

If you can't make the Monday meetings, there are there are other useful things to do. Promote the upcoming protest in your community, workplace, school etc. We have a bunch of posters and leaflets that can be collected any time from the foyer of New International Bookshop. Getting your union or community organisation to endorse the rally and circulate information on the campaign is also a really useful thing to spread awareness about the degradation of the Intervention and the need to fight against it. 

This week, from Thursday to Sunday, there will be a range of events that will be of interest to Aboriginal people (art openings and film screenings). We hope to leaflet for the rally and gather signatures for our petition. If you would like to join in, send us an email: melbourneaic@gmail.com.
Together, we can defeat this racist Intervention!

Protest: Stop the Racist NT Intervention!
Equal Pay and Jobs with Justice!
5pm, Friday 4 March 2011
State Library of Victoria, Melbourne

Melbourne Anti-Intervention Collective demands an end to the exploitation of Aboriginal workers in the Northern Territory. Under the Intervention policies, Aboriginal people are working for rations whilst living in extreme poverty with the government denying basic services. The NT Intervention is a determined attack on Aboriginal self-determination and has only lead to further disadvantage.

This rally demands an end to the NT Intervention, and we are drawing particular attention to the unfair working conditions that many Aboriginal people are being forced into. MAIC supports the 'Jobs with Justice' campaign, and we will be gathering signatures for a petition which will be tabled when parliament resumes.

The petition is being sponsored by the CFMEU (Construction Forestry and Energy Union) and Unions NT. It has a particular focus on the use of CDEP workers by the $672 million Strategic Indigenous Housing and Infrastructure Program (SIHIP). We are demanding backpay at appropriate award rates for all of these workers, along with an end to arrangements forcing people to work for the BasicsCard and investment in community based employment programs across all Aboriginal communities.

We are calling for endorsement for this rally, and we invite community groups and unions to march alongside us.

If you would like to support the campaign and collect signatures for the petition at your workplace/campus/ neighbourhood, please get in touch with us or come along to our weekly meetings.

MAIC meets every Monday at 6.30pm at the New International Bookshop in Trades Hall.

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