International Day Of Action 11.17.07: Solidarity With Aboriginal People In The Northern Territory

by matttbastard

It’s already November 18th in The Land Down Under. However, us folks here in the Northern Hemisphere still have ample time to speak out against the Howard government and call for an end to racist, colonialist policies towards Indigenous people that defy their inherent right to self determination and sovereignty. Some ideas on what you can do to show solidarity, courtesy Fire Fly:

  • Donate to the National Aboriginal Alliance. Find out more on their website, here:
  • Spread the news of this horrendous violation of human rights to as many people as possible. Write an article about it, post to your blog about it, send the news to your friends via email. Encourage your friends to speak out about it as well.
  • If you are part of a political organisation, collective, or group, please send your words of solidarity and support to the National Aboriginal Alliance. Send messages of solidarity to: secretariat at nationalaboriginalalliance dot org.
  • Write letters to Mal Brough, the Minister for Indigenous Affairs, or John Howard. You can find guidelines here:

Background: more on the Northern Territory, the “Little Children are Sacred” report and the National Emergency Response from The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald, ABC (AU), The Observer, World Socialist Web Site and New Matilda.

Must read: Marion Scrymgour, Minister for Family and Community Services in the Northern Territory Government, on why colonial intervention, though not historically unprecedented, is not a viable solution to Indigenous problems:

With a view to reducing the Commonwealth’s administrative burden, then prime minister Stanley Bruce wrote in 1927 to his South Australian counterpart to see whether SA would take the lighter-skinned mixed-race children slated for removal.

He said: “If these babies were removed, at their present early age, from their present environment to homes in South Australia, they would not know in later life that they had Aboriginal blood and would probably be absorbed into the white population and become useful citizens.”

The words sound harsh and discordant today, but they are not really all that different from those of the current Prime Minister, with his fixation on “one Australia” and the culture and values he wants to impose through his new citizenship test.

The Howard Government’s declaration of “national emergency” came in response to the Little children are sacred report into child abuse in Aboriginal townships and communities. Mind you, this was not the first time the Government — and other governments — had been made aware of child abuse and neglect in Aboriginal communities. Queensland, Western Australia and NSW had similar inquiries in recent years, with little apparent action from those jurisdictions — and certainly none from Canberra.

Aboriginal women from this nation have been begging for action from Howard over a number of social problems for the best part of a decade. Women’s shelters, night patrols and kids’ programs had been dumped by the Commonwealth over that time, a process accelerated since the abolition of ATSIC after the 2004 elections.


It is as if the second Intervention has given the Commonwealth permission to enact a great undoing of our lives. Aboriginal Territorians are being herded back to the primitivism of assimilation and native welfare. It has been a deliberate, savage attack on the sanctity of Aboriginal family life.

Instead of a working through of the ways and means of reaching mutual understandings and solutions, thousands of our parents, thousands of our grandparents, have been tarred by the same brush.

Decent, caring fathers, uncles, brothers and grandfathers feel they have been branded as child abusers. Aboriginal women have been portrayed as pathetic creatures, incapable of caring for their families or their children.

The first Intervention had little regard for children; the second Intervention — and its National Emergency response — offers little more. It is difficult to escape the conclusion that the interests of the current regime in Canberra lie elsewhere.

(Op-ed is an edited extract from the 2007 Charles Perkins Oration; full text available here).

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