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Calling all Aboriginal people and supporters to converge on Canberra:Stand up for Aboriginal rights on the first day of the new parliament.

Tuesday, February 12 2008
Meet Aboriginal Tent Embassy 11:30am
March to Parliament for 1pm rally

Turn back Howard and Brough’s racist legacy!

  • Reinstate the Racial Discrimination Act
  • Demand immediate review of the NT intervention
  • End welfare quarantines, compulsory land acquisition and ‘mission manager’ powers
  • Implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
  • Aboriginal control of Aboriginal affairs

In the final months of government, John Howard introduced a package of discriminatory, unfair and punitive measures against Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory. Aimed at controlling Aboriginal lives and land, the legislation was a stark violation of basic human rights and dignities.

Federal Labor is promising a new era in Aboriginal affairs. They are pledging to say sorry to the stolen generation and to sign the UN declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People. They have promised to restore both the CDEP (Community Development and Employment Program) and the permit system, which will ameliorate some of the worst effects of the NT intervention.

Unfortunately there are aspects of ALP policy that is still disturbingly similar to the Liberals with the added proposal of extending some intervention measures into to Queensland. Plainly discriminatory measures such as mandatory welfare quarantines, compulsory land acquisition and the presence of non-Aboriginal “business managers” with extraordinary powers are being suffered under right now. There has been no move to allow the operation of the Racial Discrimination Act. The cry for immediate review of the legislation coming from across the NT has been ignored.

The Labor Government must comply with accepted international human rights laws and standards of non discrimination, equality , natural justice and procedural fairness. Legislation being implemented in the NT breaches commitments Australia has made as a signatory to major human rights treaties and conventions; such as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The Human Rights Commission must immediately review the legislation to ensure compliance with these obligations.

The federal election revealed overwhelming opposition to the intervention among Aboriginal communities. When Labor MP’s in affected areas emphasised political differences to the Coalition they consistently received over 80% of the vote; with 95% in the town of Wadeye.

Despite government claims that the intervention is a response to the Anderson & Wild “Little Children are Sacred” report, no new community-based services to ensure the safety and protection of children have been established, and there has been a notable duplication of services - particularly in the area of child health checks. There is an urgent need for delivery of essential services, infrastructure and programs genuinely targeted at improving the safety and well being of children and developed in consultation with communities. Huge amounts of public money have been wasted, with $88 million alone going towards bureaucrats to control Aboriginal welfare.

Moving Forward

A vibrant, mass convergence Canberra on the first day of parliament will be an important step in challenging the lingering legacy of Howard’s racism. We can strongly push for an immediate end to what Aboriginal communities have themselves described as an invasion. We can send a strong signal to Kevin Rudd and his new government to put Aboriginal rights at the centre of their agenda; to massively increase the resources available to communities across Australia and to respect Aboriginal control of Aboriginal affairs.

Initiated by the Aboriginal Rights Coalition, Sydney

Shane Phillips 0414 077 631
Greg Eatock 0432 050 240

Endorsements from Aboriginal activists include:
Olga Havnen (Combined Aboriginal Organisations of the NT)
Barbara Shaw (Tangentyere council, Alice Springs)
Lez Malezer (Chairman, Global Indigenous People’s Caucus UN,
Foundation Aboriginal Islander Rights Association)
Jackie Katona (CEO of Lumbu Indigenous Community Foundation, Djok clan)
Michael Mansell (Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre)
Sam Watson (Brisbane)
Mitch (Eastern Arrernte/Luritja activist from Alice Springs)
Robbie Thorpe (Melbourne)
Phil Falk (Senior Lecturer School of Law, Griffith Uni, Wiradjuri nation)
Linda Murphy (Lecturer, School of Arts, Griffith Uni)
Sandra Phillips (QUT)
Nicole Watson (Jumbunna, Sydney)
Heidi Norman (UTS)
Victor Hardt (Oodgeroo, QUT)
Shane Phillips (Redfern)
Peta Ridgeway (Newcastle)
Arthur Ridgeway (Newcastle)
Greg Eatock (Coordinator Deaths in Custody Campaign, Sydney)
Pat Eatock (Secretary, First Aboriginal Tent Embassy)
Dootch Kennedy (Sandon Point Aboriginal Embassy & Chair of Illawarra Aboriginal Land Council)

Supportive Organisations include:
Women for Wik
Amnesty International
Aboriginal Tent Embassy
Indigenous Social Justice Association
Australians for Native Title and Reconcilliation (ANTaR SA)
The Australian Greens
The Maritime Union of Australia (NSW)
Aboriginal Rights Coalition (Sydney)
Intervention Reform Coalition (Darwin)
Intervention Rollback Working Group (Alice Springs)
Alliance for Indigenous Self Determination (Melbourne)
Working Group for Aboriginal Rights (Canberra)
Deaths in Custody Watch Committee (WA)
Australian Peace Committee (SA)
NSW Teachers Federation
Reconciliation for Western Sydney
NSW Reconciliation Council

Convergence contacts in various states:
Greg Eatock (Sydney) 0432050240
Barbara Shaw (NT) 0401291166
On Site at Tent Embassy (Canberra) 0405163183
Michaela (Melbourne) 0429136935
Peta Ridgeway (Newcastle) 0413351584
Sam Watson (Brisbane) 0411274079
Sue Gilbey (Adelaide) 0411411322

Convergence updates: Aboriginal Rights Coalition


Source: Based on email received via ANTaR Vic

The main rally will be on the 12th Feb but there are plenty of reasons to be in canberra for longer than that if you can:


Sunday 10th Feb: assistance with setting up the site for camping and convergence events. Second National Aboriginal Alliance meeting in Old Parliament House. Details below.

Monday 11th Feb: community information forums, with indigneous people from the NT sharing their stories, and feedback from the second National Aboriginal Alliance meeting (being held on the 10th feb)

Tuesday 12th Feb: Main Rally: meet at Tent Embassy at 11:30am. Walk to new Parliament house and Rally 1pm

Wednesday 13th Feb: PM Kevin Rudd has announced he will give the Apology to the Stolen generation on this day.

The rally will be calling on the new government to:
  • Reinstate the Racial Discrimination Act
  • Demand immediate review of the NT intervention
  • End welfare quarantines, compulsory land acquisition and 'mission manager' powers
  • Implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
  • Aboriginal control of Aboriginal affairs

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