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SBS ‘Insight’ programme silences Aboriginal dissent

Last night, March 18, the SBS Insight programme entitled ‘Are They Safer’, about the Northern Territory intervention, went to air. Several Aboriginal representatives from affected communities in the NT have expressed dissatisfaction with selection process for the show and the way that dialogue was framed by the programme.

Initially, Insight planned to film in Alice Springs. Following arrangements being made by people from numerous ‘prescribed’ areas to attend the show, the producers moved filming to Sydney.

After doing extensive interviews with Barbara and Walter Shaw from Mt. Nancy town camp, Insight refused to guarantee them a spot on the program. Only after consistent lobbying by supporters was Barbara allowed to attend, but Walter was told there was no space.

In contrast, four representatives were selected from Hermannsberg community near Alice Springs. Hermannsberg is unique in that, unlike many of the ‘prescribed’ communities, it supports the intervention. It is also one of the few NT communities to support the Country Liberal Party, whereas the overwhelming majority of Aboriginal people in the NT voted Labor in the last election.

“I think it was unfair that there wasn’t a lot of people from the communities and they just had hand-picked people,” said Barbara Shaw, who appeared on the programme. “I just didn’t agree with the show or the way they went about it.”

Barbara Shaw also disputed the representativeness of the selected Aboriginal speakers, saying that there is an issue amongst Aboriginal people of urban Aboriginal people speaking for those from remote communities. “I get permission from the remote communities to talk on their behalf,” she said.

In contrast to the views of a “former resident of Yuendumu” who spoke in favour of the intervention, the Yuendumu community have been united in vehement opposition. The president of the Community Council Harry Nelson led a delegation from Yuendumu to protest in Canberra on February 12, calling for repeal of the Emergency Response legislation.

“Whilst we welcome Insight looking at the issue, the basis on which they pursued the issue was skewed in favour of the intervention,” said Greg Eatock of the National Aboriginal Alliance and the Aboriginal Rights Coalition, who also appeared on the programme.

“There were no questions from the presenter about many of the punitive aspects of the intervention which affected people have described as racist, such as compulsory acquisition of Aboriginal land and the installation of ‘business managers’ with extraordinary powers”.

Five other Aboriginal members of the Aboriginal Rights Coalition were told they would be allowed to appear in the audience of the programme, but had the invitations withdrawn the night before filming.

The Aboriginal Rights Coalition is continuing to call for the repeal of the legislation. The new paternalism seen through intervention measures can’t replace the desperate need for funding of Aboriginal services on the ground. ARC is working with affected communities to organise a national day of action on June 21.

2 Com:

John Tracey | March 22, 2008

The following link is a post that I wrote about "the intervention" focusing on Cape York.

My 2 comments following it are about the Insight program.

"Intervention hysteria, truckie prostitution and a defence of Noel Pearson"

Stimmer | March 25, 2008

You should probably provide a link/ acknowledge where this comes from. It's actually a press release from the Sydney Aboriginal Rights Coalition:

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