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Politics

Oct 28, 2008

Yuendumu to Macklin: ‘We don’t want this intervention’

Aboriginal affairs minister Jenny Macklin was yesterday given a statement signed by 236 members of the 914-strong Yuendumu community.

Yesterday, Harry Nelson, former Yuendumu Council President, presented Minister for Indigenous Affairs Jenny Macklin with a statement signed by 236 residents in a meeting of the community before the Minister opened the new Yuendumu pool, funding of which predates the intervention.

The statement read:

We, the residents of Yuendumu, want you to listen to the following statement and take our message back to the Federal and NT Governments:

When John Howard and Mal Brough lost their seats, we were happy. But now you are doing the same thing to us, piggybacking Howard and Brough’s policies, and we feel upset, betrayed and disappointed.

We don’t want this intervention!

We talked to the Review board, and now the Government is not even listening to the report, and is keeping this intervention going almost unchanged. It is an insult to us.

This is our land. We want the Government to give it back to us. We want the Government to stop blackmailing us. We want houses, but we will not sign any leases over our land, because we want to keep control of our country, our houses, and our property.

We say NO to income management. We can look after our own money.

We want the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 reinstated now, not in 12 months.

The Government Business Manager is useless, expensive, and we don’t need them. We want our community councils back instead. We want community control, not Shires. We don’t want more police, we don’t want more contractors, we don’t want more government people.

Everything is coming from the outside, from the top down. The government is abusing us with this intervention. We want to be re-empowered to make our own decisions and control our own affairs. We want self-determination. We want support, funding and resources for things coming from our community, from the inside.

Yuendumu has a lot of things to be proud of. Our community programs, like the Mt Theo program, the bilingual education program, Warlpiri media, the Old People’s program, Warlukurlunga arts centre, childcare, the youth program, should be supported, celebrated, and used as a model for other communities.

We want to keep our bilingual education program and use our own language to teach English, maths, and other things in schools.

We want you to give us respect and dignity, and stop telling lies about our people.

We want the Government to listen to us, talk with us, consult with us, and do things proper way.

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6 comments

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6 thoughts on “Yuendumu to Macklin: ‘We don’t want this intervention’

  1. Mirek

    Absolutely right, what a strong and forthright statement! The Government should treat the Aborigine people with respect and equality that is the right of every Australian, and refrain absolutely from patronising , which is the case with this military/police intervention. But don`t hold your breadth: most of the despised policies developed over the past eleven years, or so, have been kept. Rudd should follow his Apology for the Stolen Generation, with a new `Apology`, this time followed with some appropriate action. Still, don`t hold your breadth.

  2. Julius Grafton

    I’m glad Yuendumu has dragged itself out of the crutch of despair since I flew through there in 1999. At that time the flying doctor nurses and I chatted while the refueller hand pumped my tanks full. They told me they come in every morning at 0900 to evacuate the smashed victims of last night’s binge. Of the communities we flew through it was the worst we saw. So what miracles have been done there since then? I’d love to read what it’s really like there now, and hear that the tedious cycle of alcohol and abuse has really been addressed. Then I’ll give respect and dignity in spades.

  3. Craig T

    I have recently returned from Yuendumu two weeks ago. The community is not perfect, but it has been dry for some years now – certainly prior to the intervention. This was a step taken by the Yuendumu traditional owners, not the bureaucrats or Government officials.

    Regardless, surely it is obvious that the problems with Indigenous Australia are caused by 200 years of disempowerment and cultural denigration? The intervention simply winds back the little empowerment that had been hard-won by Indigenous Australians in the past few decades.

    There are problems in Indigenous Australia and there will be continue to be problems with Indigenous Australia until they get there spirit back. But the same could be said of the rest of us. It’s not as if the problems of Indigenous Australians are unique to them. Take a look at the disempowered citizens in our own (white) backyards …

  4. Avocado

    Yes, Yuendumu theoretically has alcohol restrictions, courtesy of a campaign by the elder women 30 years ago, but it also has alcohol permits for some favoured individuals, and a thriving underground trade in dope and grog. Drunkenness is widespread, and violence endemic.
    Harry Nelson would be a great deal more persuasive if he could explain to us why the community control and self determination of the 30 years prior to the NTER Intervention have been unable to prevent the many early deaths, disappearances, tragedies and addictions in the families close to him. He needs to take a clear headed sober assessment of the reality of Yuendumu life, and stop deluding himself about the nature of the problems.

  5. Carl Mather

    What could be clearer and more reasonable than that?
    This intervention fiasco needs to resolved sooner rather than later and here is a precise, comprehensive and direct addressing of the problems and their solution.
    Jump in Jenny and really do something worthwhile for the people.
    Surprise us.

  6. Dave Liberts

    There is certainly a damned if you do and damned if you don’t aspect to the decisions the Minister is currently faced with. My suggestion (and I so know nothing about this whole area) would be to ensure consultation and follow recommendations about winding back the intervention, but to maintain the intervention in regions where there is stronger reason to do so (eg Wadeye). Harry Nelson is definitely correct that highlighting positive developments and using these as models to be rolled out in other communities would be a very worthwhile move.