A planned protest convergence against the NT intervention, set to begin in Mparntwe-Alice Springs in late September, is gathering widespread support.
On September 29 a “Prescribed Area People’s Alliance” meeting will take place. This will be followed on September 30 by a major demonstration demanding the repeal of intervention laws, the re-instatement of the Racial Discrimination Act, jobs and community controlled services for all and Aboriginal control of Aboriginal affairs.
Supporters are travelling from interstate to join the demonstration and then participate in a “listening tour”, visiting a number of remote communities to learn about the impact of the intervention and demonstrate solidarity. The convergence will also develop strategy for the national campaign.
Delegations are being organised from Brisbane, Newcastle, Sydney, Adelaide, Melbourne and Perth. Activists from Darwin are organising to convoy to Alice Springs in a “road trip against racism”, stopping for protest actions along the way.
There will also be major rallies held in Brisbane and Sydney to respond to the government’s review of the intervention (see page 16). The rallies and the convergence are part of a push to build the campaign against the intervention around the country.
After the convergence, participants will hold reportback meetings around the country to give a “people’s review” of the intervention—telling the stories that the Rudd government has not wanted to hear in the review process.
An invitation to the “Prescribed Area People’s Alliance” meeting has been issued by 12 Aboriginal leaders, including community presidents and traditional owners from Mparntwe-Alice Springs. It states:
“The findings of the official intervention “review” will be handed down on September 30.
We believe it is necessary for people directly affected by this policy to come together and take a strong stand, so that our concerns cannot be ignored.
“In the past, it has been people power and sticking together as one that has taken us forward. Like with the struggle for Land Rights and the 1967 Referendum, the battle against this intervention is a hard hill that we have to climb.
“Everywhere we feel it as a racist policy that has taken our people backwards. It is becoming clearer that the main intention of the intervention is to push people off the land and move them into major townships”.
The Intervention Rollback Action Group in Alice Springs has been promoting the convergence in town-camps, on stalls outside Centrelink and on trips to remote communities.
A number of Central Land Council delegates also urged others at an August full-council meeting to attend, prompting a series of strong resolutions against the intervention.
A radio announcement has been translated into two local languages Warlpiri and Luritja. Everywhere, people angry and eager to join the fight against this destructive, racist policy greet news of the convergence with enthusiasm.
Building the rallies in the cities and meetings that share the stories of the convergence will be a crucial part of responding to the Rudd government’s review and building the campaign to scrap the intervention.
By Paddy Gibson