Aboriginal human rights
The federal intervention in the Northern Territory has alarmed us. We welcome the injection of federal funds to redress years of neglect, but we deplore the lack of consultation with local people in the planning and implementation. We are concerned at the compulsory acquisition of Aboriginal land and the replacement of community councils with government appointed managers with overriding powers. We are appalled at the continued suspension of the Racial Discrimination Act to allow the quarantining of Centrelink payments to Aboriginal people.
We organised a Public Forum in 2008 to hear Commissioner Tom Calma spell out appropriate government policies for the future of the Intervention. His views, especially on the need for genuine consultation, are still highly relevant.
Read Reforming Federal Indigenous Affairs Policies by Tom Calma.
This article traces the changing policies of Australian governments to Indigenous peoples from an initial expectation that the race would quietly fade away, to seeing assimilation into mainstream Australian life as the way ahead, to a radical reassessment of Indigenous culture leading to a policy of self-determination, to a re-visiting of assimilation policies in the light of the serious problems remote communities experience coping with the modern world.
When this article was written (December 2007) it was not clear what policies would be adopted by the new Rudd Government. Apart from some minor changes to the Northern Territory Intervention, the Rudd and Gillard Governments have continued the policies of the Howard Government.
For further understanding of various views Coercive Reconciliation is a useful collection of essays by a number of authors including Patrick Dodson. To purchase a copy, visit the Arena Publications Association's website.