The Australian Government is currently considering passing legislation that will undermine the human rights of Indigenous communities in the Northern Territory for the next 10 years.
The “Stronger Futures” legislation will maintain many parts of the Northern Territory Intervention; a policy that has attracted United Nations condemnation for its racial discrimination against Aboriginal people and their cultures.
It will grant complete Commonwealth control over townships and camps. It will increase punitive measures and alcohol bans, while slashing funds to vital jobs programs. And it will expand a failed program that quarantines welfare payments based on school attendance.
The government should withdraw this legislation.
It has been developed without the free, prior and informed consent of Aboriginal communities, and it will give the Government 10 more years of control.
Aboriginal Elders, community leaders and Aboriginal organisations across the Northern Territory have opposed the legislation, and are demanding the right to control their own futures. Years of this top-down policy-making by the Government have taken power away from communities and have overseen increasing poverty and social breakdown.
Since the Northern Territory Intervention started in 2007:
- Incarceration of Aboriginal people has increased by 41%
- Attempted suicide and self-harm amongst Aboriginal youth has doubled
- Aboriginal life expectancy continues to be the lowest of any Indigenous group on the world.
The Government should give Aboriginal people the right to control their own futures.
Please sign the petition, and ensure the Government withdraws the legislation in its current form.
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Hon Jenny Macklin MP, Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs;
Hon Tony Abbott, Leader of the Opposition;
Senator Nigel Scullion, Shadow Indigenous Affairs Minister;
Senator Bob Brown, Leader of the Greens;
Hon Nicola Roxon MP, Attorney General;
and Senators Adams, Boyce, Brown, Cameron, Crossin, Di Natale, Faulkner, Furner, Hanson-Young, Ludlam, McKenzie, Milne, Moore, Siewert, and Xenophon
We urge the Parliament of Australia not to pass the Stronger Futures legislation, and conjoined Social Security Legislation Amendment Bill 2011.
We are opposed to the legislation because it extends many of the provisions of the Northern Territory Emergency Response Act 2007 (NTER) and consolidates the top down, punitive approach that is already adversely impacting on the legal and human rights of Indigenous Australians.
We sincerely believe that informed and sustained dialogue with Indigenous communities is required on the issue.
We are deeply concerned that the legislation undermines legal rights across a range of areas of law, including administrative law; constitutional law; consumer law; criminal law; discrimination law; privacy law; property law and welfare rights.
We also believe that the policy underlying the legislation is in violation of fundamental principles of international law, such as the right to self-determination.
The policy also reflects the assimilationist and paternalistic views of government towards Aboriginal people from the 1890s to 1960s. Furthermore, the legislation seeks to deal with complex social and economic disadvantage through government regulation and the undermining of individual freedom.
Communities have not given their free, prior and informed consent to the measures proposed within the legislation. Although consultations were held with communities, these were not transcribed, and the consultations were not conducted in accordance with basic social science methodology.
Elders and community representatives have expressed that they are opposed to the legislation, which will further disempower their communities and entrench trauma and poverty.
We draw attention to comments made by Northern Territory elders about the legislation:
‘We do not consent to these bills. We will not support policies that have not been negotiated, or negotiated with all elders of prescribed communities, and we will not support an extension of the Intervention, or Intervention under other names.’ Taken from Statement by NT elders and community representatives, Melbourne, 4 Nov 2011
We thank you for your understanding and commitment to achieving lasting positive change for Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory.