Aboriginal elder in London to protest intervention


ABC News

Date of publication: 
15 May 2011

An Aboriginal elder from Arnhem Land has taken to the streets of London to call for world support to end the federal intervention in Northern Territory Indigenous communities.

Dr Djiniyini Gondarra hails from Elcho Island, off the coast of Arnhem Land.

Standing outside the Australian High Commission in London, Dr Gondarra has sung a traditional song and read a statement calling for the federal intervention to end immediately.

“We are asking all people today to stand with us, fight with us,” he said.

Dr Gondarra also wants the support of the United Nations and has come to London from Geneva, where he met with the UN high commissioner on Human Rights, Navi Pillay.

He says he invited Ms Pillay to visit the Territory during her upcoming visit to Australia.

“I have shared with her the concern what the Australian Government is doing to our people and we are going to continue to fight until we get back our right as in our people,” he said.

Dr Gondarra says he wants people across the globe to put pressure on the Australian Government to end a system he describes as “racist”.

“I am now calling upon all global communities to look at the country that is so rich by minerals, rich by spirituality and everything that belongs to us. We are the poor people living in our own, we are the foreigners in our own country because of the system,” he said.


Aboriginal elder tells UN of ‘racist’ intervention

By Jano Gibson and Ashleigh Raper

ABC News

13 May 2011

An Aboriginal elder has told the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights the Northern Territory intervention is racist.

Reverend Djiniyini Gondarra is a senior elder and Dhurili clan leader of the Yolngu people of north-east Arnhem Land.

In Geneva this week, he told UN high commissioner Navi Pillay Aboriginal people are victimised by some of the services delivered to them.

“It is now time to stop establishing Aboriginal services that only victimise us and only say that we are special people with a special measure,” he said.

“That is a racist sort of attitude.”

The UN high commissioner will travel to Australia next week to examine the current human rights record of the Gillard Government, including how the intervention is being managed.

Meanwhile, the lives of Indigenous People under the intervention are being shown to a world audience.

A new documentary entitled Our Generation has been picked to premiere at the London International Documentary Festival on Sunday.

Reverend Gondarra will be in London for the premiere and says it is an important moment for Indigenous people.

“[It is] inviting the British people to … walk with me on the long walk to the freedom, to give Aboriginal people support for justice and liberation from how we feel about many things to do with the Northern Territory Emergency Response – another thing we are victims of,” he said.

Still discriminatory

Meanwhile, new research has found changes made by the Federal Government to the intervention have not stopped it being racially discriminatory.

A group of law academics from the University of Queensland has examined the structure and powers of the intervention from when it was introduced by the Howard government in 2007 and how it was altered by Labor last year.

One of the researchers, Anthony Cassimatis, says the government under Kevin Rudd made positive changes to reduce discrimination against Indigenous people.

But Mr Cassimatis says it is still discriminatory despite the changes made to the income management system.

He says the measures have not gone far enough.

“Our concern, essentially, is that those changes do not adequately address the requirements of the international obligations Australia has assumed,” he said.

“Just 24 of the 50 most vulnerable areas in Australia would be covered by the new income management regime.

“To me [that] begs the question: what about the other 26 most vulnerable areas?

“If this is an effective social policy initiative, why is it that only the Northern Territory vulnerable areas are the subject of the measures.”