Sunday, March 18, 2012

Listening but not Hearing Indigenous Australians

On 8 March I attended the lauch of the Listening but not Hearing report into consultation for the Gillard Government's Stronger Futures legislation, which applies to Aboriginal communities in teh Northern Territory, for RightNow. Read the full article on their website.

On 27 February 2012, in a virtually empty House of Representatives, the Government’s Stronger Futures legislation was passed with little debate and no formal division. It is proposed to replace the Northern Territory Emergency Response (NTER) laws – otherwise known as the Northern Territory Intervention – introduced by the Howard Government in 2007.

Many concerns have been raised regarding the legislation itself, but even the consultation process that was meant to inform it shows an alarming degree of disregard by the Government for the people its decisions will affect.

Co-author Nicole Watson believes that Stronger Futures is merely an extension of the intervention and its most discriminatory aspects.

On Thursday 8 March, former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser launched the Listening but not Hearing report at the Sir Zelman Cowen Centre, Victoria University. The report was prepared by the Jumbunna Indigenous House of Learning at the University of Technology Sydney as an evaluation of the Stronger Futures consultation process.

Co-author Nicole Watson believes that Stronger Futures is merely an extension of the intervention and its most discriminatory aspects. Issues such as income management; land control; the removal of customary law as a consideration in legal proceedings or bail reviews; and alcohol restrictions continue to stigmatise Northern Territory communities and restrict self-determination.Malcolm Fraser said that:

"If there had been any good from the intervention, the Government would have been swamping us with statistics of fewer people in jail, of more people in the decent housing, of improved health, of better performances in schools, of higher attendances in schools."

cont...

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