Aboriginal Leaders Respond to Government’s “Second Intervention”

Media Release by Rev Dr Djiniyini Gondarra OAM: June 2011

In June, the Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced a “second intervention” to follow the Government’s Northern Territory Emergency Response (NTER).

This is the response from Aboriginal leaders in the Northern Territory to this announcement:

The Government and the people of Australia are only able to achieve true reconciliation with Aboriginal people of the Northern Territory if the environment for negotiation is changed and justice, that was so brutally removed by the Intervention, is restored.  Only through respectful dialogue and working together can we call Australia a nation based on the principles of democracy.

Future negotiations will rely upon:

1. The Aboriginal people in the 73 prescribed communities of the Northern Territory do not welcome any further consultation with the Government until it acknowledges the failures of the current Intervention.

2. The Aboriginal people of the Northern Territory will only endorse a new initiative by the Government to improve the lives of Aboriginal people if the Government first establishes a diplomatic and respectful dialogue, negotiation and relationship with the traditional lawmen and law women in the communities to be affected. These are the people that are seen as the true leaders by their communities, who are charged with maintaining ceremony, language, law and order. They must be properly consulted before any new initiative can take place in their communities.

3. The name “Intervention” and “Emergency Response” must be removed from any future initiative, which should instead focus on the goals of Education and Empowerment of Aboriginal People in the Northern Territory. It must dispel the prejudice and racial discrimination of Aboriginal people that is embedded in the Intervention, and which has created deep emotional pain and shame amongst Aboriginal people.

4. Any initiative aimed at education and training must support the right of Aboriginal people to maintain their Indigenous languages, cultural practices and the capacity to live and work on country.

5. To effectively support appropriate and beneficial development in Aboriginal communities, the Government must replace Government Business Managers with mentors that support and facilitate education, capacity-building and locally-controlled development in Aboriginal communities.

This is the will of the Aboriginal people of the Northern Territory.

Rev Dr Djiniyini Gondarra OAM

Released by: Rev Dr Djiniyini Gondarra OAM, clan leader of the Dhurili Nation

About Richard Trudgen

Richard was born in Orange NSW and trained as a fitter and turner. He moved to Arnhem Land in the NT in 1973 and became a community worker, learning to speak Djambarrpuyŋu. He’s now been working with Yolŋu people for over 40 years. He was the CEO of Aboriginal Resource and Development Services (ARDS) for 10 years during which time he developed discovery education methodology with Rev Dr Djiniyini Gondarra OAM and also established Yolŋu Radio in 2003. He is the author of Why Warriors Lie Down and Die and facilitates ‘Bridging the Gap’ seminars, and delivers corporate training. He is currently the CEO of Why Warriors Pty Ltd, a community development organisation that empowers Yolŋu and other First Nations people by providing access to information, and builds understanding between Indigenous peoples and the Dominant Culture. In 2015 he was a finalist for the NT Senior Australian of the Year Award.

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