To-day, is a day to speak of a fair go for women, for their human rights. While I support the sentiments of our Governor-General Quentin Bryce on women in the boardrooms - and have my own short list to criticise - I want to challenge those who are celebrating to-day, putting forward their demands to-day, to remember Indigenous women. In Australia, that word means Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islands women. Then let's take that remembrance a bit further. Let's think of the women who are doing it tough - along with their kids - under the harsh regime of the Northern Territory Intervention (NTER). If we are talking boardrooms at one end of the spectrum, let us also look to the very bottom and deprived end of the spectrum. And we can listen to the voices of Indigenous women themselves as set out below:
Last year, a resolution was released by Indigenous women at the Defending Indigenous Rights Conference Alice Springs 6-9 July 2010, it is timely to re-publish this statement below.
To Prime Minister Julia Gillard:
We, the women, mothers, grandmothers, aunties, sisters in support of our men who are the shared caregivers of the NT wholeheartedly demand the NTER be abolished immediately.
The media has heralded your promotion to PM as a breakthrough for women. All this talk is a slap in the face for Aboriginal women whose communities are being devastated by this government’s racist intervention.
For three years the removal of our human rights has been justified with lies about protecting women from violence and feeding our children. We are living proof of the damage it has caused to us as Indigenous peoples of the NT who are trying to survive, live and practice our way of life. Shame on you!
We call on you, and Federal Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin, to abolish this law that takes away our human rights as Indigenous peoples of this country.
Minister Macklin consistently claims that women support Income Management and the Intervention. This is not the truth. Under current policies we have no choice and no change and now a big cloud is covering our struggle and journey. The Working Futures policy is about closing our homelands and communities. This is damaging and destructive to our families, our language, law, culture, everything that is important to us. This is our identity, passed down through generations, and this is what makes us the oldest unique culture in the world.
Income Management, cuts of the Community Development Employment Program (CDEP), the bi-lingual education ban in schools, compulsory five year leases over our land and housing – all these measures are taking away our control over our lives and our communities. Your legal discrimination against us has given a licence to racists to abuse us in the street, in supermarkets and to attack our kids at school.
We call for the immediate end of the NT Intervention and the resignation of Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin.
If you would like to take the message of Aboriginal women
to Jenny Macklin, Minister for The Intervention, in person
please email me before 3.30pm this afternoon
for information on joining in.