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Intervention anniversary protests planned

Aboriginal leaders from across the Northern Territory are pleading with the Rudd government ahead of the second anniversary of the intervention into remote Aboriginal communities to “end it, and do it now”.

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Indigenous people from more than 20 remote communities and major towns, including Alice Springs and Katherine, have converged on Darwin for protests to be held tomorrow.

“I’m travelling long way up to Darwin to join forces with other Aboriginal people, leaders, elders, men and women,” says town camp resident Barbara Shaw.

“Intervention measures have caused dispossession, confusion, fear and disempowerment… (they) have not improved child safety nor reduced rates of sexual abuse.”

Meetings of the Prescribed Area Peoples Alliance (PAPA) were held this week in Darwin and the leaders have scripted a statement they hope to hand to NT politicians at protests on the eve of the anniversary.

Their key concerns include the compulsory acquisition of Alice Springs town camps and the “paternalistic and racist” income management system, whereby 50 per cent of welfare payments are set aside so it can’t be spent on grog, drugs or gambling.

Education changes opposed

They also oppose NT government plans to scrap bilingual education in remote NT schools and a controversial homelands policy which seeks to turn 20 communities into “economic hubs”, while denying additional funds to a further 500 smaller outstations.

Ronnie Barramala from Ramingining said governments were treating his people “like we need a guide dog”.

“We are being treated as though we are blind, and have no idea where we are going,” he said.

“We know how to run a community, we know how to look after our kids, we know what we want for our future, but under these policies, our future is out of our hands.”

NT Chief Minister Henderson Paul Henderson has been invited to Saturday’s protest, along with other NT politicians.

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