NATSIEC Statement of Support for the Gurindji strike

The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Ecumenical Commission (NATSIEC) would like to send a message of support and solidarity to the Kalkaringi and Dagaragu communities for your protest against the Intervention.

We are concerned to hear about the negative impact of the Intervention measures on your communities and how these measures are causing hardship.

We are particularly concerned about the dismantling of community assets and initiatives. This is a story common to many communities across the Northern Territory.

Hard fought for rights are being systematically stripped away by the Intervention. Functional community driven programs are being dismantled. Hardworking people are being forced either out of jobs or into “jobs” that are paying unacceptable wages with unacceptable conditions.

NATSIEC is concerned about the discrimination, oppression and racism that Aboriginal Peoples throughout Australia experience on a daily basis. We are dismayed by the lack of consultation and negotiation from Governments of all levels as they make and implement policies and programs that have significant impacts on Aboriginal Peoples.

Nowhere is the impact of this lack of concern for basic rights and the inability to negotiate more evident than in the Northern Territory. We say to the current Government you have had three years to “reset the relationship with Aboriginal Peoples”, yet you have failed to do so. In fact in every place we visit we hear that life has not improved under the Intervention, it has in fact deteriorated.

We urge the Federal Government to stop and listen to what people are telling them. These stories and experiences are not knee jerk reactions to change. They are not driven by some political agenda. They are the real life experiences of despair, anguish and confusion resulting directly from bad policy and bad implementation. It’s time to stop treating Aboriginal people as a problem to be dealt with. Aboriginal people have the right to be treated with dignity and respect. 

We support the Gurindji people and their action and hope that it may bring a greater understanding of the impact the Intervention is having on daily life. Importantly, we hope that by taking such action change will follow.

Graeme Mundine

Executive Secretary