Australia’s federal government is considering abandoning their long-held responsibilities by cutting essential funding to these especially vulnerable areas? Surely the Commonwealth’s commitment to Homelands and Outstations was sealed by the 1967 Referendum?
It is quite clear that state governments do not have the resources to simply replace Federal funding. Mr. Barnett in Western Australia has responded by indicating that he will close up to 150 remote Aboriginal communities by simply cutting off their essential services – water, power etc. Arrangements with the South Australia government are still to be determined but at this stage the outstations fear their fate will be similar to those in the West.
The results of such actions are perhaps too great to contemplate, just as there is no real attempt to understand the cultural implications of moving people from their traditional homelands.
What does closure mean?
The relationship between Aboriginal peoples and their lands is acknowledged but little understood. The connection to land is the embodiment of Aboriginal cultural identity. It totally embraces a sense of belonging without which there is a life long sense of grieving and loss. It is only on your own land that you have rights – once you move these rights are lost and you become simply a squatter on somebody else’s land.
Forced removals in the past have proved devastating and costly, not only to the communities themselves but also to the surrounding communities responsible for resettlement. Nearly all outback Aboriginal communities are under-resourced, have inadequate infrastructure and are grappling with social problems. To burden these communities further is unthinkable.
Such action would place Australia in conflict with international law.
“…forced evictions are … incompatible with the requirements of the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights and could only be justified in the most exceptional circumstances….”
UN Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, General Comment No.4, (1991)
Pope Francis warns Australia of socio-economic disaster when he states, “severing the ties of Aboriginal people from their land and thus their culture, spirituality and very foundation of their being, is unethical, immoral, un-Christian and heartless.”
Sydney Peace Foundation strongly agrees with Concerned Australians that the Federal funding decision should be reversed.
Want to help stop this crisis?
For this your help is invaluable: please send a letter or phone Tony Abbott and Nigel Scullion telling them that it would be totally unacceptable for funding to Remote Communities to be cut.
Want to learn more?
There is a rare opportunity to hear First Nations women speaking about treaty at Sydney’s Redfern Community Centre (29-53 Hugo St, Redfern) on Friday, 20 March 2015 at 5.30 for 6pm start, organised by Stop the Intervention Collective Sydney (STICS). Guest Speakers: Rosalie Kunoth-Monks, Amy McQuire, Amala Groom and Natalie Cromb.
For more visit: http://www.stoptheintervention.org/.