We’re not all boozers, NT elders say

NORTHERN TERRITORY: A group of Aboriginal elders says the federal government’s Northern Territory intervention brands all Indigenous people as alcoholics and child molesters.

Federal MPs began debating the Stronger Futures in the Northern Territory Bill and amendments to social security laws last week.

The changes would extend measures brought in under the former Howard coalition government’s NT intervention policy that targeted Aboriginal communities.

On Monday a group of 17 elders of the Yolngu people from Ramingining, a small community about 550km east of Darwin, lashed out at the policy.

“Many people are feeling stigmatised by this blanket policy that brands all Aboriginal people as alcoholics, irresponsible parents and child molesters,” they said.

“The government is drowning us slowly and wonders why twice as many of our young people are attempting suicide.”

Measures in the government’s legislation include continuing alcohol restrictions and increasing penalties for grog runners, including six-month jail terms.

The laws would also extend, to the whole of the Northern Territory, welfare quarantining for parents of children who don’t go to school.

The intervention policies have brought hatred, the elders said, and made the government the “true enemy of our people”.

“These policies leave us penned like animals with nowhere to go,” they said.


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