NATIONAL: Aboriginal leaders from Arnhem Land want the new Northern Territory chief minister to lobby the federal government to scrap the NT intervention program.
Aboriginal leaders from east, central and west Arnhem Land met with Terry Mills in Maningrida over the weekend ahead of the start of the Yolngu Nations Assembly.
Mr Mills swept to power following a backlash from Aboriginal voters against the NT Labor government and he has promised not to ignore Indigenous communities.
In June, the Gillard government extended the NT intervention measures for 10 years, despite the opposition of many Aboriginal communities.
Arnhem Land elder Dr Djiniyini Gondarra said on Tuesday his people wanted the NT government to lobby for the intervention “to be thrown out” and an apology from the federal government to traumatised communities.
“The federal government must start to listen to the voices on the ground,” he said.
“We are being led around like dogs on a lead with the basics card … police coming into our houses without a warrant and having our law disqualified from recognition and consideration in court.”
He said the rate of self-harm and suicide in communities was five times higher since before intervention policies began.
Dr Gondarra said many communities were self-proclaimed dry communities well before the intervention began in 2007, while others had a permit system that regulated the amount strength and regularity of alcohol people could consume.
“Our dry areas and alcohol permit systems must stay, this is the responsible will of our people,” he said.