Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Pat Dodson delivers peace prize lecture

Patrick Dodson...Important for indigenous people to play a role in determining solutions for their problems "and be resourced to do so".

The winner of this year's Sydney Peace Prize, Aboriginal leader Patrick Dodson, has labelled the commonwealth intervention in the Northern Territory a "crude, racist and poorly considered policy".

Delivering his peace prize lecture at the Sydney Opera House, Mr Dodson said legislation introduced into federal parliament to allow the intervention was "some of the worst ever passed".

"The failure by the government to enter into a dialogue and negotiation over the nature of the engagement with the Aboriginal society of the Northern Territory will be seen by Australians in the future as a model for worst-practice imposition of public policy," he said.

The former priest and founding chairman of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation, now disbanded, said it was important for indigenous people to play a role in determining solutions for their problems "and be resourced to do so".

He acknowledged that illicit drugs and abuse of alcohol had led to greater intergenerational health problems in Aboriginal communities, including schizophrenia, diabetes, coronary and renal disease.

"They are primarily outcomes of the exclusion of many Aboriginal people from access to services and resources related to health, education and substance abuse programs over many years and several generations," he said.

He called on young Aborigines to participate in government strategies aimed at bringing more indigenous people into the nation's workforce.

"The opportunity is there for you to enter the workforce, but you should look to the possibilities in other fields apart from the traditional industries and aim to become creators as well as wealth consumers," he said.

He called on all Australians to stop presenting one face to Asia and the Pacific as "tolerant and accepting", while treating Aboriginal people "only as social welfare mendicants".

Mr Dodson said he believed the Rudd government's national apology to the stolen generations in February had given indigenous Australians "a wonderful opportunity to begin to make justice possible, not only for the Aboriginal people but for all the people of this nation".

The Sydney Peace Prize is the only international peace prize awarded in Australia.

Mr Dodson will receive the 2008 award on Thursday night at a gala ceremony in the Great Hall of Sydney University.

Previous award recipients include former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson and Swedish diplomat and nuclear disarmament advocate Dr Hans Blix.


Lawyer prepares UN case against intervention
An Indigenous leader from central Australia has asked a human rights lawyer to take a case against the federal intervention to the United Nations.

Aboriginal welfare quarantine 'like apartheid'
An Aboriginal health lobby group is asking the Federal Government to reconsider its decision to keep compulsory income management as a part of the Northern Territory intervention, against the advice of an independent review panel.

Damning report on Aboriginal scheme
THE radical intervention into remote indigenous communities in the Northern Territory has "fractured" the relationship between governments and indigenous people and led to an even greater sense of betrayal and misery among many people, an independent panel has found.

NT intervention blamed for man's suicide
The family of a Northern Territory man who killed himself two months ago has blamed the federal intervention for his death.

Indigenous rights complaint lodged with UN
The Aboriginal Legal Rights Movement (ALRM) has now sent a formal complaint to the United Nations about treatment of Indigenous people.

NT intervention failing to curb abuse
The head of one of Australia's peak Aboriginal child protection agencies says the federal intervention has failed to achieve one of its key goals.

NT intervention increasing murders
The North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency (NAAJA) is blaming the federal intervention for an increase in the number of murder cases it is defending in the Northern Territory.

Aborigines want end to NT intervention
Thousands of Aborigines are petitioning to have the Northern Territory intervention abandoned.

New NT laws: 'more Aboriginal people jailed'
The Australian Council for Civil Liberties says more Aboriginal people will go to jail under proposed mandatory sentencing laws in the Northern Territory.

Intervention delivering 'empty shipping containers, no houses'
A member of the Maningrida community in the Northern Territory's Arnhem Land says he cannot see any infrastructure changes as a result of the emergency intervention, and wants to know where the money has been spent.

Abandon NT intervention: Commissioner
The Northern Territory's Anti-Discrimination Commissioner Tony Fitzgerald says the Federal intervention into remote Aboriginal communities should be abandoned and the legislation underpinning it should be repealed.

Budget to roll out new welfare card
Welfare plan: The new card will be initially rolled out in NT Indigenous communities. The Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) says the Rudd Government's proposed welfare debit card is not the best way to help struggling families.

Police cannot cope with backlash
Chief Minister, Paul Henderson, has warned the Federal Government that many indigenous people displaced by the emergency intervention are creating unrest and straining police capacity.

Discrimination Act should apply to intervention: Calma
The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner wants the Racial Discrimination Act immediately reinstated in the Northern Territory's Indigenous communities.

Porn ban in Indigenous communities 'racist'
The Australian National Adult Retail Association (Eros) says the Federal Government's ban on X-rated pornography in Aboriginal communities is pointless, racist and should be revoked.

Retailers' warning on welfare card shop spies
EMPLOYEES across the country will be at risk of entrapment by government "spies", retailers have warned, under a Federal Government proposal to control fraudulent use of a new welfare debit card.

Aboriginal delegation heads to UN
The National Aboriginal Alliance is taking its concerns about the Northern Territory intervention to the United Nations

Indigenous welfare quarantine scheme gets go ahead
Parents in four Cape York Indigenous communities could soon have their welfare payments quarantined if they do not take care of their children and homes and do not stay out of trouble with the law.

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