The 6th anniversary of the Northern Territory Intervention

Michele Harris of concerned Australians

sorry about the intervention resized
‘Sorry about the Intervention?’ by davidfntau, flickr cc

Aboriginal advocate Olga Havnen, in her Lowitja O’Donoghue oration, has asked a critical question. She asks, what has been the psychological impact of the Intervention on Aboriginal people of the Northern Territory? It is surprising that so little attention has been given before now to this critical, yet in some ways tenuous, link.

Even before the Intervention began in June 2007, government had long planned a new approach to the ‘management’ of Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory. It was no longer part of government thinking that self-determination and Aboriginal control over land could be allowed to continue. These were the Whitlam notions of 1975, and they were no longer acceptable.

Early inklings of change occurred in 2004 with the management of grants being transferred from communities to government’s newly established Indigenous Coordination Centres. More ominous were the Amendments of 2006 to the Aboriginal Land Rights Act and the memoranda of agreements that followed. Government had made it clear that it wished to re-engage itself directly in the control of community land through leasing options, as well as to open up Aboriginal land for development and mining purposes.

The plan was to empty the homelands. This has not changed. However, it was recognised that achieving this would be politically fraught – it would need to be accomplished in a manner that would not off-side mainstream Australia. Removing Aboriginal people from their land and taking control over their communities would need to be presented in a way that Australians would believe it to be to Aboriginal advantage, whatever the tactics.

To read this comprehensive article in full, click HERE.

To read Olga Havnen’s article, Healing the fault lines: uniting politicians, bureaucrats, and NGOs for improved outcomes in Aboriginal Health, click HERE.


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