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Issue #1742      August 3, 2016


The struggle against racism and oppression

The Royal Commission into the Northern Territory Juvenile Detention System announced by Malcolm Turnbull last Thursday was condemned as a sham. Since the details of the Royal Commission were released there has been widespread community condemnation of the lack of involvement of Indigenous organisations in the process and its narrow parameters.

The federal government and the NT government are being driven by the fear of political fallout internationally and nationally and by their total commitment to maintaining the system which has bred and fed the racist and abhorrent conditions shown on the ABC’s Four Corners program.

The federal government is clearly hoping it can cut off growing community outrage without addressing the long- term systemic abuse of Aboriginal youth. Damage control is the agenda and not justice and real change for Indigenous youth.

The situation of Indigenous people in Australia today is reflected in increasingly horrific statistics and data on incarceration rates, spiralling youth suicide rates, educational and health gaps, the ongoing removal of Aboriginal kids from their families and communities in epidemic numbers, the attacks on land rights and closure of remote communities. Aboriginal people make up just 3 percent of the Australian population yet make up 28 percent of total prison inmates.

Previous Reports and Royal Commissions, including the 1991 Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody and the Little Children Are Sacred Report, have recommended that any change must have at its centre the full involvement of Aboriginal people, communities and organisations. Successive governments, both liberal coalitions and labour, have ignored and actively opposed this involvement. The Northern Territory Intervention is only one shameful example, but one which has wrought devastating outcomes for Indigenous people and communities in the Territory.

The NT intervention was introduced by PM Howard in 2007 and based on lies about the prevalence of child sexual abuse in Indigenous communities. It demonised Aboriginal men in order to justify another land grab. Communities desperate for decent housing were forced to sign long term leases of their land to government in exchange for housing. The housing has failed to eventuate.

The Intervention was renamed and continued by the Rudd-Gillard Labor governments despite overwhelming evidence it undermined communities and worsened outcomes across every domain for Aboriginal children and communities. The only beneficiaries have been large mining companies who have increased access to the rich mineral resources of the NT.

Since the invasion and colonisation of Australia by the British monarchy and ruling class and the imposition of capitalism on the Indigenous population, Aboriginal people and their culture have been under relentless attack. Generations of Aboriginal people have been subjected to cruel and inhumane treatment of genocidal proportions.

Driven by the ceaseless drive for more profits the capitalist system has nothing to offer Indigenous Australia except as we are seeing with the recently announced Royal Commission: more of the same. The active struggle of Indigenous people against racism and oppression, against paternalism and the denial of their historic rights is a powerful push against capitalist ideology and sets an example for others to stand up and challenge the class system.

Steps towards socialism will be made as the Indigenous struggles are linked up with other socialist minded sections of the non-indigenous population, particularly within the working class and other sections of society exploited and disadvantaged by capitalism.

Next article – Nurses’ union backs marriage equality

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