On Australia’s Black Dimension: The Northern Territory Intervention

Paul Rubner

Summary — The ‘Northern Territory Intervention’ launched by the Australian government in 2007 represents yet another episode in the long history of oppression and discrimination directed against this country’s First Australians. Paul Rubner reports on activist opposition — Editors

A rally marking 11 years since the forceful introduction in June 2007 of the Northern Territory National Emergency Response — popularly known as the “NT Intervention” — was held in Sydney’s Hyde Park recently.

The Intervention was introduced by the conservative federal government under Prime Minister John Howard. The NT intervention focused on specific Aboriginal communities in Australia’s Northern Territory (NT). Prompted by reports of child sexual abuse, excessive violence and alcoholism in the NT, it comprised a complex of measures which included restrictions on pornography and spending on alcohol, and involved removal of indigenous children considered in moral danger. Army troops were deployed in indigenous communities to oversee its introduction. For details, see What is the Northern Territory Intervention?

At the rally about 120 people gathered near the Archibald Fountain to hear both Indigenous and non-indigenous speakers condemn the Intervention. They later marched through the city to Belmore Park, about 1km away.

Speakers at the event organised by the Stop the Intervention Collective (Sydney) were introduced by Indigenous poet Elizabeth Jarrett. They included Ken Canning (Indigenous Social Justice Association), Indigenous speakers from the Northern Territory, South Australia, and a number of non-indigenous supporters, including David Shoebridge, Greens MP in the New South Wales Parliament.

One speaker, Paddy Gibson, activist and researcher at the Jumbunna Institute for Indigenous Education and Research (UTS), last year compiled a report on the impacts of the NT Intervention to mark the 10th anniversary of the Intervention: https://www.sbs.com.au/nitv/article/2017/06/21/10-impacts-nt-intervention

The Northern Territory Intervention continues today. It constitutes yet another episode in the long and continuing history of dispossession, oppression and discrimination directed against this country’s First Australians. Reversing this dehumanisation requires radical change.


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