The Northern Territory Emergency Response: Why Australia Will Not Recover from The Intervention

By | 1 February 2015

It is often remarked in Australia that the government invests heavily in ‘Aboriginal Affairs’. The budget for The Intervention is now estimated at $587 million. To my knowledge, not one person has been charged with child sexual abuse, and no paedophilia rings have been discovered. In lieu of this slander, not one new house had been built in Titjikala when I last visited. The community had been pleading for a police station for many years, and now one has been built on the far edge of town. Empty.

The Federal Government adopted two of the ninety-seven recommendations of the Little Children Are Sacred report. Many of us believe these extreme measures were a smoke screen to retake the traditional lands, given back through the Native Title process. Currently, there is a push by the state and federal governments for Aboriginal people to accept the world’s uranium waste on our sacred lands, as a means to provide employment and income. Mining is also extreme, and cannot be stopped.

I fear the majority of Australians and the majority of our politicians hold these views. And this is a dangerous moment in the psyche of contemporary Australia for all Aboriginal people. Racist commentary and racial attacks in public have increased – all you need is hear the rants on Facebook and YouTube. The Deaths In Custody saga continues; the latest case was of a woman, age twenty-two, in the Pilbara district of Western Australia arrested for unpaid fines. During the protests that echoed around the country demanding an explanation into her death, tragic news came again from Western Australia – a young man had died in prison. He was thirty-one. We are told he took his life in a strictly supervised space. How can that happen? I feel it is because too many people simply don’t care.

For me, the real danger lies in the refusal to acknowledge the lack of friendship that exists in Australia. The silence of action or voice by the free, when witnessing the persecution of those who live next door, is a true shame. Personal shame. A national shame. I doubt that Australia will ever recover its dignity, both internally and around the world.

Of course there are friends of Aboriginal people, but they’re a minority. Poetry and songs have been written about this; films have been made. The luxury of hindsight, or the maturity of spent years, will often define this moment for each of us. I cherish the friends who did remain my friends.

Love Magic

there is ilpintji
in the wind 
by the singing rock
down the river 
by the ancient tree
love in malu 
ngintaka and kalaya
love when spirits speak 
no human voice
at sacred sites 
watch walawaru soar 
over hidden kapi
find the love
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