Delegates to the National Indigenous Legal Conference (NILC) 2013, held in Alice Springs on 24 â 26 October 2013 issued a statement condemning "the policies and practices being carried out by the Commonwealth government under "Stronger Futures" legislation and related policies" and called for their repeal.
Their statement reads:
_We the attendees of the National Indigenous Legal Conference (NILC) 2013 wish to express our condemnation of the policies and practices being carried out by the Commonwealth government under "Stronger Futures" legislation and related policies.
In August 2007, after suspending key provisions of the Racial Discrimination Act (RDA), the Commonwealth passed the Northern Territory Emergency Response (NTER) legislation. This legislation gave rise to blanket discriminatory laws affecting all communities on Aboriginal land in the Northern Territory.
In 2012 the NTER was superseded by the Stronger Futures Legislation. The RDA may have been reinstated, but blanket discriminatory measures remain.
As members and students of the Australian Legal fraternity we felt ashamed when we heard respected Elders address the conference telling us of the embarrassment they feel having to use the âBasics cardâ under the governmentâs income management provisions.
We feel ashamed when we hear of police entering the homes of respected Elders without the need for a warrant.
We feel ashamed because the law, which is our vocation, is allowing for practices and policies more at home in the infamous "protection" period of past generations.
There are a multitude of varied and complex issues facing some of these communities, not least of which is extreme poverty resulting from generations of chronic neglect. We know that some of our Brothers and Sisters require assistance to address these problems. This cannot happen effectively while we continue to ignore the voices of community and especially the voices of local Elders, Lawmen and Lawwomen.
We the attendees of the National Indigenous Legal Conference (NILC) call for the repeal of the Stronger Futures legislation and the imposition of compulsory income management.
We call upon Governments of all levels to listen to these communities and act with them, not for them.
Self Determination is a right of all peoples. It is also an internationally recognised right under Article 3 of the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peopleâs and its application is a foundational principle of Indigenous wellbeing.
We stand beside our Brothers and Sisters, Aunts and Uncles of the Northern Territory. Although we cannot share the burden of the oppression being perpetrated upon them, we can assist in making sure their plight no longer continues to go on unseen or their voices unheard.
Aboriginal Family Violence Prevention & Legal Service (FVPLS) Victoria; Aboriginal Legal Service Western Australia (ALSWA); Aboriginal Legal Rights Movement (ALRM); Central Australian Aboriginal Legal Service (CAALAS); Darcy McEwan; Dr. Jennifer Nielsen; Indigenous Lawyers Association of Queensland (ILAQ); Marcelle Burns; Ngalaya Aboriginal Corporation; and the North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency (NAAJA).
18 November 2013