Howard's "Invasion" Of Aboriginal Lands Begins Today
Prime Minister John Howard said he was left with no choice but to act immediately to stop the rape and molestation of children in a number of Northern Territory Aboriginal communities, after the release of a report detailing the living horror that is daily life for thousands of Aboriginal children, living in Third World conditions.
For many who have spent years and decades trying to help Aboriginal communities devastated by alcoholism, petrol sniffing, gambling, social decay and sexual exploitation, Howard's move to action has been years overdue.
But the speed of Howard's 'emergency intervention' has reportedly left some Aboriginal communities reeling, and horror-struck, and there is much angst that Howard did not consult enough with Aboriginal leaders before setting his plans into immediate action.
Howard said the time for talk and discussions was over. It was time for action.
Today, the first wave of police, backed by Australian Defence Force soldiers, will enter Aboriginal communities to start rounding up the more violent, abusive offenders, and to close down pubs and liquor outlets.
According to Howard's rushed, vague and possibly disastrous plan, medical professionals will follow the police and military and will conduct medical examinations of all children under 16. The examinations will be compulsory, and parents will not be required, according to Howard's comments, to give their consent.
Howard's stated mission is for health workers to examine the children for signs of sexual abuse, or infection by sexual disease. Many of the doctors who are taking part said they will use the opportunity offered by the intervention plan to do complete check-ups of the children they encounter, and they will not be rushed in their work by the politics that will overshadow the intervention as the federal election draws near.
Neither Howard, nor the vast sprawl of critics of his plan, know what the eventual outcome of the intervention will be. But few, obviously, are hoping it will fail. Virtually all Australian want the exploitation of Aboriginals, by their own, and by outsiders, to cease. Today.
But it will be a dream many years in the realisation, with some extremely ugly and possibly deadly confrontations to come.
It is not only a small number of Aboriginal elders who don't want the social order, the power of their rule over their communities, by decree or by sheer force of violence and threat, to change, or to be lessened by the presence of police and soldiers.
There is also a lesser known number of white Australian males who have grown rich and powerful from the illegal trafficking of alcohol and drugs into remote Aboriginal communities, and who control pedophile rings where Aboriginal children are prostituted and traded between communities, and between mine workers.
Howard has vowed to stamp out alcohol and pornography in more than 60 Northern Territory communities, and not all of them are dominated by Aboriginals. There is a small number of camps filled with white Australian miners, who will also be told their days of heavy drinking and watching hardcore porn, and buying sex from Aboriginal kids with a few litres of petrol, are well and truly over.
To believe that all of the people in the isolated communities of the Northern Territory will relent to the police and military is a fantasy. For a few months, at least, the police and military may be facing their own mini-insurgency, as hundreds of members of Aboriginal gang members go bush and possibly begin to fight back.
The police, and the military, already have their 'hit lists' of the more violent and abusive and dangerous members of the communities they will be entering.
There will be jubilant scenes in some towns as drunken thugs are taken away and the sober grandmothers and community elders are able to take back control of what alcohol, rape and violence had desecrated for so many years.
And it all begins today.
In the first community to be targeted, located near the base of the majestic Uluru, reports claim that Aboriginal families are packing up and fleeing their community, terrified that their children will be taken away from them, and a replay of the 'stolen generation' stories of their parents and grandparents, will become their reality as well.
From the Sydney Morning Herald :
This is only the beginning. The road ahead will be hard, long, historical and will hopefully change the nature of how Australian state and federal governments deal with Aboriginal communities forever.
Panic about the Howard Government's crackdown on child sexual abuse has spread widely throughout remote Aboriginal communities, where parents fear their children will be taken away in a repeat of the stolen generation.
Some families have already fled the first community to be targeted, Mutitjulu at Uluru, but the Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Mal Brough, blames "liars" who have something to hide from police and military personnel for terrorising people and spreading hysteria.
"The reason people are scared there at the moment is because people are putting around that the army are coming to take their children away, that the army is coming in to shoot the dogs and the Government is going to take away their money and make them sit there and do what they're told," Mr Brough said.
Social workers and indigenous MPs in the Northern Territory are being swamped with phone calls from Aborigines wanting to know what will happen in their communities.
An indigenous MP, Alison Anderson, said she had been trying to persuade families in her huge desert electorate south of Alice Springs not to take their children and flee before police and troops arrived, which in some places could be within days.
"In one telephone hook-up last night people told me they were going to run away to a waterhole 50 kilometres away," Ms Anderson said. "I have heard from many people thinking they may do the same thing. I've urged them not to panic and to stay on the communities and work with the people who arrive."
Marion Scrymgour, a Northern Territory Government minister, said: "There's a lot of fear, particularly among elder woman. Not so long ago - 30 to 40 years - children were being taken out of the arms of Aboriginal mothers. There is real fear that is going to happen again."
The Chief Minister, Clare Martin, told MPs yesterday to travel to their bush electorates as soon as possible to tell people "what is fact and what is fiction" in an effort to halt the panic.
Lesley Taylor, one of the Territory's most experienced child abuse workers, said: "They are scared stiff … This is creating very stressful environments that could lead to even more children being at risk."
Sixty to 70 communities will be targeted, and small teams of police, military and government officers will begin arriving today to audit people's needs. They would be replaced by teams who would stay to meet those needs, Mr Brough said. Public servants will oversee the programs, with a manager in each community responsible for what happens.
Hundreds of Aboriginal tribes survived more than 50,000 years in this country, in some of the harshest environments in the world. It wasn't sheer luck that saw them survive, and in some regions absolutely thrive. Aboriginal culture holds knowledge and secrets about this land that we can barely comprehend, that we have barely begun to understand.
It's no time to tell them all that they were wrong, that they don't know what they're doing, and what they believe is bad for them, and destructive for their children and societies.
Australia stands on the edge of a new beginning for its Aboriginal people. But the 'emergency intervention' cannot last only to the federal election. It must mark the fresh start of a new life for the tens of thousands of people left behind, and it must usher in decades of rehabilitation, rebuilding and re-integration.
But it is not only into the dominant white society of Australia that Aboriginals must integrate. We must meet them halfway, and protect what they hold sacred, and preserve the knowledge and traditions that helped them survive for hundreds of centuries before white man arrived in their lands, and changed their societies forever.
We may believe we still have much to teach them. But they have so much more to teach us, about this land, about their ancient knowledge, that we are only beginning to understand after 200 years.
We all have a long way to go.
But something, finally, and hopefully for the better, has begun.