Since white colonisation began in 1788 the Indigenous population has suffered the trauma of invasion, enslavement, assimilation, genocide, racist exclusion, land theft, the destruction of life, language and culture, and the denial of basic human rights.
The Rudd government’s official apology was an important symbolic step forward but remains a hollow gesture. The scandal of black deaths in custody continues and racism is endemic.
The 2007 Northern Territory intervention was a massive bipartisan attack on Indigenous communities. The federal government policy, along with Territory policies banning bilingual education, withdrawing support from homelands and centralising government services in “Super shires” and “hub towns” (at the expense of community councils) represents an historic attack on Aboriginal language and culture, and self-determination and land rights.
The Labor government’s Stronger Futures legislation deepens and entrenches this neoliberal assimilationist trend for at least a decade.
Paternalistic welfare measures introduced as part of the intervention are being extended to other parts of the country, particularly areas with large migrant and Aboriginal populations.
Meanwhile, mining companies offer Aboriginal communities investment and “development” in exchange for allowing mining on their land.