Aboriginal control of Aboriginal affairs

Australia is a wealthy nation built on stolen Aboriginal land and resources. But Aboriginal people score lowest in health, education, employment and housing. Aboriginal infant mortality is twice that of other Australians and unemployment is three times that of the national average. Aboriginal people are more than 14 times more likely to face  imprisonment than others and about a third live in overcrowded housing.

This is not a fault of those who suffer those statistics, but a result of government policy and two centuries of dispossession, racism and trauma. It doesn’t have to be like this and it can be fixed, if Aboriginal communities are empowered to fix it.

Whether urban or remote, Aboriginal communities need the right, and the resources, to control their own destiny. Current policies like Stronger Futures (previously called the NT Intervention) and Alcohol Protection Orders in the Northern Territory have taken away local control from Aboriginal people and imposed a one-size-fits-all punishment model on people.

Neoliberal market forces have been imposed on Aboriginal people, destroying their culture and trying to “normalise” people. Aboriginal people on remote communities are faced with the choice of having the guts ripped out of their land for profit, or going without vital infrastructure such as schools and health services.

The Socialist Alliance would put Aboriginal people back in the driver’s seat by strengthening land rights and nationalising the industries that dominate Australia. Local people would have control over what industries operate in their community and what they can and can’t do.

Aboriginal people need jobs based on the needs of their communities. We would support funding for jobs that care for country, promote Aboriginal culture and encourage more Aboriginal people into health and education services. A vital contribution would be funding public works campaigns that employ local people.

The Socialist Alliance advocates treaties between Aboriginal peoples and the government to recognise Aboriginal people as colonised people and therefore deserving the right to maintain their own languages, customs and culture. Education and health services would be made rights, not privileges depending on postcode.

The Socialist Alliance would implement all of the recommendations of the 1991 Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody and support changes that reduce incarceration rates of Aboriginal people, such as significant investment in community-controlled, culturally appropriate diversionary and rehabilitation programs.

We would repeal the Stronger Futures legislation and begin a real discussion with Aboriginal communities. We would acknowledge the many strengths Aboriginal people bring to the table — environmental and scientific knowledge, artistic and cultural excellence, an understanding of their own communities and people.

Aboriginal health and legal services would be adequately funded to meet needs and bilingual education and cultural support would also to be funded.