Racism makes me sickMarch 11, 2008
A GROUP of young Aboriginal women plan to file a racial discrimination complaint after they were asked to leave an Alice Springs hostel at the weekend because they had “scared” Asian tourists.
The six youth leaders from the remote community of Yuendumu were told they were “unsuitable” guests by the manager of the Haven Backpackers Resort, Englishwoman Shelly Ball.
“The manager of the hotel came out and said that we weren’t suitable to stay there,” said Bethany Langdon, 19.
“The other tourists were all complaining because they were scared. I was upset because it felt like I wasn’t wanted by other people … I’m not wanted because of the colour of our skin.”
The findings are backed by research from the University of Western Sydney, which has identified evidence of racial conflict in schools in the wake of the Cronulla riots. It also suggests students of Anglo-European descent are avoiding some schools with students of mainly Asian background.
Not only have some public schools lost enrolments; they have become racially segregated. In pockets of rural and remote NSW, Aboriginal students fill public schools and white students attend Catholic and other private schools in the same town.
Around Sydney, the parents of some Anglo-European students are avoiding what they perceive as predominantly Lebanese, Muslim and Asian schools.
In New England, in towns such as Armidale, white middle-class students are flocking to Catholic and independent schools.
In their report, principals say this is so the students can “get away from their local school”.
“This is almost certainly white flight from towns in which the public school’s enrolment consists increasingly of indigenous students,” the report says. “The pattern is repeated in the Sydney region. Based on comments from principals, this most likely consists of flight to avoid Islamic students and communities.”
Protest March 13 – Stop the Racist Quarantines! End the Intervention!Support Aboriginal communities in the NT & demand an end to Howard’s racist Intervention legislation.
At the last federal election Aboriginal communities overwhelming voted Labor in a bid to end the racist, punitive and paternalistic intervention legislation, implemented by the Howard Government in a desperate attempt to hold onto Government.
Eileen Hoosan, resident of Mt Nancy town camp has argued, “These laws are like apartheid South Africa”, referring to the race based ‘welfare quarantine’ and dubbed these measures another ‘invasion’ that attacks fundamental human rights of Aboriginal people. “It’s reintroducing the ration system from forty years ago”.
Despite claims that the intervention was a response to rampant child sexual abuse no new services have received funding. Instead $88 million has been spent administering the welfare quarantining with 50% of all Centrelink payments to residents of ‘prescribed Aboriginal communities’ being withheld.
The race based intervention has required the suspension of the Racial Discrimination Act and has overridden the Northern Territory Land Rights Act.
Many women from ‘prescribed communities’ speak of the intense shame they feel and the difficulty people have had queuing with hundreds of others for hours for ration cards with many then missing out. Aboriginal community members must spend the exact amount of quarantined money which can only be spent at a limited range of stores, Woolworths, Kmart or Coles, with any unspent store voucher money returning to the Government.
Community members also complain that the welfare quarantines have caused problems getting food and many people are moving away from their communities to population centres as a result.
While the Federal Labor Government has reinstated some aspects of the permit system it has just announced the extension of welfare quarantining into many more Aboriginal communities, including the urban areas Darwin, Palmerston and Adelaide River, now impacting on some 6,500 people.
Aboriginal communities are calling for an end to this racist military intervention and for the Labor Government to honour its recent commitment stated in the Labor Government’s historic apology and at the ALP National Platform adopted in 2007, to work with Aboriginal communities and to adequately fund services and infra-structure in these communities.
Protest against the NT Intervention! Stop Racist Welfare Quarantines!
Rally 12:30 Thursday 13 March @ Redfern Centrelink, 140 Redfern st