Alyawarr Ingkerr-wenh

Media Release

Traditional Custodian backs Jensen

Alyawarr Traditional Custodian, Richard Downs has called for a treaty on the back of Dr Dennis Jensen MP’s controversial speech in Parliament last week regarding Aborigines.

Mr Downs referred to a part of the speech where Dr Jensen said:

Downs said Dr Jensen had identified the essence problem in many remote Aboriginal communities. “Dr Jensen is right when he says that Aboriginal Elders should be playing a greater role in restoring social order. But this can only be achieved if governments recognise the authority of the Elders that is associated with native title. We can’t continue to have Elder authority undermined by government paternalism” he said.

The traditional lands of the Alyawarr people extend over 50,000 square kilometres of the Barkly region in the Northern Territory. Much of this land pastoral lease, which is covered by native title. Downs led a protest following the introduction of the Northern Territory Emergency Response into the Ampilatwatja community from 2008.

“The Northern Territory Emergency Response and the Closing The Gap measures have been an abject failure and it’s time to give us our land back so that we can become more self-sufficient and entrepreneurial. The Canadian and British Columbian governments have been entering into modern treaties with some of its First Nations peoples and its time that the Australian government did so with us” Downs said.

He also slammed the Northern Territory Emergency Response and the Closing the Gap measures of the Commonwealth Government, “Dr Jensen, needs to understand that the problem is caused by governments through their policies and systems at all levels by their own bureaucrats, public servants and advisors. He needs to realise the NTER Measures were brought on by the governments and Aboriginal people, which created a migration of our people from remote areas into townships. Across NT and WA under these government measures people are now worse off.”

“The current discussion and proposal by the Prime Minister to ‘close the gap’ is another sham, which will only create jobs for government bureaucrats, public servants, NGOs. The Remote Job Creation Program TAFE Training programs has been another sham; our trainees are given certificate at the end of their programs, but they remain largely unemployable. We have been patient for far too long now and I feel we need to take more control and involvement within our Alyawarr region.”

Downs said greater autonomy within Aboriginal communities was necessary to address these issues and the way to achieve this was through treaties and called for one between the Commonwealth Government and the Alyawarr people.

2 March 2016
For more information, telephone Richard Downs on 0457 636 513.