Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s comment that people living in remote Indigenous communities cannot be “endlessly subsidised” for their “lifestyle choices” has sparked nationwide debate.
Up to 150 remote Indigenous communities in Western Australia may close as a result of federal funding cuts. There are concerns that remote communities in South Australia may face a similar future. The Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress (UAICC) have issued a statement saying: “… people have chosen to live in these small, remote communities as a way of responding to colonial dispossession and an attempt to stay close to the land which is the source of their life.”
The Prime Minister’s suggestion that Indigenous Australians should move to towns to access basic health and welfare services will sever those ties and create a deep sense of grief and loss. In recent years Pope Francis said that “severing the ties of Aboriginal people from their land and thus their culture, spirituality and very foundation of their being, is unethical, immoral, un-Christian and heartless.”
UAICC opposes the federal funding cuts to remote Indigenous communities and describes it as “another example of forced removal and dispossession”.
‘Concerned Australians’ – a group of like-minded Australians – have started a letter-writing campaign urging the federal government to reverse the funding cuts. You can join in the campaign by writing a letter to Prime Minister Tony Abbott or Minister for Indigenous Affairs Nigel Scullion.
Some points ‘concerned Australians’ suggest you can include in your letter are:
• The unconscionable failure of the Federal Government to maintain its responsibility for the safety and future of Aboriginal Peoples.
• To close communities will create a wave of dispossession denying people the ability to stay in touch with their land and their culture.
• There has been no attempt by the government to understand what such forced community closures means for social, mental, spiritual and physical health.
• There has been no consultation with Aboriginal people or the organisations which represent them regarding alternative solutions.
• The movement of so many people would put enormous pressure on the communities they go to – housing, education, health facilities, and community relationships.
Hon. Tony Abbott
Parliament House, PO Box 6022, Canberra ACT 2600 Tel: (02) 6277 7700, or
Electoral Office: PO Box 450, Manly, NSW, 2095 Tel: (02) 9977 6411
Hon. Nigel Scullion
Parliament House, PO Box 6100, Canberra, ACT 2600 Tel: (02) 6277 7780, or
Electoral Office: Unit 1, 229 McMillans Road, Jingili, NT 0810 Tel: (08) 8948 3555