Date: May 02 2012
Leaders representing 8000 Aboriginal people will today launch a campaign against federal government intervention in the Northern Territory.
The statement to be issued by the Yolngu Nations Assembly representing Arnhem Land people will call on traditional leaders to refuse approval for exploration licences.
Spokesman Djungadjunga Yunupingu said his people initially thought intervention would help.
''But now our experience is that it has not been beneficial,'' he said.
''It has turned our young people against their elders because it has undermined our ability to determine things for ourselves.
''In schools our bilingual program is not being supported.''
Another spokesman Djiniyini Gondarra said the government could achieve its aims through partnership with the indigenous communities.
''They have no need to grant themselves the continued and new powers contained within these bills,'' he said.
''Land councils are increasingly being pressured by government to act outside their roles and become agencies of government.
''We want our land councils to advocate for our needs and not have their independence curtailed by government funding arrangements and political interference.
''We call on the federal and Northern Territory parliaments to end their interventionist policies and agendas and return to a mindset of partnership based on the principles of self-determination.''
Today's declaration is a result of the first Yolngu Nations Assembly, convened last October to bring together clan leaders from across Arnhem Land.
The intervention is driven by the 10-year Stronger Futures program to address key issues in Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory, including employment, school attendance, alcohol abuse and child protection.
This will extend alcohol and pornography restrictions, compulsory income management and limits on the consideration of cultural practices and customary law in bail and sentencing decisions.
Last month the Gillard government dedicated $583 million to education as part of the package.
The money will pay the wages of 200 teachers and for the construction of up to 100 teacher houses in remote communities.
The funding will also pay for the continuation of a school nutrition program that provides meals to about 5000 students in 67 schools.
Legislation to extend elements of the intervention for a further 10 years has passed the House of Representatives and is being considered by the Senate. Ross Peake
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