What was really said at intervention consultations

Sabine Kacha - Book Review The Green Left 11 April 2010

Closing the gap 'This Is What We Said' Compiled & published by 'concerned Australians'
Order Form (pdf)

This Is What We Said: Australian Aboriginal People Give Their Views on the Northern Territory Intervention. Compiled & published by 'concerned Australians' 71 pages, hard cover with Aboriginal cover design, $15

This Is What We Said follows on from the report Will They Be Heard?, which was released in November 2009. The report raised concerns about the way the federal government conducted and reported consultations with NT Indigenous people on the Northern Territory Emergency Response (or NT intervention).

Using pictures and quotations taken from footage of actual consultations at Bagot, Ampilatwatja, Utopia and Yirrkala between June and August 2009, this book shows the depth of frustration and despair of many Aboriginal people in the NT regarding the intervention.

It is mainly a book of quotes from Aboriginal people giving their own views on the intervention.

Giving voice to Aboriginal people from the NT is fairly uncommon. This is a wonderful opportunity to receive authentic information about what Aboriginal people from affected communities really think about the intervention.

It is highly important that these views are heard as they differ vastly from what is often portrayed in the media.

Moreover, they reveal the lie of the federal government's claim that the consultations revealed general support for the intervention in NT Aboriginal communities.

The comments from the Laynhapuy Homeland Mala leaders at Yirrkala are particularly striking: "The problems our people face can be addressed through programs and funding targeted on a needs basis alone, under the Closing the Gap policy. We should not be subjected to special measures that separate us out or impose things on us without agreement.

"Our responses to your questions in this consultation must not be used by the Australian Government to argue for the continuation of the NTER … or justify what has been done to date."

Also included in This Is What We Said are quotes on the intervention from other well-known Australians and United Nations representatives, as well as a brief introduction outlining the intervention and 21 photographs by Canberra documentary maker Eleanor Gilbert.

It reveals a desire in NT Aboriginal communities for locally based solutions, rather than a top-down approach.

This Is What We Said was launched in various cities around Australia in February.

To order a copy of This Is What We Said , write to "concerned Australians", PO Box 281, East Melbourne, Vic 8002.