Aboriginal Elders and writers flail invasion of homelands eight years ago in an exciting anthology

The Intervention

June 21 will mark eight years since the introduction of one of Australia’s most racist government policies, the Northern Territory National Emergency Response, otherwise known as the NT Intervention“Intervention to us was like Australia declaring war on us and in the process they demonised and dehumanised Aboriginal men, women and children,” says Rosalie-Kunoth Monks, Elder and Northern Territory Australian of the Year. Many Australians are still waiting for the outcry over the suspension of the Race Discrimination Act which allowed this legislation to pass, not once, but twice. In 2012, the Intervention was renamed “Stronger Futures” and designed to impinge further on the human rights of those in remote communities for another decade.


Both major Australian political parties, the now governing Liberals [right-of-centre conservatives] and the present Labor [hardly different on Aboriginal matters] opposition, support these laws.


Award-winning and internationally recognised Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australian authors and commentators have taken a stand the best way they can, by using the power of their writing to generate much needed discussion and debate – in homes, universities and in work places.


Edited by Rosie Scott and Anita Heiss, the Intervention Anthology includes statements by Elders, poetry, commentary, fiction and non-fiction as a means of reaching out and speaking to as many Australians as possible.


It’s a powerful collection of views from Aboriginal Elders, experts, lawyers and some of Australia’s finest writers, and an indispensable contribution to the urgent question of the wellbeing and dignity of Aboriginal Australians.


“As Rosalie Kunoth-Monks puts it, 'We are your people and you are our people.' We can't not listen to each other,’” said Anna Funder, an international award winning author.


In this historic anthology, award-winning writers Rosie Scott and Dr Anita Heiss have gathered together the work of 20 of Australian’s finest Indigenous and non-Indigenous writers together with powerful statements from Northern Territory Elders to bring a new dimension and urgency to an issue that has remained largely outside the public radar.


One of the most invasive, puzzling and unprecedented actions by a government in Australian history – the 2007 NT Intervention by the [ultra-conservative] Howard Government – has resulted in an ongoing and flagrant breach of human rights. The introduction of this racist legislation has never been fully debated nationally nor has there ever been any significant consultation with the Indigenous communities most affected.


In compelling fiction, memoir, essays, poetry and communiqués, the dramatic story of the Intervention and the despair, anguish and anger of the First Nations people of the Territory comes alive.


The Intervention: an Anthology is an extraordinary document – deeply moving, impassioned, spiritual, angry and authoritative – it’s essential reading for anyone who wants to understand this passionate opposition.


As Anna Funder writes -‘An indispensable contribution to the debate’.


Bonn University will host a conference on the Intervention on 9 and 10 October, describing it as a policy that "continues to divide the Australian nation". The conference is being organised by Germany's Association for Australian Studies (GAAS).


Organiser Elisabeth Baehr said the Intervention was of great interest to German academics working in different disciplines. "It's an important topic of human rights," Ms Baehr said.


"It engages the interest of German researches and since the Association for Australian Studies is an organisation with members made up of researchers and teachers, it interests (us) in various ways."


Subjects the conference will address include


· Facts and figures on the “Intervention” and the political measures subsequently taken (Closing the Gap, Stronger Futures, Land for Housing)

· Intentions behind the “Intervention” (social, political, economic, tactical w.r.t. elections)

· Historical contextualisation of the “Intervention” within the ideological and political concepts of the past 250 years

· Human rights issues (UN reaction)

· The discourse on the government’s historical and/or present social responsibility for Indigenous communities

· The consequences of the “Intervention” for Indigenous communities; reactions of the affected Indigenous population

· Discourses of identity and of difference (ethnic, geographical, social)

· Relationships between ethnicity, class and gender (“diversity over equality”?)

· Connections between the “Intervention” and ongoing Australian discourses on the protection or rescue of children (lost children, Stolen Generations)

· The “Intervention” in the media / media constructions of Indigenous Australians

· The “Intervention” in literature, art and film


Contacts are Prof. Dr. Barbara Schmidt-Haberkamp, University of Bonn:

schmidt-haberkamp@uni-bonn.de and Elisabeth Bähr, Speyer: baehr@aboriginal-art.de

About the editors


Dr Rosie Scott is an internationally published award-winning writer who has published six novels which were finalists in most major Australian awards, a collection each of short stories, poems and essays and edited two anthologies. Her award winning play was the basis for a film which received several international prizes.


Dr. Anita Heiss is the author of nonfiction, historical fiction, commercial women's fiction, poetry, social commentary, and travel articles. She is a regular guest at writers' festivals and travels internationally performing her work and lecturing on Indigenous literature. She is an Indigenous Literacy Day Ambassador and a proud member of the Wiradjuri nation of central NSW.



Contributors to the anthology include Debra Adelaide, Pat Anderson, Larissa Behrendt, Ali Cobby Eckermann, Eva Cox, Brenda L. Croft, Lionel Fogarty, Djiniyini Gondarra, Yingiya Mark Guyula, Rodney Hall, Rosalie Kunoth-Monks, Deni Langman, Melissa Lucashenko, Jeff McMullen, PM Newton, Christine Olsen, Bruce Pascoe, Nicole Watson, Samuel Wagan Watson, Rachel Willika, Alexis Wright, Yalmay Yunipingu and Arnold Zable.


Ordering the Book


Intervention Anthology on Facebook


Respect and Listen

1 July 2015: National launch in Sydney:
National Centre of Indigenous Excellence (NCIE), 166-180 George St, Redfern NSW 2016, to be launched by Gillian Triggs, AHRC. Speakers:
Pat Anderson, eminent author of the report Little Children are Sacred, Ali Cobber Eckermann, award winning poet from the NT, Anita Heiss and Rosie Scott.

9 July 2015: Ashfield Town Hall: Thursday, July 9 - 6pm for 6.30pm, Ashfield Town Hall, 260 Liverpool Road, #3 Ashfield, NSW 2131. In conversation with Mick Gooda the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, AHRC. Contributor Nicole Watson, who is currently employed as a senior lecturer in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, University of Technology, Sydney. Editor Rosie Scott. Cash sales only of the book on the night. Organised by the Ashfield Library.

4 August 2015: NT Darwin launch: Charles Darwin University, in the new
Australian Centre for Indigenous Knowledges and Education at Casuarina Campus. Speakers:
Yalmay Yunipingu, Rosie Scott, Jeff McMullen, and more TBC


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Respect and Listen: NT Intervention


WGAR Background to 'Stronger Futures' new NT Intervention laws


WGAR Background to the Northern Territory (NT) Intervention