Protests in major Australian cities against cuts to Aboriginal services & closure of Aboriginal communities

Melbourne protest

There have again been protests across Australia against the closure of Aboriginal communities on ancestral lands. In Melbourne more than 1000 protesters blocked the busy intersection at Flinders Street and Swanston Street, after earlier stopping on Swan Street bridge. The protest created difficult traffic conditions in the inner city. Indigenous activist, Rieo Ellis, said the loss of indigenous communities in Western Australia would be disastrous for the people: "When you haven't got a homeland or place to go, you lose your identity, and personality and you become sick. Where are these communities going to go?"

Melbourne organiser of the protest, Meriki Onus, said: "Aboriginal people in Victoria are standing up against all Aboriginal dispossession. It's our responsibility because nobody else will," she said."

A rally for indigenous rights in Darwin was told that the closure of remote communities equates to the practice during settlement of herding Aboriginal people towards a poisoned waterhole.

More than 100 people rallied in Darwin city centre to protest against elements of a newly released white paper on northern development, saying proposed changes to native title laws would erode land rights, and arguing that Indigenous labour plans were unfair.

"When you're talking about forcing closed these communities, herding people to the last waterhole and poisoning the water... this has happened before," Anthony Ah Kit told the crowd.

He said people living in remote communities were protected from some of the dangers and vices in towns and cities, and were some of the healthiest Indigenous people in the country.


The Northern Territory government is considering taking a one-off $155 million payment from the federal government to take over the delivery of essential services to remote communities, but has so far said it wants to stimulate economic development in those communities rather than close them, as has been proposed in Western Australia.


Union groups in Darwin joined the national protest. Thomas Mayor from the Maritime Workers Union said the groups were also worried parts of last week's White Paper on Developing Northern Australia could undermine native title rights.


He said the protesters were told by authorities they could not hold a march, but they did so anyway, walking down Smith Street Mall to Parliament House.


True to its anti-Aboriginal form. Melbourne’s Herald Sun, part of the Murdock media empire, felt sorry for commuters.


"A KEY Melbourne bridge was hijacked at the height of a city protest that forcing frustrated commuters to face another Friday night of traffic chaos. Up to 1000 protesters marching against the forced closure of Aboriginal communities in WA occupied the busy Swan St bridge.


“After originally announcing they planned to protest on the steps of Flinders St Station [a Melbourne landmark] before moving to Federation Square, protest organisers surprised police by marching to the bridge. A large police presence, including several mounted police, escorted the protest as it slowly snaked along St Kilda Rd and Alexandria Gardens.”


The paper omitted to mention that the police praised the peacefulness of the demonstration.


The Warriors of the Aboriginal Resistance, who hosted the event, say protests around the country will send a message to the government that they have a right to stay on their homelands.


"We have a right to stay on our homelands. We have a right to practise our culture and we have a responsibility to stand up for our brothers and sisters impacted by racist policies, particularly in WA, SA and NT," their webpage says.


People are urged to sign a petition: “Do not cut off water and power supplies to Aboriginal Communities”


This text is printed alongside it: The Australian Federal Government is considering cutting off the supplies of water and power of up to 200 indigenous communities, claiming they cannot afford these basic human rights for their indigenous peoples. In 2014, the government announced that they may cease paying for the utilities, making the individual states responsible for supplying their communities with their basic needs. However, the Western Australia government has already stated that they cannot afford to cover these costs, one of the states where many Aboriginal communities live, as well as the Northern Territory.


Rodney Dillon gave the following statement: "It would be a complete culture shock, a complete mental shock," Dillon said. "This is their homeland. It's where they belong it's where they are proud. They are the keepers of the land. Some might stay and die on the land. The older individuals won't manage it — it might kill them."


If these reasons weren't enough, and audit in 2007 revealed that only 7 per cent of communities in these areas met the requirements for basic infrastructure and service standards. What would this statistic change to if power and water supplies were annulled?


Though ideas have been submitted regarding the funding for these communities, they have all amounted to very little:


- The $1 billion "Royalties for Regions" fund was declined by Western Australia Premier Colin Barnett, who stated that they had not yet reached a solution. - Peter Collier, Western Australia's Aboriginal Affairs Minister, stated that consultation in general would continue in hopes of finding a better solution. Rodney Dillon, however, has said that no consultation has taken place.


Dillon also stated, "They would be moved to very poor conditions. They're frightened and scared and they speak a different language. Now they're all possibly going to be moved into slums and shanty towns in the city."


No solution has yet been made regarding the wellbeing of these Aboriginal communities, but telling the Prime Minister that it is completely unjust to cut of indigenous peoples' water and power supplies when there are surely other, more humane and decent solutions, should prevent this travesty from occurring.


About 300 people marched through the streets of Adelaide on Friday against the forced closure of aboriginal communities and the funding distribution of the Indigenous Advancement Strategy (IAS). They included dozens from the rural Murraylands.


In May, The Murray Valley Standard reported that individual Aboriginal communities in South Australia had received less than 10 per cent of the funding they need, with most of the $4.9 billion IAS funds allocated to non-indigenous organisations.


In Sydney on Sunday 28 June an estimated 600 people marched from Town Hall to The Block in Redfern to protest the forced closure of Aboriginal


Following a static protest in Town Hall, the group made its way along George, Lee, Regent and Lawson streets to The Block, a small settlement in Redfern.

Rolling road closures led to disruptions in traffic in the city centre, with buses reporting delays of up to 30 minutes for some time after the march ended.


Sunday's protest followed a smaller demonstration in front of Sydney's Supreme Court earlier this month by the Redfern Aboriginal tent embassy. Pictures

Elders and other members of Sydney's Aboriginal community lead crowds of chanting protesters into the Redfern Aboriginal Tent Embassy after a march through the city centre on June 28, 2015. Video.


Speakers at the event included Murri poet Ken Canning, Sydney artist King Brown and embassy member Jenny Munro, who along with other elders established the protest camp in 2014 against attempts to develop the land without ensuring the provision of low-cost housing for Aboriginal people. Pictures.

Community closures are already happening - and not just in Western Australia. The latest Commonwealth budget confirmed that there will be no ongoing funding for remote Indigenous communities anywhere in Australia.


Funding cuts and attacks on Aboriginal organisations over the past decade have already forced many Aboriginal people to leave remote areas.


In Sydney Aboriginal houses at the Block in Redfern have been bulldozed to make way for a commercial development, while the government refuses to fund Aboriginal community housing there or anywhere, despite crises of homelessness and overcrowding.

Photos of the Brisbane protest

Video of Alice Springs protest

Pictures of Adelaide protest


Photos of Berlin actions

Perth protest  

Petition to the Secretary General of the Commonwealth, Mr. Kamalesh Sharma, to make his weight felt for the Aboriginal Peoples in Australia

Talk on New Zealand radio



The rallies followed the tird call to action to Stop the forced closure of Aboriginal Communities.


"With Aboriginal communities, culture and land under the threat of forced closures, we are calling on all communities, friends and allies around the world to stand together as one on June 26, 27 and 28. Local event information will be published as soon as it comes to hand, but for now please invite all of your friends and let's make history together. We can win when we unite! Campaign website:


Colin Barnett and Tony Abbott are jeopardising the world’s oldest living cultures, dating back 60,000 years and it's time that we speak in one voice to say "No More!"


Stop the Forced Closure of Aboriginal Communities in Australia, facebook


"1. Join protests in your area on 26-27-28 June and RSVP at 2. Raise your voice and help to promote and build the event via social media. Invite friends, family, media contacts. 3. Make a financial contribution to the campaign. Every amount, large or small, helps. 4. Follow and share content from this and pages like those listed above. The mainstream media are doing their best to ignore us, so we need to serve each other with information as much as possible. 5. Ask sympathetic prominent people (actors, artists, sports people) to show their support by way of a photo, statement, video or speech. 6. Educate yourself on what is happening in WA, South Australia, in Redfern and other places, but think critically about information coming from the mainstream media.


If unsure, talk to people involved in grassroots campaigns. ...


WGAR Background: Aboriginal Peoples and the impact of the Federal Budget


WGAR Background: Plans to close Aboriginal homelands / remote communities in WA and SA (and NT?