12th Assembly 2009

Intervention condemned

Decisions made on the final day of the Uniting Church’s triennial Assembly meeting will strengthen the voice of the church in opposition to the controversial Intervention into Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory.

The Intervention was initiated by the Howard Government in the run-up to the 2007 federal election but was continued, with some modification, by the Rudd Government.

Congress representatives strongly opposed the Intervention, claiming it had negatively impacted all Indigenous Territorians.

Rev. Rronang Garruwurra from Elcho Island said that when the Northern Territory Intervention was first announced, “We didn’t have a clue what it was about. It has taken us a long time to understand the Government’s intentions.

“We are now asking that you walk with us in this ongoing dialogue, with our communities,” he said. “The bottom line for us in the Northern Territory communities, your system of politics and law, we do not understand very well. But the parallel is also true. You do not understand well our system of law.”

Assembly resolved by consensus to call on the Federal Government to rectify the lack of negotiation on the Intervention.

It agreed to call on the Government to negotiate with Indigenous people and communicate in their local languages.

Further, it resolved, in collaboration with UAICC and the Northern Synod, to identify funding and appropriate resources and make that funding and resources available to the National Aboriginal and Islander Christian Alliance (NATSICA) to bring about a church-based forum on negotiation within the churches to be held in the Northern Territory.

The Assembly noted, with strong endorsement, the action of the Australian Government in recognising the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

In a parallel move, the Assembly resolved to support the World Council of Churches sending a Living Letters delegation to the Northern Territory.

It is expected this will greatly assist the Aboriginal people to achieve their aspirations in relation to the Intervention and related matters.

The General Secretary of the National Council of Churches Tara Curlewis was present at the Assembly and expressed her support.