Australia: Thousands rally in Melbourne in support of remote Aboriginal communities

Australia melbourne protest 1ABC News, April 10, 2015

Thousands of people have staged a rally in Melbourne against the forced closure of remote Aboriginal communities, bringing parts of the CBD to a standstill.

There were major delays to public transport on Friday as Flinders Street and St Kilda Road closed to traffic.

Yarra Trams tweeted at 7:10pm to say Swanston Street trams running between the Arts Precinct and Melbourne Central Station were able to resume service.

Australia melbourne protest 4Australia melbourne protest 6Australia melbourne protest 5Earlier, Metro Trains advised passengers to access Flinders Street Station via Elizabeth Street to avoid the crowds.

The rally began at 4:00pm (AEST) and included a smoking ceremony on the major intersection in front of Flinders Street station.

Social media pages for the rally called for participants to voice their “outrage at the impostor government’s forced closures of First Nations communities across this continent”.

Australia melbourne protest 3Organisers of the event asked “left political” groups not to use the protest to “promote their wares or ask for money”.

Last month, Tony Abbot backed the West Australian Government’s plans to close nearly half of the state’s 247 remote communities, and said it was not unreasonable if the cost of providing services such as schools, outweighed the benefits.

“What we can’t do is endlessly subsidise lifestyle choices, if those lifestyle choices are not conducive to the kind of full participation in Australian society that everyone should have,” he said.

Australia melbourne protest 2The Prime Minister’s comments received criticism from Aboriginal leaders, as well as both sides of politics.

“I think it’s a very disappointing and hopeless statement by the Prime Minister, quite frankly,” Indigenous leader Noel Pearson told The World Today in March.

Chair of the Prime Minister’s Indigenous Advisory Council Warren Mundine said it was not as “simple” as the Prime Minister had described.

“These people are actually living on their homelands and it affects a lot of things, it affects their cultural activities, it affects their native title, it affects a number of areas,” he told Radio National.

“It’s not as simple as … if someone from Sydney decides to have a tree change and go and live in the bush. It’s about their life, it’s about their very essence, it’s about their very culture.”

Remote communities at a glance:

  • There are 274 remote communities in Western Australia and 12,113 Aboriginal people live in them
  • 507 people live in 115 of the smallest communities – an average of 4.4 people per community
  • Premier Colin Barnett flagged the closure of up to 150 communities but has not named them
  • The last community to shut down was in 2011, when Oombulgurri in the East Kimberley was shut down after a host of social problems
  • The state and federal governments contributed $30 million per year to fund services, but the Commonwealth will cease its funding contribution in two years

Posted on April 10, 2015, in Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: