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Indigenous rights central to new advocacy initiative

The Uniting Church in Australia has circulated letters for concerned Australians to send to their Federal Government representatives and candidates, expressing concern about the intervention into Indigenous communities in the Northern Territory.

An initiative of a Task Group set up in August by the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress (UAICC) in direct response to the intervention, the letters urge our politicians to take immediate action to address the rights and responsibilities of Indigenous Australians.

In a joint public letter Reverend Shayne Blackman, National Administrator of the UAICC and Lin Hatfield Dodds, National Director of UnitingCare Australia outlined key advocacy issues.

“We strongly urge all Australians to advocate for the rights and responsibilities of Aboriginal people; it is time to vote for a positive future for our Indigenous communities,” Rev Blackman said.

“We encourage people to use the Australia Fair website to lobby members of Parliament by email, letter and talkback radio to advocate for a more just approach than is presently being experienced.

“Your concern will send a strong message to the Government that it is essential for our leaders to uphold the rights of Indigenous people to take responsibility for their own actions and not those imposed upon them.

“Underlying this is the need for long term support for overcoming deep rooted community problems such as alcohol supply, inadequate housing, the high cost of nutritious foods and access to quality education.

“The Government has an unprecedented opportunity to deliver long-term proactive programs to address the root causes of community dysfunction and elicit individuals to take responsibility for their actions.

“Indigenous communities wish to realise their aspirations and vision, but presently there are few means in which to achieve this with the Government’s marginalising approach.

“We call upon the public to embrace this initiative to demonstrate that change can be achieved in a manner which upholds the rights of Indigenous Australians.”