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‘The rights of every man are diminished when the rights of one man

are threatened.’ This memorable line was from John F. Kennedy’s

Civil Rights Announcement, back in 1963. Over 50 years on, the

message still holds true: when one man, or one group of people, are

treated less fairly than every one else – it doesn’t matter who they are

– then all people are worse off. Why? Because it means we are

surrounded by unfairness, by prejudice, and by cruelty.

Though here in Australia, we are considered fair to all cultures,

what we don’t see is the poor treatment of specific groups of people by

our governments. One particular example of this is the mistreatment

of Aboriginal Australians living in remote communities, through an

obscure program known as the Northern Territory Emergency


The Northern Territory Emergency Response, also shortened to


, or ‘the Intervention’, was a government initiative first

implemented in 2007. It supposedly aimed to strengthen the

disadvantaged communities of the Northern Territory and protect

Indigenous children from abuse and domestic violence. At this point,

you are probably wondering what could possibly be wrong with the

Intervention. Well, there’s a lot.

Firstly, it heavily regulates the lives of Aboriginal families. They

do not receive money, but are forced to shop with ration cards. At

school, children must be taught in English for the first four hours of

the day – even though, to them, English is often a third, or even

fourth, language.

Secondly, the Intervention has also had many economical

downsides for the Indigenous. It caused the government-funded

Community Development Employment Projects to be abolished,

meaning a great loss of jobs. Within four years, the unemployment

rate increased by 14%. The Australian government also took over a

great deal of the Indigenous people’s sacred land, therefore not

treating them as its traditional owners.

I’ve only just touched the surface, but it’s pretty clear to see that

the Intervention is questionable. In fact, it violates specific human

rights, as laid out in the Universal Declaration for the rights of

Indigenous peoples.

Namely, Article 3: the right of the Indigenous to self-determination

(which is the community’s right to solve their own issues as they wish).

This is all very well, but the Australian government did not consult

Why We Should

Stop The


Ciara Brennan

Orator of the Year