Thousands of Australians protest Indigenous community closure

Demonstrators rally in Melbourne against closure of remote Indigenous communities

Updated Jul 28, 2015

Thousands of people hit the streets in Melbourne Australia on May 1 in solidarity with the Indigenous community to protest against the government who is planning to close remote communities.

Protesters blocked off two main intersections in the city disrupting the traffic for two hours, making it impossible for cars and trams to pass through.

Throughout the rally, protesters were chanting “shame, Abbott, shame,” “no pride in genocide” and “always was, always will be, Aboriginal land.”

Rallies around Australia began after Western Australian Premier Colin Barnett stated that the Government can no longer cater for Indigenous communities and said, “We are probably going to see certainly over 100, maybe 150 remote communities close,” last year in November.

The Australian Newspaper reported that Barnett claimed the reason behind closure of the remote communities is due to the lack of opportunities in providing education and employment for residents, the risk of child abuse as well as domestic violence.

Barnett also added that the low amount of federal funding of AUD$90 million ($70 million) provided over three years will complicate and make it “impossible to provide the state’s 274 remote communities with essential services as well as policing, healthcare and education.”

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott was criticised after showing support to Barnett’s opinion of the Indigenous people and said, “It’s not the job of the taxpayer to subside lifestyle choices,” referring to the Indigenous people who are living in the remote areas.

Speaking at the rally, Margaret Gardiner an Indigenous elder, claimed that the government is not respecting the people in the remote communities and added: “It’s time for people to start thinking about what is happening and start doing something about it.”

According to the Australian Bureau of statistics as of June 2011, the Aboriginal population was 669,900 making 3 percent of the country’s population and that the Indigenous community is mainly situated around the north of Australia and the Kimberley in the country’s northwest.