Ampilatwatja community walkoff: 'Protest House' launched
By Kathy Newnam
Hundreds of people gathered on February 14 for the launch of a “protest house” established by the Alyawarr people at the protest camp at Honeymoon Bore — 350 kilometres north east of Alice Springs. The camp was set up in July 2009 when Alyawarr elders led a walk-off from the Ampilatwatja community in protest against the federal government’s racist treatment of the community.
The camp is outside of the “prescribed area” defined by the government’s racist Northern Territory Emergency Response (only “legally” possible as a result of the NTER’s suspension of the federal Racial Discrimination Act) — putting it outside the control and harassment of government business managers. A government business manager for the Ampilatwatja community and a representative of the Department of Indigenous Affairs arrived unannounced and uninvited to the launch of the protest house, but were evicted by the elders at the camp.
The protest house was completed in two weeks with the assistance of a solidarity work brigade which included representatives from the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union , the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, the Australian Workers Union, the Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers Union and Unions Northern Territory. This effort stands in stark contrast to the NTER’s $680 million housing program which has only built two houses in two years.