On June 23 a new group, Stop the Intervention Collective Sydney (STICS), was established to campaign against the Northern Territory Intervention.
The new group, which includes many of the founding members of the Aboriginal Rights Coalition (ARC), separated after months of rancorous meetings.
Despite attempts to settle differences and maintain unity by adopting a “Code of Conduct” for the meetings and ground rules for financial accountability, there was no sign that the tensions in the group were going to be overcome.
The lack of basic meeting accountability meant that many people, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal, had already voted with their feet and refused to attend the ARC meetings. It had also seriously affected the relationship between the ARC and representatives of Aboriginal groups in the prescribed areas in the Northern Territory.
These relations had already been strained by decisions made outside the Sydney campaign meetings. Although recognised Alice Springs Town Camp leader Barbara Shaw eventually attended the recent Sydney anti-Intervention conference, she had originally been told that no money would be available to fund her trip to the conference. This was despite the fact that a plane ticket was bought for someone from Yuendumu who never attended.
Another issue, establishing a black steering committee to co-ordinate the anti-Intervention campaign, was thought to have been resolved at the conference. The conference voted to endorse open, inclusive democratic campaign meetings as the basis for building the campaign. This was also adopted at the first Sydney ARC meeting following the conference.
But the ARC meetings degenerated again when an Aboriginal campaign member proposed that two people, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal, jointly chair the 21 June National Day of Action protest in Sydney. What should have been a simple discussion in the campaign meeting became the basis for more disruptive behaviour.
While setting up a separate committee is a last resort in any campaign, an open democratic campaign group is absolutely essential for the campaign to continue to grow.
Since its formation STICS has established solid connections with groups in the prescribed areas and is committed to building the anti-Intervention campaign. Besides the successful 30 strong picket of the COAG meeting in Sydney on July 3, STICS is organising for solidarity actions with September protests in Alice Springs to coincide with the government’s review of the Intervention.
By Ian Rintoul
Stop the Intervention Collective Sydney meets Mondays, 6pm at UTS.
Email: [email protected], on call Monique 0415 410 558