ALS providers believe the Independents can stamp the future of Australia's race relations legacy by siding with the party that will immediately reinstate full legal protections against racial discrimination and roll-back many of the Intervention measures, particularly income quarantining.
"Since neither major party took much notice of Aboriginal issues during the election campaign, Aboriginal Legal Service providers are asking the Independents to make changing the impact of racially discriminatory policies against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people the highest priority before their decision is made," ALS providers said in a statement.
They have asked the Independents to ensure that Australia's human rights obligations and the commitment to racial equality contained in the Racial Discrimination Act are respected. They want the Act to be reinstated and to include a 'notwithstanding clause' and for income management to be amended so that it is narrowly targeted, trigger-based and voluntary.
At their latest bi-monthly meeting in Brisbane, the ALS providers from every state and territory expressed their dismay at the clear lack of evidence justifying the Intervention's necessity and effectiveness.
"Rather than taking direct action to protect children and making communities safe, the Intervention measures since 2007 have taken away Aboriginal people's rights to make day-to-day decisions on their lives," ALS providers said.
"Despite intervention measures, there is a chronic lack of treatment and rehabilitation services in Aboriginal communities that directly address issues such as alcohol and other drug abuse and family violence. Given the enormous amount of money spent on the Intervention, the failure to adequately resource preventative programs is a matter of serious concern to Aboriginal Legal Service providers."
The ALS providers have called upon the Independents to demand that any new Australian government significantly improve engagement with Aboriginal communities and organisations so that real progress can be made to address Aboriginal disadvantage.