Racism, torture for Australian children in prisons


This video from Australia says about itself:

Making Justice Work: Raintree Park press conference in response to Don Dale abuses

26/07/2016 Raintree Park press conference: Making Justice Work respond to the 4 Corners program which showed abuse in the Don Dale youth detention centre.

From daily News Line in Britain:

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Australian unions outraged at abuse of youth prisoners

SECRETARY of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, Dave Oliver, has written a letter speaking out about the abuse of youth in a detention facility in Australia’s Northern Territory.

Horrendous footage emerged on state television last week of youth being ‘spit-hooded’, stripped naked, forced into restraining positions for long periods of time and attacked by tear gas at the Don Dale Youth Detention Centre. According to the UN, the treatment of youth at Don Dale could amount to torture.

96% of the youth in Northern Territory detention centres are from Australia’s indigenous inhabitants, the Aboriginal people. Protesters in Australia have linked the treatment of Aboriginal youth in Australian facilities to the treatment of black youth and workers in America, which sparked the Black Lives Matter movement.

Oliver’s letter reads as below.

‘Dear Prime Minister,

‘The Australian Union movement welcomes today’s announcement of a Royal Commission into juvenile detention in the Northern Territory. However, having considered the proposed terms of reference, it is clear that more must be done in order to ensure that this is not another redundant report that fails to bring about lasting change.

‘The confinement of the proposed Royal Commission to only the Northern Territory, the involvement of the Territory Government and the development of the Terms of Reference within Cabinet with the exclusion of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community and its leaders is unacceptable.

‘The Royal Commission must be guided by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community with a national remit. A Commission should also consider the recommendations from a number of existing reports on this issue which have been ignored by Territory and federal governments.

‘On these points, the union movement is proud to echo the demands of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner Mick Gooda and Shane Duffy, the chair of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services and co-chair of Change the Record.

‘We have seen Royal Commissions including the Aboriginal Deaths In Custody (1991) Commission, and reports such as Little Children are Scared (2007), fail to change the way the white Australian justice deals with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Previous reports have served to paper over what has now been revealed to the world as a national disgrace.

‘This Royal Commission must do more to end, and not simply conceal, the mistreatment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in detention. The proposed Royal Commission must be different from what has come before, and cannot be the only action taken to address the systemic issue of mistreatment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and children in custody.

‘In relation to the magnitude and appalling nature of the incident at Don Dale, it is also right for the Federal Government to consider the position of the Federal Indigenous Affairs Minister and the entire Northern Territory Government. These elected officials have failed in their duty of care to their constituents.

‘It is right to say that the country has completely lost its trust in these representatives.

‘In scoping a Royal Commission, there must also be structural change to ensure greater levels of consultation is prioritised with the Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander community.

‘This should include the government keeping its election commitment to establish an Independent Custodial Inspector, a measure that has been called for by the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services repeatedly, to no avail. Finally, this Royal Commission must lead to decisive action to address the myriad other crises in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.

Youth suicide is at crisis levels, imprisonment rates continue to climb and community services have been systematically defunded. Policies such as the Community Development Programme, whose discriminatory nature harks back to even darker periods of race relations in this country, must be addressed. I call on you to demonstrate the intention to govern for all Australians by taking the radical but necessary steps to address the issues exposed this week, and the myriad other crises that remain hidden.

‘Yours sincerely,
‘Dave Oliver
‘Secretary, Australian Council of Trade Unions’

Australian workers and indigenous people have been remembering a historic victory for Aboriginal people, the struggle for which took place half a century ago. Fifty years after Aboriginal workers walked out of their jobs in protest at their conditions and the theft of their land, a celebration will be held to commemorate this historic triumph for the land rights movement.

Members of the Australian Council of Trade Unions will travel to Darwin to join community elders for the ceremony, with speeches, song and traditional dancing in the community of Daguragu.

The anniversary commemorates the long campaign of Vincent Lingiari, who in 1966 led about 200 Aboriginal stockmen and their families in the great Walk-Off from Wave Hill Station to protest against brutal working conditions and battle the pastoralists taking Aboriginal land.

After years of struggle the Gurindji people won through, and on August 16, 1975, then Australian prime minister Gough Whitlam poured soil into the hands of Vincent Lingiari to mark the return of more than 3,000 square kilometres of the Wave Hill land to his people.

‘I want to promise you this act of restitution we perform today will not stand alone,’ he said. ‘Your fight was not for yourselves alone, and we are determined that Aboriginal Australians everywhere will be helped by it.’

Kara Keys, Indigenous Officer with the ACTU, says the Wave Hill victory was a proud moment. The anniversary provides an opportunity to remember the great advances that have been hard won by those involved in the land rights movement, and the continuing fight for equality before the law and in the workplace for indigenous people,’ Keys told the website Working Life.

‘The ACTU executive is relocating to Darwin in August as a demonstration of the union movement’s commitment to fighting for equality for all people, and in recognition of the pivotal role the Wave Hill Walk Off played in the ongoing fight for Indigenous equality in Australia.’

Keys warned that many of the advances made in the wake of Gough Whitlam’s symbolic gesture are being lost because of the narrow-minded and unfair policies of the current Coalition Government. Many of the challenges faced by the workers of Wave Hill are still faced by indigenous workers today,’ she says.

‘Discriminatory policies such as the Community Development Programme echo the policies that oppressed those who walked off Wave Hill, and the union movement stands fully committed to the ultimate goal of complete equality for all workers in this country.’

Linda Burney, newly elected as the first Aboriginal woman in the House of Representatives, agrees. There’s an awful paternalism creeping back and a regression in the way Aboriginal affairs are administered,’ she said. But she is not giving up, and recalls the way Aboriginal and social justice leaders celebrated in 1974, when national songwriter Paul Kelly and Kev Carmody released the song From Little Things Big Things Grow to mark the Gurindji people’s victory for land rights.

‘The stars were in line – the strike coincided with the beginnings of a concerted Aboriginal rights movement,’ says Burney. That old man and his mob and all their supporters were main actors in a renaissance in Aboriginal self-determination, pride and identity.’

Burney will now be bringing the fight for equality to the national political stage, with constitutional reform to recognise indigenous rights at the top of the agenda. Treaty and recognition are not mutually exclusive and suggesting otherwise is simply untrue,’ she says. ‘I think we can do both.’

Members of the National Union of Workers have won a big victory by forcing Australia’s largest horticultural producer to recognise their union and come to the negotiating table. One union organiser said that the workers had ‘made history’ with their action.

The agriculture and horticulture industries are notorious for being rife with worker exploitation, illegal underpayment and poor working conditions. To make things worse, employers are forced by their buyers, the big supermarkets, to drive down costs – read: workers’ wages.

Workers on student and seasonal visas are hired to do the work, with recent investigations into ‘black jobs’ revealing that these foreign workers often take home between A$10-13 an hour, far beneath the minimum wage.

In the past, less than two per cent of this workforce was unionised; however, workers for farming giant Costa Group, at the company’s tomato-growing site at Guyra in northern New South Wales, have bucked this trend. Conditions at Guyra are grim, workers have said, with workers fainting there whilst working in recent years.

‘In the summer the heat is just extreme,’ one worker said, adding that shade cloths are now not used in the hottest part of the day in the glasshouses. The other big thing I want from them is to respect their workers,’ the worker said about the other grievances of the employees. ‘One (member of the) management is pretty abusive when they talk to staff; it makes a lot of staff angry.’

Workers there are paid the minimum wage of A$17.70 an hour, with the week’s overall pay adding up to barely A$600 each week. It’s very hard for people who are out here. It’s a really poor wage.’

Piece rates at other sites operated by Costa mean that workers may earn even less, under the legal minimum, and there is no overtime rate of pay. Matt Toner of the National Union of Workers (NUW) said that ‘It’s probably the worst award in the country. It’s making workers scrape by on the bones of their arses.’

The NUW had no members amongst Costa’s workers at Guyra just a year ago, but managed to collect the signatures of 200 workers at the site, which is needed under Australian law to bring the employers to the bargaining table. Costa initially disputed the signatures on the petition, but in the end was forced to accept.

However, tensions are still high between the employer and the workers, with reports last week that the company was attempting to block union access to the workers. The fight against unscrupulous employers – read capitalists – still has a long way to go in Australia, as recent scandals in UK businesses Sports Direct and BHS among others, show that it has to on the other side of the world also.

Less than four days after appointing former Northern Territory (NT) chief justice Brian Martin to head a royal commission into the sadistic abuse of boys inside the NT’s juvenile detention centres, the Liberal-National Coalition government was forced to replace him yesterday: here.

Australia: Juvenile prison abuse exposed in Queensland: here.

Australian state government imprisons teenagers in adult jail: here.

Australia: Testimony details abuse in youth detention centres: here.

Last month, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) released previously suppressed CCTV footage documenting the aggressive response of guards and police officers to a disturbance at the Northern Territory’s Don Dale Juvenile Detention Centre last November. The video shows Territory Response Group (TRG) police, dressed in military fatigues, aiming assault rifles at unarmed youth detainees as they surrendered: here.

Australian government promotes racist diversion over so-called “African gangs”: here.

Australia continues punitive treatment of refugees on Manus Island: here.

Right-wing senator calls for a “White Australia” immigration policy: here.

5 thoughts on “Racism, torture for Australian children in prisons

  1. Pingback: Racism, torture for Australian children in prisons | Oxtapus *blueAction

  2. Thursday, 18 August 2016

    ACTU FIGHTING FOR WAGE JUSTICE FOR ALL INDIGENOUS AUSTRALIANS

    AUSTRALIA’S Turnbull Government is backing laws that force Indigenous people into work, not for wages, only welfare.

    The ACTU (Australian Council of Trade Unions), including Secretary Dave Oliver and Indigenous Officer Kara Keys, joined with affiliate unions and local Indigenous people in Darwin on Tuesday morning to draw attention to the ongoing fight for wage justice for Indigenous Australians.

    The ACTU is in Darwin this week for its National Executive meeting as a demonstration of the ongoing strong bond between Indigenous people and the union movement on the 50th anniversary of the Wave Hill Walk Off.

    The Gurindji strike (or Wave Hill Walk-Off) was a walk-off and strike by 200 Gurindji stockmen, house servants and their families in August 1966 at Wave Hill cattle station in Kalkarindji (formerly known as Wave Hill), Northern Territory. On 23 August 1966, Gurindji tribal elder Vincent Lingiari led 200 Aboriginal workers off their jobs at the Wave Hill cattle station, 800 kilometres south of Darwin, where they worked for the British pastoral company Vestey. It was a strike that would last seven years.

    ACTU Indigenous Officer Kara Keys: ‘The anniversary is a reminder of the fact that half a century of struggle has produced a lot of progress, but leaves a lot left to be done, especially with regard to the oppressive Community Development Programme, which imposes harsher requirements on workers in remote communities than those in metropolitan areas.

    ‘This is a programme which discriminates on the basis of race, and has no place in a modern society. The ACTU will be taking a resolution to its executive tomorrow in Darwin seeking approval to explore all possible means of removing the CDP and replacing it with a more equitable alternative that will place Indigenous people in control of their own futures.’

    The ACTU executive has adopted a resolution authorising all means at the organisations disposal to be mobilised against the Turnbull Government’s racially discriminatory Community Development Programme. The resolution will kick-start exploration of legal and legislative challenges to the programme, as well as the mobilisation of campaign resources.

    The ACTU is committed to seeing the removal of this policy, which forces the overwhelmingly Indigenous population of remote communities into labour with none of the benefits of employment enjoyed by every other Australian worker. These workers’ labour is without the protection of federal OHS standards or worker’s compensation and earns no superannuation.

    ACTU Secretary, Dave Oliver said: ‘This is a programme of racial discrimination, harking back to the days of the Wave Hill Walk Off, the 50th anniversary of which we celebrate this week. The union movement cannot, and will not, allow a policy which denies workers their rights and creates a two-tiered unemployment system, to stand.
    ‘Unions have pulled together to oppose a policy which is not only racially discriminatory, but also attacks rights at work, places downward pressure on wages, and downward pressure on wage-paying jobs.’

    ACTU Indigenous Officer, Kara Keys said: ‘The resolution passed today is the first step toward a campaign which seeks to dismantle the CDP, and the entire union movement has now committed to this common goal. This is a programme which discriminates on the basis of race, and has no place in a modern society. The ACTU looks forward to a future in which all Australian workers are treated equally, where Indigenous people are not treated as second-class workers and are given the same opportunities and rights at work that any Australian worker rightfully expects.’

    • A former miner has died due to complications from Black Lung, the CFMEU has claimed. It comes as 11 miners have been diagnosed with the disease, known as coal workers’ pneumoconiosis. Last month 18 miners were retested for the disease following US reviews of the X-rays, after they were found to have traces of Black Lung which were missed in Australian scans.

    Now the CFMEU believe a former miner, one of three new cases brought to its attention recently, has passed away from the disease. On the back of this, the mining union also claims there are likely 30 yet-to-be-confirmed cases of the disease, including the previously mentioned 18. CFMEU district president Steve Smyth believes the number of black lung cases will only escalate, with a miner as young as 39 identified with the disease to date.

    ‘This is a crisis and the union has been warning the numbers will skyrocket for some time – that is starting to happen now but unfortunately we’re only seeing the tip of the iceberg,’ he said.

    Smyth also called for the QLD Government to act in enforcing stricter coal dust limits and independent monitoring, as well as more training for doctors who assess the health of coal workers. He said mining companies were incapable of enforcing limits internally, ‘Self-regulation has proved an absolute disaster.’

    ‘We know that mining companies are afraid of having independent inspectors coming in to check dust levels and you don’t have to be a genius to figure out why – they’re simply not operating at legal levels and they don’t want to,’ he said. People will continue to get black lung disease until we reduce dust levels in Queensland coal mines and stop this crazy situation where mining companies, who caused this problem, get to control the monitoring and compliance regime.’

    The union believes the re-emergence of the disease was partly by caused the number of inadequately trained medical advisors conducting health assessments on mining workers. Currently, there are 237 nominated medical advisors, including occupational physicians and GPs, registered to conduct the health assessments, which the union says is nearly 30 times too many.

    The Sim review into Black Lung suggested a smaller number of doctors for the assessments; the union said it should be no more than eight, but more highly trained, as there is currently no formal system for assessing or training the doctors. The review found that out of 256 lung function test samples, 40 per cent were poorly conducted by the selected doctors, and 41 per cent of the tests were not accurately interpreted.

    The union said these findings should emphasise the need for proper training of all radiographers and doctors who assess coal worker’s health to international standards.
    They are also calling for radiologists to be trained in the B-reader programme, which was implemented in the United States for more consistency in the reading of coal miners’ X-rays.

    Smyth added that the current lax enforcement of coal dust regulations and poor medical training ‘is now costing dozens of miners their lives and many more their health. This situation needs to be ended now.’

    • The AMWU (Australian Manufacturing Workers Union) has strongly warned against weakening Victoria’s asbestos protections after reports that WorkSafe is considering excluding work on buildings constructed after 2003 from mandatory checking for the deadly substance.

    The proposed change in a draft set of new WorkSafe regulations has been quietly pushed by property developers and backed by the Housing Industry Association, according to a report in Fairfax media. AMWU Victorian State Secretary Steve Dargavel said it would be among issues he would be taking up next week when he meets the minister for WorkSafe, Robin Scott.

    ‘Asbestos keeps being discovered in imported building materials on new construction projects, so it would be outrageous if WorkSafe considered winding back compulsory asbestos checks for any work on buildings put up after 2003,’ Dargavel said. If anything, we need WorkSafe being far more proactive because Border Force are failing to properly check imports. We’ve identified numerous instances where imported parts containing asbestos are being used in machinery which manufacturing workers are expected to maintain.’

    Last month, the discovery of asbestos tiles and building materials imported from China by supplier Yuanda caused major disruption to building projects in Brisbane and Perth. Unions had not been told by WorkSafe Victoria during the past two years of detailed discussions on updating safety regulations that any rules governing asbestos were subject to change. Final submissions on the updating of regulations are due next month.

    Dargavel said the weakening of Australian protections was a flow-on from free trade agreements like that with China, which increased imports of materials where we could not verify the authenticity of Material Safety Data Sheets. ”I think we’ll see employers increasingly seeking to weaken Australian protections in the name of free trade agreements so they can cut costs, whether it be importing unsafe steel or relaxing checks on asbestos,’ he said.

    http://wrp.org.uk/news/12377

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