Wednesday 15th December - Save Aboriginal Education

Stop the Bulldozers!

At Melbourne's only Aboriginal School
5pm, Wednesday 15 December 2010
Bourke Street Mall, Melbourne

Gary Foley: Academic/Writer/Activist
Dotty Bamblett: President of the school council
Gary Murray: Broadmeadows Local Aboriginal Education Consultative Group (BLAECG)
Sue Pennicuik: The Greens

Will it only be a matter of weeks of the Liberals being in government before the Baillieu Government sends its first bulldozer into a Victorian school?

The Department of Education has approved the construction of another school directly on the land of Ballerrt Mooroop College. To make way for this new school the Aboriginal community is losing their gymnasium and ceremonial grounds. Why must this new school be built on Aboriginal land?

Following more than 200 years of brutal dispossession, Aboriginal people deserve the right to educate their children in their own culture, with full access to the best resources.

Ballerrt Mooroop College is the only Aboriginal school in Melbourne. The state government has made several attempts to close the school, and has already closed down the primary school and years 11-12, leaving only years 7-10. There was no proper consultation with the school community when the decision was made to allow Glenroy Specialist School to build on their land. The government is now pitting one disadvantaged school against another, forcing them to compete for the same meager resources. Glenroy Specialist School should be found an appropriate site that does not require the appropriation of Aboriginal land, and they should be given all the resources they need for their students.

The reality is that the government is trying to strangle Ballerrt Mooroop College out of existence, and they are attempting to force Aboriginal children into mainstream schools. However, there is insufficient support in mainstream schools for the particular disadvantage and experience of racism that many Aboriginal students have to endure. Mainstream schools don’t value Aboriginal culture, language and families. This is why Koori schools were set up in the first place, and why people fought so hard to save Northlands Secondary College when the last Liberal Government shut it down back in the 90s.

Melbourne Anti-Intervention Collective (MAIC) has been campaigning in support of Aboriginal self-determination and against the attacks on bi-lingual education as part of our fight against the Northern Territory Intervention. We support the fight back against these same racist methodologies here in Melbourne.

We ask people to join us in protest to defend Ballerrt Mooroop College and support the following demands written up by the school community:

• Don't demolish our gym
• Proper funding for facilities for health and culture
• Allow increased enrolments of Koori students
• Rights to consultation and proper planning for the school.

Jasmine Ali 0405 317 787
Dotty Bamblett 0433 090 933
Sharon Firebrace 0401 414 967

Further information on the campaign can be found at the Melbourne Anti-Intervention Collective Blog.

Put yourself down as 'Attending' on Facebook and share the event to your friends.
Print a colour poster or a b+w version, and put it up in your workplace, school etc.
Print some leaflets and also put this text on the back.

Also ...

Music Day @ Ballerrt Mooroop College

10am to 8pm, Sunday, 12 December 2010
Ballerrt Mooroop College, 208 Hilton Street, Glenroy, Melways 16 H1.
Gold coin donation. Contact: 0430167145 or 0433090933
Featuring: Tjimba and the Young Warriors, Bart Burns Band, Johnny Mac and Lady Luck (open mic).

The school community is putting on a gig to help support the school. All are welcome to come along to the school and enjoy some cultural music and a BBQ.

Join the Community Blockade!

9am, Friday 17 December 2010
Ballerrt Mooroop College, 208 Hilton Street, Glenroy, Melways 16 H1.

The school community around Ballerrt Mooroop College are calling for support to blockade the gymnasium that is proposed to be bulldozed. All are welcome, and if 5am is too early to get yourself there, we are also trying to get as many people to sleep over in the gym as possible. The gym is equipped with amenities. All you need to bring is your sleeping bag and whatever comforts you require—and your fighting spirit!


The racist Intervention comes to Melbourne

Alex Ettling Socialist Alternative 30 November 2010

There is escalating anger and resistance amongst sections of the local Indigenous community to a government attack on an Aboriginal school in Melbourne.

Ballerrt Mooroop College is the only school in Melbourne explicitly for Indigenous students. In operation since 1996, it runs with the assistance of minimal government funding, and is now is having part of its school grounds appropriated for another school (Glenroy Special School).

Apparently the previous principal of Ballerrt Mooroop College (an Indigenous person) acted against the wishes of the local community. The agreement to let the government use their land was done in a deceptive way, without fully consulting with the school community.

The situation is an attack on one of the few institutions in Melbourne that nurture Aboriginal culture. It represents a continuation of the same ideology behind the Northern Territory Intervention which was introduced by the Howard government in 2007, and has continued with equal vigour under Labor.

The attack on Aboriginal education is an act of cultural genocide, and the attack on an Aboriginal-run school is also an attack on self-determination. In this case, the school has been undermined by a sustained period of inadequate funding, and it has also succumbed to devious bureaucratic manoeuvres to sign away the land without the full participation of the community.

In the last few days, members of the school community have been protesting and conducting a sit-in at the school gymnasium. This is the first building that is to be demolished to make way for the facilities of the special school, in this case a parking lot. The protesters have successfully halted the demolition, and there are negotiations with CFMEU officials to exert influence on the building work at the site.

The school is also reaching out for support from outside their community. They called a protest on Wednesday 24 November and on 26 November held a meeting so people could network and discuss strategy.

Defenders of Ballerrt Mooroop College are justifiably asking why the special school had to be built on one of the few areas of Aboriginal-controlled land that exist in Melbourne. They are asking why it cannot be built on the site of the soon-to-be-vacated Glenroy Primary School. There are also suggestions that the special school’s existing site could be adequately redeveloped to their needs with proper funding.

There is an emerging political framework which is counterposing the demands of the two schools, forcing them into competition with each other. Both schools require decent resources and space to conduct their teaching. Both are schools that service highly marginalised and under-resourced communities in Australian society. It is important to reject the idea that they are pitted against each other, and that one of them has to lose out.

The Glenroy Special School deserves quality facilities and adequate funding to run the school. Ballerrt Mooroop College is entitled to control all of its land and have full access to resources to conduct the education of their students in whatever way they see fit.

However, this is far from the reality, and the school has never been adequately funded. It has never been given the appropriate level of public support to achieve what it set out to do – a recurring scenario with projects that are Aboriginal-run, for Aboriginal people.

The government provides a drip feed of cash, with constant promises that they will provide massive injections in funding for social services. It never happens. And now, only a few short years since Aboriginal organisations managed to exert any form of self-determination, we see the government blame Aboriginal people themselves for the less than amazing outcomes. Their lackeys in the media proclaim the “self-determination experiment” failed, and what follows is the re-emergence of 1930s-style assimilationism.

The NT Intervention, now three-and-half years in operation, represents this shift in Aboriginal affairs. The federal government has led the way in the campaign to reassert the racist assimilationism of the past. In the NT, it has shut down Aboriginal-run job projects and organisations, and it is steadily withdrawing social services to strangle the remote communities out of existence.

It is no surprise that Western Australia’s Liberal Premier Colin Barnett has the confidence to disregard the Kimberly Land Council and threaten to “compulsorily acquire” Aboriginal land for a gas hub. The material interests of the mining industry are clearly the government’s priority.

Some remote Aboriginal communities in WA are facing obliteration because of the very dysfunction for which the government and the private sector is responsible. The WA Department for Indigenous Affairs confirmed to The West Australian newspaper in October that it was considering the withdrawal of government services to the remote community of Oombulgurri.

For the Balanggarra people who live there, there is no say in how to solve the devastating problems that afflict their community. There is no option for more public services to address their problems. Instead, Colin Barnett has said that the “future [is] bleak for many Aboriginal communities in WA”. What will happen to the people in Oombulgurri if their community is shut down?

This is not a concern for Colin Barnett. He is contentedly implementing the ruling class’s new approach to dealing with Aboriginal people. For most decent people, any shift in Aboriginal policy would be about doing what is necessary to redress over 200 years of genocide and the ongoing dispossession of Aboriginal people, which has led to the horrific statistics that we are all aware of.

Instead, what we see from the Barnetts and Macklins, is the smashing of Aboriginal self-determination and the withdrawal of funding. It is the re-emergence of the assimilation model to finally and fully absorb Indigenous people into mainstream capitalist society. It was spearheaded by the racist NT Intervention, and can now be seen in this attack on the Aboriginal school in Melbourne.

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