Four years ago, the Australian Government used controversial emergency legislation (aka ‘the Intervention’), aimed only at aboriginal Australians, to take control of many Aboriginal settlements. It said this was to help to end violence and child abuse, and combat the alcohol abuse that ravages many Aboriginal communities. Australia’s Hidden Valley is a documentary I made about the lives of Aboriginal people in Alice Springs, focusing largely on a town camp called Hidden Valley, one of many places affected by the Intervention and what has happened since…
Since the emergency legislation, which required the suspension of Australia’s race discrimination act, welfare payments are ring-fenced to prevent the purchase of alcohol, although with little positive impact. Aboriginal people are far more more likely to die of alcohol related causes than other Australians. Alcohol, welfare dependency and limited opportunities are often pushing adults to a life at the margins and sometimes into crime. There are some signs of hope in desert communities like Santa Teresa, where alcohol has been banned since 1975. With a school, health clinic, women’s centre and a strict no alcohol policy that everyone follows, Santa Teresa appears to be far safer and functioning better than many of Alice’s town camps.
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Read Oliver’s Blog about the impact of losing identity: Who Are You? (coming soon)
Australia’s Hidden Valley Online:
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Photos from Hidden Valley
PODCAST: iTUNES or download mp3 via RSS Feed
Pick of the Day, Critics Choice, Highlights etc in: Times, Sunday Times, Telegraph, Sunday Telegraph, Guardian, Observer, Independent, Independent on Sunday, & Mail on Sunday, Radio Times
FROM TELEGRAPH: Pick of the Day: Critics Choice:
“The current run of Channel 4’s short, sharp documentary series comes to a close tonight with a trip to Australia, where reporter Oliver Steeds investigates the problems affecting the Aboriginal population around Alice Springs. Nearly a third of the residents in the area are Aboriginal. Most of them live segregated in camps across the city. Steeds visits these beleaguered settlements, targeted four years ago by legislation aimed at stamping out violence and child abuse. Alcohol, seen as the source of the struggle, has been made illegal. But the laws have had mixed success. At Hidden Valley camp, it is clear alcohol is still rife from the cans littering the ground, to the stories of residents living in its shadow. Unemployment is widespread. Most survive on government handouts, known by Aborigines as ‘sit down money’. In the city centre, racial tensions are rising. Steeds meets victims of a recent crime wave linked to Aborginal youths who visit Alice Springs to beat the ban on booze. Hope lies in those settlements with stronger links to ancestral history. In Santa Teresa, Steeds finds a peaceful, alcohol-free community whose members still hunt the bush and tell stories under the stars. Toby Dantzic.