Land Rights News Central Australia: Land Rights News (October 2011)
Above: The controversial sign at Yuendumu
Goodbye blue signs
The Australian Government has recently deciding the hated blue signs erected on all Aboriginal land in the Northern Territory during the intervention can now be taken down (with its permission).
But when signs at Yuendumu were repainted they were quickly removed by the then recently arrived shire services manager.
The repainted signs bearing the new message “Welcome to Yuendumu (if you want porn go to Canberra)” lasted only a fortnight before disappearing.
According to well known blogger and Yuendumu Mining Company manager Frank Baarda, the shire services manager explained she had the signs removed “because what was on the sign wasn’t meant to be on it.” “Whilst it is great to see our (Alice Springs run) Shire starting to take some initiatives (such as the new speed bumps!) we are a “Growth Town” after all ; it begs the question as to why the Welcome to Yuendumu (if you want porn go to Canberra) signs that are alleged to be offensive to some people, were snaffled after only a fortnight, whilst the blue signs that have been offensive to a great many people, were not, after more than three years,” Frank blogged.
“Do I detect a double standard? Is there (heaven forbid) an element of racism to this? ” asks Frank.
CLC Director David Ross said Aboriginal people in Central Australia were deeply offended by the references to pornography and the size of the signs in general.
“If a symbol of blatant racism was needed, surely these (the blue) signs are it. “This issue has been a running sore since the Intervention. People felt it criminalised them and it made them feel deeply shamed."
Mr Ross said the signs affected people’s morale so negatively they were counter productive.
The Australian Government announced the signs were no longer necessary after pressure from the Australian Greens.
The CLC says despite enquiries, months later it is still unclear how people actually get rid of the signs.
Money is apparently available from the Northern Territory Licensing Commission for the signs to be removed or replaced with signs of their choice.
FAHCSIA also says people should talk to the Government Business Manager (GBM) on their community.
If people have not painted over the signs or bulldozed them and decide to replace the signs with something else they can write to :
Executive Director Licensing, Regulation & Alcohol Strategy
GPO Box 1154, Darwin NT 0801