A pariah on the international scene; tougher penalties for racism needed. Marlene Hodder

IRAG meeting Mt Nancy (Marlene Hodder-front row third from the left)

Nottingham-born human rights activist and Grandmother Marlene Hodder is a Mpartwe local and has witnessed first-hand the racism her Lardil sons have experienced during their lifetime. Marlene migrated to Australia as a young woman and is concerned about the devastating rise in racism that First Nations communities have experienced during the lead-up and result of the Voice to Parliament Referendum campaign.

“We need a clear statement to say it’s not acceptable.”

In conversation with Kirstyn Lindsay, Marlene Hodder explains she didn’t receive any information on the true history of Australia when she first migrated here and she hopes that will change for newcomers. She would like to see in the wake of the referendum a federal anti-racism campaign, something that has better traction than previous campaigns with tougher penalties for people using racism against First Nations people.

“We need a clear statement to say it’s not acceptable,” she says.

Marlene also hopes to see the implementation of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights for Indigenous People UNDRIP in policy to bring change for First Nations people and accountability to people perpetrating racism.

“I think the other issue is the UN declaration of the rights of Indigenous peoples, we need to get that into law.”

Marlene says the United Nations has criticised the Australian government and is watching what happens for First Nations people and if there is a No result for the Voice to Parliament we will be a pariah (outcast) on the international human rights scene.
She believes people are being misled with racism at the forefront of the voice campaign and community interests are not at the heart of ensuring First Nations people are protected from racism and political bias.

During her lifetime she has worked tirelessly for Rollback the Intervention IRAG and on the front line for family violence prevention and youth justice working towards keeping children out of the criminal justice system and she says that racism has increased in the Northern Territory since the rollout of the Intervention; Northern Territory National Emergency Response Act 2007. Marlene says as a white fella she hasn’t had racism directed at her, but it hurts her spirit as a mother to see what her sons endure.

Sporting the term ‘keyboard warrior’ Marlene says her days of getting out on the front line have slowed down and she will support the community and the Blak sovereignty movement in the next steps after the referendum and she realises that Treaty should have been the first step.

In support of First Nations people experiencing racism throughout the Voice to Parliament campaign, Marlene Hodder says she finds it all overwhelming “I think it’s unfortunate that certain elements of government have told many untruths, they’ve added to prejudices to First Nations people, and they need to be held to account.”

Protest Canberra 2008.