Australian Indigenous workers say they're treated like slaves


The Federal Government denies Aboriginal people working in remote Northern Territory communities are being treated like slaves.

Hundreds of people from around the country have today rallied for the rights of Aboriginal workers. National unions have supported the cause, with some workers walking off building sites. In a video posted on the internet, a group of workers in the remote community of Ti Tree say they are being treated like slaves.

Anti-intervention campaigners say government changes to an employment scheme for Indigenous people has left many without work.

They say thousands of trained people are being forced to work for their welfare benefits, which are then quarantined.

Campaigner Paddy Gibson says thousands of Aboriginal people in the Territory are being forced to work for about $13 an hour and half of that is quarantined.

He says the situation is a result of changes to the Community Development Employment Projects (CDEP).

"In a remote Aboriginal community, when you've turned around and cut the only program that actually would have provided employment, but then made people do the same work, but cut their wages in half or more, I think is a real injustice," he said.

But a spokeswoman for Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin says all Australian job seekers with a Centrelink payment that requires participation must engage in training or work experience.

It says the number of funded Indigenous jobs has increased by more than 2,000 in the past three years.