Peak community body supports calls for overhaul of NT intervention

The Australian Council of Social Service has offered its full support for the call by the national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services and Aboriginal Peak Organisations of the Northern Territory for an immediate overhaul of the Commonwealth Government’s intervention in Indigenous communities.

The groups have written to all federal MPs from across the political spectrum, urging them to prevent the NT Intervention from becoming ‘a lost opportunity and a significant policy failure.’

“This is an unqualified call from key expert bodies in the Northern Territory who are firmly committed to improving the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples with whom they work, and the communities of which they are a part. We urge the federal parliament to take this expert advice seriously,” said ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie.

“We support these groups who find it unacceptable that such a massive undertaking as the NT Intervention is continuing without an evidence base and is not being properly evaluated or monitored.

“ACOSS has argued that mandatory income management is poorly targeted as a scheme, expensive to administer, and a gamble with the daily lives of people on the lowest incomes, not to mention a gamble of taxpayers’ funds.

“We strongly support a range of recommendations made by these representative groups, including:

* Replacing the current income management system with a voluntary system of trigger-based and case-by-case income management.

* Empowering and resourcing prescribed communities to drive solutions to alcohol misuse that are appropriate to the needs of individual communities.

* Delivering a non-discriminatory approach to law enforcement.

* Immediately cancelling the compulsory five-year leases acquired over Aboriginal land

* Commissioning independent research which considers qualitative and quantitative data in relation to each of the NTER measures, and to make this research freely available to the public.

“ACOSS remains deeply concerned by the Commonwealth move to extend this unproven scheme Australia-wide. ACOSS will continue to stand alongside Aboriginal groups who overwhelmingly oppose all forms of income management unless it is voluntary and done with proper consultation.

“We urge the Government to enter into consultation and negotiation with each community to develop programs to meet their needs in place of the top down approach adopted since the Intervention in 2007.”

Media Contact: Fernando de Freitas 0419 626 155

See Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services and Aboriginal Peak Organisations of the NT Media Statement

See ACOSS Policy Analysis – Compulsory Income Management : A flawed answer to a complex issue