Statement on Intervention in the NT

Following on from the open letter to Minister Brough that expressed concern over the effectiveness of the proposed actions to address the long-standing issue of the abuse Aboriginal children, delegates from all over the country and most importantly, from Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory, met in Parliament House, Canberra, today.

These groups came together to develop an informed response to the recent announcement by the Federal Government that draws upon their collective wisdom and experience gained from working on the ground for many years.

The discussions reinforced the fact that to take action today, the Government could be funding a variety of proven programs, measures and approaches, which are already working in Aboriginal communities, but are either under-funded or there are not sufficient resources to extend them to other communities. When examining the success of programs and initiatives; whether in children protection, tackling addictions or health, the common ingredients for success are the active involvement and ownership of these initiatives by Aboriginal communities.

Some of the known programmes that could be expanded immediately include:

  • Education: Clontaff Program dealing with school attendance
  • Child Protection: Tangentyere’s family and children’s program
  • Community Safety: Night patrols programs
  • Health: primary health care access program

Over the coming week, an action list of these programmes and other successful initiatives to tackle child protection issues will be produced and will be take back to the communities to gain their endorsement.

Any interventions for the betterment of Aboriginal people must begin from an understanding that manyof these communities experience extreme poverty. These underlying causes of disadvantage have been exacerbated by the lack of a comprehensive and co-ordinated approach and severe lack of resources.

Finally, there is no evidence to suggest that any undermining of the existing controls that Aboriginal people exercise over their lands will assist in the protection of children and communities in the Northern Territory.