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NT Indigenous communities June 21, 2007

Posted by Amanda in Australia, Australian politics, Indigenous issues, Media, politics.

John Howard has just announced a takeover of Indigenous communities in the Northern Territory.

There are so many issues that come out of this.

Is this setting back Aboriginal self determination decades? I am sure that this is going to be discussed ad nauseum in the days ahead. I think it could have. Communities and the Territory government have lost their ability to govern themselves.

But the key question for me is- have the Indigenous people affected or indeed any Indigenous people been consulted about this move? I haven’t heard that yet. It is pretty difficult to consult when you dismantle the body through which Aboriginal people had a voice. As flawed as ATSIC might have been, it was something.

And the larger issue is what is the long term plan? Where is the government’s plan to address the underlying causes of this dysfunction. I have read about housing reforms and the health checks but the problem goes a lot deeper than that. They have known about these problems for years, if not decades- why now? And what are they going to do to allow Indigenous people to determine the best ways to help their communities. This roughshod approach may only cause more anger and resentment in the end.

And finally, I am sitting here completing an assignment about Indigenous voices in the media- or the lack of. Where are the comments from Indigenous leaders about these plans? SMH and News.com have some Indigenous comments but at the very bottom of their articles. ABC had none as yet in the stories I’ve read. We should be hearing from those who are affected by this the most. They should be the first voices we hear- not the last.



1. Phil - June 21, 2007

Go to the LP thread on Noel Pearson. This is political wedge politics of the first order, this years Tampa. He’s had 11 years to do something and it’s become worse under his tenure. Why now? Election.

He’s taking land, denying individual rights and playing constitutional footsie, this has serious implications for all states when it comes to policy.

And not only that, he applying the criteria to all Australians who receive assistance. So this can be used as a pretext in many types of cases.

Horrible too because if you oppose it you’d be painted as some kind of monster who doesn’t want to do anything about abuse.

Politics has become so debased in this country under Howard that child sexual abuse is now used as a political tool in Australia.

2. Amanda - June 21, 2007

Yep I was reading that right after I wrote this.

My “Why now” was pointing at exactly the election issue.

I would hope that the Australian people would not be so stupid as to fall for this ploy again and that they can see that more power is being taken out of Indigenous hands and that is not a plan for the future.

Why would we be surprised that the most vulnerable are being used as political capital.

I want to hear more Indigenous voices in this debate.

3. Andrew Grant - July 4, 2007

Firstly, how the hell ya goin’ Amanda! It’s been a while since we toured the Outback to bring the pagan masses the good news of Fool’s Gold. ;-p

It always worries me when Howard comes up with a “policy” one week after reading a report and having a cry about it. No doubt the devil will be in the detail. It’s a knee-jerk reaction to a complex problem that has been around for years.

In trouble and only months out from an election Howard needs to appear to be a decisive leader but like much of the current Govt’s social policies they get mentioned at Budget time and then drop into a big ‘black’ hole (no pun intended). Years of neglect of a serious problem (by successive govt’s) cannot be fixed in a simplistic reaction.

Would anyone here have a problem if someone came to them and forcibly took away their young daughter for a medical examination to see if she had been abused?

It all sounds a bit “Rabbit Proof Fence” to me.

I’m sure there is a smattering of good intention in this, but I just find it hard to take seriously when there has been complete disdain for 11 years, only for something to be done when an election is coming and they are in trouble. It’s hard to believe they are being genuine.

This will only work if every social worker they send up there is altruistic and intends to get their hands dirty. Don’t bet on that being a likely possibility.

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