New NT Intervention measures
While the Australian Government is extending the ‘stick’ approach in the field of education, tying welfare payments to school attendance, and alcohol, extending income management arrangements for people with alcohol related problems, there was no mention of the stick in relation to jobs. The announcements today, part of the Northern Territory Intervention Mark 2, are all ‘carrots’, sounding very like the carrots proffered in the past. This new bunch cost $19.1 million.
On the government’s school attendance ‘stick’ Shadow Minister for Indigenous Affairs Nigel Scullion says: “Labor is all talk and no action with the re-announcement of welfare quarantining of Aboriginal parents who don’t get their children to school.
“This government can re-announce this policy until the cows come home but it is no good unless it is acted on and people are breached.
“The ability to quarantine welfare for truancy has been in the legislation for four years.
“The Coalition had children attending school when the intervention started but Labor let it slip backwards and we lost four years and another generation of disconnected Indigenous primary school children is Labor’s legacy.”
Headlining the government’s new program are 50 new ranger positions in the Working on Country program.
There’s also emphasis on local filling local jobs, with traineeships to support up to 100 Aboriginal people to fill service delivery jobs in their communities.
The traineeships provide job-specific training and a period of “job shadowing” – “supported on-the-job experience”.
The Australian Government will also support for the NT Government’s initiative providing a job guarantee to Indigenous students from Territory Growth Towns who complete year 12.
The announcement said that “jobs brokers” will help connect Aboriginal people with jobs in sectors that have labour shortages.
The Government will extend Indigenous Business Australia’s Indigenous Communities in Business program to two additional communities to help support the development of new businesses and economic activity in remote areas.
Getting children to school
The school attendance ‘stick’ requires children to meet an attendance benchmark. If they fall below it, their families will work with schools and Centrelink to develop attendance plans. Then if parents do not meet their part of the plan, their welfare payments will be suspended. Payments will be reinstated once the parent gives clear signals they are complying with their responsibilities and their child or children re-engage with the school.
This program already exists in Hermannsburg, Katherine, Tiwi Islands, Wadeye, Wallace Rockhole. It will now be extended to Alice Springs, Tennant Creek, remaining schools in Katherine, and Yirrkala, Maningrida, Galiwin’ku, Ngukurr, Numbulwar, Umbakumba, Angurugu, Gapuwiyak, Gunbalanya, Milingimbi, Lajamanu, Yuendumu, Alyangula and Nhulunbuy. The measure will apply to all parents in each community or township, not only Aboriginal parents.
Seminars will be held in each community before the measure is applied to explain to parents their responsibilities.
An “unnacceptable level of under-enrolment” will be the focus of data exchange between schools and Centrelink to ensure that children are enrolled in a school and attending even if they have moved during the school year.
“This will prevent children, particularly those in mobile families, from falling through the cracks,” says Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin.
Getting people off the grog
Current alcohol restrictions will continue under Intervention Mark 2, while penalties for grog running will be strengthened.
Local alcohol management plans will have to meet “stringent guidelines on harm reduction and the protection of vulnerable women and children” and will only be approved by the Commonwealth Indigenous Affairs Minister if they do.
A new income management measure will allow NT authorities to refer people for compulsory income management for alcohol related problems, on a similar basis to the way this currently occurs under the child protection measure.
Source: Australian Government media releases.
UPDATE: The “stringent guidelines” that local alcohol management plans will have to respond to are “currently being developed”, according to a spokesperson for Minister Macklin.
The new income management measure for people with alcohol related problems could see up to 70% of their income being quarantined, thus reducing the amount of money available for them to buy alcohol.
New NT Intervention measures