By ERWIN CHLANDA
The long-running discord between Congress and Tangentyere is set to come to an end especially over efforts to reduce men’s violence against women.
“This White Ribbon Day was organised jointly by Congress, Tangentyere and the police. So that’s a good start. Hopefully we can build on that,” says John Liddle (pictured at today’s march, at right), a former director of Congress.
“We’re hoping to work a lot more closely with Tangentyere. We need to work together.”
What’s been the problem in the past?
“I’m not sure about that. I can’t give you the answer to that, I’m sorry. But we’re going to work together, specifically on men’s issues, and specifically on violence issues.”
How long has there been a lack of communication?
“I can’t put a time on it, but I would be a while! But let’s look to the future now, and hopefully we can make some inroads.”
Mr Liddle was one of the leaders of the march in today’s noon heat in which some 200 people took part.
He represents the Ingkintja Male Health Service and “Men’s Shed” which is “a male-only place providing care for Aboriginal male health and wellbeing,” according to its website, and is supported by the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress.
We asked Mr Liddle whether issues of men’s violence are worse in Central Australia when compared to the rest of the nation.
“I don’t have the figures,” he said, “but there are issues that affect people in the Northern Territory, especially in remote areas, that sometimes don’t affect other parts of Australia.
“A lot of it is linked to access to alcohol, unemployment, despair.”
NEWS: What needs to be done?
LIDDLE: Well, basically people need to change the way they behave. Sometimes they need good role models, education programs, maybe a bit of funding, maybe jobs, some education. Lots of things that go hand-in-hand.
NEWS: Where would they come from?
LIDDLE: Not sure. Obviously it will have to come from the government but I’m not sure where. It might be a local government function, because it’s they who have to deal with roads, rates and rubbish in Alice Springs. They do all the cleaning up. Or the Northern Territory Government – but they might not have the funds to put together a comprehensive program.
NEWS: What could the families do?
LIDDLE: It’s really difficult for the families. They are the ones who have to cope with the behaviour of their family members. They are the ones who have to suffer unemployment, hunger, limited education. It needs a concentrated effort across the field to help people come out of this situation.
NEWS: Who would set that in motion?
LIDDLE: All levels of government need to work together, and also all Aboriginal organisations and communities. It affects us all, whether we live out bush or in town.
PHOTO at top: Mayor Damien Ryan, Acting Police Assistant Commissioner Danny Bacon, Acting Deputy Commissioner Jamie Chalker and prominent lawyer Russell Goldflam lead today’s White Ribbon march.
A FEW STATISTICS reported by KIERAN FINNANE
The Northern Territory has the worst homicide rate in the country. The national rate in both 2010–11 and 2011–12 was 1.1 per 100,000. In the NT it was 4.8 and 5.5. In Alice Springs it can be a multiple of that. For the first eight months of this year the rate was 14.
The NT also has the highest offender rate in Australia for ‘acts intended to cause injury’: in 2013–14 it was 1,673 offenders per 100,000 persons aged ten years and over. In Alice Springs the rate was more than three times that.
Indigenous prisoners make up 86 per cent of the NT prison population and the NT has the highest imprisonment rate in the country. For over half (53 per cent) of all prisoners in the NT, acts intended to cause injury account for the most serious offence or charge; this is more than double the national figure of 21 per cent.
Indigenous people, especially women, are also over-represented among victims of violence. Between 2013 and 2014 two-thirds (66 per cent) of all assault victims in the NT were Indigenous. The victimisation rate for Indigenous women was more than three times that of Indigenous men, and for almost three-quarters (73 per cent) of Indigenous women the assailant was a family member (for men the figure was 48.7).
Indigenous women’s vulnerability to violence is not only established by crime statistics. In a study across the states of Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia and the NT, the hospitalisation rate of Indigenous women for intentionally inflicted violence was found to be 38 times the rate of non-Indigenous women (for Indigenous men the figure was 27 times). Looking at the NT on its own, the rate of hospitalisation for assault of Aboriginal women has been reported as high as 80 times that of non-Aboriginal women.