LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Sir – June 21 marked 12 years of the Northern Territory Intervention depriving Aboriginal people of their basic human rights.
The ongoing loss of community control, pressure to sign over land, humiliating and discriminatory income management, increased removal of children from families, excessive policing and over-incarceration are among numerous devastating consequences.
Alastair Nicholson, former Chief Justice of the Family Court, proposes an immediate measure to reduce the alarming number of Indigenous children held in custody by raising the age of criminal responsibility to 14 in accordance with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Jeff McMullen AM, journalist and film maker, says the accumulative impact of extending the harsh Intervention measures under the so-called Stronger Futures Legislation has been accompanied by an increase in suicide and the removal of children from families at a rate surpassing the Stolen Generations policy disaster.
A letter to Minister Ken Wyatt from Barbara R. Shaw, Elaine Kngwarraye Peckham and others in the Alice Springs group of Aboriginal voices calls on government to veto further removal of Aboriginal children from their families, bring home those already taken away and increase support for community initiatives for children at risk.
One of Australia’s leading analysts on the impacts of the NT intervention, Professor Jon Altman (pictured), of the School of Regulation and Global Governance at the Australian National University, says: “Twelve years on it is clear that political and bureaucratic elites who deployed the military intervention promised so much and have delivered very little.
“According to official figures there are higher levels of poverty in NT communities today than when the discriminatory measures were imposed in June 2007.
“Only three in 10 adults of working age are in paid employment.
“Some are required to work 25 hours a week for Newstart under the Community Development Program (CDP) at pay rates half the current minimum award.
“Penalties under CDP now exceed 500,000 and many of the most heavily penalised regions are in the NT.
“Expensive and demeaning income management continues even as more research (some sponsored by government) shows no evidence of positive impact.
“As well as the closure of many community organisations, the paternalistic and heavy handed approach has subjected Aboriginal residents of remote communities to excessive surveillance and forms of ‘bureaucratic torture’ by Centrelink and CDP ‘providers’.
“The ANAO Report shows that many elements of the Indigenous advancement strategy are not being evaluated by the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet five years after implementation. So much for sound governance.”
Emeritus Professor Jon Altman AM
Alastair Nicholson AO RFD QC
Jeff McMullen AM
Georgina Gartland ‘concerned Australians’
Intervention still the main concern
LETTER TO THE EDITOR