"The Intervention’s new alcohol measures are steps, but they’re just small steps, when what we urgently need are big steps," says newly elected President of the Criminal Lawyers Association of the Northern Territory, Russell Goldflam.
The latest measures announced under the Intervention involve compulsory income management for people with alcohol-related problems and ministerial approval of local alcohol management plans under guidelines yet to be announced.
The "big steps" that Mr Goldflam and CLANT want are a floor price and volumetric tax. Measures such as these would have a chance of making inroads on the NT's appalling levels of domestic violence, fueled by alcohol.
"Let’s have a minimum price on grog so that nothing alcoholic is cheaper than the current price of beer. And let’s have a tax based on how much actual alcohol is in the product, to wipe out the ridiculously unfair advantage cheap and nasty cask wine producers have over all their competitors.
"Do that, and we’ll see an immediate, substantial and sustained reduction in grog-fuelled violence," says the senior Alice Springs legal aid lawyer who has represented hundreds of clients charged with assaulting their partner or other family members.
"Standing on our own two feet, that's the beauty of it all."
Thomas Warren (pictured) is crewing for Arrernte Workforce Solutions, once a CDEP provider but now an independent Aboriginal enterprise, working mostly on grounds maintenance contracts and competing in the marketplace at commercial rates.
When their CDEP funding was taken away, Arrernte Workforce was not ready for independent commercial trade. It probably would have fallen over, if its present manager, Damien Armstrong, hadn't picked up the pieces. It's been a struggle over two years, to completely restructure and get to the point where they are now, with good secure trade and consistent employment of Indigenous people "without being any burden whatsoever on government funding".
Today Arrernte Workforce employs a full-time bookkeeper and a permanent crew of six men, working on different contracts in teams of two or three, five days a week or more. As well there are two casuals on call and a "stack of resumes" on Mr Armstrong's desk, from "motivated individuals who would like to come on board".
"At the end of the day we are Indigenous people who want to work, we're not being forced to work out of fear of our dole being cut off," he says. "I'm a businessman, I'm into making money and employing people. As we become a more successful business, we'll be able to give back to the community – because I reckon we're here to stay." KIERAN FINNANE reports.
PICTURED are Concerned Australians (from left): Alastair Nicholson (Former Chief Justice of the Family Court of Australia), Barbara Shaw (Alice Springs); Djapirri Murunggirritj (Yirrkala); Rev. Dr. Djiniyini Gondarra OAM (Elcho Island); Rosalie Kunoth-Monks OAM (Utopia); Japata Ryan (Kalkaringi); Harry Nelson (Yuendumu).
And now, a short excursion into the Lalaland of some Intervention foes.
Wikipedia will tell you reparations are "measures taken by the state to redress gross and systematic violations of human rights law or humanitarian law".
So normally, reparations are given to people who have something taken away from them – sometimes a relative's life, or many relatives' lives.
"Northern Territory Elders and Community Representatives" as they call themselves, are now seeking reparations for having received something, namely around a billion taxpayers' dollars for housing and a string of other services and measures. COMMENT by ERWIN CHLANDA.
1343 Aboriginal residents in 16 remote communities give their assessment of what the Intervention has achieved and the challenges to come.
The Northern Territory Intervention – "punitive" and a "betrayal of Aboriginal people" as conditions deteriorate even further, as the Stop the Intervention Collective in Sydney (STICS) would have us believe?
Or making some headway, as the responses of 1343 Aboriginal residents surveyed in 16 remote communities suggest?
Believe the STICS media release that paints a picture, without nuance, of devastation and despair?
Or the research results that discern the shades of grey, particularly between small and larger communities, and even discern some light? Your call.
The Community Safety and Wellbeing Research Study was commissioned by the Commonwealth Department of Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA, the one responsible, of course, for the Intervention) and was conducted by four social research companies, employing 50 local Indigenous people to work with them. They made three trips to each community between December last year and June this year, systematically asking residents, using a questionnaire, about the changes that have taken place over the last three years, producing quantitative data for statistical analysis. Residents also took part in discussions about their own experiences and priorities in their community, producing qualitative data.
The study summaries the key "very strong" messages from the survey: the majority of people judge that their life has improved over the last three years; young people are the epicentre of many difficult community dynamics; and, small communities are very different to large ones.
Its authors comment that there is an enormous policy challenge to create conditions in which it is more difficult for young people to opt for a ‘party’ lifestyle, and easier to get a job. They also says there is scope for working to understand why larger communities are much more difficult environments in which to achieve positive change, and to fashion policy to address their very particular dynamics. Pictured: Children during lunch break at Ntaria School in 2009. Their hot meal had been provided by a school nutrition program, the likes of which, along with the Basics Card, have meant that more kids over the last three years have been getting more food. Photo from our archive. KIERAN FINNANE reports.
When the Indigenous Land Corporation (ILC) bought the Ayers Rock Resort late last year there was not a single local Aboriginal employee working there – despite good intentions by the resort's previous owners and many training programs over the years. So it will be interesting to see if a new program, announced today by Minister for Indigenous Employment and Economic Development Mark Arbib, succeeds.
Like many before it, the focus is on training, this time to be delivered at the ILC’s newly established Indigenous Training Academy at Yulara, benefiting from a $4.9 million partnership with the Australian Government.
A 12 month traineeship program will recruit locally and from across Australia by offering competitive wages, help with relocation and costs of living, retention bonuses and a guaranteed job, either at the resort or in the hospitality and tourism industry.
All up the program is expected to create 350 new jobs at the resort and in the hospitality industry elsewhere. – Kieran Finnane
Photo: Filling empty resort beds with Aboriginal trainees?
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."
Headlining the government's new programs 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.