Minister for Indigenous Advancement Alison Anderson has challenged the "culture of entitlement and welfare dependency" in the Territory's remote communities, calling on Indigenous adults to "grow up", to become real adults "so that children, real children can depend on you". She said she sometimes despairs at "the reluctance of some Indigenous people to take the jobs that are already there", for instance in the "long-running mining boom". Work is "not just about the money although the money is good", it is "about status and respect, about responsibility and dignity". The Minister was speaking in the NT Parliament on November 1, the last day of the first sittings since her party, the Country Liberals, came to power. Her unsparing analysis was made during a Ministerial Statement on "The Status of Aboriginal Communities in the Northern Territory". KIERAN FINNANE reports. At left: Ms Anderson during her election campaign.
The Territory Government is determined to let Aboriginal people decide on whether they want grog or stronger grog in their communities. Minister for Indigenous Advancement Alison Anderson backs this while also expressing her confidence that 99.9% will say no to grog. Now Aboriginal Peak Organisations have announced a summit to get a "firm overview of Aboriginal views".
"Our politicians are right—the ultimate decision over managing alcohol on our communities must lie with our people—all of us," said alliance spokesperson Priscilla Collins.
Minister for Indigenous Advancement Alison Anderson says there is no conflict between her vision of schooling in the bush and the Chief Minister's. In a long speech to parliament on Tuesday she said that teaching traditional culture and language "should not be done in schools". This has been reported as in conflict with County Liberals policy, with Chief Minister Terry Mills stating yesterday that, while the objective is to teach English, "you have to use the language that they bring into the school in those first two or three years".
Ms Anderson told the Alice Springs News Online this morning that this of course is the "pragmatic" way to go: "You can't start teaching bush children in a language they can't understand. You use the traditional language to get to English, which is what schools do now. It's called 'scaffolding'." KIERAN FINNANE reports.
Pictured: Alison Anderson at Hermannsburg on polling day. Her own Indigenous language skills are legendary but she wants bush children to become fluent in English and this must be the primary focus in schools, she says.
Alison Anderson has proved her political clout in her electorate, increasing her vote despite her switch of party and the negative campaign against her. Now she is setting out to prove it as a Minister in two important portfolios – Indigenous Advancement and Regional Development. She has showed her style early, suggesting that Federal Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin is in "La La Land" if she thinks she's "closing the gap", but what will be the substance? The long-awaited report by NT Coordinator-General of Remote Services, Olga Havnen, has finally been released. Ms Anderson is not committing her government to implementing its recommendations as formulated because, although it has attracted a lot of publicity, she says the report is "nothing new". She is also not sure if she will maintain the position of Coordinator-General, which she created as Labor Minister, and her comments suggest she is moving away from the Working Future policy and its associated Growth Towns, again her creations while she was with the Labor Government. KIERAN FINNANE speaks with Ms Anderson in the wake of the Havnen Report.
Pictured: Ms Anderson with Judy Brumby (right) and Esmeralda, both from Areyonga, during her election campaign.