16 December 2008

The Northern Territory Emergency Response

I didn't post about this at the time, but it's relevant to our project given Jenness Warin's presentation at our conference. In June 2007 the Liberal government of Australia launched an intervention in aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory, following the release of the 'Little Children are Sacred' report from the Northern Territory Board of Inquiry into the Protection of Aboriginal Children from Sexual Abuse. This report 'asked that Aboriginal child sexual abuse in the Northern Territory be designated as an issue of urgent national significance by both the Australian and Northern Territory governments...’.

The intervention was extremely controversial. Here is the Australian government website account of it.

George Newhouse in The Guardian writes, "The Australian government's intervention in Aboriginal communities is discriminatory and dehumanising."

ANTaR - Australians for native Title and Reconciliation - write, "We welcome the significant additional resources ($587 million) that have been directed towards Northern Territory Aboriginal communities as a result of the Intervention. However, ANTaR is also concerned that unless changes are made to the Federal Government's approach, its attempt to stop child abuse in Northern Territory Aboriginal communities will fail."

A useful overall summary of different views about responses to the intervention by different Australian groups is offered here.

A year later there have been some attempts to assess whether the intervention was effective. Thus in the Sydney Morning Herald in March, , Galarrwuy Yunupingu warns, "Children as young as 12 are still vulnerable to sexual abuse and manipulation by men selling alcohol, drugs and pornography in the mining town of Nhulunbuy in north-east Arnhem land", and claims, "The missionary days were good...The missionaries looked after the kids much better than the Government does today."

In the SMH in June , "Russell Skelton finds that the year-old intercession in Northern Territory indigenous communities hasn't lived up to the hype."

These links were grabbed somewhat at random. If anyone else has more, please post.


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