Northern Territory Emergency Intervention - Call to Action
Make the Australian Government accountable for the NT Emergency
The People's Health Movement (Australia) believes the Northern Territory Emergency Response is fundamentally flawed and we are aware that many others feel this way also. The approach needs immediate rethinking and the impacts on Aboriginal people need to be closely monitored.
Please email Kevin Rudd, Health Minister Nicola Roxon, Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin and your own Member of the House of Representatives (see here for email address) asking for an urgent review of the intervention. We provide key information and suggested actions below.
The Northern Territory Emergency Response was the Howard Government's response to the Wild and Anderson (2007) Board of Inquiry Report into the Protection of Aboriginal Children from Sexual Abuse.
The key elements of the intervention include:
- Health checks (originally designated compulsory) for Aboriginal children;
- Deployment of military and additional police to affected communities;
- Restrictions on the sale of alcohol;
- A ban on pornography;
- Compulsory acquisition of townships through five year leases;
- Suspension of the permit system to enter the indigenous communities;
- Quarantining of 50% of welfare benefits;
- Abolition of the Community Development Employment Program (CDEP);
- Suspension of the right of Aboriginal people to make claims under the Native Title Act;
- Exemption of the legislation from the Racial Discrimination Act; and
- Loss of the right to appeal to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.
The goal of the Northern Territory Emergency Response should be to improve the safety of Indigenous children. Whatever the motivations behind the intervention, there is no evidence to suggest that the safety and wellbeing of Aboriginal children is likely to improve through these measures.
PHM Oz recognises the need for urgent and sustained action and welcomes the increased resources being allocated for addressing Aboriginal disadvantage. However there is a need for midterm correction of the intervention to bring it closer to principles of effective public health, community development and primary health care including equity, self-determination and community participation.
PHM Oz advocates for the following changes to the intervention:
- Consult and develop partnerships with communities through existing community structures to develop and implement local solutions for child safety and wellbeing
- Repeal the exemption from the Racial Discrimination Act
- Restore Aboriginal lands to Aboriginal control (including re-instating land permits)
- Recognise Indigenous disadvantage is nationwide and ensure equitable access to comprehensive primary health care (and "right to health") for all Indigenous Australians
- Commit ongoing resources to ensure sustainable development of services
- Repeal the ability of the Government to seize community assets
- Re-establish democratic Indigenous representation (governance) to government at a national level to coordinate service provision
- Ensure adequate follow up and treatment for health problems identified through the child health checks through existing services where possible
- Ensure access to social determinants of health for all Indigenous Australians including education, training, housing, employment and transport
- Secure community based employment opportunities and capacity development by re-establishing and improving the Community Development Employment Program in consultation with local communities
- Ensure appropriate and independent accountability and evaluation is ongoing throughout the implementation. This needs to include a review of the Centrelink welfare payments and the processes used to implement the changes.
Voice your concerns about the intervention by sending an email to the new Rudd government:
- Prime Minister Kevin Rudd
- Health Minister Nicola Roxon
- Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin
- Your own Member of the House of Representatives (see here
For more information, to send feedback or to become more involved, please email firstname.lastname@example.org