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Federal Government betrays NT communities with second Intervention 16-11-11

Stop the Intervention Collective Sydney                  Media Release                          16 November 2011


Federal Government betrays NT communities with second Intervention

The Stop the Intervention Collective Sydney (STICS) says that the Federal Government has betrayed NT Aboriginal communities, following Monday's announcement of more punitive policies and an extension of the Intervention.

STICS spokesperson Paddy Gibson was in contact with community representatives throughout the recent "Stronger Futures" consultation period and has closely studied transcripts from the consultations across the NT.

Mr Gibson says that community views on dealing with education and alcohol problems have been ignored in favour of further discriminatory measures, and the government has broken clear promises to return to communities for further consultation before introducing legislation.

Mr Gibson says that social conditions have deteriorated since 2007 and are set to become even worse if the government continues with the Intervention.

"Minister Macklin has been talking about Aboriginal parents 'taking responsibility'. So where is her responsibility for three years of failed policy? School attendance rates have not improved since the Intervention and there are now less Aboriginal staff working in NT schools."

"Welfare payments have already been linked to school attendance through this period, with both the Income Management scheme and the School Enrolment and Attendance Measure (SEAM) trials operating in six NT communities."

"NT Aboriginal communities have been betrayed by the government. Participants were told that there would be a new, collaborative approach and that community views would form the basis of future policy. In none of the many consultation meetings I have studied, were the proposals announced on Monday even raised with communities for discussion".

"Clear commitments were given that the consultations were just the start of the policy development process, and that further meetings would take place before any decisions were made. These commitments came from FaHCSIA officials and government representatives including Warren Snowdon MP".

"Aboriginal people consistently made the point that increases in school attendance would only come with increased Aboriginal control over the education process and proper resourcing. They demanded reinstatement of bilingual education, Aboriginal design of curriculum and employment of local staff and resources to support families getting their children to school."

"Seven of the twelve communities that will be subjected to these truancy ‘trials' used to run successful bilingual education programs. In the case of Lajamanu, attendance rates have been cut in half by the NT Government's decision to axe bilingual learning."

"In the consultations Aboriginal people demanded improved housing, social services and employment to create an environment where children had the capacity to actually attend school and a future to look forward to."

"Rates of attempted suicide and self harm have doubled since the Intervention. Indigenous incarceration is up 40 per cent and child-removal up 30 per cent. People are moving away from smaller communities and outstations as employment opportunities and services are cut back, fuelling a growing crisis in the urban centres".

"Tragically, these crises are set to get worse through the second Intervention."

For comment contact:
Paddy Gibson 0415800586