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The 97 recommendations of the NT Inquiry

If this is the excuse [Below in text format]for the invasion of Aboriginal communities and the imposition of a martial regime excused with the paternalistic rhetoric of 19th century missionary zeal -- enforced by the army and a god squad of strip searches of youngsters -- then you have to say that John Howard and Kevin Rudd are party to the most cynical and racist exercise imaginable...for the sake of generating devious cover for a crass land grab and a me-too election stunt.
"Indigenous Australians are the football in this cynical political game — they are in for a mighty kicking if there is no resistance from those who know what is really going on.--GLW

Pdf version...

Ampe Akelyernemane Meke Mekarle
“Little Children are Sacred”

In our Law children are very sacred because they carry the two spring wells of water from our country within them

Summary Report of the Northern Territory Board of Inquiry into the Protection of Aboriginal Children from Sexual Abuse 2007


Purpose of the Board of Inquiry
The Board of Inquiry was created by the Northern Territory Government in August 2006 to research and report on allegations of sexual abuse of Aboriginal children. The Chief Minister asked the Inquiry to investigate concerns about serious child sexual abuse in Aboriginal communities.
The Inquiry was established to find better ways to protect Aboriginal children from sexual abuse. What the Inquiry was asked to do The Inquiry looked at the problem of sexual abuse within Aboriginal communities and possible solutions. Rex Wild QC and Pat Anderson co-chaired the Inquiry, assisted by a small team of staff. Rex is a former Northern Territory Director of Public Prosecutions and senior lawyer. Pat is an Alyawarr woman who is well known as a strong supporter of disadvantaged people and has many years experience working with Aboriginal people, especially in Indigenous health.

The Inquiry was asked to:
• study how and why Aboriginal children were being abused,focusing on unreported cases
• identify problems with the way the government responds to and attempts to protect Aboriginal children from abuse
• look at how government departments and other agencies can better work together to protect and help children
• look into how the government can better support and educate Aboriginal communities to prevent child sexual abuse.

In cases of sexual abuse, the child is often removed from the community (to be taken to a place of safety or to be interviewed). This can lead to the child believing they have done something wrong, and make families reluctant to report as it is the child who is removed rather than the alleged perpetrator.

From a submission to the Inquiry
How the Inquiry worked
The Inquiry collected information by listening, learning and drawing on existing knowledge to find better ways to protect Aboriginal children and support their families. Handling such a sensitive issue was challenging for the Board, so they created settings where people felt safe and found it easy to talk.
Travelling all over the Territory, the Inquiry gathered feedback from more than 260 meetings with individuals, agencies and organisations, and visited 45 communities to talk with local people. The Inquiry received 65 written submissions. An Expert Reference Group was appointed to assist the Inquiry. The Reference Group was an important resource to the Inquiry, offering valuable advice and support.

What the Inquiry learned

The Inquiry gathered and reviewed a vast amount of information that was shaped into 97 recommendations for the Chief Minister. Underlying the Inquiry’s findings was the common view that sexual abuse of Aboriginal children is happening largely because of the breakdown of Aboriginal culture and society.
Important points made by the Inquiry included:

• Child sexual abuse is serious, widespread and often unreported.
• Most Aboriginal people are willing and committed to solving problems and helping their children. They are also eager to better educate themselves.
• Aboriginal people are not the only victims and not the only perpetrators of sexual abuse.
• Much of the violence and sexual abuse occurring in Territory communities is a reflection of past, current and continuing social problems which have developed over many decades.
• The combined effects of poor health, alcohol and drug abuse, unemployment, gambling, pornography, poor education and housing, and a general loss of identity and control have contributed to violence and to sexual abuse in many forms.
• Existing government programs to help Aboriginal people break the cycle of poverty and violence need to work better. There is not enough coordination and communication between government departments and agencies, and this is causing a breakdown in services and poor crisis intervention. Improvements in health and
social services are desperately needed.
• Programs need to have enough funds and resources and be a long-term commitment.
It is impossible to set communities on the path to recovery from the sexual abuse of children without dealing with the basic services and social ills. It is our hope that no Aboriginal child born from this year on will ever suffer sexual abuse.

Rex Wild QC and Pat Anderson, Inquiry Co-Chairs

What the Inquiry recommended
Child sexual abuse is a complex and deep seated problem that requires urgent, dedicated and collective action from the entire community.
The Inquiry’s recommendations are intended to offer advice to the Government on how it can best support and empower communities to prevent child sexual abuse now and in the future.
Many opportunities for significant change have been put forward.
The Board highlighted a number of action areas which hold the key to success.
Education
Education is the key to helping children and communities foster safe, well adjusted families. School is the way to keep future generations of Aboriginal children safe. Getting children to school every day is essential because:
• children are safe when they are at school
• school is a venue for educating children about child sexual abuse and protective behaviours
• education provides opportunity, empowerment and achievement and offers a way to overcome the social and economic problems which contribute to violence
• children can confide in their teachers.

The Inquiry urged the government to improve Aboriginal education systems, including local language development, to make education more effective for Aboriginal children.
A range of education campaigns
Education campaigns are recommended to inform people about:
• child sexual abuse and what to do about it
• mandatory reporting of child sexual abuse
• the impact of alcohol, pornography and gambling on communities, families and children
• the value of education, and encouraging a culture of parental and community commitment to sending children to school.
Alcohol
Alcohol remains the gravest and fastest growing threat to the safety of Aboriginal children. There is a strong association between alcohol abuse, violence and the sexual abuse of children. Alcohol is destroying communities. The Inquiry recommended urgent action be taken to reduce alcohol consumption in Aboriginal communities.
Family and Community Services (FACS) and the Police
Both need to work more closely with each other and with communities. It is important FACS and the Police build the trust of communities so everyone can work together to combat child sexual abuse. The Inquiry has also proposed an Advice Hotline so anyone who is concerned about possible child sexual abuse can call someone for confidential information and advice.
Family support services
Family support services need to be improved, particularly in Aboriginal communities, as this will help to strengthen families and keep children safe and healthy.
Empowerment of Aboriginal communities
Communities can take more control and make decisions about the future. The Inquiry’s report suggests ways in which this can happen including the role which men and women can play, the introduction of community justice groups and better dialogue between mainstream society and Aboriginal communities.
Commissioner for Children and Young People
The Inquiry recommends that the government appoint a senior, independent person who can focus on the interests and wellbeing of children and young people, review issues and report to Parliament.
The future
There is hope for safe, happy generations of Aboriginal children provided serious attention is given to the Inquiry’s findings and appropriate steps are taken to help communities.
For more information contact
Department of the Chief Minister
Office of Indigenous Policy
GPO Box 4396
DARWIN NT 0801
Phone 08 8999 5270

2 Com:

Peter Boyle | June 25, 2007

This excerpt is from the Sunday program on Channel 9, where Rudd rushes to the defence of Howard's racist wedge politics on child abuse in NT Aboriginal communities. Where he rushed in to attack ACT Chief Minister Jon Stanhope who labeled Howard's intervention racist. Where he rushed in to promise more cops to solve a problem that cannot be solved this way, if you give the slightest credence to the NT report:

OAKES: OK, you've supported the Prime Minister's sweeping plan to deal with child sexual abuse in indigenous communities in the Northern Territory but some prominent Labor politicians disagree with you. John Stanhope the ACT Chief Minister says it's actually racist. Now do you think you are being racist in supporting this?

RUDD: I think John's wrong. I just think he is wrong. Look I think the silly thing here is...

OAKES: That's pretty mild, isn't it.

RUDD: Well, I'm just being blunt.

OAKES: It's crazy, isn't it, to say it is racist.

RUDD: I just think it is wrong. You see the test of this under the relevant act, which I presume is the racial discrimination act, goes to whether in fact you are introducing positive measures or not, and we'll wait to see the absolute detail of what Mr Howard is proposing, but I'm prepared at this stage to give him the benefit of the doubt.

The key question, though, is I heard Mr Howard this morning say previous approaches in dealing with this problem have failed. I agree with him in that. You know I've never been - have a view of politics which says that opposition should be for opposition sake. If I think there's a positive way forward I'll give anyone the tick, and work
with them.

But the detail of what's to be unfolded, we're still working on each of the nine, 10 or 11 elements of what the Prime Minister and his minister announced last Thursday.

OAKES: Well, the Prime Minister said this morning that the first thing that has got to be done is to stabilise law and order and he's sending in within 10 days Federal and state police into the Northern Territory.

Now, do you think he's doing enough to stabilise law and order?

RUDD: I think Mr Howard has now taken on responsibility for this problem and I'm prepared to work with him on that because child sexual abuse, the abuse of little ones, is so abhorrent to the entire community and both sides of politics we should be taking the politics out of it.

But now we get down to the practise of it all, which is how do we make it work on the ground. Mr Howard says stage one is to stabilise law and order and I agree with him in that. The question we face though, Laurie, is how do you do that in terms of the adequacy of police
resources right across the country.

In my recent discussions with the Police Federation of Australia, they pointed out to me the huge deficiency in numbers when it comes to the number of Australian Federal police, for example, who can be deployed at present. So we believe - and I'm going to indicate how we would approach this - that we need to significantly augment the numbers of
Australian Federal Police so that they can do their job.

OAKES: According to the Police Federation submission to the government
and I think also to the Labor Party, they need - there is a shortfall of about 700 sworn officers and the number of sworn officers in the AFP has actually declined in the last 20 years quite dramatically.

How would you recruit more Federal police? I mean what would it cost, how far would you go? Would you give them the 700 a year that they want?

RUDD: Well we have been doing some work on this together with our friends in the Police Federation and their statement is as you just described it, and that is that they need that extra 700 sworn officers.

Remember what else they are also doing, which is counter terrorism. We've got APEC coming up, they are also dealing with international organised crime, narcotics, they are also trying to deal with problems of cracking international paedophilia rings and now we have this
additional piece of work thrown at them in terms of the Northern Territory.

So what's our commitment? We will fund the recruitment of an additional 500 Australian Federal police that is a 20 per cent increase in total Federal police sworn officer numbers.

We'll do that over a four- to five-year period at a cost of some $200 million. We believe that's a practical step forward to dealing with the challenge which our Federal police on the beat now face ...


You can watch this shameful shoulder-to-shoulder apology for Howard's racist intervention here.

skywalker | June 26, 2007

Thre are 2 ways Canberra likes to deal with the challenges facing the Aboriginal People 1. ignore them and hope the problems go away or 2. treat them as imbiciles, criminals, or naughty children. The Howard government, and to an extend the state and federal governments alternate between these two.

What needs to be done, however, is to provide financial, human and other resources and expertise designed to empower them to meet the challenges.

Problems took time to be created. They will take time to be repaired. Governments need to take the time to work with local communities, local and governments, health professionals working with them, Local Lands Councils, and someday I believe a New Indigenous Parliament are needed to work together in order to work things out.

Alchoholism, Truency, and domestic violence, are as much the symptoms of challenges outback Aboriginals face. The perpetrators of those unspeakable acts that Mr Howard and everyone else, wants are often as much victims of the environment as the defencesless kids they hurt.

Lets end the exiting game headlines, of blame, lets end the racist game that stigmatises the Aboriginal people, instead all governments, the communities and professionals need to boringly work step-by-step to overcome the difficulties that indigenous communites far too often face.

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