This week, it’s been one year since the former Prime Minister of Australia John Howard launched the Northern Territory National Emergency Response, an initiative designed to bring safety and protection to Aboriginal communities, as well as bring about lasting economic change. The initiative has been described as a racist move by a racist Government, and the argument has been put forth by some sections of the community that it’s an attempt to keep Aboriginals down and remove their culture from them. This argument is false, it has always been to improve the lives of Australian citizens who have no jobs and few prospects in the towns in which they live.
From former Aboriginal Affairs Minister Mal Brough’s media release on the initiative:
Some of the major initiatives commencing the day after Royal Assent (RA), include:
- Alcohol restrictions, with offences for breaching the conditions commencing 28 days later;
- Acquisition of townships through five year leases over 26 communities commencing on the day after RA;
- Licensing of community stores, with penalty provisions beginning 28 days later;
- Audits of publicly funded computers, with offences for breaches commencing 28 days later; and
- The ban on prohibited (pornographic) material commences 28 days after RA;
- Income management can begin the day following RA; and
- The changes to the permit system will commence on Proclamation or six months
- after RA, whichever is earlier.
The Northern Territory National Emergency Response was formed after a report, the “Little Children Are Sacred” (although “Sacred” could easily be switched with “Scared”) report, was released. The report contained true accounts of the worst kinds of abuse, often dealt out by drunk men. These changes are designed to stop Aboriginal people from being able to get drunk and fight, to stop damaging property, and to stop abusing children. This is a good goal, because the children certainly need protection and a nice safe home to live in. Under this intervention, if the children don’t attend school regularly, their parents’ welfare funding is cut off, and that stresses the children’s right to a good education, which can take them anywhere in the future.
All in all, it is not a racist move. It is attempting to bring the opportunities that Australia provides to communities that need a helping hand in becoming safe and prosperous.
Many of the communities are incredibly remote, well away from police officers, nurses, doctors and other services. It is the remoteness of these communities that make it so incredibly difficult for the support networks that would help these communities to be properly established. It’s also difficult to keep nurses, teachers, doctors and police officers in these area if they have white skin, because all too often, they get attacked and assaulted, often sexually.
This initiative doesn’t have as much support as it should, because of those who decry it as a racist move, and that those who support the Emergency Response are racists. Completely wrong; we just don’t want little children neglected, abused, starved, sexually abused, abandoned and killed. If the parents are unable to be located, or unwilling or unable to take care of their children, give the children opportunities like these. We shouldn’t be afraid to. Mal Brough understood this, having gone out there and seen what’s going on.
All of that makes me think that this is one of the most stupid plans I’ve heard of to raise awareness of how unhappy some people are with the intervention. They’ve never come to the table with a better plan.
And now for some appropriate music. “Will You Hold My Hand?”, written and performed by child-care worker Kimya Dawson. The full version of the lyrics are here. Thanks to Spot_The_Dog for this song.