notes on “the intervention”

[For A.]

The “Intervention” — aka the ‘Northern Territory National Emergency Response’ (NTER), launched on June 21, 2007 — was triggered by the release of a report, Ampe Akelyernemane Meke Mekarle: Little Children are Sacred. The report was commissioned by the NT government, issued by the ‘Board of Inquiry into the Protection of Aboriginal Children from Sexual Abuse’, and publicly released on June 15, 2007. In other words, the HoWARd Government responded to the release of the Report in the space of less than a week (see : National emergency response to protect Aboriginal children in the NT, Media Release by the former Minister the Hon Mal Brough MP, June 21, 2007).

Notably, while the Report made 97 Recommendations in total [PDF], only two were incorporated into the ‘Response’ — or at least, this is what one critical source claims (without providing further deets. See : ‘Myths and Facts’, Stop the Intervention).

Sixteen months after the HoWARd Government announced its Intervention, ‘The Northern Territory Emergency Response (NTER) Review Board’ (appointed by the KRudd Government on June 6, 2008) released a further Report assessing its impact, released on October 13, 2008. The Review, it appears, is broadly supportive of the Intervention, if not all aspects of its execution. Thus: “No matter how good the framework, no matter how much money is available, you cannot drive change into a community and unload it off the back of a truck. That is the lesson of the Intervention.” (See also : Review paves road for ongoing intervention, Paddy Gibson, Solidarity, November 2008 | THIS LITTLE BLACK DUCK: Govt’s cosmetic changes to the NTER, Nicole Watson, National Indigenous Times, No.179, June 11, 2009.)

For a contrary view, see : Optional intervention gives choice, Marcia Langton, The Australian, October 16, 2008:

Many Aboriginal people, probably a majority of women, agree with the measures, although they have arrived at this conclusion as they have witnessed the benefits delivered since the intervention commenced: less drunken behaviour and violence, much lower admissions to hospital of people with alcohol-related injuries, and few alcohol-related homicides.

It’s time to stop playing politics with vulnerable lives, The Sydney Morning Herald, November 10, 2007:

There’s a cynical view afoot that the emergency intervention was a political ploy – a Trojan Horse – to sneak through land grabs and some gratuitous black head-kicking disguised as concern for children. These conspiracy theories abound, and they are mostly ridiculous.

Those who did not see the intervention in the Northern Territory coming were deluding themselves. It was the inevitable outcome of the many failures of policy and of the strange federal-state division of responsibilities for Aboriginal Australians. Added to this were the general incompetence of the civil service and the non-governmental sector, including some Aboriginal organisations, lack of political will and the dead hand of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission.

The combined effect of the media campaign for action and the emergency intervention has been a metaphorical dagger sunk into the heart of the powerful, wrong-headed Aboriginal male ideology that had prevailed in indigenous affairs, policies and practices.

It’s time for the voices of women and children to be heard. It’s time for both the federal and the Territory government to stop playing politics with the lives of the vulnerable and shut down the alcohol take-away outlets, establish children’s commissions and shelters in each community – as Noel Pearson has suggested – and treat grog runners and drug dealers as the criminals that they are. Otherwise, they will all have the blood of the victims on their hands.

~ versus ~

When the Howard government announced its NT “intervention” in June last year the overwhelming majority of Aboriginal people recognised that this was one of the most serious assaults on their democratic rights and living standards in more than forty years. Many denounced it as a “land grab” by the government and mining companies, and asked why, if Canberra were so concerned about the fate of Aboriginal children, was it necessary to suspend the Racial Discrimination Act and force “income management” on desperately struggling families.

Source : Northern Territory intervention: The need for a socialist strategy, Part 7, ‘WSWS reporting team’, August 25, 2008. See also : Australia: “Closing the Gap”—another Rudd Labor fraud, Richard Phillips, WSWS, April 4, 2009.

See also : Black Politics. Inside the complexity of Aboriginal political culture, Sarah Maddison, Allen & Unwin, 2009 [Introduction: PDF] | Rollback the Intervention | Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation (ANTaR) has heaps more infos here | Reconciliation Australia | Further deets on the KRudd Government’s response:

Future Directions for the Northern Territory Emergency Response

From June to September 2009, the Australian Government will be consulting with Indigenous people in the Northern Territory about future directions for the Northern Territory Emergency Response (NTER).

In its interim response to the NTER Review, the Government said it would introduce legislation into the Parliament in October 2009 to remove the provisions in the current NTER Acts that exclude the operation of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (RDA).

On 21 May 2009 the Government released a discussion paper setting out proposals for the measures affected by the RDA as a starting point for discussion.

The Government is open to other views, ideas and proposals put forward during the consultations.

This feedback will inform the Government’s legislative strategy.

The consultations will include formal community meetings at the locations and dates set out on the community visits/meetings schedule.

See also : Radical rethink on Northern Territory intervention, Patricia Karvelas, The Australian, May 22, 2009 | ZOG, Yanks, Feminists, Blacks : Bloody Hell! (June 13, 2009).

…and finally, tomorrow night on ABC1…

Four Corners, 8:30pm Monday, June 15 (repeated @ 11.35pm on Tuesday, June 16).

About @ndy

I live in Melbourne, Australia. I like anarchy. I don't like nazis. I enjoy eating pizza and drinking beer. I barrack for the greatest football team on Earth: Collingwood Magpies. The 2020 premiership's a cakewalk for the good old Collingwood.
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1 Response to notes on “the intervention”

  1. Paul Justo says:

    Well it’s currently a right load of bollix to buy drink in East Arnhem land. I was working up there a few months ago and tried to get a permit to buy whiskey: the deal was that I had to front up at the peeler (cop) shop in the middle of the day to get a permit.

    As I couldn’t get time off work I was reduced to drinking at the Arnhem Club and the Walkabout Tavern (otherwise known as the ‘Animal Bar’).

    However, this was a memorable experience in its own right with the dyna-bolted bar tables and floors hosed to wash out the spew – not to mention the Eurasian topless barmaids flown up from Brisbane and Sydney every week!

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