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February 29, 2012
There is considerable disquiet among Aboriginal people about the latest Bill which seeks to extend the Northern Territory Intervention for 10 years. Elders do not believe the Stronger Futures Consultation looked honestly at the evidence nor has it listened to the peoples experience of living with that Intervention.
As Jenny Macklin said in her address to the parliament “The measures we introduce today reflect our evaluation—of what is working and what is not”. Sadly it does not reflect what Aboriginal people are saying.
In the words of a participant at the Alice Springs Town Camps consultation ...”its good for you to sit there and listen to us, but I want to know really truly are you hearing what we are saying?. ...at the end of the day, is there going to be any changes?”
At the Darwin Public Meeting the question was asked “Once its all been fed in and the policy makers come up with their proposals, is that proposal going to be brought back ...so that people can say ‘yes, you heard us? That’s what we want’.
In their book ‘NT Consultations Report 2011 By Quotations’ recently published by Concerned Australians we read “Re-introduction of the bilingual learning programme was of high priority at the community consultations and at the public meetings. ...the body of the Government report gives a major focus to education, [yet] it mentions Bilingual Learning only very briefly.
Sadly the government has chosen to focus on the “stick rather than the carrot”. It is legislating for a more punitive measures trialled as SEAM (School Enrolment and Attendance Measures) which addresses enrolment and attendance problems through using Centrelink social work support. As a last resort, it uses the suspension of income support payments to encourage responsible parents or carers.
There has been no attempt to involve Aboriginal people and their elders in the preparation of the report and its recommendations which forms the basis of the new legislation.
Support the Aboriginal Elders who are saying “NO MORE ENOUGH is ENOUGH” to the Stronger Futures in the Northern Territory Legislation, by signing the petition found on the Stand For Freedom website or by emailing Jenny Macklin - the Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs or by phoning her at her Parliament House office on (02) 6277 7560.