Urgent Action regarding the Australian Intervention

Urgent Action regarding the Australian Intervention

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John Ahni Schertow
August 12, 2007
 

This was just forwarded to me from a friend. It’s a couple days old now, but, as she noted in her email, it’s still important. The topic at hand is the “Australian ‘intervention.” There were two attachments in the email, a draft letter and a ‘snapshot of the Northern Territory—all of which can be found below.

The Combined Aboriginal Organisations met in Alice Springs today. We discussed the Commonwealth intervention in our communities in the NT. The bills introduced by Mal Brough on Tuesday were available to the few delegates who were able to get to Canberra around 7pm Monday evening.

The bills alone are nearly 500 pages and then you add the appropriation bills 1 & 2; the explanatory memoranda and the second reading speech and you see how length, complex and convoluted the package is. We are doing our very best to analyse the package and most of what we have discovered to date is about taking away our land rights and titles, no clear commitment to ‘just terms’ compensation, despite the PM’s promise on 22 June, welfare payments able to be quarantined and no purchase of grog, gambling, drugs, porno or tobacco.

No-one cares about grog, porno or gambling but tobacco seems extreme even though we know how bad it is for ones health. Aboriginals in the NT will have no eternal appeal rights on welfare payments, as other Australians will, only the right to an internal review.

If kids don’t go to school payments can be cut.

If every kid in a community in the NT went to primary school, there are not enough classrooms or teachers in communities to house them in equipped classrooms to accommodate them.

The amended NT Aboriginal Land rights act has existing provision for leasing areas of land from traditional land owners; there is no need for the acquisitions proposed.

Further the head leases held by housing associations on town camps should be able to be retained by them and a subleasing arrangement for say 20 years would enable the government to improve the infrastructure on them without taking title away, special purposes leases in perpetuity are almost as good as freehold.

It is extremely difficult to identify anything specific in the bills that go to the issue of ensuring our children’s safety is secured as a matter of urgency.

Attached is a draft letter we are asking individuals and organizations to send ASAP to the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd and all Senators. Amend the letter as you wish, but advise your networks of the need to get emails and faxed flooding into the federal politicians’ offices tonight, tomorrow and every day. (download the draft letter. See below contact information)

The Senate Committee, legal and constitutional affairs, is holding a one-day inquiry tomorrow only. It is expected to table its report on Tuesday and the bills are expected to get passage that or the following day.

Please note parliament resumes on 10/9/07 and we should have at least until then to examine the detail. It is a fair and reasonable request. We want the PM to visit our community representatives and leaders in the NT before the package is put into law.

Thanks and Kind Regards
Patricia Turner
Chief Executive Officer
National Indigenous TV Limited
Head Office: 5 Parsons Street, Alice Springs
PO Box 1313 ALICE SPRINGS NT 0871
phone (08) 8953 4763 or fax (08) 8953 4764

——
Beyond Nuclear Initiative
Arid Lands Environment Centre (ALEC)
John Cumming Plaza, 67 Todd Mall
PO box 2796,
Alice Springs, NT
Australia 0871

ph: 08 8952 2011
mobile : 0429 900 774
email: natwasley@alec.org.au

A snapshot of the Northern Territory download as PDF

Over the past two decades the Aboriginal population in remote communities has grown by approximately 40%.

Remote Aboriginal communities are growing rapidly and simply do not have the same range, level and quality of public funded infrastructure and services that are provided in towns of similar size elsewhere in Australia.

Population
* Aboriginal people make up 30% of the NT’s population and 12.5% of the national Indigenous population
* 38% of the Territory’s Aboriginal population is children under 15 years

The Territory has 641 discrete Aboriginal communities
o 9 towns of 1,000 – 2,000 people
o 50 communities with populations ranging from 200 – 999 people
o 570 communities with populations of < 200 people. * 72% of the Territory’s Aboriginal population lives on Aboriginal land outside major towns * Majority of Aboriginal people do not have good access to mainstream services Characteristics of discrete Aboriginal communities
* Geographically dispersed, isolated and subject to seasonal conditions
* Lacking in basic infrastructure and services
* High comparative levels of socio-economic disadvantage
* Limited capacity to engage in social and economic development opportunities

Childcare and family safety facilities in NT Aboriginal communities

Source: ABS 2006

Health
* 54% of remote communities have don’t have a local health clinic (ABS 2006)
* 99% of remote communities have no substance abuse service (ABS 2006)
* End stage renal disease (ESRD) in some NT regions up to 30 times the national average.
* Projected cost of treatment for ESRD in next 5 years is estimated to be $50 million
* Underlying causes of chronic diseases is linked to poverty and disadvantage, poor living conditions, poor nutrition, low birth weight and infectious diseases

Education
* 94% of remote communities do not have a preschool
* 43% of Aboriginal secondary school enrollments in the NT are registered as ‘ungraded’ students (secondary school-aged students who have not achieved Year 7 primary school education)
* Lowest retention rate and participation of all jurisdictions

Housing
Source: Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage: Key Indicators 2007

* Estimates by Territory Housing to meet current unmet need is 5,000 dwellings over the next 3-5 years
* Total unmet housing and housing related infrastructure costs is estimated to be $2.3b.

Socio-economic disadvantage across ATSIC regions

Published in Commonwealth Grants Commission Report on Indigenous Funding 2001, Vol 1, page 33 http://www.cgc.gov.au/

Contacts

Hon John Howard, MHR
Prime Minister
Parliament House
CANBERRA ACT 2600
http://www.pm.gov.au/contact/index.cfm

Mal Brough MP
Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs
Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Indigenous Affairs
PO Box 6022
House of Representatives
Parliament House
Canberra ACT 2600
Tel: (02) 6277 7560
Fax: (02) 6273 4122
Email: [send email to mal.brough.mp@aph.gov.au]

Mr Kevin Rudd MHR
Leader of the Opposition
PO Box 476A
Morningside Qld 4170
Tel: (07) 3899 4031
Fax: (07) 3899 5755
Email: [send email to Kevin.Rudd.MP@aph.gov.au ]

Clare Martin – Northern Territory
GPO Box 3146
Darwin NT 0801
Telephone: (08) 8901 4000
Facsimile: (08) 8901 4099
email: [send email to chiefminister.nt@nt.gov.au]

Find contacts to Senators here

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