26 June 2007

Open letter to The Hon. Mal Brough MP


26 June 2007


Open letter to The Hon. Mal Brough MP
Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs
House of Representatives
Parliament House
ACT  2600


Dear Minister Brough


The undersigned organisations write this joint and open letter in order to convey our views on action required to stop the abuse of children in Indigenous communities in the Northern Territory, and our concerns about aspects of the Australian Government’s response to this problem as outlined in your statement of 21 June 2007.


The safety and well-being of Indigenous children is paramount. We welcome your commitment to tackling violence and abuse in certain Indigenous communities. We are deeply concerned at the severity and widespread nature of the problems of child sexual abuse and community breakdown in Indigenous communities in the NT, catalogued in the Little Children are Sacred Report.


We wish to work collaboratively with Governments and the communities affected to ensure that children are protected. We would like to see greater investment in the services that support Indigenous families and communities, the active involvement of these communities in finding solutions to these problems and greater Federal Government engagement in delivering basic health, housing and education services to remote communities.


There is general agreement among the communities affected, Governments and service providers and in the wider Australian community that urgent action is required to address the abuse and neglect of children and to assist those affected by it.


We note that the services which most Australians take for granted are often not delivered to remote Indigenous communities, including adequately resourced schools, health services, child protection and family support services, as well as police who are trained to deal with domestic violence in the communities affected. We endorse the call in the Little Children are Sacred Report for the Australian and Territory Governments to work together urgently to fill these gaps in services.


There is also a need for a longer term plan to address the underlying causes of the problem, including community breakdown, joblessness, overcrowding and low levels of education.


Successfully tackling these problems requires sustainable solutions, which must be worked out with the communities, not prescribed from Canberra.


We are committed to working with the Government to ensure that in developing and introducing the proposed measures, support is provided to Indigenous communities’ efforts to resolve these problems. The proposals go well beyond an ‘emergency response’, and will have profound effects on people’s incomes, land ownership, and their ability to decide the kind of medical treatment they receive. Some of the measures will weaken communities and families by taking from them the ability to make basic decisions about their lives, thus removing responsibility instead of empowering them.


In their present form the proposals miss the mark and are unlikely to be effective. There is an over-reliance on top-down and punitive measures, and insufficient indication that additional resources will be mobilised where they are urgently needed; to improve housing, child protection and domestic violence supports, schools, health services, alcohol and drug rehab programs. These issues have been raised by many Indigenous leaders over many years.


We offer our support to Indigenous communities and the Government in:
• developing programs that will strengthen families and communities to empower them to confront the problems they face;
• consulting adequately with the communities and NT Government, and community service, health and education providers;
• developing a long term plan to address and resolve the causes of child abuse including joblessness, poor housing, education and commit the necessary resources to this.

Yours sincerely

Mick Dodson


Rt Hon Malcolm Fraser and Dr Lowitja O'Donoghue
Co-Chairs, Stolen Generation Alliance


Mary Buckskin
Aboriginal Health Council of South Australia

Darryl Kickett
Aboriginal Health Council of Western Australia


Bernie Dwyer
Amity Community Services


David Evans
Amoonguna Health Service
Alice Springs Urban Housing


Alice Springs Youth Accommodation & Support Services (ASYASS)


Jeff Warner & Barbara Shaw
Anyinginyi Health Aboriginal Corporation


Arrernte Council


Garry Highland
Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation (
Australian Indigenous Doctors Association


Michael Green
Bahtabah Local Aboriginal Land Council
Abdul Khan
Central Australian Aboriginal Alcohol Program Unit (


Central Australian Aboriginal Legal Aid Service


Central Australian Aboriginal Congress


Central Australian Aboriginal Media Association


Britt Puschak, Gonam Pillay, Jan Burgess, Natalie Colmer

Central Australian Division of Primary Health Care


Central Australian Stolen Generations & Families Aboriginal Corporation
Central Land Council


Andrea Rabone
Council for Aboriginal Alcohol Program Services


Regina Bennett
Darwin Aboriginal and Islander Women's Shelter


Caitlin Perry
Darwin Community Legal Service Inc
Susan Crane
Dawn House Inc
Lester Adams
Darumbal Community Youth Service Inc


Anita O’Callaghan
Foster Care NT


Footprints Forward


Ingkerreke Outstations Resource Services.


Neville Perkins
Institute for Aboriginal Development


Pat Brahim
Julalikari Council Aboriginal Corporation


Larissa Behrendt
Jumbunna Indigenous House of Learning


David Scholz
Kakadu Health Service


Barbara Quirk
Katherine Crisis Accommodation and Support Program


Sean Heffernan
Katherine West Aboriginal Health Board


Barayuwa Mununggurr
Laynhapuy Homelands Association


Lhere Artepe


Brooke Whitaker
Local Community Services Association


Reggie Wundjal
Malabam Health Board

Laurencia Grant
Mental Health Association of Central Australian (


Eddie Mulholland
Miwatj Health Aboriginal Corporation


Dea Thiele
National Aboriginal Controlled Health
Organisation (NACHO)


National Indigenous Youth Movement of Australia


National Indigenous Television Ltd


Priscilla Collins
North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency


Toni Vine Bromley
Northern Territory Shelter


NSW Reconciliation Council


Northern Territory Branch of the Australian Association of Social Workers


Caitlin Perry
NT Association of Community Legal
Centres Inc


NT Youth Affairs Network (NTYAN)


Jeff Hulcombe
Pintupi Homelands Health Service


Muriel Bamblett


Walter Shaw
Tangentyere Council


Georgina Bracken
Tennant Creek Women's Refuge Inc.


Revd Sealin Garlett
Uniting Aboriginal & Islander Christian Congress


Muriel Bamblett
Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency (


Jill Gallagher
Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health
Organisation (VACCHO)


Frank E. Guivarra

Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service


Sharijn King
Waltja Tjutangku Palyapayi Aboriginal Association


Western Desert Nganampa Walytja Palyantjaku Tjutaku Aboriginal Corporation


Andrew Johnson
Australian Council of Social Service (


Lin Hatfield Dodds


Olga Havnen


Ara Cresswell
ACT Council of Social Service
Licia Kokocinski
Action on Disability within Ethnic Communities</SPAN>< P>


Ray Cleary
Anglicare Australia


Anglicare Central Queensland Ltd


Anglicare NT


Karine Sheelshear
Association to Resource Cooperative Housing, Sydney


Association of Childrens Welfare Agencies



Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW)


Australian Council of Heads of Schools of Social Work (ACHSSW)


Don Baxter
Australian Federation of AIDS


Gordon Melsom
Australian Federation of Homelessness


Deane Welsh
Australian Institute of Welfare and Community Workers


Simeon Beckett
Australian Lawyers for Human Rights

Gerardine (Ged) Kearney

Australian Nursing Federation


Mark Beach and Percy Neal

Bama Ngappi Ngappi Aboriginal Corporation


Rev Dr Ji Zhang

Bentleigh Uniting Church


Sandie de Wolf
Berry Street Victoria


Canberra Rape Crisis Centre


Jack de Groot
Caritas Australia


Central Australian Remote Health Development Services (CARHDS)


Tony Pietropiccolo
CentreCare Western Australia


Rev Rod Benson

Centre for Christian Ethics


Coleen Clare
Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare


Community Child Care Association Victoria


Keith Lyons
Congregational Federation of Australia and


Angela Forbes
Connections – an agency of
Council of Australian Humanist Societies


Sue Hendy
Council of the
Ageing Victoria


Nicole Lawder
Deafness Forum of Australia


Tim Woodruff
Doctors Reform Society


Fiona McCormack
Domestic Violence Victoria


Family Planning Tasmania


Tony O’Hare
Family Services Australia


Federation of Community Legal Centres (Victoria)


Helen Egan
General Practice and Primary Health Care NT


Good Shepherd Australia and New Zealand


Good Shepherd Social Justice Network


Good Shepherd Youth and Family Service


Jeff McMullen
Ian Thorpe’s Fountain for Youth


Julie Edwards
Jesuit Social Services


David Thomspson
Jobs Australia


Brett Collings
Justice Action


Poul Bottern
Kildonan UnitingCare


Meredith Carter
Kindergarten Parents Victoria


Liberty Victoria


Paul Linossier
MacKillop Family Services


MAYA CIFALI Consultancies


Micah Projects


Tom Miller

Mindaribba Local Aboriginal Land Council


Barbara Romeril
National Association of Community
BasedChildren's Services (NACBCS)


Elizabeth O’Brien
National Association of Community Legal



National Coalition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social WorkersAssociation (NCATSISWA)


The Revd John Henderson
National Council of Churches in Australia


Richard Menteith AOM
National Council of Churches of Christ in Australia


Elspeth McInnes
National Council of Single Mothers and their Children


Dr John Wakerman
National Rural Health Alliance


Adrian Pisarski
National Shelter


Kate Beamount
National Welfare Rights Network


Geoff Scott
New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council



Wendy Morton
Northern Territory Council of Social Service


Stephen Banks
NSW Council of Civil Liberties


NSW Council of Social Service


NSW Federation of Housing Associations


Gregory Phillips
Onemda VicHealth Koori Health Unit, University of Melbourne


Andrew Hewett
Oxfam Australia


Alastair McEwin
People with Disabilities Australia


Quinn Pawson
Prahran Mission


Michael Cassar
Psychiatric Disability Services
ofVictoria (Vicserv)


Public Health Association of Australia


Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Health Council


Jill Lang
Queensland Council of Social Service


Di Sisely

Reconciliation Victoria


Mary Mertin-Ryan
Relationships Australia


Lin Davidson
St David’s


David Pugh
St Luke’s


Alex Huntir
Michaels Association Inc


Society of St Vincent de Paul National Council 


Barbara Hocking
SANE Australia


Mary Perkins


Vicki O'Halloran

Somerville Community Services Incorporated


Karen Grogan
South Australian Council of Social Service


Mary-Anne Johnson
Tasmanian Catholic Justice and Peace Commission


Tom Muller
Tasmanian Council of Social Service


The Fred Hollows Foundation


Lyn Larkin
Uniting Care Australia


Rev. Gregor Henderson
Uniting Church in Australia


Rev Allan Thompson
Synod of Victoria and Tasmania, Uniting Church in Australia


Robert Watson
Uniting Church – WA Synod


Anne Cross
UnitingCare Queensland


Rev Raoul Spackman-Williams


Victorian Council of Churhces


Carolyn Aitkins

Victorian Council of Social Service


Judy Leitch

Wesley Mission


Deb Bryant

West Centre Against Sexual Assault


Lisa Baker

Western Australian Council of Social Service


Marilyn Beaumont

Women’s Health Victoria


Angela Hartwig

Women's Council for Domestic & Family Violence Services (WA)


Carolyn Frohmander

Women With Disabilities Australia


Siyavash Doostkhah

Youth Affairs Network of Queensland (YANQ)


Manja Visschedijk

YWCA of Canberra