The Northern Territory government has now produced its response to the Little Children are Sacred report, responding to each recommendation as well as addressing some additional areas. Of course, the federal government used the failure of the NT government to respond quickly enough to this report as its justification for intervening in the Territory and giving themselves a whole lot of extra powers (and taking a lot of power away from Aboriginal people and organisations in the process). Now that the federal government has stated that the recommendations of the report were “just more of the same” and “are now behind us”, they’ll probably also criticise the NT for responding positively to the recommendations too! Seeing the federal government has basically dismissed them all, one could hardly have blamed the NT government for doing the same.
Now that the legislation dealing with Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory has passed into law, providing the federal government with a huge power grab, there is a risk that the public, media and political interest will go elsewhere. Those in support of the new laws may feel the main task is done, and those opposed may feel the battle is lost.
I think the important task, for people of all views, is to keep the focus on the challenges facing Indigenous Australians, outside the Territory as well as within it. One part of that is monitoring closely how the federal government uses the extreme powers it now has, and doing everything possible to hold them to their promises and their stated intentions.
One part of that is trying to hear from people at community level about what is actually happening, rather than relying on assertions, picture opportunities and spin from government Ministers and those who work for them.
A comment left on this blog reminded me that there are some good accounts around on the web from people at ground level, giving reports of their experiences. Now that the initial skirmishes have occurred in the Parliament and the mainstream media, I will try to look for opportunities to use this blog to draw attention to information detailing some of the reality from people on the ground.
Here’s a couple worth reading from recent weeks:
- This report is from the community of Ngukurr, when the federal government’s intervention team visited a few weeks ago.
- This post reports on a similar visit to Kybrook Farm.