Child Abuse in Aboriginal Communities

Measures announced by the Australian Government to halt child abuse in Indigenous communities of the Northern Territory

On 21 June 2007, the Australian Prime Minister, John Howard, announced the following measures to combat child abuse in Indigenous communities in the NT.

  • Widespread alcohol restrictions on NT Aboriginal land for 6 months
  • Medical examinations of all Indigenous children in the NT under the age of 16 years
  • Quarantining of 50% of the welfare payments to parents of children in the affected areas for the purchase of food and other essentials
  • Enforcing school attendance by linking income support and family assistance payments to school attendance for all people living on Aboriginal land
  • Taking control of townships through 5-year leases to ensure that property and public housing are improved
  • Requiring an intensive clean-up of communities to make them safer and healthier, by marshalling local workforces through Work for the Dole arrangements
  • Scrapping the permit system for common areas and road corridors on Aboriginal lands
  • Banning the possession of x-rated pornography in the proscribed areas
  • Increasing policing levels, and making law and order a central focus of the measures announced
  • Amending NT land rights legislation

The Anderson Wild report of the Northern Territory Government

The 97 recommendations covered:

  • Leadership by the federal and Northern Territory governments in consultation with Aboriginal people, government responses to ensure child safety, the role of the Family and Children’s Services program in the NT, and family support services;
  • Health aspects, both crisis intervention and prevention through primary health care;
  • Policing, police education, cooperation with the Family and Children’s Services program, support for victims, bail applications (when the alleged offence is sexual abuse of a child), and offender rehabilitation;
  • School attendance, the role of communities, community education and awareness, and housing;
  • Alcohol and other substance abuse, pornography, and gambling;
  • Community justice;
  • Cross-cultural training of staff; and
  • Implementation of the report.

Prime Minister of Australia. Joint press conference with the Hon Mal Brough, Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous affairs, Canberra. Indigenous emergency. http://www.pm.gov.au/media/Interview/2007/Interview24380.cfm (accessed Jul 2007).

Anderson P, Wild R. Little children are sacred: report of the Northern Territory Board of Inquiry into the protection of Aboriginal children from sexual abuse 2007. Darwin: Northern Territory Government, 2007. http://www.nt.gov.au/dcm/inquirysaac/pdf/bipacsa_final_report.pdf (accessed Jul 2007).

This report from; http://www.mja.com.au/public/issues/187_04_200807/rin10803_fm.html

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