Aboriginal Rights Coalition
Aboriginal Control of Aboriginal Affairs

HREOC Social Justice Report gives clear direction to the Labor Govt

Media release 31/3/08

The Aboriginal Rights Coalition welcomed today’s release of the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission’s Social Justice Report into the Northern Territory Intervention into Aboriginal communities. Commissioner Tom Calma’s Report provides an independent analysis, critically assessing the race-based welfare quarantining and the contravening of the Racial Discrimination Act which he claims has been repealed on flawed premises, resulting in multiple breaches of international human rights charters that Australia is a signatory to.

The 2007 Social Justice Report provides clear direction to the recently elected Labor Government on how to distinguish itself from the legacy of the Howard Government

and work with Aboriginal communities to effectively address child sexual assault and family violence, while maintaining Australia’s human rights obligations.

The Report identifies that $150 million has been spent on the administration of welfare quarantining, while community services that have proven to be effective in dealing with and preventing family violence and child abuse remain starved of funding. The Report outlines 19 successful community based strategies such as the Tangentyere Safe Families Project, the Mawal Rom Project, the Rekindling the Spirit and Balgo Women’s Law Camp, Yuendumu’s Women’s Centre and Night Patrols, Murri Courts and Umbakumba Alcohol Management Program. These programs represent some of the highly successful culturally appropriate community based programs that communities have developed.

‘The HREOC Report confirms that attacking Aboriginal people’s rights to social security, disbanding the Racial Discrimination Act and instigating food voucher cards does nothing to address the long term neglect of successive Governments to fund services for Aboriginal people,’ Mr Eatock said.

Mr Eatock spoke of the frustration of many Aboriginal service providers, ‘The national Secretariat for Aboriginal and Islander Child Care (SNAICC) has developed a detailed national child protection strategy, in conjunction with Aboriginal communities, which it continues to seek funding to implement.’

Mr Eatock called on the Federal Government to overhaul the Northern Territory Intervention and fund the Aboriginal services on the ground that have effective evidence-based strategies to deal with the complex issues of dysfunction in Aboriginal communities.

Mr Eatock referred to the NT Intervention measures as ‘apartheid in nature and a new era of paternalism akin to those of 50 years ago which led to the policies of the stolen generation and the need for an apology.’ He called on the Indigenous Affair Minister Jenny Macklin to ‘use her discretionary powers to immediately halt the punitive measures of the Intervention, reinstate the human rights safe guard of the Racial Discrimination Act and work with Aboriginal people.’

For further comment and information contact Greg Eatock: 0432 050 240

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