Stronger Futures

The NTER is officially dead, with the new stronger Futures legislation coming into effect on July 16.

Details of the changes have been slowly released over the last few months.  The official legislation is here, there’s a   Policy Statement, or, for the concentration impaired, the brief version.  Heck, there’s even a video.

The basics; RDA is reinstated.  Compulsory 5 yr leases go. Income management stays and so too, restrictions on alcohol and pornography.

RDA – the previous government had no choice but to exempt the NTER as it obviously targeted indigenous Australians.  While the RDA now applies, this current legislation, skirts in it intent, though not in principle. Income management now applies to places other than remote Aboriginal communities, but when you see the list of those places, it is clear that non-Indigenous Australians finding themselves subject to these new laws are mostly ‘collateral damage’. And it relates to a practical problem (one predicted here, IIRC) that the NTER encountered – people simply moved out of ‘prescribed areas’ to the nearest regional centre; Alice Springs, Tennant Creek, Katherine, or Darwin. The SF legislation complies with RDA because it now encompasses Alice, Tennant and Katherine. Hang on, aren’t we missing one there??   Well, the fine upstanding citizens of Darwin can’t be tarred with this particular brush.

Compulsory leases – always a dumb, dumb and totally unnecessary policy.

Income management – stays and is extended as above.

Alcohol restrictions – little effect to date (again, as predicted).  As an example, alcohol related violence is up 25% in Alice in the past year, though this is part due to the migration effect from the NTER. There is little new here – planned changes continue to be punitive or restrictive (AOD Tribunal being an exception).  There remains too little emphasis on treatment services, especially on the ground in remote communities. Apparently there is going to be an independent review…..with a report due in 3 years.

Pornography restrictions remain in place, still with no evidence to support the original move, no evidence it has made a difference to anything in the last 5 years and none that it will do anything in the future.

Other stuff – there is an emphasis on school attendance, with a link put in place between school attendance and welfare payments, though I’ve yet to hear of many people actually being cut off . Truancy officers are on the ground.  After a short term increase in attendances in 2007-2008, things seem to be back to where they were. A vital area, but one where we seem to have made almost no progress.

Jobs – SF has identified more jobs as a priority and as a mark of its commitment to this, the Federal Govt has announced 50 new jobs as rangers across the NT.  Fifty.  50.  Yes, a five and then a zero.   Well, that’s unemployment taken care of……..

Outstations –were for the chop, but in a minor outbreak of commonsense, funding will continue and be somewhat increased over the next ten years.

Health – there is some interesting health stuff going on, not all directly related to SF, but I’ll look at that in the next post.

SF has its origins in the consultation on the NTER that the Federal Govt undertook in 2011 and the SF consultations in the same year.  I wrote a long post about it earlier in the year (WP ate it), but let me say that the claims of success are somewhat underwhelming when you look at the details behind the headlines.  It’s here  if you want to take a peek.

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One Response to “Stronger Futures”

  1. Justin Says:

    The only real effect from alcohol restrictions I have seen in my time in remote NT is a “skills/brain drain” where all the male 20 and 30-somethings up and leave home for somewhere where they can have a beer as the sun goes down, a right almost all Australians enjoy. Given the level of community disruption and displacement of young people from country and family, for an as yet seen zero-benefit effect, should it not be time for a policy rethink? There are a couple of elections coming up…..

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