Anecdote from Arnhem Land


A colleague happened to be in the same remote community as one of the NTERT “survey teams” last week and relates a story that doesn’t inspire a great deal of confidence.

A senior, very experienced, very respected AHW (recently on the Queens birthdays honours list) was at a meeting to discuss the planned interventions. Being a health worker, he raised the issue of the health checks and commented that they could only occur with parental permission. He was told that he should “talk to John Howard about that”, effectively ending his engagement with the process.

Later, my colleague overheard either NTERT or ICC staff talking about their meeting with the women who run a Child Safety program on the smell of an oily rag. Said colleague was shocked to hear the disparaging and dismissive comments towards the womens’ request (for an office and vehicle), given that this is supposed to be an area of primary concern.

This deeply flawed approach to community negotiation and involvement is made clear in the Social Justice Commissioners’ report, which I’ll look at next.




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