Archive for November, 2007

What Now?

November 28, 2007

The demise of the Coalition Government will have an impact on the nature of the NT intervention. For the better, in my, and many others, opinion.

Based on Labor’s public comments and commitments we can expect the following;

  • CDEP will continue and increase in scope much to the relief of many community organisations
  • the permit system will not be revoked for remote communities

What other alterations may occur are unknown, but here are my best guesses,

  • the compulsory acquisition of communities for 5 years will be abandoned
  • government business managers will be phased out
  • the quarantining of welfare payments will no longer apply to everyone but will be implemented on a case-by-case basis with a right to appeal.
  • SBS will not be banned in the NT.

Generally in Indigenous affairs, we can expect;

  • a new elected national Indigenous body (bye-bye to the Govt appointed and ineffectual NIC)
  • a more consultative and considered approachbut also an outcome orientated approach
  • a shake-up at the Office of Indigenous Policy Co-ordination (which can’t) and the Indigenous Co-ordination Centres (which don’t).


And what an appropriate place for the former Minister, Mal Brough. His time as Minister was meteoric – short and spectacular. While his loss in his own electorate of Longman almost certainly had nothing to do with the NTER, as Chris Graham (Editor of NIT) noted at Crikey (thanks Club Troppo ), there was a voter assessment of the intervention in the seat of Lingiari which covers all the affected communities. It seems that remote communities weren’t as enthusiastic for the intervention as Mr Brough was. There weren’t big changes, but most of the swings in remote polling booths were towards rather than away from Labor. One interesting result was from Oenpelli in Western Arnhem land, where the CLP managed an amazing 14 votes out of the 699 cast. The Greens beat them with 21.


November 15, 2007

The Federal intervention in the NT continues, albeit without much significant coverage, Four Corners being a notable exception. 

My own involvement is in the field of health and the current state of play can be summarised in a single word – confused. 

The much heralded child health checks (CHC) continue, though seem to be shutting down for a Christmas break. The scheduled checks will continue into next year and should be finished by June at the latest, given that this is the date that the intervention is meant to enter Phase 3. As I’ve said before, the CHCs have been a very expensive and time consuming circus, the prime outcome being lots of pieces of paper.  The CHC teams have been sending out referrals to NT Health Dept staff, like myself, telling us that child A, whom I already know, has condition X and requires services. Gee thanks. 

Phase 2 of the intervention is meant to be about actually trying to provide some of the services that are lacking.  Now that will be useful, but the intervention circus wasn’t required to figure out what was lacking.  There will be a focus on ENT and dental services in this next phase, sometime in the first half of 2008.  But, in a testament to brilliant planning that is the NTER, it isn’t quite clear exactly how and when this will occur.  To help figure some this out, the Federal Govt has put together the succinctly named, Northern Territory Emergency Response Health Expert Panel, which has meet several times to try to clarify some of the practical details, such as which health professionals are required, how they will be found, employed, deployed and supported. That this is still being talked about is some measure of the making-it-up-as-we-go-along approach.   

Fortunately there are some good people and organisations on the Panel, it’s just a matter of whether their sage advice will be acted on.  If Brough and Howard had been serious about this intervention, the Panel would have been formed before, not after, it began.  And the Panel would have advised against the ill-thought out CHCs.