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. 


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