This appointment is wrong for all manner of reasons, and Aboriginal people in the Territory will not have confidence in the appointment of Brian Martin. As Chief Justice, he sat at the apex of the NT’s justice system. He presided over all judicial officers who sentenced young Aboriginal offenders to detention, and he knew them all: Olga Havnen, AMSANT.
The debacle that has been exposed in the past two years within the NT juvenile justice system shows quite clearly that by deliberate design and policy Aboriginal children in are treated in a barbarous, inhumane and illegal way. Multiple incidents within the juvenile detention facilities have revealed that the NT Government prosecutes policies against Aboriginal children which include spit-hooding, gassing, hand cuffing, shackling and extensive periods of unlawful solitary confinement.
Child sex abuse is only one aspect of child protection. General child neglect and associated social dysfunction was the underlying problem which could have, and should have been focussed on by Mr Howard and Mr Brough. By using paedophilia as the emotive hook for their PR campaign, they indiscriminately and irresponsibly labelled the male population in remote Territory communities as predators of the worst kind. That was the second, again almost immediate, negative impact of the Intervention declaration.
Despite poverty and marginalisation, there was a spirit of defiance and pride amongst the Elliott mob. The slogan from the previous year’s anti-bicentennial – ‘we have survived’ – had continuing resonance. There was respect for the endurance and fortitude of the many former stockmen who lived in the town. Through their skill and discipline they had earned a limited degree of autonomy, despite working for white bosses, and they had managed to maintain culture and ceremony under difficult conditions.
Last night Warren Mundine proposed new military-style interventions into Aboriginal communities to provide health services. Chips Mackinolty shows that in the NT, community-controlled health services are the key to efficient and effective than health service provision.
Central Land Council Director David Ross: self-determination has been "bastardised and shoved into the closet" by governments. He issues a forceful call for Aboriginal people to reclaim the concept of self-determination on their own terms.
Hudson produces no evidence for a lack of willingness to become AHWs, but to this end Hudson footnotes an ABC Stateline NT report, and yet again provides her own spin in the hope that no one had seen the original report—or would check it later. There is nothing in this report that evidences Hudson’s alleged “lack … of interest among remote Indigenous people to become AHWs”. The television report says it is a tough job, and not one that everyone can do—but critical nevertheless to the running of Aboriginal health services. One interview in the television segment points specifically to shortcomings in the structure of training, and another into the racially discriminatory nature of work conditions. No interviews or editorial in the yarn point to a “lack of interest”.
AMSANT noted in its submission that it: "...note[d] that the many threats to environmental and public health that have been largely eliminated in the rest of the nation over the past century still blight many of our communities: urban, regional and remote. To this extent, the capacity of comprehensive primary health care to meet the needs of Aboriginal Territorians—to Close the Gap—will continue to be frustrated in environments in which fundamental public health protections are not available or unmet." AMSANT was concerned at the parlous state of environmental health of many of the communities that its members serve, where: "Poor environmental health conditions in remote communities and town camps include inadequate sanitation, water supply, rubbish disposal and grossly overcrowded housing. Basic infrastructure in many remote communities is either absent, inadequate and/or poorly maintained."
Being here this evening, surrounded by her work, is not all of what Sarah is about. At her opening last year I described her in the best of possible ways as a “mongrel dog”. With that description, I was describing her as central Australia’s leading advocate and activist for Aboriginal people with end stage renal disease. I described her as that because, quite simply, she is completely unafraid in her dealings with bureaucrats and politicians in her battles with them. call her that as a token of real affection. The real puzzle is that she is both mongrel dog activist, mother, carer of people within the Western Desert Renal Dialysis family—yet still finds the time to create objects of beauty and wonder.
I am honoured to have been given this 2010 NAIDOC award. I remember like it was yesterday being in the audience at this event in 2007 when my former colleague Jack Ah Kit spoke after receiving the same award. It was only weeks after John Howard and Mal Brough had made their shock-and-awe Intervention announcement in 2007.