Community consultations are a welcome first step towards tackling Aboriginal disadvantage in the Northern Territory, but any strategies to ensure stronger futures must be community-driven in order to be sustainable, said Amnesty International today.
Responding to the Government’s Stronger Futures in the Northern Territory Report on Consultations released yesterday, Amnesty International is calling on the Government to now work in partnership with Aboriginal communities to find practical solutions that respect the rights of those affected.
“The Government must recognise that local issues need local solutions rather than the failed one-size-fits-all Intervention policies that were imposed upon communities four years ago,” said Rodney Dillon, Amnesty International Australia’s Indigenous Rights Campaigner.
The Government must also commit to a holistic approach of providing basic and essential services based on the realities of the locations where people actually live.
“We are pleased to see an emphasis on school attendance in the report - no one can deny the importance of education. But having a shower in the morning, being able to brush your teeth and having a healthy breakfast is just as crucial as getting to school each day,” said Dillon.
Amnesty International is concerned that the Government is continuing to neglect more than a third of the Northern Territory’s population living on remote traditional homelands.
“Although we have seen considerable financial investment being poured into Aboriginal affairs in the Northern Territory’s growth towns and town camps, none of this is going into homelands.
“Decades of research have proved that families living on their homelands are happier, healthier and stronger. As part of its Stronger Futures policy, the Government must commit to and implement an overarching plan to ensure the long-term sustainability of homelands,” said Dillon.
As the intervention legislation’s expiration date approaches, Amnesty International is also calling for policies and programs to be brought in line with the minimum standards set out in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and grounded in the free, prior and informed consent of Aboriginal people living in the Northern Territory.