Submission of the

HUMAN RIGHTS AND EQUAL OPPORTUNITY COMMISSION (HREOC)

to the

NORTHERN TERRITORY EMERGENCY RESPONSE REVIEW BOARD

on the

REVIEW OF THE NORTHERN TERRITORY EMERGENCY RESPONSE

15 August 2008

Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission
Level 8, 133 Castlereagh St
GPO Box 5218
Sydney NSW 2001
Ph. (02) 9284 9600


Contents


Introduction

  1. The Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC) makes this submission to the Northern Territory Emergency Response Review Board (‘Review Board’) for its Review of the Northern Territory Emergency Response (‘NTER’).
  2. HREOC is Australia’s national human rights institution.[1]
  3. HREOC welcomes the review of the NTER. HREOC supports the Review Board’s endeavours to assess the progress of the NTER and the effectiveness of the measures in achieving the intended effects and identifying changes to improve the measures and monitor performance.

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Summary

  1. The need for government to take concrete action to address and prevent child sexual assault in Indigenous communities remains a paramount concern. . All children have the right to a life free from violence and abuse; and the Australian Government has a responsibility to ‘protect the child from all forms of maltreatment by parents or others responsible for the care of the child and establish appropriate social programmes for the prevention of abuse and the treatment of victims’.[2] The failure of the government to address family violence and child abuse is a breach of its human rights obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRoC), the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD).
  2. It is evident that the problem of child sexual assault is related to the broader issues affecting Indigenous communities namely: poverty, disadvantage and discrimination. Any intervention addressing child sexual assault must necessarily address the well-being of the community as a whole and have a particular focus on overcome Indigenous disadvantage.
  3. Government action cannot occur without the full participation of affected Indigenous communities or without the full protection of Indigenous people’s human rights.
  4. HREOC’s submission will discuss the effectiveness and impacts of the NTER in terms of its compliance with Australia's human rights obligations.
  5. A human rights based approach ensures the participation of those affected in policy development and service delivery, emphasises a holistic, integrated approach, which promotes transparency, accountability and the development of rigorous benchmarking, monitoring and reporting systems and access to forms of redress.
  6. HREOC’s submission refers the Review Board to the Social Justice Report 2007[3]which outlines:
    • a ten point action plan on how the NTER could be amended to be made compliant with human rights standards; and
    • a human rights based approach to family violence and abuse in Aboriginal communities.
  7. HREOC also refers the Review Board to the community consultations with affected Indigenous communities obtained from the Sex Discrimination Commissioner’s Listening Tour in the Northern Territory (2008) and the HREOC National Race Relations Roundtable Meeting held in October 2007.
  8. HREOC’s submission notes that there is limited available data collected by government on the impact of the NTER on the members of affected Indigenous communities.
  9. The effectiveness of the NTER will vary among affected individuals and communities. However, where the NTER measures violate the human rights of the intended beneficiaries it is more likely to undermine the overall well-being of the communities in which they live in both the short and the longer term.
  10. The analysis of the impacts also highlights the need for government to sustain long-term commitments to: address child sexual assault and the underlying issues of poverty, disadvantage and discrimination; and develop appropriate participatory monitoring and evaluation structures to assess the ongoing impact of these government programs.
  11. Mindful of the importance of identifying improvements for measures and programs, HREOC’s submission promotes:
    • a human rights based approach to programs and service delivery and provides examples of effective human rights based projects that specifically address family violence and abuse;
    • the need to shift away from rolling out ‘one size fits all programs’ to flexible and responsive community based, community development programs that are responsive to the differing needs and contexts of the many communities in the Northern Territory;
    • the critical role of human rights education as a preventative strategy that can increase Indigenous people’s - including children and young people’s - awareness of human rights and strengthen their capacity to resolve disputes and address issues within the community.

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Recommendations

  1. HREOC recommends the Review Board:
    • Call for the implementation of the ten point plan and associated recommendations made in the Social Justice Report 2007 [Recommendation No. 1];
    • Call for the government to make substantial, long term sustainable commitments across all Indigenous communities to address child abuse, including child sexual abuse, and the underlying problems of poverty, disadvantage and discrimination [Recommendation No. 2];
    • Refer to the principles and elements of a human rights based approach as a foundation for responses to family violence and sexual assault and underlying Indigenous disadvantage [Recommendation No. 3];
    • Call for human rights education projects to be undertaken to raise awareness and build the capacity of communities to address family violence and sexual assault [Recommendation No. 4].

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Ten point plan to amend the NTER

  1. Family violence and abuse has been a prevalent problem in some Indigenous communities for many years. Unfortunately, while there has been no shortage of reports and inquiries outlining the problem, there has been a severe lack of concerted, long term action taken by governments working in partnership with communities to address their findings.
  2. When the Australian Government announced a ‘national emergency response to protect Aboriginal children in the Northern Territory’ from sexual abuse and family violence on 21 June 2007,[4] the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner (‘Social Justice Commissioner’) welcomed the announcement, but cautioned that any response must be conducted in line with Australia’s international human rights obligations, and particularly, in a manner consistent with the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth) (‘RDA’).[5]
  3. In Social Justice Report 2007, the Social Justice Commissioner further clarified the human rights obligations of the Commonwealth Government:

    The government has an obligation to take action to address violence and abuse, particularly where there is evidence that is it widespread. Governments that fail to do so are in breach of their obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRoC), the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD).

    Human rights are universal and indivisible. This means that they apply to everyone, everywhere, all the time and that different sorts of rights have equal importance. Governments should not privilege the enjoyment of one right over that of another, as if different rights are in competition with each other or subject to a hierarchy of ‘more important’ and ‘less important’ rights.[6]


  1. The Social Justice Report 2007 considered the human rights compliance and impact of the NTER with reference to Australia’s international obligations and specifically the RDA. The Report found that the Government has an obligation to take measures to address family violence and child abuse in Indigenous communities. However, the NTER is not a situation that justifies introducing measures that place restrictions on the rights of Indigenous peoples such as over-riding the principles of non-discrimination and just compensation or safeguards for procedural fairness. The NTER legislation cannot be legitimately exempted from the RDA or Northern Territory anti-discrimination legislation, or deemed to be a ‘special measure’ under the RDA, as aspects of the NTER negatively impact on Indigenous people’s rights and the NTER was not introduced with proper consultation or consent. Specific elements of the NTER such as the income management scheme, the abolition of the CDEP scheme and the introduction of alcohol bans in prescribed communities were found to raise human rights concerns.
  2. In order to address these concerns, the Social Justice Report 2007 includes a ten point action plan that identifies measures for amending the NTER to ensure its consistency with Australia’s human rights obligations and with equal treatment of Indigenous children and their families before the law. This ten point plan is as follows:

    Action 1: Restore all rights to procedural fairness and external merits review under the NT intervention legislation;

    Action 2: Reinstate protections against racial discrimination in the operation of the NT intervention legislation;

    Action 3: Amend or remove the provisions that declare that the legislation constitutes a ‘special measure’;

    Action 4: Reinstate protections against discrimination in the Northern Territory and Queensland;

    Action 5: Require consent to be obtained in the management of Indigenous property and amend the legislation to confirm the guarantee of just terms compensation;

    Action 6: Reinstate the CDEP Program and review the operation of the income management scheme so that it is consistent with human rights;

    Action 7: Review the operation and effectiveness of the alcohol management schemes under the intervention legislation;

    Action 8: Ensure the effective participation of Indigenous peoples in all aspects of the intervention – Developing Community Partnership Agreements;

    Action 9: Set a timetable for the transition from an ‘emergency’ intervention to a community development plan;

    Action 10: Ensure stringent monitoring and review processes.[7]


  1. This ten point plan has three main aims. First, it articulates how to remove formal discrimination under the NTER legislation (Actions 1-5). Second, it proposes a method for ensuring that schemes for income management and alcohol control are undertaken in a manner that is consistent with the RDA and that qualify as a ‘special measure’ (actions 6-7). Third, it identifies an approach to transition from a crisis/ emergency approach to a community development approach through ensuring participatory processes, the creation of community development plans and rigorous participatory based monitoring and reviews.
  2. In launching the Social Justice Report, the Social Justice Commissioner commented that this action plan identifies:

    changes to the current framework for the intervention to ensure that the legislation is applied fairly with the ordinary protections that apply for all other Australians... I challenge anyone to explain how providing these basic democratic protections could possibly hinder the goal of protecting children. The only possible answer is ‘short term expedience’ prevailing over guarantees of access to justice. And that is not a good enough answer.[8]

He further noted:

measures that violate the human rights of the intended beneficiaries are more likely to work in ways that undermine the overall well-being of the communities in which they live in both the short and the longer term.

For example, the Government has clearly stated that the NT intervention seeks to address a breakdown in law and order in Aboriginal communities. And yet it potentially involves introducing measures that undermine the rule of law and that do not guarantee Aboriginal citizens equal treatment to other Australians.

If this is the case, then it places a fundamental contradiction at the heart of the NT intervention measures. This will inhibit the building of relationships, partnerships and trust between the Government and Indigenous communities. It would also undermine the credibility of the measures, and ultimately, threaten the sustainability and long term impact of the measures.

The approach I am recommending here sets out a major challenge to government and to communities. It is also, however, a case of challenging the government to deliver what it has promised to do through the intervention. And it would enable the government to do this in a manner that respects human rights and human dignity.[9]

  1. The Social Justice Report 2007 also made 12 recommendations for implementing the proposed ten point action plan (see Appendix 1 for a complete list of these recommendations).
  2. To date, elements of the recommendations have been implemented. The recommendation to reinstate CDEP in the 25 prescribed communities and five town camp regions in the Northern Territory was implemented on 30 June 2008. The government has also distributed a discussion paper on ‘The Future of CDEP and Indigenous Employment Programs’ in May 2008, with a view to having a report on the review of CDEP to be completed in 2009.
  3. Secondly, the Minister has decided not to exercise her discretion to remove permits, which is allowed for under the Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs and Other Legislation Amendment (Northern Territory National Emergency Response and Other Measures) Act 2007 (effective since 17 February 2008). The Minister also introduced a Bill in Parliament in February 2008[10] to reinstate aspects of the permit systems that were removed under the NTER. The Bill proposes to remove the provisions enacted by the former Government, but will retain the capacity of the Commonwealth Minister to permit selected individuals or classes of individuals to enter any specified Indigenous land.
  4. Thirdly, this review of the NTER implements the recommendation to independently monitor intervention measures 12 months following their commencement.
  5. The terms of reference for the review delineates processes that includes inviting public submissions, undertaking consultations with Indigenous people and commissioning its own data collection and research as appropriate.
  6. HREOC notes however the limited time and capacity for the Review. Further HREOC notes that this review of the NTER may be constrained by the lack of benchmarking and monitoring data collected prior to the Review Board’s formation in June 2008. At the commencement of the NTER HREOC noted that there were insufficient baseline measures in place to allow a comparison of the circumstances of Indigenous peoples before and after the NTER.[11] The lack of benchmarking and monitoring data and processes limits the capacity to assess the effectiveness of the NTER.
  7. HREOC recommends the Review Board call for the full implementation of the ten point plan and associated recommendations made in the Social Justice Report 2007 [Recommendation No. 1].

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Impacts of the NTER

  1. The problems of child sexual assault are related to the broader issues affecting Indigenous communities namely, poverty, disadvantage and discrimination.[12]
  2. The socio-economic disadvantage experienced among Indigenous people results in children living in poverty, overcrowded houses, and a lack of access to affordable and accessible health and education services.[13] The discussion on abuse needs to consider the role of government in the failure to provide accessible and affordable services and opportunities, and the consequent fostering of conditions that can contribute to child abuse and neglect.
  3. Any intervention addressing child sexual assault must necessarily address the well-being of the community as whole, and have a particular focus on overcoming Indigenous disadvantage. This includes improving housing and living conditions, boosting educational and employment opportunities, providing more funding to health services, establishing community and social development programs on alcohol and substance abuse and supporting Indigenous early childhood education and care and the provision of adequate legal services.
  4. A human rights based approach requires that the NTER measures address the underlying issues of poverty, disadvantage and discrimination in Indigenous communities as well as the child sexual assault and abuse.
  5. HREOC notes that much of the monitoring data collated by the government to date has been limited to collating the level of resources committed and feedback from government agencies and service providers on activities implemented.[14] For example, in assessing the effectiveness of the income management scheme, the government relied on a survey of community stores, rather than surveying residents in prescribed areas that are directly affected.[15] Such information does not adequately assess the impact of the measures on the community members affected by them. There is no indication that the government has developed monitoring mechanisms that directly consult Indigenous children and young people affected by the NTER, about the impact on their lives with regards to their rights to food, housing, education and safety from violence and neglect.
  6. The government should consider developing better monitoring mechanisms that collate information directly from affected communities. Children and young people that are affected should especially be included in monitoring mechanisms. The Committee on the Rights of the Child has suggested such monitoring mechanisms could include child focused bodies, child impact statements, children’s budgets and child rights reporting.[16] Specific indicators of children’s wellbeing could be developed to monitor improvements in children’s right to protection from violence or abuse and rights to participation, health, housing and education.
  7. In contrast to the government’s approach to monitoring, some land councils and community organisations have done community surveys with affected communities.[17] HREOC has also procured some anecdotal evidence from affected communities through the course of its work.[18]
  8. Some of the impacts of the NTER in the areas of education, income management, alcohol management, health, discrimination and access to information are identified below:

(1) Education – Fulfilling children’s right to education is a key element to addressing child abuse. In the Northern Territory this right is not being fulfilled for Indigenous children as evident by the comparatively lower levels of enrolment, attendance and retention of Indigenous children of all ages in schools.[19] One of the NTER strategies introduced to address this has been to link school attendance to quarantining of welfare payments. The Central Land Council reports that ‘after the introduction of the NTER attendance numbers were down in five survey communities, from May 2007 compared to May 2008...The figures suggest that the NTER has not had an impact on school enrolment and attendance figures in survey communities.’[20] The Northern Territory Council of Government School Organisations Inc., based on its surveys, also reported that the NTER has not resulted in better educational outcomes.[21]

Evidence from evaluations of similar programs in other states and overseas demonstrates that such measures are not effective.[22] The research shows that the main causes of absenteeism from school are due to poverty and ill health, rather than truancy.[23] For example, the Halls Creek evaluation noted research that showed overcrowded housing can result in a lack of sleep, security and privacy, lack of washing facilities and poor health from broken facilities – all contributing to a lack of ‘school readiness’. In Halls Creek it was also found that over and above the influence of parents, factors that can improve school enrolment, attendance and retention include having skilled teachers who create a stimulating learning environment in the classroom and a supportive ‘culture’ in the school that actively addresses bullying and harassment of Indigenous students.[24]

Strategies that limit family income through linking income management to school attendance and imposing eight week penalties for welfare breaches can further hinder the capacity of a family to act in the best interests of the child. Such strategies can restrict a family’s access to resources to provide food, housing and access to education for the child.

The lessons learnt show that linking attendance to welfare payments is not as effective in increasing school attendance as other measures that directly work to reduce health inequality and poverty. Ongoing, long-term funding to close the gap on health inequalities for Indigenous children and their families could generate more positive outcomes for school attendance and for fulfilling children’s rights to education and health, than the current strategy of linking attendance to welfare income.[25]

(2) Income management – The Social Security and Other Legislation Amendment (Welfare Payment Reform) Act 2007 (Cth) provides for the quarantining and control of welfare income available to Indigenous peoples in prescribed Northern Territory communities. It also puts in place the legislative framework for delegated legislation to be enacted to set up an administrative body called the Queensland Commission[26] to regulate income management in Cape York.

The Central Australian Aboriginal Legal Aid Service (CAALAS) and the North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency (NAAJA) (together, ‘ATSILS’) have noted that while anecdotal information shows a range of both positive and negative impacts of income management, there are particular examples of negative impacts that have arisen that are of concern.

Senior leaders in one community reported to us that before income management people had enough food to eat and that following income management people are going hungry and are ‘criss-crossing’ family groups in the community, looking for food. The community reported children were crying for food, and at times being fed gruel made from powdered milk. In our experience, some people have experienced having less money because they have been unknowingly accumulating surpluses in their income managed accounts. For other people, it is because they are now forced to travel long distances, incurring additional costs, to be able to shop with income managed funds.[27]

The results of the Central Land Council’s more recent community survey found that:

Disadvantages associated with income management included less discretionary cash and restrictions on the use of managed money, blanket coverage being discriminatory, problems with accessing managed money, incompatibility with population mobility, difficulties for aged and disabled people, and cost shifting to Aboriginal people and community staff to deal with the new arrangements. There was some evidence that if income management was better directed towards people with alcohol, gambling or substance misuse problems, that people in communities would be more supportive of it.[28]

Anecdotal feedback provided to the Tangentyere Council similarly notes that some people indicate that it has resulted in more money being spent on food and clothes, whereas other people have been quite distressed by the sense of shame of being treated in the same category as negligent or abusive parents, on the basis of their race.[29] The Tangentyere Council also notes that some people have experienced problems due to lack of immediate disposable cash for obligations such as travelling to funerals.[30]

During her Listening Tour in the Northern Territory the Sex Discrimination Commissioner heard about implementation problems with the income management schemes. Participants shared stories of older people and women with children having to walk long distances in the searing heat to get their store vouchers, then either walking or needing to take a taxi to the store and a taxi home with heavy bags. Previously people may have pooled money to save on transport costs and to share resources but income management does not allow for this, thereby increasing transport costs for individuals.[31] For example, in Arnhem Land participants reported that a shopping trip to the local chain supermarket could cost up to $1400 because of a two to three hour taxi ride, which could become a prohibitive financial burden if people were to take individual shopping trips.[32] The Sex Discrimination Commissioner also heard about problems with the accreditation processes for community based stores arising from additional administrative burdens.

Other community surveys and forums have also identified concerns with the income management scheme including: widespread community opposition to the scheme; less access to cash to cover travelling costs; difficulties in accessing Centrelink, particularly elderly or disabled people who are unable to easily travel; accessing payments made to deceased person’s accounts; and reduced capacity to budget and save.[33]

HREOC notes that under the income management scheme, the Minister has discretion to exempt people from income management in any circumstances that the Minister sees fit. There is value in ascertaining what benefit exemptions can have in targeting the income management scheme to individuals within the broader population, who are experiencing relevant problems. To this end the Review Board could examine the number of exemptions granted to date, the reasons they have been granted and the proportion of exemptions granted to Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.

Since the commencement of the NTER, HREOC notes the government has also introduced trial income management schemes under the national child protection framework in other states that address some of these concerns. In conjunction with the Western Australian Government, the federal government will commence an income management scheme in September 2008, in the Kimberley communities of Oombulgurri, Kununurra, Warmun and Wyndham and in the Perth suburb of Cannington.[34] Unlike the NTER and Queensland Family Responsibilities Commission processes[35], the Western Australia initiative is subject to the protections under the RDA. The Western Australia regime is also distinguished by individual behaviour being the trigger for the application of the regime[36] (i.e. individual families where children suffer neglect or engage in antisocial behaviour including truancy will be identified and supported). The federal government has said it will also fund money-management support services, financial education training and financial crisis support for people affected by income management.[37]

The Social Justice Report 2007 noted that income management is based upon removing the right of a person to make their own decisions about expending their income, and removes their right to dignity.[38] The argument posited for allowing this removal of rights is to ensure a family’s income is directed towards the purchase of goods and services necessary for the child. However, a human rights approach requires a proportionate response to a problem. This means that governments are obliged to consider less intrusive or voluntary options as a first response before moving to options as broad-reaching as compulsory income management.[39]

HREOC does not support introducing mandatory income management schemes either in the Northern Territory or as part of the national child protection framework. The government could consider replacing existing mandatory income management schemes in the Northern Territory with schemes that are non-discriminatory and compliant with the obligations of the right to social security and the best interests of the child. This could include voluntary income management measures,[40] exemptions from the current mandatory income management regime, financial literacy programs for welfare recipients and CDEP participants, any quarantining of welfare payments to be an action of last resort, and making all income management schemes subject to the protections under the RDA.

(3) Alcohol management - The Sex Discrimination Commissioner also heard of problems with the implementation of the alcohol management scheme. Participants from Darwin town camp communities reported that the scheme was not working. These prescribed communities are declared ‘dry areas’ with a sign at the entrance, but this does not prevent people bringing alcohol into the community.

The Tangentyere Council has also reported that the alcohol management scheme has only ‘moved the problem rather than addressed problem drinkers’ alcohol addiction.’[42] In the Council’s experience levels of drinking have increased near town camps, the number of drinking spots around Alice Springs has spiralled and this has lead to an increase in intoxicated people on the camps.[43]

Based on information provided by Tangentyere Council Board and the Social Justice Commissioner’s visits to town camps it was reported at the HREOC National Race Relations Roundtable Meeting in 2007 that police were smashing bottles when they seized alcohol in the town camps. This is a particular concern for two reasons: first, under legislation the police are required to document the seizure of alcohol and provide receipts for the goods that are confiscated; second, the glass is likely to cause injury to adults and children who walk barefoot in the camp communities.

The Larrakia Nation Aboriginal Corporation, an Indigenous service provider agency in the Northern Territory, also reported that as a result of the alcohol bans there is a great demand for sobering up treatments with a waitlist of 50 people for their service.[44]

HREOC encourages the Review Board to consider alternative measures that are consistent with human rights and which have led to positive changes in other communities. For example, in North-East Arnhem Land, the local Indigenous community and remote homeland communities have a permit system for the purchase of takeaway alcohol. Permits are awarded through a local committee made up of local authorities and community representatives. Permits are generally available to all community members, but are withdrawn if there is an alcohol-related incident. This system has been effective in reducing alcohol-related violence on the streets. At their own request, homeland community members are not eligible for permits, given that the homeland communities are ‘dry’ communities.[45]

Similarly the residents of Groote Eylandt and Bickerton Island introduced the Groote Eylandt and Bickerton Island Alcohol Management Plan that requires every person in the region, Aboriginal or non-Aboriginal, to hold a permit to buy or consume takeaway alcohol. An evaluation of the scheme completed in July 2007 found that the community reported ‘the system has led to marked improvements in community...In particular there has been reduced violence and ... a significant improvement in community harmony and function.[46]’ The evaluation found that ‘a key ingredient of the success ... is the ownership and support of the System by the Aboriginal communities and by key local service providers, employers and by the licensed premises.’[47]

In October 2006, Umbakumba, one of the communities covered by the Groote Eylandt and Bickerton Island Alcohol Management Plan, the community voluntarily agreed that no one in Umbakumba is permitted to drink at all (regardless of the rights they may still possess under the Groote Eylandt and Bickerton Island Alcohol Management Plan). This placed a complete community wide ban on alcohol and Umbakumba has successfully remained a dry community since. This process is case studied in the Social Justice Report 2007.[48]

Voluntary schemes such as this, which are initiated by communities and based on community participation, have demonstrated effective results.

(4) Health - Commentators have noted that ‘marginalisation, poverty, disempowerment, colonisation and trauma are the upstream contributors to psychological, physical and sexual abuse in the present.’[49] A respected Indigenous psychiatrist, Associate Professor Helen Milroy advised HREOC that:

If the emergency measures ... in the NT result in further disempowerment or a sense of extreme powerlessness, then this is a re-traumatisation and will have negative consequences on:

  • Mental health including possibly higher rates of depression, stress and anxiety;
  • Social and emotional wellbeing through increasing anxiety and uncertainty and hence this may precipitate family and community despair and dysfunction, poor or maladaptive coping and contribute to substance use and possible violence as well as loss of trust;
  • Physical health as there is a strong relationship with chronic stress and poor health outcomes including diabetes and cardiovascular disease. [50]

Such unintended consequences of an intervention that is not empowering or supportive of communities may mean that the government’s initiatives will not adequately respond to the causes and consequences of violence and abuse. Assessing the levels of disempowerment, traumatisation and stress incurred in communities as a result of the NTER could be an important area for the Review Board to look into.

(5) Discrimination – ATSILS have reported that Aboriginal people have complained of increased racism from the police and more overt racism from the non-Indigenous community.[51] Examples of the racist behaviour by police forces include the targeting of Aboriginal communities for personal and property searches because they are Aboriginal and inappropriate treatment of cultural property.

The blanket application of the income management regime has also generated discriminatory views within the wider community. ATSILS have reported that their staff have witnessed shop assistants who have served Aboriginal people subject to income management commenting that Aboriginal people are irresponsible with their money and unable to properly care for their family. As such some Aboriginal people have found income management to be an insulting and degrading experience.[52]

These experiences were confirmed during the Sex Discrimination Commissioner’s Listening Tour in the Northern Territory. Participants reported experiencing racism and harassment when using their vouchers to buy food in the big chain supermarkets.[53] Other community surveys have similarly reported concerns of discrimination under the NTER.[54]

As the Tangentyere Council has noted:

Having policies based on race, and suspending the Racial Discrimination Act in order to be able to do so, sets us back on the path of reinforcing negative stereotypes, and makes it just that much harder for those who battle against the odds, but are nevertheless treated in the same way as those who are doing the wrong thing.[55]

(6) Lack of information - The lack of information provided to communities about the NTER further disempowers communities and prevents their participation in the implementation of its measures. Where information was provided it was in English and there was limited if any provision of interpreters to effectively communicate the information to affected parties. ATSILS have noted this as a concern[56], as has the Central Land Council (‘CLC’).[57] In particular the CLC noted with concern a lack of information and awareness among young Aboriginal people who were the least informed and aware of what measures were being put in place: ‘There has been a complete lack of information for those under 25. For those in the 15-25 bracket, the vast majority would have a limited idea about what the NTER is for and any of the measures’.[58]

  1. HREOC encourages the Review Board to consider the need for more extensive community programs that can have positive preventative results:
    • to stop violence and prevent it from reoccurring;
    • to cater for alcohol and substance misuse rehabilitation;
    • to provide adequate resources and community infrastructure.
  2. These programs must be adequately resourced by professional and support staff and have a long-term focus on capacity building and community development.[59]

  3. To effectively address Indigenous disadvantage it will be important for government to make long term commitments to adequately resourcing and supporting all communities, and not limiting initiatives to selected hub communities.

  4. Given the differing contexts of the many communities in the Northern Territory the Review Board should consider the need to shift away from rolling out ‘one size fits all programs’ to flexible and responsive community based, community development programs that are responsive to communities’ strengths, capacities and needs.

  5. HREOC recommends the Review Board call for the government to make substantial, long term sustainable commitments across all Indigenous communities to address child abuse, including child sexual abuse, and the underlying problems of poverty, disadvantage and discrimination [Recommendation No. 2].

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Alternative Measures

Human Rights Based Approach

  1. HREOC supports a human rights based approach that would assist in: ensuring the participation of those affected in policy development and service delivery; rigorous benchmarking, monitoring and evaluation; and access to forms of redress.

  2. The Social Justice Commissioner has previously outlined the elements of a human rights based approach to policy and program development in the Social Justice Report 2005 and Social Justice Report 2007. The United Nations Common Understanding of Human Rights Based Approach to Development Cooperation (‘UN Common Understanding’) outlines the necessary elements of a human rights based approach as follows:
    • People are recognised as key actors in their own development, rather than passive recipients of commodities and services;
    • Participation is both a means and a goal;
    • Strategies are empowering, not disempowering;
    • Both outcomes and processes are monitored and evaluated;
    • Analysis includes all stakeholders;
    • Programs focus on marginalised, disadvantaged, and excluded groups;
    • The development process is locally owned;
    • Programs aim to reduce disparity;
    • Both top-down and bottom-up approaches are used in synergy;
    • Situation analysis is used to identity immediate, underlying, and basic causes of development problems;
    • Measurable goals and targets are important in programming;
    • Strategic partnerships are developed and sustained;
    • Programs support accountability to all stakeholders.[60]
  3. The UN Common Understanding further outlines the following principles for a human rights based approach:
    • Assessment and analysis identify the human rights claims of rights-holders and the corresponding human rights obligations of duty-bearers as well as the immediate, underlying, and structural causes of the non-realisation of rights;
    • Programs assess the capacity of rights-holders to claim their rights and of duty-bearers to fulfill their obligations. They then develop strategies to build these capacities;
    • Programs monitor and evaluate both outcomes and processes guided by human rights standards and principles;
    • Programming is informed by the recommendations of international human rights bodies and mechanisms.[61]
  4. The Committee on the Rights of the Child has also outlined general measures to ensure that a child rights approach is taken in the development of policy. In its General Comment 5, the Committee has said that ‘The development of a children’s rights perspective throughout government, parliament and the judiciary is required for effective implementation of the whole convention’.[62] The central tenet to children’s rights perspective are the paramount principles of the ‘best interests of the child’, ‘non-discrimination’, and the child’s ‘right to life’ and ‘right to participation’.[63]

  5. The Committee has identified several general measures for implementation of the CRoC which could also form the basis of a rights-based approach to child protection. These measures include establishing coordinating and monitoring bodies, comprehensive data collection, awareness raising, and delivering appropriate services, training and programs.[64]

  6. Both the principles and elements of a human rights based approach highlight the importance of proper participation and engagement with the intended beneficiaries and affected communities of policies or programs.

  7. HREOC also refers the Review Board to the United Nations Development Group Guidelines on Indigenous Peoples Issues[65]which sets out the broad normative, policy and operational framework for implementing a human rights based and culturally sensitive approach to development for and with indigenous peoples.

  8. The right to participate has been articulated as an important standard for governments to abide by within the human rights framework, particularly within the CRoC and the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

  9. The CRoC (Article 12) obliges Governments to protect ‘the child’s right to express his or her views freely in all matters affecting the child, those views being given due weight’. The NTER is clearly a matter affecting children.

  10. The Committee on the Rights of the Child notes the necessity for children to be involved in government decision-making processes and to this end state:

    If consultation is to be meaningful, documents as well as processes need to be made accessible. But appearing to ‘listen’ to children is relatively unchallenging; giving due weight to their views requires real change. Listening to children should not be seen as an end in itself, but rather as a means by which States make their interactions with children and their actions on behalf of children ever more sensitive to the implementation of children’s rights.[66]

  11. The need for a participatory approach for Indigenous communities has also been proven in research undertaken in Australia. Diane Smith argues,

    Coercion as a policy instrument has limited developmental power for Indigenous families and communities—history has demonstrated that...Governments urgently need to provide enabling policy and legal frameworks, and integrated program guidelines, to actively promote Indigenous governance capacity and authority. Indigenous governance institutions and capacity building should be built into any new interventions, right from the start.[67]

  12. A human rights based approach also emphasises transparency and accountability. The development of rigorous benchmarking, monitoring and reporting systems allows the measurement of the exercise and enjoyment of people’s rights over time. A human rights based approach offers an integrated framework which connects and considers all human rights, thereby providing a holistic response to, and addressing the causes and consequences of, violence and abuse in Indigenous communities.

  13. The human rights based approach is the essence of the approach taken in the Close the Gap Campaign for Indigenous health equality. The campaign recognises people’s right to adequate health and the need for a holistic approach to realise that right. It utilises targets and benchmarks to ensure accountability for achieving the goal of health equality. At the Indigenous Health Equality Summit in 2008 the Government made accountable and measureable commitments to achieve equality in health status and life expectancy between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians by 2030. The government committed to:
    • developing a comprehensive, long-term plan of action, that is targeted to need, evidence-based and capable of addressing the existing inequities in health services;
    • ensuring the full participation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their representative bodies in all aspects of addressing their health needs;
    • working collectively to systematically address the social determinants that impact on achieving health equality for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples;
    • respect and promote the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, including by ensuring that health services are available, appropriate, accessible, affordable, and of good quality;
    • measure, monitor, and report on our joint efforts, in accordance with benchmarks and targets, to ensure that we are progressively realising our shared ambitions.[68]

The Government has committed itself to applying this human rights based framework to address Indigenous health. This human rights based framework is equally relevant to all aspects of Indigenous affairs policy, programs and service delivery. Having committed itself to a rights based approach the government can apply this framework to policy development in other areas, including in relation to the NTER.

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Human rights based approach to family violence and abuse

  1. Over the past five years the Social Justice Commissioner has conducted research into family violence and abuse in Indigenous communities. A summary of that research was released in 2006 in the publication: Ending family violence and abuse in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities - An overview paper of research and findings by the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, 2001-2006.[69]
  2. The research showed that policies and programs aimed at preventing violence and abuse against Indigenous women and children must be designed and developed with the input of Indigenous women and children. Indigenous men also have a role in this process and should be engaged in addressing the causes of violence as well as the solutions.
  3. Based on this research HREOC has identified the following ten principles that provide a foundation for policy and program development in family violence prevention:
    • Turn government commitments into action: Governments have been making commitments to address family violence for some time already. What we need is concerted, long term action which meets these commitments;
    • Indigenous participation: This action must be based on genuine partnership with Indigenous peoples and with our full participation;
    • Support Indigenous community initiatives and networks: There are significant processes and networks already in place in Indigenous communities to progress these issues. We need to support them to lead efforts to stamp out violence, including by developing the educational tools to assist them to identify and respond to family violence;
    • Human rights education in Indigenous communities: There is a need for broad based education and awareness-raising among Indigenous communities. Working with communities to send strong messages that violence won’t be tolerated, that there are legal obligations and protections, and that individuals have rights, are critical if we are to stamp out family violence;
    • Don’t forget our men and don’t stereotype them as abusers: Family violence is fundamentally an issue of gender equality. We need strong leadership from women, but we also need the support of Indigenous men if we are to make progress in stamping out violence. Indigenous men need to model appropriate behaviour, challenge violence and stand up against it, and support our women and nurture our children;
    • Look for the positives and celebrate the victories: There are good things happening in Indigenous communities, even if the national media is not interested in reporting them. We need to confront family violence, but also do so by reinforcing the inherent worth and dignity of Indigenous peoples, not by vilifying and demonising all Indigenous peoples;
    • Re-assert our cultural norms and regain respect in our communities: Family violence and abuse is about lack of respect for Indigenous culture. We need to fight it as Indigenous peoples, and rebuild our proud traditions and community structures so that there is no place for fear and intimidation;
    • Ensure robust accountability and monitoring mechanisms: There must be accountability measurements put into place to hold governments to their commitments. This requires the development of robust monitoring and evaluation mechanisms. These will also allow us to identify and celebrate successes;
    • Changing the mindset: We require a change in mindset of government from an approach which manages dysfunction to one that supports functional communities. Current approaches pay for the consequences of disadvantage and discrimination. It is a passive reactive system of feeding dysfunction, rather than taking positive steps to overcome it. We need a pro-active system of service delivery to Indigenous communities focused on building functional, healthy communities;
    • Targeting of need: Let us be bold in ensuring that program interventions are targeted to address need and overcome disadvantage. As it stands, government programs and services are not targeted to a level that will overcome Indigenous disadvantage. Hence, they are not targeted in a way that will meet the solemn commitments that have been made. They are targeted to maintain the status quo.
  4. The Social Justice Report 2007 reported on the findings of the research which highlighted the importance of applying a human rights based approach to address family violence and abuse in Indigenous communities (See Appendix 2 for a list of indicators for how human rights based programs can address violence and abuse in Indigenous communities).

  5. Chapter 2 of the Social Justice Report 2007 provides 19 case studies that exemplify approaches consistent with the principles above. The case studies were chosen to encourage individuals and communities and inspire service providers to think critically about how effectively they are delivering their services; and to challenge governments to be responsive and flexible to innovative programs that deal with family violence and abuse.

  6. An examination of the factors that lead to the effectiveness of the case studies showed that they share a number of common elements that have contributed to their success:
    • Community generated: The most successful programs are those developed by and for the community, which respond to individual community needs;
    • Community engagement: It is crucial to consult the community throughout the program’s development, especially when the initiative comes from government;
    • Community development: Communities need to be involved and supported before they can ‘own’ family violence initiatives. For example, men’s groups can help build leadership capacity and spread an anti-violence message;
    • Partnerships: Many of the successful case studies were built on partnerships, with both government and non-government agencies;
    • Holistic: Underlying, situational and precipitating factors of violence and abuse need to be addressed, often at the same time;
    • Connection to culture: Respect for traditional law reinforces anti-violence messages and builds positive community identity;
    • Involve men: Most responses to family violence are created by and for women, leaving some men feeling alienated. Men need to be part of the solution;
    • Empowering women: Women’s traditional culture and authority in the community needs to be promoted;
    • Building on community strengths: With resources, networks or knowledge in communities, programs have a greater chance of success;
    • Indigenous staff: The expertise of Indigenous staff makes a crucial difference in successful services, often at personal cost to staff.
  7. The lessons learnt from the case studies highlighted that effective programs have to be sustainable and flexible and that the resources and capacity of communities must be taken into account. Long term, stable funding is critical and non-Indigenous staff can play an important role to support initiatives and transfer skills and knowledge to Indigenous people.

    Interventions need to target all of the causes and factors holistically, from dealing with the trivial triggers through to history and entrenched social issues. Some of the case studies do address all of these factors and all certainly go beyond the superficial, band-aid approaches to family violence and abuse that seldom deliver long term results.[70]

  8. HREOC recommends the Review Board refer to the principles and elements of a human rights based approach as a foundation for responses to family violence and sexual assault and underlying Indigenous disadvantage [Recommendation No. 3].

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Human Rights Education and Community Development

  1. The Social Justice Report 2007 noted that preventative activities in the form of community development and human rights education is critical to breaking the cycle of intergenerational violence and disadvantage that afflicts so many Indigenous communities.
  2. Indigenous people need to be part of a clear vision that articulates approaches to ending the violence cycles that have beset Indigenous communities for generations. This is a bigger role than simply consulting with Indigenous people. It requires the active participation of Indigenous Australians in solving the corrosive problem of violence and in creating sustainable societies for the future.
  3. Human rights education and community development approaches may hold the key to preventing family violence and abuse and overcoming disadvantage in Indigenous communities into the longer term. Human rights education sends the message that family violence is not acceptable and will not be tolerated. Community development activities go one step further to identify and build community capacity to develop and sustain positive change.
  4. Research into family violence and abuse has consistently highlighted the need for community education and awareness-raising. Community education, in the context of family violence and abuse prevention, can:
    • raise awareness about the incidence of violence and abuse in the community;
    • promote anti-violence messages;
    • reinforce that violence is not part of Indigenous culture and won’t be tolerated;
    • promote the legal obligations and human rights of individuals; and
    • offer appropriate referrals information to services for further support.
  5. Research has also consistently shown that effective education must be community driven. Community members are best equipped to respond to issues as they have first hand knowledge of the family violence and abuse dynamics and the social capacity of the community itself.[71] This was further supported in the Little Children are Sacred report that recommended a range of community education projects be undertaken to raise awareness of and prevent child sexual abuse.[72]
  6. For the past three years, HREOC has emphasised to government the importance of undertaking broad-based community education in Indigenous communities about human rights, family violence and customary law. These proposals have been considered in light of the Ministerial Summit on Family Violence in 2006, as well as through the regular budgetary process.
  7. In 2007-08, HREOC ran a community legal education (CLE) training program on family violence and human rights in conjunction with the Attorney-General’s Department.[73] The aim was to train CLE workers employed in Family Violence Prevention Legal Services (FVPLS) throughout Australia. The CLE workers’ role is to raise awareness amongst Indigenous Australians about the standards of Australian law that are relevant to family violence, and to clarify the relationship between Australian law and customary law.
  8. HREOC developed a 40 hour training program that was delivered to 13 CLE workers in 2007. The training program was underpinned by community development theory and practice and the content of the training focused on Australian law and customary law relevant to preventing violence in Indigenous communities. The training program produced a Trainer’s Guide, Trainee’s Workbook; and Resource Guides that contained customised materials for all states and territories except Tasmania and the ACT.
  9. The training program has been evaluated through participant surveys and site visits to 3 Family Violence Prevention Legal Services.[74] The main findings of the evaluation were:
    • The CLEs reported a very high degree of satisfaction with the quality of the materials and the relevance of the content of the training program. In their evaluations, all CLEs reported an increase in relevant knowledge and skills as a result of the training;
    • The CLEs reported a very high level of satisfaction with the quality of the teaching and training provided by HREOC staff;
    • The training materials provide a useful resource for the CLEs in the workplace. Solicitors from FVPLS have requested additional copies of the Resource Guides from their state or territory claiming that this resource provides a good summary of relevant legislation, family violence systems, reporting guidelines and duty of care obligations from their jurisdiction;
    • The Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care (SNAICC) described the training program as a useful and necessary resource for workers engaged in the prevention of both child abuse and family violence;
    • The 40 hour training program was intensive with a large volume of content. All parts of the training were deemed relevant preparation for the CLEs and therefore no segments should be removed from the training module;
    • A section on intergenerational violence should be added to the training module. By addressing intergenerational violence as an issue, blame and victim-hood are no longer focused on individuals. The issue of violence is treated as a problem in itself and all community members can take an active role in violence prevention;
    • The CLEs would benefit from practicing their communication skills in simulated situations. Learning methodologies such as role-play would provide good opportunities for practicing these skills;
    • Some of the high profile legal cases (that formed part of the training material) had links to families of the CLEs. As a consequence, these cases were not discussed. The CLEs requested that all case law examples should be identified at the beginning of the training to give participants an opportunity to veto any course content in confidence;
    • There are rules and protocols for discussing customary laws and practices that make it difficult to discuss some subjects in mixed company. Some CLEs asked that protocols for these discussions be negotiated at the beginning of the training;
    • CLEs strongly supported the need for follow-up training and development. They argued that they need opportunities to come together to problem solve, to share ideas and resources and to refresh and debrief from the arduous aspects of the role;
    • Any substantial additions to course content (with the exception of a section on intergenerational violence) should be additional to the 5 day introductory training session;
    • Future CLE training (additional to the introductory training) should be focused on: (a) developing group communication skills and strategies and (b); on addressing difficult topics. Some of these include: narrative therapy skills and practices; mediation skills and practices; interpersonal communication skills focused on gaining trust; examples of ways to provide advice about relationships; addressing difficult topics such as sexual assault, child neglect and elder abuse; information about the warning signs for family violence; examples of avoidance behaviours including concrete examples of ways to avoid the escalation of conflict and violence; assisting communities to address their experiences and feelings of victimization, and de-briefing.
  10. HREOC submits that it would be prudent and timely for government to fund such educative work to be undertaken immediately in the Northern Territory, as well as nationally.
  11. The Little Children are Sacred report called for governments to engage ‘in a dialogue with communities to discuss the particular education that might be needed in a specific community and how that education can best occur’.[75] This partnership approach also reflects an essential component of a human rights based approach to addressing family violence and abuse. Namely that:

    Partnerships require: the full and effective participation of indigenous peoples; the opportunity for indigenous peoples to identify concerns, prioritize them and propose solutions that are community driven; and respect, and support indigenous peoples’ chosen form(s) of representation, including traditional or customary authority structures.[76]

  12. Community education goes hand in hand with community development. Community development refers to a way of working with rather than for communities to increase their capacity and ability to find their own solutions. Community development and capacity building often needs to take place before communities are able to take ownership of community education activities.
  13. Community development helps community generate their own solutions and build on strengths. Often this leads to a recognition and revitalisation of traditional laws and cultural knowledge to establish positive norms that challenge violence and abuse.
  14. As the case studies in the Social Justice Report 2007 demonstrated, effective community development projects:
    • are driven by the community;
    • recognise the diversity of Indigenous people and respond to the needs of individual communities;
    • build on community knowledge and strengths; and
    • are based on partnerships with government and non-government organisations.
  15. HREOC recommends the Review Board call for human rights education projects to be undertaken to raise awareness and build the capacity of communities to address family violence and sexual assault [Recommendation No. 4].

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Appendix 1: Social Justice Report 2007 – Recommendations 3-14 for the NTER[77]

Recommendation 3: Provision of external merits review of administrative decision-making

That the Parliament should immediately repeal all provisions which deny external merits review. These provisions should be replaced with provisions which make explicit that merit review processes do apply. This includes, but is not limited to, the following provisions:

  • sections 34(9), 35(11), 37(5), 47(7), 48(5) and 49(4) of the Northern Territory National Emergency Response Act 2007 (Cth) relating to determinations about Indigenous land;
  • section 78 and sections 97 and 106 of the Northern Territory National Emergency Response Act 2007 (Cth) in relation to decisions by the Minister to suspend all the members of a community government council, and decisions of the Secretary of the Department of FACSIA in relation to community store licences respectively; and
  • new section144 (ka) of the Social Security (Administration) Act 1999 (enacted by the Social Security and other legislation amendment (Welfare Payment Reform) Act 2007 (Cth)) in relation to the right to seek a review by the Social Security Review Tribunal of decisions that relate to income management.

Note on implementation: This action can only be achieved through amendments to the legislation.

Recommendation 4: Reinstatement of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth)

That the Parliament immediately repeal the following provisions that exempt the Northern Territory (NT) measures from the protections of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth):

  • section 132(2), Northern Territory National Emergency Response Act 2007 (Cth);
  • section 4(2), Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs and Other Legislation Amendment (Northern Territory National Emergency Response and Other Measures) Act 2007 (Cth); and
  • section 4(3), (5) and section 6(3), Social Security and Other Legislation Amendment (Welfare Payment Reform) Act 2007 (Cth).

Note on implementation: This action can only be achieved through amendments to the legislation.

Recommendation 5: Subject the NT intervention measures to the safeguards of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth)

That the Parliament amend each of the following Acts by inserting a non-obstante clause in order to ensure that the NT provisions are subject to the protections of the RDA in the exercise of all discretions under the legislation:

  • section 132, Northern Territory National Emergency Response Act 2007 (Cth);
  • section 4, Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs and Other Legislation Amendment (Northern Territory National Emergency Response and Other Measures) Act 2007 (Cth); and
  • section 4 and section 6, Social Security and Other Legislation Amendment (Welfare Payment Reform) Act 2007 (Cth).

Section 4 of the Social Security Legislation Amendment (Newly Arrived Residents’ Waiting Periods and Other Measures) Act 1997 (Cth) provides a model for such a clause.

Such a clause might read as follows:

‘Without limiting the general operation of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 in relation to the NTNER measures, the provisions of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 are intended to prevail over the NTNER Act. The provisions of this Act do not authorise conduct that is inconsistent with the provisions of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975’.

Note on implementation: This action can only be achieved through amendments to the legislation.

Recommendation 6: Amend the ‘special measures’ provisions of the NT legislation

That the Parliament amend the following provisions of the NT intervention legislation to clarify the status of the measures as ‘special measures’ under the RDA:

  • section 132(1), Northern Territory National Emergency Response Act 2007 (Cth);
  • section 4(1), Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs and Other Legislation Amendment (Northern Territory National Emergency Response and Other Measures) Act 2007 (Cth); and
  • section 4(1), (2) and (4), and section 6, Social Security and Other Legislation Amendment (Welfare Payment Reform) Act 2007 (Cth).

In particular, Parliament should:

  • remove those provisions which deem the measures to constitute a special measure;
  • replace these provisions with language which clarifies that the measures are intended to constitute special measures; and
  • insert new provisions that require that in the performance of any actions undertaken to implement the measures contained in the legislation, the intended beneficial purpose of the legislation must be a primary consideration.

Note on implementation: This action can only be achieved through amendments to the legislation.

Recommendation 7: Subject the intervention measures to regular monitoring and review to establish whether they meet the purposes of a ‘special measure’

That the government ensure strict monitoring and evaluation provisions to ensure that only those measures that are appropriate and adapted to the purpose of child protection are maintained. Such monitoring should particularly focus on measures relating to income management, alcohol bans, changes to the permit system and compulsory acquisition of Aboriginal land.

Note on implementation: This action can be achieved through the exercise of powers vested in the Minister for Indigenous Affairs. It may require amendments to the legislation by Parliament at a future time.

Recommendation 8: Application of the Anti-Discrimination Act 1992 (NT)

a) That the Minister for Indigenous Affairs declare that the Anti-Discrimination Act 1992 (NT) continues to have effect in all prescribed communities under the NT intervention legislation and that the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 (Qld) continues to be of effect in relation to welfare reforms in Cape York.

b) That Parliament repeal the following provisions of the legislation to remove this restriction on Indigenous peoples right to obtain remedy:

  • section 133, Northern Territory National Emergency Response Act 2007 (Cth);
  • section 5, Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs and Other Legislation Amendment (Northern Territory National Emergency Response and Other Measures) Act 2007 (Cth); and
  • section 5, Social Security and Other Legislation Amendment (Welfare Payment Reform) Act 2007 (Cth).

Note on implementation: This action can be achieved in the short term through the exercise of powers vested in the Minister for Indigenous Affairs. This should be backed up by amendments to the legislation by Parliament to confirm that discriminatory provisions have no place in Australian law and to ensure full compliance with Australia’s human rights obligations.

Recommendation 9: Negotiate with Aboriginal owners in relation to access to Aboriginal land

That the Minister for Indigenous Affairs place a moratorium on 5 year compulsory leases over Aboriginal land. Further, that the Minister direct public servants and Government Business Managers to conduct negotiations with Aboriginal communities to obtain access to Aboriginal land for infrastructure and related purposes.

Note on implementation: This action can be achieved through the exercise of Ministerial discretion (such as by choosing to not exercise her discretion to compulsorily acquire property and instead instructing government officials to negotiate with Aboriginal communities).

Recommendation 10: Amend the legislation to ensure the entitlement to ‘just terms’ compensation

That the Parliament amend sections 60 and 134 of the Northern Territory National Emergency Response Act 2007 (Cth) to remove the exemption from section 50(2) the Northern Territory (Self Government) Act 1978).

Note on implementation: This action can only be achieved through amendments to the legislation.

Recommendation 11: Reinstate CDEP and develop community based options for income management

a) That the CDEP scheme be reinstated in the Northern Territory, with community economic development plans developed into the future to ensure the transition from CDEP into ‘real jobs’ where possible.

b) That voluntary income management measures be introduced for CDEP participants.

c) That the income management regime under the Social Security and Other Legislation Amendment (Welfare Payment Reform) Act 2007 (Cth) be reviewed and amended to ensure compliance with human rights standards as outlined in this report.

d) That the government support the development and introduction of voluntary income management and financial literacy programs for welfare recipients. When such programs are operational in prescribed Aboriginal communities, individuals and potential communities should be exempted by the Minister from the mandatory income management regime as set out in the Social Security and Other Legislation Amendment (Welfare Payment Reform) Act 2007 (Cth).

Note on implementation: Aspects of this action require amendments to the legislation, while others can be achieved through the exercise of Ministerial discretion or at the operational level in delivering services to communities.

Recommendation 12: Supporting community based initiatives for alcohol management

That the alcohol management scheme established in the Northern Territory National Emergency Response Act 2007 (Cth) be reviewed to establish its workability as well as whether it adds value beyond the measures relating to dry community restrictions and permits adopted by the Northern Territory Liquor Commission.

That all alcohol management processes should occur consistent with the RDA. Central to this is ensuring the participation of Indigenous peoples in developing, implementing and monitoring alcohol management plans.

Note on implementation: Aspects of this action may ultimately require amendments to the legislation, while others can be achieved through the exercise of Ministerial discretion or at the operational level in delivering services to communities.

Recommendation 13: Ensuring Indigenous participation and developing community partnerships

That the Minister for Indigenous Affairs direct the NT Emergency Response Taskforce and all public servants to ensure the participation of Indigenous peoples in all aspects of the design, delivery and monitoring of the intervention measures.

That the Minister task Government Business Managers operating at the local level to develop Community Partnership Agreements as the basis for shared action by the community and governments. Such agreements should be developed with the express purpose of setting a comprehensive community development plan for communities as an alternative that can ultimately supersede the application of various intervention measures (such as mandatory income management).

Note on implementation: This action can primarily be achieved through the exercise of Ministerial discretion or at the operational level in delivering services to communities. A process of Community Partnership Agreements may ultimately require amendments to the legislation in the future.

Recommendation 14: Monitoring and evaluation of the NT intervention

That the intervention measures be independently monitored 12 months following their commencement to establish whether the legislation is achieving its intended purposes;
is resulting in unintended negative consequences; and to assess appropriate alternative approaches or mechanisms that would enhance the ability of the legislation to achieve its purpose.

Such a review should ensure the full participation of Indigenous peoples in affected communities in the NT and should also address the specific concerns raised in this report relating to human rights compliance

Note on implementation: This action can primarily be achieved through the exercise of Ministerial discretion or at the operational level in delivering services to communities.

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Appendix 2: Social Justice Report 2007 – Human rights based indicators for programs addressing violence and abuse in Indigenous communities[78]

Principle
Indicators for programs addressing violence and abuse in Indigenous communities.
Full and effective participation
Participatory processes are built into program planning, implementation and evaluation.
  • Does the program or service explicitly encourage participation from Indigenous people? Does the program have community consultation mechanisms?
  • Are the participatory mechanisms accessible to all intended beneficiaries?
  • Are Indigenous people involved in program planning, design and monitoring and evaluation? For example, with the program or service having an advisory committee with Indigenous community representation
  • Does the program or service have feedback mechanisms for people using the service?
  • Does the program or service use community volunteers?
  • Does the organisation or service participate in local community events?
Accountability
  • Program builds capacity of workers to respect, protect and fulfil rights.
  • Program includes stakeholders in program delivery and evaluation.
  • Program communicates evaluation results and outcomes to intended beneficiaries.
  • Does the program or service makes its decision making processes (minutes, annual reports) available to the community?
  • Does the program or service have child protection and workplace harassment policies and procedures?
  • Do the staff receive ongoing cultural awareness training and development with specific reference to Indigenous communities?
  • Are program decisions and changes communicated to the community?
  • Does the program or service have partnerships and links with local organisations?
Non discrimination and equity
  • Program is accessible to its intended target group.
  • Program explicitly targets most vulnerable and marginalised.
  • Is the physical environment culturally appropriate?
  • Does the location of the service enable access by the intended beneficiaries?
  • Do the service users reflect the intended beneficiaries of the service?
  • Is the service or program affordable?
  • Does the program have outreach strategies to target people who are marginalised?
  • Does the program provide materials that are accessible and culturally appropriate?
Empowerment
  • The participatory processes of the program builds the skills, knowledge and resources of the intended target group to exercise and claim rights.
  • Does the program allow the intended beneficiaries to make decisions about their own care?
  • Does the program have culturally appropriate procedures for explaining confidentiality and consent processes?
  • Does the program have accessible and culturally appropriate resources available to explain relevant rights?
Express linkage to human rights standards
  • Program acknowledges the immediate and underlying causes of the non realisation of rights.
  • Program assesses its impact on the realisation of rights.
  • Program contributes to the progressive realisation of human rights for its intended beneficiaries.
  • Program should at the very least protect existing rights and prevent any set backs within the control of the program.
  • Are the stated aims and objectives of the program consistent with human rights standards?
  • Does the program have solid referral pathways and partnerships to provide a ‘holistic’ service?
  • Does the service participate in local inter-agencies?

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Endnotes

[1] HREOC is established by the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Act 1986 (Cth) (‘HREOC Act’). Sections 11 and 31 of the HREOC Act set out HREOC’s functions relating to human rights and equal opportunity in employment respectively. HREOC also has functions under the Commonwealth Sex Discrimination Act 1984, Racial Discrimination Act 1975, Disability Discrimination Act 1992 and Age Discrimination Act 2004.
[2]UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1989, Article 19. Article 22 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (DRIP) adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2007 recognises the rights and special needs of indigenous elders, women, youth, children and persons with disabilities, and obligates States to ensure that indigenous women and children enjoy the full protection and guarantees against all forms of violence and discrimination; Article 21 also recognises indigenous people’s rights to the improvement of their economic and social conditions and allows for special measures to ensure, this particularly for indigenous elders, women, youth, children and persons with disabilities. U.N. General Assembly, United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous, report of the Human Rights Council, Sixty-first session, Agenda item 68, U.N. Doc. A/61/L.67, 7 September 2007.
[3]The full report is available at the HREOC website: http://www.humanrights.gov.au/social_justice/sj_report/sjreport07/index....
[4] Brough M., (Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs), National emergency response to protect children in the NT, Media Release, 21 June 2007, available online at:
http://www.fahcsia.gov.au/internet/minister3.nsf/content/emergency_21june07.htm, accessed 1 February 2008.
[5] Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, ‘A human rights based approach is vital to address the challenges in Indigenous communities’, Media Release, 26 June 2007, available online at:
http://www.humanrights.gov.au/about/media/media_releases/2007/45_07.html, accessed 9 November 2007.
[6] Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Social Justice Report 2007, HREOC, Sydney, 2008, p3.
[7] Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Social Justice Report 2007, HREOC, Sydney, 2008, p294.
[8] Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, “Essentials for Social Justice: Protecting Indigenous children”, Launch of the Social Justice Report 2007 and Native Title Report 2007, HREOC, Sydney, 31 March 2008, (available at:http://www.humanrights.gov.au/about/media/speeches/social_justice/2008/20080331launch_sjrntr07.html)
[9] Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, “Essentials for Social Justice: Protecting Indigenous children”, Launch of the Social Justice Report 2007 and Native Title Report 2007, HREOC, Sydney, 31 March 2008, (available at:http://www.humanrights.gov.au/about/media/speeches/social_justice/2008/20080331launch_sjrntr07.html) [10] Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs and Other Legislation Amendment (Emergency Response Consolidation) Bill 2008
[11] Milroy, H., (Associate Professor, Centre for Aboriginal Medical and Dental Health University of Western Australia) personal email correspondence with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, 9 August 2007.
[12] The World Health Organisation has identified the five risk factors that contribute to child maltreatment and abuse: high density of people living together; poor socio-economic status; social isolation; high levels of stress, and; a history of abuse or violence in families. (Cited in ACOSS, “Open letter to The Hon. Mal Brough MP
Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs” 26 May 2006, available at: http://www.acoss.org.au/upload/publications/papers/939__indigenous_mal%20brough_sector%20letter%204%20web%202.pdf) accessed on 28 July 2008).
[13] Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Social Justice Report 2007, HREOC Sydney 2007.
[14] Examples of reports relied on to date include: Northern Territory National Emergency Response (NTER): Stores Post Licensing Monitoring Report – Early Indications of Impact of Income Management in Community Stores – First 20 stores (available at: http://www.facsia.gov.au/nter/reports.htm); Northern Territory Emergency Response (NTER) Taskforce, Final Report to Government, . As the Chair of the Taskforce notes in the cover letter for the report, the report only documents the activities and achievements during the last 12 months and identifies recommendations for future services for Indigenous people in the Northern Territory. See also the FaHCSIA website at: (http://www.facsia.gov.au/nter/reports.htm) which comments on activities implemented rather than the impacts.
[15] See Minister Macklin, Hansard, House of Representatives, Monday 23 June 2008, page 44.
[16] General Comment 5: General measures of implementation for the Convention on the Rights of the Child, U.N. Doc. CRC/GC/2003/5, 03/10/2003, paras 9, 37 and 39, available at: http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf/(symbol)/CRC.GC.2003.5.En?OpenDocument, accessed on 11 June 2008.
[17] Central Land Council, Reviewing the Northern Territory Emergency Response: Perspectives from Six Communities, Central Land Council, Alice Springs, July 2008; Intervention Rollback Action Group, ‘Quarantining Questionnaire’ 2008; Darwin Aboriginal Rights Coalition, ‘Survey on Income Management’, February-May 2008.
[18] HREOC obtained anecdotal evidence through the Sex Discrimination Commissioner’s Listening Tour in the Northern Territory (2008) in which the NTER was a chief topic of discussion; and the HREOC National Race Roundtable Meeting (2007).
[19] For statistical evidence of this see Larissa Behrendt and Ruth McCausland, Welfare payments and school attendance: An analysis of experimental policy in Indigenous education: An Issues Paper for the Australian Education Union, Jumbunna Indigenous House of Learning, University of Technology Sydney, August 2008.
[20] Central Land Council, Reviewing the Northern Territory Emergency Response: Perspectives from Six Communities, Central Land Council, Alice Springs, July 2008, p77-78
[21] Northern Territory Council of Government School Organisations Inc., “Submission to the Senate Select Committee – Inquiry into Regional and Remote Indigenous Communities”, 30 May 2008 (available at:http://www.aph.gov.au/SENATE/committee/indig_ctte/submissions/sub10.pdf). They noted that due to alcohol bans some children are being taken out of home communities to areas where parents can drink and often are not returning to school until several months later.
[22] See Department of Employment and Workplace Relations, Halls Creek Engaging Families Trial, February–July 2006, Evaluation Report, September 2006; David Fein, Wang Lee and Christina Schofield, The ABC Evaluation: Do Welfare Recipients’ Children Have a School Attendance Problem? Delware Health and Social services, Delware, August 1999.
[23] David Fein, Wang Lee and Christina Schofield, The ABC Evaluation: Do Welfare Recipients’ Children Have a School Attendance Problem? Delware Health and Social services, Delware, August 1999.
[24] Department of Employment and Workplace Relations, Halls Creek Engaging Families Trial, February–July 2006, Evaluation Report, September 2006.
[25] For suggestions from the community for alternative ideas such as increased focus on education, youth programs, stopping underage drinking and increased recreational and after school activities, see Central Land Council, Reviewing the Northern Territory Emergency Response: Perspectives from Six Communities, Central Land Council, Alice Springs, July 2008, p78.
[26] This body has since been established under the name of the Queensland Family Responsibilities Commission.
[27] Central Australian Aboriginal Legal Aid Service and the North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency, “Joint submission to the Senate Select Committee on Regional and Remote Indigenous Communities”, June 2008 (available at: http://www.aph.gov.au/SENATE/committee/indig_ctte/submissions/sub24.pdf<, p17.
[28] Central Land Council, Reviewing the Northern Territory Emergency Response: Perspectives from Six Communities, Central Land Council, Alice Springs, July 2008, p4.
[29] Tangentyere Council Alice Springs, “Submission to the Senate Select Committee on Regional and Remote Indigenous Communities” 9 June 2008 (available at: http://www.aph.gov.au/SENATE/committee/indig_ctte/submissions/sub31.pdf), p8.
[30] Tangentyere Council Alice Springs, “Submission to the Senate Select Committee on Regional and Remote Indigenous Communities” 9 June 2008 (available at: http://www.aph.gov.au/SENATE/committee/indig_ctte/submissions/sub31.pdf), p8.
[31] Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, 'Bagot Community Consultation, Darwin' (2008)
[32] Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, 'Meeting with Laynhapuy Homelands Association' (2008)
[33] Intervention Rollback Action Group, ‘Quarantining Questionnaire’ 2008; Darwin Aboriginal Rights Coalition, ‘Survey on Income Management’, February-May 2008; NTCOSS Income Management Forum, Alice Springs, 13 March 2008.
[34] Jenny Macklin MP and Mark McGowan MLA, Media Release 18 July 2008
[35] The Families Responsibilities Scheme Trial was introduced in Hope Vale, Coen and Mossman Gorge communities inQueensland in July 2008. The scheme applies to both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people who have lived in the trial communities for 3 months. The four triggers to bring a person before the Commission are:
- The person’s child has three absences in a school term without reasonable excuse or a child is not enrolled in school without lawful excuse;
- The person is the subject of a child safety notification or report;
- A magistrates court convicts the person of an offence; or
- The person breaches his or her State or council owned housing tenancy agreement (illegal purpose, nuisance, condition report, malicious damage, rent arrears).
People who come before the Commission can face a range of actions from a warning to agreements that force them to attend community support services. As a last resort, the commission will have the power to order that people have their income be managed for up to 12 months. The trial will be run until January 1, 2012. (Premier’s Media Release, ‘Ground-breaking legislation: Families Responsibilities Commission to be introduced into Queensland Parliament today’ 26 February 2008, available at: http://www.cabinet.qld.gov.au/MMS/StatementDisplaySingle.aspx?id=56680)
[36] Gilbert + Tobin Centre of Public Law, “Website Project on Northern Territory Intervention: Fact Sheet on Income Management”, 11 March 2008, (available at: http://www.gtcentre.unsw.edu.au/Resources/docs/irlg/Fact_Sheet_Income_Ma...).
[37] FaHCSIA, ‘First Steps in Closing the Gap: Welfare Reform’ Budget Statement by the Hon. Jenny Macklin MP, Minister for Families, Housing Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, 13 May 2008, (available at: http://www.facsia.gov.au/budget/ministerial_statement/part3_9.htm).
[38] Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Social Justice Report 2007, HREOC Sydney 2007, p278.
[39] Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Social Justice Report 2007, HREOC Sydney 2007, p278.
[40] The Tangentyere Council (in Alice Springs) voluntary scheme which supports over 800 Aboriginal people to use Centrepay to pay bills and rent. Under this scheme, Centrepay provides part of people’s welfare payment in the form of food vouchers. Combined Aboriginal Organisations of the Northern Territory, A proposed emergency response and development plan to protect Aboriginal children in the Northern Territory: A preliminary response to the Australian Government’s proposals, 10 July 2007, p16, available online at: http://www.rachelsiewert.org.au/files/campaigns/extras/CAO-report-10%20july.pdf, accessed 2 November 2007.
41Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Social Justice Report 2007, HREOC Sydney 2007, p280.
[42] Tangentyere Council Alice Springs, “Submission to the Senate Select Committee on Regional and Remote Indigenous Communities” 9 June 2008 (available at: http://www.aph.gov.au/SENATE/committee/indig_ctte/submissions/sub31.pdf), p11.
[43] Tangentyere Council Alice Springs, “Submission to the Senate Select Committee on Regional and Remote Indigenous Communities” 9 June 2008 (available at: http://www.aph.gov.au/SENATE/committee/indig_ctte/submissions/sub31.pdf), p11
[44] Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, 'Bagot Community Consultation, Darwin' (2008)
[45] Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, 'Meeting with Laynhapuy Homelands Association' (2008)
[46] Kate Conigrave, Elizabeth Proude, Peter d’Abbs, Evaluation of the Groote Eylandt and Bickerton Island
Alcohol Management System, A report produced for the Department of Justice, Northern Territory Government, July 31, 2007, p4 (available at: http://www.nt.gov.au/justice/licenreg/documents/reports/Groote%20Eylandt...)
[47] Kate Conigrave, Elizabeth Proude, Peter d’Abbs, Evaluation of the Groote Eylandt and Bickerton Island
Alcohol Management System, A report produced for the Department of Justice, Northern Territory Government, July 31, 2007, p5 (available at: http://www.nt.gov.au/justice/licenreg/documents/reports/Groote%20Eylandt...)
[48] Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commissioner, Social Justice Report 2007, HREOC, Sydney, 2007, pp81-91. [49] Alex Brown and Ngiare J Brown, The Northern Territory intervention: voices from the centre of the fringe, (Ref. Medical Journal of Australia 2007; 187 (11/12): 621-623, available at: http://www.mja.com.au/public/issues/187_11_031207/bro11318_fm.html; Chandler, M. J., and Lalonde, C., Cultural continuity as a hedge against suicide in First Nations youth, 2000, available at http://web.uvic.ca/~lalonde/manuscripts/1998TransCultural.pdf accessed 9 August 2007.
[50] Milroy, H., (Associate Professor, Centre for Aboriginal Medical and Dental Health University of Western Australia) personal email correspondence with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, 9 August 2007.
[51] Central Australian Aboriginal Legal Aid Service and the North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency, “Joint submission to the Senate Select Committee on Regional and Remote Indigenous Communities”, June 2008 (available at: http://www.aph.gov.au/SENATE/committee/indig_ctte/submissions/sub24.pdf), p3.
[52] Central Australian Aboriginal Legal Aid Service and the North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency, “Joint submission to the Senate Select Committee on Regional and Remote Indigenous Communities”, June 2008 (available at: http://www.aph.gov.au/SENATE/committee/indig_ctte/submissions/sub24.pdf, p17.
[53] Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, 'Bagot Community Consultation, Darwin' (2008)
[54] Intervention Rollback Action Group, ‘Quarantining Questionnaire’ 2008; Darwin Aboriginal Rights Coalition, ‘Survey on Income Management’, February-May 2008.
[55] Tangentyere Council Alice Springs, “Submission to the Senate Select Committee on Regional and Remote Indigenous Communities” 9 June 2008 (available at: http://www.aph.gov.au/SENATE/committee/indig_ctte/submissions/sub31.pdf), p2.
[56] Central Australian Aboriginal Legal Aid Service and the North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency, “Joint submission to the Senate Select Committee on Regional and Remote Indigenous Communities”, June 2008 (available at: http://www.aph.gov.au/SENATE/committee/indig_ctte/submissions/sub24.pdf, p6.
[57] Central Land Council, Reviewing the Northern Territory Emergency Response: Perspectives from Six Communities, Central Land Council, Alice Springs, July 2008, p74.
[58] Acting Manager, Yuendumu’s Mt Theo program, cited in Central Land Council, Reviewing the Northern Territory Emergency Response: Perspectives from Six Communities, Central Land Council, Alice Springs, July 2008, p70.
[59] Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commissioner, HREOC National Race Relations Roundtable Meeting, 2007.
[60] United Nations, The Human Rights-Based Approach to Development Cooperation: Towards a Common Understanding Among the UN Agencies, United Nations, New York 2003, available online at: www.unescobkk.org/fileadmin/user_upload/appeal/human_rights/UN_Common_understanding_RBA.pdf.
[61] United Nations, The Human Rights-Based Approach to Development Cooperation: Towards a Common Understanding Among the UN Agencies, United Nations, New York 2003, available online at: www.unescobkk.org/fileadmin/user_upload/appeal/human_rights/UN_Common_understanding_RBA.pdf.
[62] General Comment 5: General measures of implementation for the Convention on the Rights of the Child, U.N. Doc. CRC/GC/2003/5, 03/10/2003, para 12, available at: http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf/(symbol)/CRC.GC.2003.5.En?OpenDocument, accessed on 11 June 2008.
[63] The Committee on the Rights of Child have determined these four principles contained in Articles 2, 3(1), 6 and 12 respectively, are essential to ensuring the effective implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. General Comment 5: General measures of implementation for the Convention on the Rights of the Child, U.N. Doc. CRC/GC/2003/5, 03/10/2003, para 12, available at: http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf/(symbol)/CRC.GC.2003.5.En?OpenDocument, accessed on 11 June 2008.
[64] General Comment 5: General measures of implementation for the Convention on the Rights of the Child, U.N. Doc. CRC/GC/2003/5, 03/10/2003, paras 9, 37 and 39, available at: http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf/(symbol)/CRC.GC.2003.5.En?OpenDocument, accessed on 11 June 2008.
[65]United Nations Development Group Guidelines on Indigenous Peoples Issues, February 2008, available at: http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/unpfii/documents/UNDG_Guidelines_indigenous...
[66] General Comment 5: General measures of implementation for the Convention on the Rights of the Child :U.N. Doc. CRC/GC/2003/5, 03/10/2003, para 12, available at: http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf/(symbol)/CRC.GC.2003.5.En?OpenDocument, accessed on 11 June 2008. The obligation to consult with children is further articulated by the Committee in relation to Indigenous children in the Committee’s “Day of general discussion on the Rights of Indigenous Children – recommendations”, 3 October 2003, available at: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/crc/docs/discussion/indigenouschildren.pdf, accessed on 11 June 2008.
[67] Diane Smith, From COAG to Coercion: A Story of Governance Failure, Success and Opportunity in Australian Indigenous Affairs, Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research, College of Arts & Social Sciences, The Australian National University, Canberra, 2008, p 13, available at: http://www.aph.gov.au/SENATE/committee/indig_ctte/submissions/sub25_atta...
[68] Close the Gap, Indigenous Health Equality Summit Statement of Intent, Canberra, 20 March 2008 (available at: http://www.hreoc.gov.au/Social_Justice/health/statement_intent.html). For examples of equality targets see HREOC, Close the Gap National Indigenous Health Equality Targets; Outcomes from the National Indigenous Health Equality Summit, Canberra, March 18-20, 2008, HREOC Sydney, 2008 (available at: http://www.humanrights.gov.au/social_justice/health/index.html)
[69] Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Ending family violence and abuse in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities: Key issues, HREOC, Sydney, 2006.
[70] Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Social Justice Report 2007, HREOC, Sydney, 2007, p188.
[71] Memmott, P. ‘Community- Based Strategies for Combating Indigenous Violence’, in UNSW Law Journal, 25(1), 2002, p221.
[72] Anderson, P., and Wild, R., Ampe Akelyernemane Meke Mekarle ‘Little Children are Sacred’ Report of the Northern Territory Board of Inquiry into the Protection of Aboriginal Children from Sexual Abuse, Northern Territory Government, Darwin, 2007, p160.
[73] This initiative was in response to COAG’s 2006 commitment to ‘invest in community legal education to ensure Indigenous Australians are informed about their legal rights, know how to access assistance and are encouraged to report incidents of violence and abuse’. Council of Australian Governments, Communiqué, Indigenous Issues, COAG Meeting 14 July 2006, available online at: http://www.coag.gov.au/meetings/140706/index.htm#indigenous accessed 15 July 2008
[74] The evaluation was carried out at three Family Violence Prevention Legal Services (FVPLS):Cape York East and West Service FVPLS, the Central Australia FVPLS and the Northern Territory FVPLS.
[75] Anderson, P., and Wild, R., Ampe Akelyernemane Meke Mekarle ‘Little Children are Sacred’ Report of the Northern Territory Board of Inquiry into the Protection of Aboriginal Children from Sexual Abuse, Northern Territory Government, Darwin, 2007, p160.
[76] Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission and United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, Engaging the marginalized: Report of the Workshop on Engaging with Indigenous Communities, United Nations Workshop- International Conference on Engaging Communities, Brisbane, 15 August 2005, available online at: http://www.humanrights.gov.au/social_justice/conference/engaging_communities/index.html#link1, accessed 18 November 2007.
[77] Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Social Justice Report 2007, HREOC, Sydney, 2008, pp303-309.
[78] Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Social Justice Report 2007, HREOC, Sydney, 2008, pp192.