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Chapter 3: From community crisis to community control in the Fitzroy Valley - Social Justice Report 2010

Social Justice Report 2010

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Chapter
3: From community crisis to community control in the Fitzroy Valley


3.1 Community-led alcohol
restrictions in the Fitzroy Valley

It is a story of colonisation; the threat of losing our cultural authority to
manage our societies; and the despair that has come from that disempowerment. It
is a story of grief and trauma and the continued pain of living with grog, drug
and violence.

It is a story that academics and journalists write about us as though we are
victims of history that we can do nothing about. And within their stories about
us is an acceptance that the paternal hand of government will determine the
nature of our welfare and even the nature of our rights.

... I want to tell a different story. It is about how Aboriginal people can
be the authors of our stories and not passive and powerless subjects in stories
told and written by others.

... I want to talk about how the leaders of the Fitzroy Valley in the
Kimberley are working together to create a pathway of hope and community
vitality and resilience... if our journey of social reconstruction could be
measured as a one kilometre track, we have only travelled the first metre.

The start of the journey has depended on the leadership of the Aboriginal
community but the journey from this point on will largely be shaped by a
partnership that we can create and build with
governments.[1]

This Chapter is about the courageous steps that the communities of Fitzroy
Valley took to address the problem of alcohol abuse and its impacts on the most
vulnerable members of the community. Over the course of three years, the
residents of the Fitzroy Valley have led transformative change in their region
and lifted their communities out of chaos and despair. This Chapter outlines the
process of moving from community crisis to community control.

In 2007, a number of Fitzroy Valley community leaders decided it was time to
address increasing violence and dysfunction in their communities. Alcohol abuse
was rife across the Valley – and rather than healing the pain of
colonisation and disempowerment, it was causing violence, depression and anguish
amongst residents. By 2007, there had been 13 suicides in the Valley over a 12
month period.

The actions of these leaders were careful and modest; aimed at bringing the
Fitzroy Valley residents with them on a journey to understand two things, that
the alcohol situation was dire, and that the problems of the Valley could be
reversed. I first examine the processes in which key community leaders took
steps to restrict alcohol in the Valley.

I then outline the development of a local governance structure that
facilitates effective engagement between the communities and government. This
structure is a platform for local voices to influence the future of the Fitzroy
Valley.

This Chapter also looks at a community-driven research project addressing
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) in the Valley. The community-led nature
of this project, which has consent processes embedded into its fabric, and the
strategic use of external partners have allowed the communities to address an
incredibly sensitive and difficult issue in FASD.

The recent history of the Fitzroy Valley reads as a ‘how-to
manual’ for the development and implementation of a bottom-up project for
social change. It is the story of a movement that engages with, rather than
further marginalises, the local communities. These events demonstrate approaches
to community crisis that encourage and build the positive, willing participation
of the affected people.

The principles emerging from the Fitzroy experience can inform the
development and delivery of government services across the diversity of
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities throughout Australia. If
governments apply these principles they can shift from a service delivery
paradigm to become enablers and facilitators of community-based agents of
change.

In the Fitzroy Valley, the Australian and Western Australian governments have
an opportunity to work with the communities to build on the existing models of
governance and communication to capitalise on this social transformation.

(a) The Fitzroy
Valley

For thousands of years there were many different language groups living on
this land and we are still here today. The Bunuba and Gooniyandi people are the
people of the rivers and the ranges. The Walmajarri and the Wangkatjungka people
are the people of the great desert. Today these different language groups all
live together in harmony in the Fitzroy Valley. That’s what makes this
place so special. We have strong culture here and we welcome you to our place
and our dreams.[2]

The Fitzroy Valley is in the Kimberley region of Western Australia. The town
of Fitzroy Crossing is situated near the centre of the Fitzroy Valley. It is the
regional hub of the Valley. Fitzroy Crossing is on the traditional lands of the
Bunuba people. There are 44 smaller communities spread around the Valley in a
diameter of approximately 200 kms. Of these smaller communities, a number are
sub-regional hub communities, while others are smaller satellite communities or
outstations.[3]

The area is extremely remote. The nearest major centres are Derby (258 km),
Halls Creek (263 km) and Broome (480 km). Of the approximately 4000 people who
live in Fitzroy Valley, 1600 live in Fitzroy Crossing. The majority of the
population across the Valley is
Aboriginal.[4]

Map 3.1: The Fitzroy
Valley
[5]

Map

The Fitzroy Valley is serviced by a range of different providers; government
departments and agencies, as well as non-governmental organisations. Government
services include education, police, health and child protection. Local
non-governmental organisations provide a range of cultural and social welfare
services. For example, the Marninwarntikura Women’s Resource Centre
(Marninwarntikura) provides domestic violence services, and the Kimberley
Aboriginal Law and Culture Centre (KALACC) is the peak body for developing,
promoting and maintaining law and culture across the Valley.

(b) Community crisis

We worry all the time for this land and our people. Especially when we see
and live in the shadows of the painful effects of dispossession, oppression,
racism and neglect. And when we see how alcohol is being used to mask this pain
in our community and how it creates more
pain.[6]

In 2007, the communities of the Fitzroy Valley were in crisis. The Fitzroy
Crossing Hospital staff described the abuse of alcohol in the communities as
‘chronic, chaotic and violent’ – it was common for them to
treat between 30 and 40 people a night for alcohol related
injuries.[7]

Too many people were dying. Community member, Joe Ross, suggested that
‘the community had become immune to attending
funerals’.[8] The Fitzroy Valley
had 55 funerals in one year, of which 13 were suicides. If this rate of suicide
was applied to a population the size of Perth it would equate to 500 suicides
per month.[9] These astounding figures
prompted local community leaders to call for an inquest by the State Coroner of
Western Australia, Alistair Hope. In 2008, the Coroner handed down his findings
on 22 self-harm deaths in the Kimberley region. The Coroner found that the
Kimberley region saw a 100% increase in self-harm deaths from 2005 to 2006, and
the numbers of self-harm deaths in the Fitzroy Valley were exceptionally
high.[10] A ‘striking
feature’ of the Coroner’s findings was the ‘very high
correlation between death by self-harm and alcohol and cannabis
use’.[11]

We had a community that was just being decimated by alcohol abuse. Children
weren’t feeling safe about going home. Old people running to a safe place.
Old people crying, wanting to move out of their homes because, you know, they
were just being harassed by family members who was coming home
drunk.[12]

The Coronial Inquest into 22 deaths in the Kimberley, also found that the
Aboriginal people in the Kimberley region had a real desire for change and that
they wanted to play an active role in designing and developing programs to
improve their living conditions.[13]

The abuse of alcohol in the Valley has historical roots that can be linked to
the processes of colonisation and the accompanying social policies that
alienated and marginalised the Aboriginal people of the region.

Text Box 3.1: History, trauma and alcohol
abuse
[14]

After the period of frontier violence in the late nineteenth and early
twentieth century Aboriginal people worked on stations for little or no wages.
For decades Aboriginal people were the backbone of the industry. Without the
Aboriginal women and men who sheared the sheep, mustered the cattle, built the
fences and windmills and cooked the food, the pastoral industry would not have
been able to operate.

Then in the late 1960s and early 1970s when the equal wage decision for
Aboriginal stock workers was implemented in the Kimberley, our people were
discarded. We were treated with contempt and expelled on mass from the
stations.

Aboriginal people throughout the valley resettled in congested, squalid
conditions. In the early 1970s the population of Fitzroy Crossing rose from 100
to over 2000 people within two years. It became a tent-camp of refugees fleeing
a humanitarian disaster....

Like many such people alienated from their lands, alcohol abuse started and
it got worse and worse over the years. At first only the older men and middle
aged men drank, then some of the young men and then more and more women and then
teenagers, some of them quite young.

The grog has affected every single person in the valley at one level or
another. Aboriginal people in the valley have identified grog as the most
important health priority that must be confronted.

 

Fitzroy Valley residents had been cognisant of the damage that alcohol was
causing for some time and they had taken steps to address the problem. For
example, in 2004, 300 residents from the Valley met to discuss the issues of
alcohol and drug abuse. The attendees of the meeting agreed that there was a
need to focus on counselling and
treatment.[15] However very few
resources were available, and little was done to address what was an
overwhelming problem.

In 2007, in the face of this ongoing and escalating crisis, the senior women
in the Fitzroy Valley decided to discuss the alcohol issue and look for
solutions at their Annual Women’s Bush Meeting. The Women’s Bush
Meeting is auspiced by Marninwarntikura; it is a forum for the women from the
four language groups across the Valley. At the 2007 Bush Meeting, discussions
about alcohol were led by June Oscar and Emily Carter from Marninwarntikura. The
women in attendance agreed it was time to make a stand and take steps to tackle
the problem of alcohol in the Fitzroy
Valley.[16] While the women did not
represent the whole of the Valley, there was a significant section of the
community in attendance. Their agreement to take action on alcohol was a
starting point and it gave Marninwarntikura a mandate to launch a campaign to
restrict the sale of alcohol from the take-away outlet in the Fitzroy Valley.
The community-generated nature of this campaign has been fundamental to its
ongoing success. The communities themself were ready for change.

(c) Alcohol restrictions
campaign

The community is at a stage where they're wanting to do something, so, you
know, the State and Federal Government, they should really listen and that we're
a community that wants to meet them halfway, and isn't that a good thing, where
it's not coming from the top
down?[17]

[The campaign] started from [the Marninwarntikura] Women’s Bush Meeting
in Gooniyandi Country. It was the old people who really stood up to put a stop
to grog. Old people didn’t get sleep and children at night were running
around. This is how it
started.[18]

Following this bush camp, on 19 July 2007 Marninwarntikura wrote to the
Director of Liquor Licensing (Western Australia) seeking an initial 12 month
moratorium on the sale of take-away liquor across the Fitzroy
Valley.[19] The only take-away
outlet in the Valley is located in Fitzroy Crossing. As a consequence, much of
the focus of the campaign for alcohol restrictions was on Fitzroy Crossing,
although its effects would apply across the Valley region.

Marninwarntikura argued that alcohol restrictions were necessary for the
following reasons:

  • the high number of alcohol and drug related suicides in the Fitzroy
    Valley
  • the communities were in a constant state of despair and grief
  • there was extensive family violence and the women’s refuge was unable
    to cope with the demand from women seeking refuge from violence at home
  • childhood drinking was becoming normalised behaviour
  • local outpatient presentations from alcohol abuse were unacceptably
    high
  • local hospital statistics suggested 85% of trauma patients were alcohol
    affected and 56% of all patients admitted were under the influence of
    alcohol
  • criminal justice statistics showed a disproportionally high number of
    alcohol related incidents
  • local employers were finding it difficult to retain staff as a result of
    alcohol consumption
  • a reduction in school attendance
  • child protection issues including a significant number of children under the
    age of five exhibiting symptoms associated with Fetal Alcohol
    Syndrome.[20]

Marninwarntikura
called on the Director of Liquor Licensing to restrict access to take-away
alcohol purchased in Fitzroy Crossing in order to provide some respite for the
communities and to allow time to address the ‘deplorable social
situation’ in the Fitzroy
Valley.[21]

During this process, Marninwarntikura liaised with the cultural leadership of
the communities through KALACC; one of the three Kimberley-wide Aboriginal
organisations which promotes law and culture for the different language groups
in the region. KALACC gave its support to the restrictions campaign. The CEO of
Marninwarntikura noted the importance of this support from the cultural
leadership:

It was really important to let elders know what was happening. We liaised
with cultural leaders and elders through KALACC. KALACC helped facilitate
approval from elders for the alcohol
restrictions.[22]

The role of KALACC was critical, it would have been very interesting had they
not supported the campaign. The support of KALACC managed some of the forces in
the community.[23]

The cultural leadership gave the campaign their support because they believed
in the positive possibilities that alcohol restrictions might offer Fitzroy
Valley residents. One cultural leader described the campaign, saying:

I reckon because woman is the mother, you know, and that’s why mother
feel the pain. Something got to be changed and that’s what I was hoping to
have that in my mind to support [the restrictions]. I reckon that’s a good
thing woman did.[24]

The support of the elders and cultural leadership cannot be underestimated.
It was a factor that influenced the discretion of the Director of Liquor
Licensing to issue the alcohol
restrictions.[25] The support from
elders gave the campaign the necessary legitimacy to withstand some
strongly-held views by sectors of the communities which were against the
restrictions.

Support for the restrictions was not isolated to the women and the cultural
leadership of the Valley. Many of the men from the Valley were strong advocates
for the restrictions campaign. The women indicated that ‘we couldn’t
have done it without the
men’.[26] However, this
campaign was not about gender difference, it was about these communities
striving for a better future.

... and this must be understood – what we have achieved so far [in the
Fitzroy Valley] could never have been done by government acting alone. The
leadership had to come from the community. We had to OWN our problems and create
pathways for recovery.[27]

A Strategic partnership was formed with the Western Australian Police, who
also supported the campaign. This strategic alliance bolstered the campaign but
did not detract from its community controlled nature.

Despite obtaining significant community-level support for the campaign, there
remained strong voices in the communities who opposed the proposed restrictions.
However, those supporting the restrictions stood firm knowing that they would
buy the Valley some necessary respite from the trauma and chaos of excessive
alcohol misuse. The strength of these leaders was decisive, and the campaign
came at significant personal cost for some key leaders.

(i) Alcohol restrictions in the Valley

It was September 2007, when the Western Australia Director of Liquor
Licensing decided that the sale of take-away liquor was a major contributor to
high levels of alcohol-related harm at Fitzroy Crossing. The Director deemed the
harm sufficient to justify the imposition of a 6 month trial during which the
sale of take-away liquor from the outlet in Fitzroy Crossing would be
restricted. The trial commenced on 2 October 2007.

The sale of packaged liquor, exceeding a concentration of ethanol in liquor
of 2.7 per cent at 20°C, is prohibited to any person, other than a [person
residing, whether casually or permanently, on the
premises].[28]

The trial conditions stipulated that only low-strength beer could be
purchased from the take-away outlet in Fitzroy Crossing. Full-strength beer,
wine and spirits could not be purchased for take-away. These heavier drinks
could still be purchased from the two licensed premises in the Valley (both
located in Fitzroy Crossing) but they could only be consumed on the premises
during opening hours.

Approximately eight months after the restrictions came into force, a review
was conducted to assess their impact and to determine their future. The review
meeting included the Director of Liquor Licensing and was attended by various
members of the Aboriginal communities in the Valley. June Oscar, the CEO of
Marninwarntikura, stated that the meeting was the ‘most important 30 mins
of our lives’.[29] It gave
community members the opportunity to present their case to the Director of
Liquor Licensing. Their views were summarised as follows:

  • the women were more empowered, confident and able to speak up and be
    involved in community-level discussions
  • sly grogging was a real problem
  • Fitzroy Valley was much quieter and safer
  • other Aboriginal communities were looking to the positive example in the
    Fitzroy Valley
  • the restrictions have seen government agencies and non-government
    organisations become more involved in the communities
  • there was a strong desire not to return to the pre-restriction chaos
  • substantial and lasting change is needed
  • children need to be the priority and the next generation of children need to
    grow up without the problems of alcohol
  • families are stronger and sober, old people are being cared for, young
    people are thinking about owning homes and children are learning skills
  • communities with people affected by FASD need assistance
  • ‘if we return to the past, all hope will be stripped
    away’.[30]

After
the review meeting in May 2008, the Director of Liquor Licensing extended the
restrictions on take-away alcohol
indefinitely.[31] Since the
implementation of the restrictions, four of the communities in the Fitzroy
Valley, Wangkatjungka, Noonkanbah, Yakanarra and Bayulu, have also adopted
alcohol restrictions, that prevent the possession and consumption of alcohol in
these communities.[32]

(d) Issues of
consent

We dealt with dissenting voices by trying to keep all people in the Valley
informed. We used media to help keep people informed and to combat
misinformation. I agreed to attend all meetings with dissenting voices in the
community but only if the meetings were respectful and outcomes could be
generated from meetings.[33]

The Fitzroy Futures Forum was a public place for the community to discuss the
restrictions. This was space for people to argue for and against the
restrictions...[34]

From the beginning of the campaign it was clear that consensus support for
the restrictions could not be reached. While there was a critical mass of people
in favour of the restrictions, there was also a cohort which was against them.
The lack of consensus was a significant challenge for community leaders who
wanted to address this crisis. It also raised a significant human rights issue.

International law has evolved to the point where it is necessary to engage in
genuine consultation with Indigenous peoples before adopting policies, laws,
decisions or programs that are directly targeted toward
us.[35] This consultation should be
guided by the principle of free, prior and informed consent.

The principle of free, prior, and informed consent requires that consent
should be sought without coercion or intimidation in advance of any
authorisation or commencement of activities. All relevant information should be
provided and be in a format that is understood by the affected Indigenous
people. It is necessary to establish productive dialogue between the affected
Indigenous peoples and decision-makers, allowing the time to find mutually
acceptable solutions. The process for achieving free, prior and informed consent
will vary depending on the
circumstances.[36] Appendix 4
provides a more detailed outline of the principle of free, prior and informed
consent.

Issues of consent in the Fitzroy Valley were resolved over time. It was a
process rather than a single transactional event. The Fitzroy women wanted to
create a ‘space for reflection’ amongst their community members.
They knew that excessive alcohol needed to be taken out of the picture in order
for reflection to occur. This would give people the time and opportunity to
think about the crisis that had befallen the Valley. It was not possible for the
residents to make informed decisions while they were in crisis.

Alcohol restrictions are just a small toe hold into the enormous challenges
we face. It is not the answer to our problems. It was never intended to be. Its
purpose was always to give us breathing space from the trauma and chaos of
death, violence and fear; breathing space to think and plan
strategically.[37]

Rather than focusing on obtaining majority support for the restrictions in
the first instance, the women acted upon the mandate given to them at the Bush
Meeting. Following this the women consulted with KALACC elders, health providers
and community leaders and others to obtain support from a significant portion of
the residents of the Valley.

Talking about the level of support is not simple and clear cut. I am cautious
about giving figures and percentages. I think we should get away from looking at
it like that. It is more important to give people all the information and then
an opportunity to reflect on the alcohol restrictions and then decide if it is a
good thing. Give people time to think and feel and see whether it will have a
positive impact on their family. I think we should look at consent by reflecting
on the way humans live and
think.[38]

Creating a ‘space for reflection’ is sometimes necessary to
assist people to develop their capacity and their knowledge in order to make
informed decisions. This idea of capacity has been noted as a crucial component
of the principle of free, prior and informed consent by the United Nations
Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues:

[I]mplicit in the principle of Indigenous peoples having a right to free,
prior and informed consent is the notion of capacity; Indigenous peoples who
lack the requisite capacity would be unable to consent in a free and informed
manner. This principle of free, prior and informed consent, combined with the
notion of good faith, may therefore be construed as incorporating a duty for
States to build Indigenous
capacity.[39]

Twelve months after the alcohol restrictions commenced, an independent review
showed increased community-level support for the
restrictions.[40] The increased
support shows that a ‘space for reflection’ and a different lived
experience can change community attitudes. This could be described as building
community capacity.

The process for implementing alcohol restrictions in the Fitzroy Valley
demonstrates some stark contrasts to the implementation of alcohol restrictions
and other measures under the Northern Territory Emergency Response
(NTER).[41] In many ways, the
intended outcomes were to be the same – a reduction in social problems as
a result of a reduction in access to alcohol. What is strikingly different
between the two approaches is the paths that were taken to achieve the same
ends. In the Fitzroy Valley, the decisions were made by the communities at a
time chosen by the community leaders.

In the Northern Territory a policy developed in Canberra was imposed by the
Australian Government. The most stridently voiced criticisms of the NTER were
about the lack of opportunity for the affected people to participate in any
decision-making about the policies affecting them:

The single most valuable resource that the NTER has lacked from its inception
is the positive, willing participation of the people it was intended to help.
The most essential element in moving forward is for government to re-engage with
the Aboriginal people of the Northern
Territory.[42]

(e) The restrictions as
a circuit breaker

The ones who drink are a small group, but the impact is devastating. We are
the ones who live with the violence, the suicides. It is our children who are
born with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders. We women and children want a future.
We want to move on. Restricting alcohol is the circuit breaker we
need.[43]

The restrictions were a circuit breaker. They are to give our community
respite, to allow us as a community to think and plan about what sort of
community we want to live
in.[44]

The Drug and Alcohol Office of Western Australia commissioned the University
of Notre Dame to independently evaluate the impacts of the alcohol restrictions.
This review of the impact of the first 12 months of the restrictions was
publicly released in July 2009.

The report, Fitzroy Valley Alcohol Restriction Report: An evaluation of
the effects of a restriction on take-away alcohol relating to measurable health
and social outcomes, community perceptions and behaviours after a 12 month
period,
provided evidence that the alcohol restrictions were a circuit
breaker and had given the residents of the Fitzroy Valley breathing space. It
identified an increase in support for the alcohol restrictions from the Fitzroy
Valley residents. The report indicated that almost all survey respondents
accepted the need for some type of alcohol restrictions and that no one wanted a
return to the social conditions prior to their
introduction.[45]

The University of Notre Dame evaluation found that the alcohol restrictions
were having health and social benefits including:

  • reduced severity of domestic violence
  • a 23% increase in reporting domestic violence and a 20% increase in
    reporting alcohol related domestic violence (police and other service providers
    attribute this to a range of factors including lower tolerance of domestic
    violence and increased sobriety)
  • reduced severity of wounding from general public violence
  • a 36% reduction in alcohol-related emergency department presentations,
    during the busiest period (October to March) this increased to a 42%
    reduction
  • reduced street drinking
  • a quieter and cleaner town
  • families were more aware of their health and were being proactive in regard
    to their children’s health
  • reduced humbug[46] and
    anti-social behaviour
  • reduced stress for service providers leading to increased effectiveness of
    these services
  • generally better care of children and increased recreational activities
  • a 91% reduction in the amount of pure alcohol purchased through the takeaway
    outlet
  • a reduction in the amount of alcohol being consumed by Fitzroy Valley
    residents.[47]

The
evaluation also indicated that domestic violence and other anti-social behaviour
had not been totally eradicated. However, since the restrictions had come into
force there was a lower tolerance for domestic violence.

Text Box 3.2: The impacts of the restrictions on the women’s
shelter[48]

Evidence provided to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs - Involvement of Indigenous
juveniles and young adults in the criminal justice system
.

Ms Christine Gray, Manager, Family Support Unit, Marninwarntikura
Women’s Resource Centre.

I think we all know that, here in Fitzroy, before the restrictions it was a
very different town. I probably do not need to tell you about that again. But
since the restrictions we have been looking at the numbers of women who come to
our shelter. We saw a decline and then we saw an increase. What we have seen
over the last year or so is that there has been an increase in numbers. We
attributed that to the fact that women are actually leaving the family situation
far sooner. They know when alcohol is coming to town. They see the signs. They
know what is going to happen next. They come to the shelter. Initially I
thought: ‘Oh no! This is not right. The number is going up.’ But
women have reported to us that they get out very quickly and they bring their
children to the shelter. The time that they stay is a lot shorter. In the old
days people would stay a lot longer because the alcohol would stay around a lot
longer too.

As for the level of injuries, when I first came to Fitzroy the injuries
were horrific. I am not saying that they have disappeared, but they have
certainly lessened dramatically. That is borne out by evidence from the hospital
and the police too. We have seen that happen over the time that the restrictions
have been in place. The whole town is a different town, I believe. It looks
different; it feels different. It is a much better place for families.

 

A number of negative impacts have resulted from the restrictions
including:

  • increased travel to Derby and Broome to obtain alcohol
  • increased prevalence of people leaving children in the care of grandparents
    to drink at the licensed premises in Fitzroy Crossing and to travel to other
    towns to obtain alcohol
  • increased pressure on heavily dependant drinkers and their families who are
    paying substantially more for alcohol
  • reducing but still ongoing divisions within the town about the
    restrictions
  • a general sense that there has not been the expected follow through of
    targeted government services to deal with the problems of alcohol
    dependence
  • an impact on some local businesses who have seen a downturn in business
    based on people choosing to shop in other towns (partly) related to obtaining
    full-strength
    alcohol.[49]

Overall,
the Notre Dame study concluded that the benefits generated by the alcohol
restrictions outweighed the detriments. It reported that the communities are
beginning to stabilise from their chaotic pre-restriction state. This perception
has contributed to the increasing support for the restrictions from Fitzroy
Valley residents.[50]

However, the alcohol restrictions are not a silver bullet for addressing the
social crises in the Fitzroy Valley. Despite the significant reduction in
alcohol consumption and alcohol-related violence, the Fitzroy Valley faces an
immense task to rebuild the social fabric of the communities.

The grog restrictions were never intended to be a panacea for the enormous
social disadvantages we face. What we have to imagine is a long term and
permanent healing of the gaping wounds that arise from alcohol abuse and
violence. This will require collaboration and
cooperation.[51]

(f) A circuit breaker is
not a silver bullet

The restrictions in the Fitzroy Valley are a circuit breaker; they have
provided the communities with the necessary reprieve from the pre-restrictions
chaos to allow time to consider their futures. The Notre Dame Study noted that
the gains from the restrictions alone would not be sufficient for the
communities to address the ingrained issues associated with alcohol abuse, and
ongoing support must build upon these gains:

Significant gaps in support services that are needed to enable the social
reconstruction of the Fitzroy Valley continue to hinder the community. There
continues to be a state of under-investment in the people of the Fitzroy Valley.
This gap requires the resourcing of community based organisations operating at
the coal face of community development, cultural health, mental health
(counselling), education, community safety (Policing) and training, to build on
the window of opportunity that the restriction has
created.[52]

I visited the Fitzroy Valley as part of my research for this Chapter. Whilst
there, I was informed time and time again that the restrictions alone are not
enough to tackle the issues of alcohol and drug abuse in the communities. It was
a widespread perception that the initial gains that have been made through the
alcohol restrictions could be whittled away unless there is urgent investment
into drug and alcohol, mental health and rehabilitation services; as well as
investment into culture and cultural health programs in the Valley. These views
were consistent with the 24 month review of the impact of the restrictions in
the Fitzroy Valley which was released at the time of writing this
Chapter.[53]

The 2007 National Drug Research Institute report, Restrictions on the Sale
and Supply of Alcohol,
reported that community control is an essential
factor in effectively restricting alcohol supply in Indigenous communities. It
noted that support and resources from relevant government agencies are also
crucial in the effective implementation of alcohol restrictions.

In general, restrictions that are imposed on communities will be less
effective – in both the short and long-term – than those which have
community backing and community control. With guidance, communities themselves
may be best placed to identify their own problems and needs but should also be
encouraged to focus their attention on evidence-based and effective initiatives.
The diversity of Indigenous populations in Australia means that community
control and support is especially crucial among this group. Support for community efforts is also needed, especially from police and liquor
licensing authorities, as are adequate infrastructure, human and financial
resources – and these are often scarce commodities in rural and remote
areas.[54]

There is a need for an immediate and coordinated response to address the
collective social trauma that is driving alcohol and drug abuse in the Fitzroy
Valley. At the time of writing the Western Australian Government had invested in
one drug and alcohol counsellor for the Fitzroy Valley. However, the position
has not been filled since February 2010. As a consequence the Valley is only
serviced twice a month by two regional mental health workers based in
Derby.[55] Without immediate action
the advances made in the Fitzroy Valley could be lost.

Despite the absence of a coordinated response to drug and alcohol issues, the
communities are supporting themselves through the creation of partnerships and
alliances with service deliverers. There have been improvements in relationships
with police and created strategic alliances with the Drug and Alcohol
Office.[56]

An improved relationship between the police and the communities has been
essential for creating safer communities for all residents.

I think what the restrictions have created is an ability for the police to
assist the community rather than being driven by law enforcement. We are now
supporting the community rather than the other way around. We do it in
partnership. We can’t do it ourselves. The relationship between the police
and the community has gone from strength to strength. I would like to think that
the relationship is as strong as it has ever been. There seems to be a
trust...[57]

^Top

3.2 Fitzroy Futures
Forum: Local governance and local voices

The Fitzroy Futures Forum is a very interesting phenomenon, it is like
nothing else that I have seen in any Aboriginal community. It provides a
mechanism for community to hold all three levels of government accountable
(local, state and federal). It is unique also because it has members from each
language group, the community more widely and all three levels of
government.[58]

The Fitzroy Futures Forum was beginning to take shape at the time of the
alcohol restrictions campaign, the Governing Committee had not been fully
established at that time. The restrictions and Fitzroy Futures Forum were two
separate processes.[59]

(a) Formation and
background

In a parallel process to the alcohol restrictions campaign, an innovative
governance structure was being established in the Fitzroy Valley. Its role was
to facilitate local communication and engagement with governments. It is the
Fitzroy Futures Forum. The Fitzroy Futures Forum is an open community forum
providing a platform for all residents, including Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal
residents, as well as businesses and enterprises of the Fitzroy Valley. Its
purpose is to give all Fitzroy Valley stakeholders an opportunity to have a say
in the future of the Valley.

The Fitzroy Futures Forum emerged out of a need for town planning in Fitzroy
Crossing. In September 2000, the Shire of Derby/West Kimberley held a three day
community conference to discuss the future of Fitzroy Crossing and the Valley
more broadly. The outcome of this conference, the Fitzroy Futures 2000
Conference
, was to establish a working group to address three key issues
identified by the communities:

  1. the need for a town plan to identify future growth of Fitzroy Crossing, the
    surrounding Aboriginal communities and resolve land tenure issues for the
    purposes of town planning
  2. undertake a process of community consultation regarding the relocation of
    the power station
  3. the development of strategic planning in Fitzroy Crossing on a range of
    social and economic issues including training, education and
    health.[60]

A process
was commenced to develop a town plan and this became the Fitzroy Futures Plan.
The local traditional owners of the Fitzroy Crossing region participated in the
development of the plan though their representative body, Bunuba Inc.
Negotiations occurred between the Department of Planning and Infrastructure
(WA), the Shire of Derby/West Kimberley, and Bunuba Inc.

The town planning process included discussion about major government capital
works for the Fitzroy Valley including:

  • a new health campus
  • upgrading the power station
  • a district high school
  • housing projects
  • a new police
    station.[61]

As a result
of the need for these significant capital works and town planning, local
community leaders recognised that it was important for the communities to have a
mechanism for ongoing input into the future direction of the Fitzroy Valley. An
informal and open community forum, now known as the Fitzroy Futures Forum, was
seen as an ideal vehicle for this community engagement. It began in 2000 and has
gradually evolved into a partnership between the communities and government. It
is best described as a hybrid governance mechanism for participation and
engagement between local Aboriginal communities, government and other community
people and organisations. Over time members of the Fitzroy Futures Forum have
developed trust and effective forms of
communication.[62]
A formal
partnership agreement with the Western Australian Government was signed in
2007.[63]

The Fitzroy Futures Forum consists of four parts.

  • Fitzroy Futures Town Plan
  • The Forum
  • The Fitzroy Futures Fund
  • The Fitzroy Futures Forum Governing Committee.

I will consider
each of these in turn.

(i) Fitzroy Futures Town Plan

The town plan sets out Fitzroy Crossing’s land tenure, land release and
infrastructure needs. This town planning process was the device that brought
people together from across the communities and government agencies. To ensure
the Fitzroy Futures Town Plan meets local needs, it is guided by the following
principles:

  • support lifestyle, cultural and social needs of the communities
  • focus future growth on land not subject to flood impacts
  • promote environmental protection and sustainable settlements
  • provide opportunities for economic growth within the communities
  • acknowledge infrastructure limitations and
    deficiencies.[64]

(ii) The Forum

Anyone that calls Fitzroy Valley home can be involved in the Forum. Black,
white, Aboriginal, non-Aboriginal, community organisations, government,
business, whoever has an interest in the
Valley.[65]

The Forum is a public space where all people with an interest in the Valley
can come to raise and discuss community identified priority issues. The Forum
has developed an engagement structure that outlines the relationships between
each of the stakeholder groups and how they engage with each other. This is
represented below.

Figure 3.1: The Fitzroy Futures Forum Engagement
Structure[66]

Flow chart

The Forum has a ‘soap-box session’ where residents can have their
say about the future of the Valley. Acting Western Australian State Manager,
Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs,
Richard Aspinall described the impact of this platform for local voices:

How do you develop capacity for leadership? You develop it by having the
structures to allow leadership to flourish and grow. The Fitzroy Futures Forum
allows people to explore their own leadership; you have a soap box for people to
say where they want the Valley to go. That brings
self-confidence.[67]

Forum meetings are held quarterly and extraordinary meetings can be called if
the need arises.

Whilst I was there we had the best part of 10 or 12 meetings, they were good
robust meetings. What we wanted to focus on was the $2.5m Fund. But also the
Fitzroy Futures Town Plan was a key priority to get endorsed by the community
and the state. This was so people can process things like land tenure. They were
the first two things. As the meetings rolled on other things came up like the
swimming pool for the area, there was also landscaping or streetscaping. There
was work on the bridge, roads, airstrips for remote communities, employment
opportunities, additional funding for local services, renal dialysis facilities.
All sorts of things were spilling out of the
meetings.[68]

These public meetings are increasingly well attended. All three tiers of
government (local, state and federal) are represented at Forum meetings. They
have become the accepted vehicle to transmit information across the Valley
communities.

The Forum is the interface for services coming into the Valley:

The Forum is the entry point. It is about getting governments and other
service providers to realise that they need community perspectives to influence
their delivery. A few agencies have presented and said we are going to give this
to you, and people say hang on did we ask for that? This has to stop, the
government just coming in and imposing programs. Work with
us.[69]

Through the Forum, the communities have been engaged in the process of
designing a range of infrastructure projects such as the school, the swimming
pool and the police station.[70]

(iii) The Fitzroy Futures Fund

Early in its operation ‘cocktail funding’ (funding from a variety
of sources) was identified by the Forum as restricting the effectiveness of many
projects in the Valley. The small amounts of money on short funding cycles made
it difficult to plan and to develop any longer term projects. Ultimately,
‘cocktail funding’ impeded socio-economic outcomes for local people.

In 2007, the Western Australian Government acted to address some of this
funding complexity. They established the Fitzroy Futures Fund. This Fund is $2.5
million over 5 years to support social and economic development projects in the
Fitzroy Valley. The Fund was created with additional funding allocated through
budgetary processes, and was administered by the Western Australian Department
of Housing and Works. From 1 January 2010, the administration of the Fitzroy
Futures Fund was transferred to the Western Australian Department of Indigenous
Affairs.[71]

The Fund is earmarked to support local individuals and community
organisations and enterprises. In accordance with the Funding Agreement, monies
from this Fund are not allocated to projects that should be funded by
government; for example the provision of sewerage infrastructure remains the
responsibility of government, as it is in any other town or community.

The communities are invited to apply for grants from the Fitzroy Futures
Fund. The Fitzroy Futures Forum Governing Committee (discussed in further detail
below) makes recommendations on what projects should be funded. These
recommendations are sent to the Minister for Indigenous Affairs (WA) for sign
off.

The Governing Committee is comprised of Aboriginal leadership representing
the four language groups of the Fitzroy Valley, government officials from all
three tiers of government and community representatives to accommodate
non-Aboriginal interests in the Valley.

The result is that decision-making processes for the approval of projects and
expenditure of the Fund are devolved to the Fitzroy Futures Forum Governing
Committee which represents the Fitzroy Valley communities.

Grants are made available to Fitzroy Valley community organisations and
individuals, and are allocated under one or more of the following strategic
program areas:

  1. infrastructure
  2. economic development
  3. education, skills and training
  4. community development
  5. natural resources
  6. governance.[72]

These
strategic program areas were developed by the Fitzroy Valley communities.
Application processes were also developed with local input. Individuals and
organisations are eligible for assistance in the application process from the
Executive Officer and Community
Consultant.[73] In this way, the
Fund operates for the communities and reflects local needs.

A range of grants have been awarded to organisations, communities and
individuals. For example:

  • Kurnangki (an Aboriginal community within the town borders of Fitzroy
    Crossing) was awarded a grant to conduct a feasibility study for the design of a
    multipurpose facility, which might function as a youth centre, meeting place,
    cooking facility, study area and childcare centre.
  • an individual grant was awarded to a community member for the purchase of an
    existing wood stove pizza business. The Fitzroy Futures Fund provided a
    percentage of the funds, and the remaining shortfall was met by Indigenous
    Business Australia. This venture now employs a number of youths from the
    Valley.[74]

The Fitzroy
Futures Fund also provides grants for the benefit of the Fitzroy Valley region.
The Fitzroy Population Project is one of example of this type of
grant.

Text Box 3.3: The Fitzroy Futures Fund in action: the Fitzroy
Population Project

There is an increasing need for accurate demographic information and
baseline data to describe remote Indigenous communities across Australia.
Planning for economic development, services and infrastructure is reliant on
this information.

Acting through the Fitzroy Futures Forum, the people of the Fitzroy Valley
identified a requirement for an accurate demographic profile of the region. This
was a priority for three reasons:

  1. It was widely accepted that the 2006 national census undercounted the
    population in the Kimberley region and other population counts were similarly
    inadequate. Accurate baseline data were needed to inform policy
    development.[75]
  2. It was necessary to have a baseline population count to reflect the ways in
    which the Fitzroy Valley defines itself. Local government boundaries do not
    reflect the self-defined boundaries of the communities in the Fitzroy
    Valley.
  3. The statistics captured in the census data do not reflect the dynamic lived
    realities of the population in the Fitzroy Valley including the population
    movements.[76]

Using
money from the Fitzroy Futures Fund, the Fitzroy Futures Forum commissioned the Fitzroy Population Project. The project did not count the non-Aboriginal
population in the Valley because the census data were believed to be more
accurate. The project aimed to capture the cultural reality of the Aboriginal
population.[77]

Funds were granted to Marninwarntikura and the Centre for Aboriginal
Economic Policy Research at the Australian National University to undertake the
project.[78]

Work on the project began in March 2009, and the completed report was
presented to the Forum during 2010. This project provides the Fitzroy Futures
Forum with an evidence-based tool for influencing policy development.

The survey collected two different kinds of data.

  1. Demographic information about the Aboriginal communities including community
    members age and sex.
  2. Population data that captures information about the cultural, relational and
    environmental factors that impact on patterns of settlement and mobility.

The data aims to encapsulate the social fabric of the communities
in the Fitzroy Valley.[79] The data
collection is framed by an Aboriginal perspective. In other words, the data
reflects the priorities and world views of the residents rather than statistical
indicators developed in Canberra.

Now the project is completed, the data are owned by the Fitzroy Futures
Forum. The data will remain in the Valley for the benefit of the residents of
the Valley.

 

(iv) The Fitzroy Futures Governing
Committee

The Fitzroy Futures Forum Governing Committee was established to ensure that
the decision-making processes for grants under the Fitzroy Futures Fund were
accountable, transparent and community owned. The Governing Committee consists
of:

  • a representative from each of the four main language groups from the Fitzroy
    Valley area
  • a Representative of the Shire of Derby/West Kimberley
  • a State government official from the Department of Indigenous Affairs (who
    is also the Executive Officer)
  • an Australian Government official represented from the West Kimberley
    Indigenous Coordination Centre
  • three self-nominated community representatives who live in Fitzroy. These
    members are appointed by the
    Minister.[80]

A defining
feature of the Fitzroy Futures Forum Governing Committee is that community
representatives participate on equal footing with representatives from each of
the three tiers of government. The structure of the Governing Committee is
designed to facilitate communication and partnership between the communities and
government. This model of membership ensures representation from the different
Aboriginal language groups in the Valley and non-Aboriginal interests. It also
reflects the Aboriginal leadership’s aspiration that the Fitzroy Futures
Forum represents both the Aboriginal interests and the interests of all Valley
residents.

The Governing Committee is responsible for responding to and actioning
issues, concerns and priorities that emerge from the Forum
‘floor’:

After the Forum meetings the Governing Committee would stay back and look at
what were things needed to be elevated out of the communities. What things
needed to be raised to government, and what things could be sorted out in town
through local services. The issues that were sorted out in town were often cost
neutral and didn’t need government involvement. Maybe it was just a
communication thing. But other things needed to go out for greater
discussion.[81]

The Governing Committee acts as an advocacy and coordination body for the
Fitzroy Valley. The Governing Committee recommends funding allocations,
progresses local projects and reports to the communities at Forum meetings.

In addition to the Governing Committee, a small executive provides
secretariat support for the Fitzroy Futures Forum. This executive is comprised
of an Executive Officer, who is employed by the Department of Indigenous
Affairs, and a Community Consultant who is funded by the Department. The
Executive Officer assists in the coordination and delivery of government
services and provides secretariat support. The Community Consultant is an
Aboriginal person from the Valley, with a role to consult with residents about
the provision and coordination of government services and the functions of the
Fitzroy Futures Forum.[82]

(b) The strengths of the
Fitzroy Futures Forum

The reason it has worked is the community started it, they drove it, they
pushed it. They endorsed the guiding principles. The community owns it, they
just want some administrative support to help it go along its
journey.[83]

The Fitzroy Futures Forum is an effective conduit between community-level
interests and requirements, and government and non-government service delivery.
The foundation of this mechanism is a relationship built on trust and mutual
respect. This requires an honest and open conversation about what is achievable
and what is deliverable. This is underpinned by good faith from both
parties.

The Aboriginal membership operates as ‘the interface’ between
government and the Aboriginal communities in the
Valley.[84] From a policy and
service delivery perspective the Fitzroy Futures Forum is recognised by
government and service providers as a key entry point into the Fitzroy
Valley.

The active role of residents in setting the agenda for the future of the
Fitzroy Valley is community development in practice. It is the process of active
participation that builds community capacity.

The Fitzroy Futures Forum is space at a local level for dialogue between
Aboriginal people and non-Aboriginal people. There is a need to find a
‘space’ to engage with people. There hasn’t been that space in
the Fitzroy Valley. We need space to engage and discuss in respectful and
supportive ways. In Fitzroy we have moved from standing in the trenches throwing
grenades, now we can sit and talk respectfully and deal with the issues our
community faces.[85]

Text Box 3.4: Community organisations dealing with community
problems
[86]

Transcript from the House of Representatives Standing Committee on
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs
- Involvement of Indigenous
juveniles and young adults in the criminal justice system.

CHAIR (Hon Bob Debus)—It is very interesting to us that you
have a number of organisations that seem to be created within the community and
designed for the community. You designed them; someone did not design them for
you. Is that fair to say?

Ms (June) Oscar—That is right.

CHAIR—Do you think that is why they work?

Ms Oscar—Very much so. It takes in local ownership and local
control, which is far more successful than something that is introduced and we
are expected to make it work. Regional bodies or national bodies and structures
being developed and designed, and then being expected to work at a local level,
I think needs rethinking and review.

CHAIR—Yes.

...

Hon Danna Vale—It is clear to us that there is not sufficient
Indigenous input into a lot of the programs at local level. One of the reasons
that we wanted to come to speak to all of you [in Fitzroy] is that it was the
Indigenous ownership, control and implementation that obviously has made Fitzroy
Crossing the wonderful town that we are seeing out there today.

 

The Fitzroy Futures Forum is unique because of the high-level engagement
between government and a community-generated forum. Government officials hear
first hand the aspirations of the communities, and the communities hear first
hand from government officials what can be delivered.

It is a collaborative process for determining the nature and type of
government services and resources in the Fitzroy Valley. This is a fundamental
strength of the Fitzroy Futures Forum:

The central theme of [the Fitzroy Futures Forum’s] message and approach
to the community has been: work together as a community and government
can’t ignore you; and to government: if you are not listening to
community–identified and supported priorities you are not providing good
governance.[87]

These unique strengths of the Fitzroy Futures Forum were noted by the
Coordinator General for Remote Indigenous
Services.[88]

(c) The Fitzroy Futures
Forum and the future

Some people ask me whether I think it is a good thing that people from the
Valley are questioning the Governing Committee and the representativeness of the
Forum. I think it is a good thing. It means people are actively participating in
the future of the Valley.[89]

The Fitzroy Futures Forum has the potential to permanently restructure the
relationship between the Aboriginal people of the Fitzroy Valley, the broader
non-Aboriginal residents and the three tiers of government. If its current
strengths are built upon, the Fitzroy Futures Forum could develop into a
governing authority for the Valley
region.[90]

The Fitzroy Futures Forum is currently undergoing a review process that will
guide its future direction. This review is being conducted by the Executive
Officer and the Community Consultant over a two week period. The review will
include meetings with government agencies, community organisations and community
residents.[91]

The community can shape the Fitzroy Futures Forum, it can be open and honest
and challenging some things that aren’t working as well as they could. We
have this review process so we can look at strategies to make it work
better.[92]

One of the challenges that the Fitzroy Futures Forum is facing is how it will
evolve in light of its own successes. Forum meetings are increasingly well
attended. This has made it difficult for certain sectors of the communities to
feel that they are able to actively participate.

The vast geographic distances of the Fitzroy Valley also present a challenge
for communication and engagement. It is difficult to engage all residents in
such a vast area. For example, communities near the eastern border of the Valley
are closer in distance to Halls Creek than Fitzroy
Crossing.[93]

At the outset it was agreed that the representatives from each of the
language groups on the Governing Committee were to act as the conduit for
communities that could not attend the Forum meetings. There is a feeling that
this is not working as effectively as it could, and other communication methods
should be examined. The review process will provide the residents of the Valley
with an opportunity to make suggestions about all aspects of the Fitzroy Futures
Forum.[94]

Local Aboriginal organisations have indicated a desire to expand the process
and role of the Fitzroy Futures Forum. They are hoping for support and resources
that will enable local leadership to work with the local communities to take
full ownership, and control of the design, delivery and implementation of
government services and programs addressing social issues in their
region.[95]

Despite the strength and success of the Fitzroy Futures Forum, some local
leaders have expressed concern about its future role and function in light of
the roll out of the Remote Service Delivery Partnership in Fitzroy
Crossing.[96]

In my visit to the Fitzroy Valley it was stressed to me on a number of
occasions that there was a real fear that this Council of Australian Government
(COAG) process could undermine the potential success of the Fitzroy Futures
Forum. This concern is magnified because formal support and funding for the
Fitzroy Futures Forum from the Western Australian Government ends in June 2011.

^Top

3.3 A community response
to Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders

When Aboriginal people are given or take responsibility to address the issues
in their community and can come up with their own solutions you will end up with
a better way of addressing these issues. This is what we did with issues of
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders and early life trauma in the Fitzroy
Valley.[97]

You all know the destructive impact of alcohol. For many families and
communities in the Kimberley it has been an unmanaged epidemic... The most
insidious element of this evil is that it diminishes the lives of so many of the
unborn. The horrors of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders are now just beginning
to be understood by Australian
governments.[98]

Excessive alcohol consumption is an increasing health concern across
Australia. A report released in 2010, titled The Range and Magnitude of
Alcohol’s Harm to Others
, stated that alcohol abuse is costing
Australia in excess of $20 billion each
year.[99]

The numbers of Australians reported to drink at risky and high risk levels
has risen from 8% in 1995, to 13% in
2004-05.[100] This increase has
been more pronounced in women, where the numbers have doubled from 6% to 12% in
that timeframe.[101] The highest
rates of alcohol consumption are in adolescents and young
adults.[102] Experts argue that
these high rates of alcohol consumption by women of a childbearing age are a
cause for concern, particularly given the evidence that approximately half of
all pregnancies are
unplanned.[103] Furthermore,
surveys suggest that between 50-59% of women consume alcohol at some stage
whilst pregnant. In one study, 20% of women indicated that they had participated
in binge drinking at least once when
pregnant.[104]

Considering these statistics, it is possible that the issues associated with
alcohol exposure during pregnancy, resulting in FASD, will become an
increasingly prominent health and wellbeing concern for the Australian community
to respond to.

The people of the Fitzroy Valley have identified FASD as an issue of
particular concern that they want to exert control over addressing.
Paediatricians working in the Kimberley estimate that up to 30% of children in
the Fitzroy Valley are affected by
FASD.[105]

FASD are a set of disorders that may occur when a mother consumes harmful
quantities of alcohol at crucial points during pregnancy and are potentially
100% preventable. The disorders create barriers to normal child development;
including learning and behaviour.

FASD represent a group of permanent disorders caused by exposure of the
unborn child to alcohol consumed by the mother during pregnancy. These disorders
include fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) and partial FAS, alcohol-related
neurodevelopmental disorder (ARND) and alcohol-related birth defects (ARBD).
Babies exposed to alcohol in utero may be born with deformities of the
brain, nervous system, kidneys, heart, lungs, eyes, ears; may have growth
problems; and may display a series of specific facial characteristics.
Developmental, behavioural and learning problems are common. What is most
devastating about this condition is that it is 100% preventable.

Long term outcomes for children with FASD are poor. Overseas research
suggests that 90% will have mental health problems, 80% will remain unemployed,
60% will come into aggravated contact with the law and less than 10% will be
able to work independently by the age of
21.[106]

Every child, including a child with FASD, has the right to health, happiness
and educational attainment.[107] Children with FASD have complex health, social and educational needs that
require targeted service and policy responses. Exposure to alcohol in the womb
can cause many problems including birth defects, learning difficulties, abnormal
hearing or vision, and behavioural and psychological disorders. The key to
ensuring that affected children are able to reach their full potential, and to
lead happy and healthy lives, is to enable early diagnosis and intervention
using multi-disciplinary assessment. The provision of ongoing family support is
also necessary.[108] It is
therefore imperative that children with FASD – wherever they live in
Australia – have equitable access to the services they need to optimise
their health, development and educational outcomes.

In evidence provided to the Coronial inquest in the Kimberley, Professor
Fiona Stanley referred to the problem of FASD as being ‘another Stolen
Generation’.[109]

Paediatricians in the Kimberley are talking about 1 in 4 children affected by
alcohol in our current cohort of young children. If you are talking about an
Indigenous culture that relies on the maintenance of an oral history and oral
tradition and the ability to pass on that tradition and of knowledge then the
underpinning foundation of that is your memory. And if you can’t remember
things then how our Indigenous people going to pass on their
culture?[110]

I highlight the actions of Fitzroy Valley leaders in addressing FASD because
of their community-ownership over an identified issue of concern. The FASD
project is led by the Fitzroy Valley communities, and where needed, the skills
and expertise of trusted external partners are utilised. Consent processes are
embedded into the fabric of this project to create a community-wide climate of
consent. These key features provide an example of processes that address
sensitive and seemingly intractable issues in an appropriate and targeted
manner. The consequent result borne out of these processes is a high level of
community buy-in and engagement.

(a) Designing the Fetal
Alcohol Spectrum Disorders strategy

FASD has been an issue of concern for Fitzroy Valley residents for some time.
It was discussed at a community meeting on alcohol and other drugs in
2004.[111] However, it took the
advent of the alcohol restrictions to unite the communities into taking action.

FASD had been an issue but with the chronic supply of alcohol you
couldn’t get traction. People did want to know about it. A lot of people
knew something was wrong with our children because of the alcohol. It was after
the restrictions that people were ready. And it started to get traction when it
was explained to the elders that passing on culture to the next generation would
be broken. The elders were concerned about the loss of
culture.[112]

There has been significant recent international focus on the importance of
culture and identity in the development processes of Indigenous
communities.[113] This work builds
on the central importance placed on culture and identity in the United
Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
. International human
rights standards have developed to the point where states have obligations to
work with Indigenous peoples to implement measures for the maintenance,
protection, development and transmission of culture and cultural
knowledge.[114]

FASD is a genuine threat to the preservation of the Aboriginal cultures of
the Valley. Impaired memory and an inability to learn and retain information are
major components of FASD. Behavioural and learning problems also limit
educational gains. Given our oral traditions of passing down cultural knowledge
through stories and ceremony, there is a very real possibility that cultural
knowledge will be lost as a result of FASD. The majority of cultural knowledge
is not part of a written history. Therefore, its continuation is reliant upon
the ability of elders to pass this knowledge on to future generations.

In October 2008, just over a year after the alcohol restrictions were brought
into the Fitzroy Valley, members of the communities gathered to discuss FASD and
other alcohol-related problems. The meeting was led by Aboriginal organisations
Marninwarntikura and Nindilingarri Cultural Health Services (Nindilingarri).
Community members voiced their concerns that many children and families were
suffering from the affects of FASD and Early Life Trauma (ELT). ELT is a term
used to describe the environmental factors that can negatively impact on a
child’s development. Poor nutrition, neglect, and exposure to violence and
stress can all lead to ELT. Meeting participants agreed to a multi-pronged
strategy of action to address these challenging
issues.[115]

In November 2008, a coalition of government agencies, business and community
organisations formed a ‘Circle of Friends’. All parties pledged
in-principle support to a FASD/ELT Strategy and action plan. Below is a
diagrammatical representation of the ‘Circle of Friends’:

Figure 3.2: ‘A Circle of Friends’

Diagram
Click to enlarge

The ‘Circle of Friends’ is a similar model to the Fitzroy Futures
Forum in that it engages all relevant stakeholders from a local, regional and
national level including the Aboriginal organisations of the Valley and
government agencies. All participants are actively involved in the development
and implementation of the FASD/ELT Strategy that was endorsed by the FASD
leadership team.

(i) The Marulu Project

In November 2008, a draft strategy was developed by the CEO of
Marninwarntikura, June Oscar and Dr James Fitzpatrick, a paediatric trainee
serving the communities. The strategy was called Overcoming Fetal Alcohol
Spectrum Disorders (FASD) and Early Life Trauma (ELT) in the Fitzroy Valley: a
community initiative
. This strategy is now described locally as the Marulu Project. Marulu is a Bunuba word meaning ‘precious, worth
nurturing’.[116]

Nindilingarri is the head of a leadership team guiding the project. The Marulu Project has a number of areas of focus:

  • Prevention – including consulting with the communities to raise
    awareness of the Marulu Project, education across the communities and
    working with women who are pregnant to prevent alcohol use.
  • Diagnosis – including the development of screening and diagnostic
    processes.
  • Support – including mapping the support services in the Valley and
    developing a network of carers.
  • High level dialogue – including strategic use of media, contributing
    to scientific discussions on FASD, and raising the profile of FASD through
    strategic partnerships.
  • Build local capacity – including participation in relevant workshops
    and conferences and capturing the process of the project.
  • Focus resources – identify and leverage existing resources, approach
    government and other funders to secure targeted funding for the strategy, and
    engage local community resources in FASD prevention, support and
    diagnosis.[117]

Below
is a schematic overview outlining the journey in developing the Marulu
Project
.

 

Figure 3.3: Schematic of the Marulu
Project
[118]

Schematic of the Marulu Project

Nindilingarri uses the Fitzroy Futures Forum meetings to report to the
communities, government and businesses on the progress of the Marulu
Project
.

FASD was earmarked for a full day discussion at the 2009 Marninwarntikura
Annual Women’s Bush Meeting. This included a presentation by Carolyn
Hartness, an Eastern Band Cherokee and FASD consultant from Canada, who has
extensive experience working on FASD with Indigenous communities in the United
States and Canada. Carolyn Hartness’ attendance was made possible through
a grant from the Fitzroy Futures Fund.

Text Box 3.5: Support for action on FASD from the Women’s Bush
Camp

The women at the Bush Meeting gave their support to community led
approaches to addressing FASD:

We the women at the annual Marninwarntikura Women’s Bush Meeting
(6-10 July at Wamali Springs on Leopold Downs Station) acknowledged that
rebuilding our families and our communities will move forward on the basis of
unity and collaboration.

We have agreed that our priorities over the next 2-3 years are:

...

  • To raise awareness of FASD and recognize its impact on all aspects of our
    community including loss of cultural knowledge, lack of employment
    opportunities, unaddressed educational needs, impact on the justice system and
    child protection etc. This will require us to create culturally appropriate
    strategies to address these issues. These strategies will be community driven
    and
    maintained.[119]

The Bush Meeting and the Fitzroy Futures Forum were pivotal platforms for
keeping the people in the Valley, outside of the leadership team, informed and
involved in the development and implementation of the project.

In 2009, the Marulu Project leadership group began discussions with
researchers from the George Institute for Global Health (The George Institute)
about the possibility of conducting a prevalence study of FASD in the Fitzroy
Valley. The rationale for conducting a prevalence study was to understand how
many children were affected by FASD and to attract funding and resources to
manage these children, and prevent FASD. Funding would only be forthcoming once
there was a strong evidence
base.[120]

(b) Working with trusted
partners

In Fitzroy we bring people in when we identify a problem and a need, rather
than people coming in and telling us our problems and our needs. It is about
forming strategic partnerships with government and the corporate sector. It is
about asking for help but that is strategic and targeted
help.[121]

The Marulu Project leadership team, headed by Nindilingarri,
identified The George Institute as the most appropriate organisation to provide
technical and other expertise to the project. The George Institute had
previously developed relationships with the communities in producing a
documentary, Yajilarra. The documentary told the story of alcohol
restrictions in Fitzroy Valley.

Text Box 3.6: Yajilarra: using media as a lever for social
change

The alcohol restrictions campaign in the Fitzroy Valley is a powerful story
that has been told through a documentary film entitled Yajilarra. The
women of Marninwarntikura wanted to use the documentary film as a lever for
social change. They knew that telling this story would raise the profile of the
Fitzroy Valley and alert key players to their continuing needs. The documentary
could also act to inspire other Indigenous communities to take control of the
issues confronting them. It was felt that film was the ideal medium to
communicate the story to the widest audience.

In 2007, June Oscar and Emily Carter from Marninwarntikura invited
Elizabeth Broderick, Sex Discrimination Commissioner (Australian Human Rights
Commission), to visit Fitzroy Crossing. Commissioner Broderick wanted to assist
in making the documentary. Commissioner Broderick introduced the Fitzroy leaders
to The George Institute who assisted in sourcing funding to produce the
film.

The documentary has been instrumental in raising the profile of the Fitzroy
Valley and issues of FASD and securing funding for the Marulu Project.
The documentary has been screened in many places in Australia and
internationally, including Parliament House and at the United Nations.

 

Yajilarra was a solid foundation for further partnership with The
George Institute:

[O]ut of the liquor restrictions the women formed a relationship with The
George. They assisted the women to produce Yajilarra. There was already
that relationship that existed. As a result of the relationship it was easy for
us to contact them to help with the strategy. Because of the relationship The
George knew about the people they were working with. That is the big difference,
it is always the academics that had seen a problem and tell the people ‘we
are doing it my way’. This is totally different, here the Aboriginal
people said FASD was a problem and we worked with The George Institute on the
project.[122]

The George Institute was a natural partner in the FASD work with
Nindilingarri. The George Institute has expertise in conducting research and in
advocacy and has strong relationships with Fitzroy Valley community members. The
George Institute engaged an expert paediatrician, Professor Elizabeth Elliott
from The University of Sydney, to provide clinical expertise on FASD and sought
approval from the leadership team for her involvement in the
project.[123]

The current research team includes Nindilingarri, The George Institute, and
the Sydney University Medical School at The University of Sydney. Maureen Carter
(community member and CEO of Nindilingarri) leads the team that includes June
Oscar (community member and CEO of Marninwarntikura), Professors Jane Latimer
(The George Institute) and Elizabeth Elliott (Sydney Medical School, The
University of Sydney), Dr Manuela Ferreira (Faculty of Health Sciences, The
University of Sydney) and paediatric senior registrar Dr James Fitzpatrick, who
has been working in the Kimberley for the last two years, and is currently a PhD
student at the Sydney Medical school.

The FASD project is community led research working through partnerships with
trusted external organisations. Indigenous knowledge is acknowledged and
respected in the research process consistent with international human rights
standards.[124] External players
are brought in to provide strategic support.

(c) Community consent
for a prevalence study of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders

The whole issue with wanting to address FASD had come from the community. We,
as a community, have driven this whole project from the start and will drive it
to the finish. Each step we had engagement with the
people.[125]

The prevalence study is known as the Lililwan Project. Lililwan is a
Kriol word meaning ‘all the little
ones’.[126] The prevalence
study focuses on children in the Valley aged seven and eight years. The entire
study, from the decision to proceed with it through to actual participation,
employs an informed consent process.

The leadership team were committed to the study but they were even more
committed to ensuring a prevalence study was what the community wanted. And that
the community wanted to go ahead with it. We all knew this was really sensitive
stuff and if the time was not right then we were going to stop
it.[127]

The research team was invited to consult with the communities and service
providers in the Fitzroy Valley between 19-23 October 2009. Members of the
consultation team who were not from the Valley undertook cultural awareness
training. The consultations were conducted in a range of formats including
community forums, planned meetings with key stakeholders and informal meetings.
All relevant information about the prevalence study, its aims, methods and
possible outcomes was transmitted to the communities. Importantly, a full
explanation of the possible risks associated with undertaking this research
project was clearly explained. Follow up consultations were had with the Fitzroy
Futures Forum and regional government agencies. This consultation process has
been documented in Marulu: The Lililwan Project Fetal Alcohol Spectrum
Disorder (FASD) Prevalence Study in the Fitzroy Valley: A Community
Consultation
, which includes summaries and recommendations from each of the
consultation sessions.[128]

The consultations showed overwhelming support to proceed with a prevalence
study from all stakeholders, including the Aboriginal communities and service
providers. The widespread feeling was that this study would be an integral
component to addressing FASD in the Valley. The community-led nature of this
project and the continuing engagement through public forums like the Fitzroy
Futures Forum ensured that the residents were kept up to date and were fully
informed about the proposed prevalence study. This was fundamental to obtaining
consent to proceed with the FASD prevalence
study.[129]

The Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental
freedoms of indigenous people (Special Rapporteur), Professor James Anaya, has
noted that the absence of this type of intensive engagement process can derail
programs and projects intended to benefit Indigenous peoples:

The Special Rapporteur has observed that, without the buy-in of indigenous
peoples, through consultation, at the earliest stages of the development of
Government initiatives, the effectiveness of Government programmes, even those
that are intended to specifically benefit indigenous peoples, can be crippled at
the outset. Invariably, it appears that a lack of adequate consultation leads to
conflictive situations, with indigenous expressions of anger and mistrust,
which, in some cases, have spiralled into
violence.[130]

The consultation process for the FASD prevalence study is consistent with a
number of the key standards for consulting with Indigenous peoples under
international law as outlined by the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of
Indigenous Peoples[131] and the
Special Rapporteur:[132]

  1. Consultations are carried out through Indigenous peoples representatives,
    that are chosen by Indigenous peoples themselves
    – The consultations
    were led by the Indigenous members of the research team. The Fitzroy Futures
    Forum which has representatives from each of the four language groups in the
    Fitzroy Valley was also used as a vehicle for consultation.
  2. Consultations should be carried out through ‘appropriate
    procedures’. General public hearings are generally not considered to be
    ‘appropriate procedures’
    The consultations
    involved community forums, as well as planned and informal meetings. Follow up
    consultations were also held.
  3. Consultations should be undertaken in good faith and in the appropriate
    form. This means that consultations are to be conducted with mutual trust and
    transparency
    – Prior to the consultations, cultural awareness training
    was provided to the non-Indigenous participants. The consultation process was
    undertaken over an extended period of time to allow participants the time to
    absorb information about the project. All relevant information was provided
    including potential risks of the research project. The report of the
    consultations process was provided to participants.
  4. Consultations should be in good faith and with the objective to achieve
    agreement or consent
    – At the beginning of the process it was agreed
    that the study would only proceed on the basis of the informed consent of the
    people of the Fitzroy Valley. All parties acted in good faith.
  5. There should be periodic evaluation of effectiveness – The
    project ensures that evaluations will occur at each stage of the research.

This research project is setting an example to the rest of
Australia of how best to approach Indigenous affairs. A process guided by a
relationship underpinned by meaningful, respectful engagement and collaboration
will always be more effective and successful than one that is not. Harnessing
this way of thinking and operating opens a myriad of opportunities to address
difficult and sensitive issues in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
communities.

Having received informed consent to proceed with the project, the research
team set out designing the study. Associate Professor Jane Latimer of The George
Institute, described this process:

So then we started to design the study with the community. We would
teleconference each week and we would design it a bit more. From our end we had
ethics committees to go
through.[133]

Maureen Carter, CEO of Nindilingarri and community member, outlined her
perspective of the project’s development:

We would look at information given to us by The George Institute but we could
sit with them to change the words to make it culturally appropriate. We put the
research into our context but it still had to fit within the ethical guidelines
of The George.[134]

The project is designed to incorporate necessary elements of Indigenous
culture and knowledge as well as meeting the requirements of Western research
ethics standards. For example, the parent/carer questionnaire developed by
Professor Elliott and Dr Fitzpatrick was modified extensively following
consultations with Fitzroy Valley residents and the Kimberley Interpreting
Service to ensure its content and language were culturally
appropriate.[135]

The Lililwan Project is guided by a set of principles and
preconditions that are relevant to each phase of the project. These are:

Principles

  1. First, do no harm.
  2. Commit to a process of two-way learning.
  3. All activity must deliver short and longer term benefits for the
    communities.
  4. Informed participation and consent must be ensured through the sharing of
    information and knowledge.
  5. All activities must preserve the dignity of participating individuals and
    communities.

Preconditions

  1. Clear and broad informed consent from:

    • the communities broadly
    • local service providers.
  2. Local Control – The Project Leadership Team must be, and perceived to
    be by the communities as being, in control of the study.
  3. An appropriate and adequate
    workforce.[136]

The
project was divided into two discrete stages to ensure that the communities are
comfortable with the sensitive process:

Stage 1. Collection of demographic, prenatal, and early childhood data
from parents/carers using a diagnostic checklist and review of medical records.
This involves interviews with parents/carers including questions on the drinking
patterns of mothers during pregnancy and the development patterns of
children.

Stage 2. Health and developmental screening, opportunistic treatment
and referral. This includes medical and allied health examinations of all
children born in 2002 and 2003 to estimate the prevalence of
FASD.[137]

This study will provide an individual assessment of children and estimate the
prevalence of FASD in the Valley. The data from the project will stay with the
Kimberley Population Health Unit. The study was designed so that it did not
simply diagnose children and leave them in limbo. A care plan will be developed
for every child with identifiable problems and ensure they are referred for
appropriate and ongoing care. The study will also use the principal findings to
advocate for better health and education services. The evidence-base generated
can be used by governments to develop a targeted service response to FASD in the
Fitzroy Valley.[138]

(i) Continuing consent in action

Ongoing consent is a precondition of the Lililwan Project. Therefore,
all participants in the study are to give their informed consent throughout the
life of the project and before any new developments are undertaken.

In April 2010, the research team began Stage 1 of the Lililwan
Project
. This involved interviews with mothers and carers of seven and eight
year old children in the Valley. The cohort for the study was located using the
data from the Fitzroy Population Project. The research team was led by
two ‘community navigators’:

We had Aboriginal navigators to help locate the people. These navigators were
chosen because of their standing in the community. We had a male and a female
navigator, so it was culturally appropriate. Going in with people who know the
community meant we gave the researchers information about the families that
might be relevant. You know if there had been a loss. The project was done at
the pace of the community and that is key. We met with the right significant
people in each community first. The researchers were led by the community
navigators.[139]

The use of the navigators was an essential component of the continuing
consent process. Most of the interviews were conducted by the navigators in
conjunction with Dr James Fitzpatrick and Ms Meredith Kefford, a volunteer with
Indigenous Community Volunteers, who were both well known in the Fitzroy
Valley.

Even though Nindilingarri had been given a strong mandate to proceed with the Lililwan Project from the community consultations, obtaining the informed
consent from individual families was a fundamental component of Stage 1.

Women are giving you the most sensitive data in the information they provide
as part of this research. This information is so incredibly sensitive in
relation to terminations of pregnancies, in relation to drug and alcohol use. It
is the most sensitive data in their lives. We wanted to make sure no one was
coerced in any way.[140]

The consent processes were embedded into the fabric of the project. Consent
was sought at every step of the project to ensure participants were not being
coerced or did not understand what their involvement entailed.

We wanted to make absolutely sure we were not coercing people in any way,
shape or form. So we organised for a senior partner from Blake Dawson to travel
with us to be an independent expert in consent and made sure he thought the way
we were storing the data and gaining consent from people was the best practice
we could have and there was nothing more we could do. It meant there was no risk
of coercing people.[141]

When the researchers went out into the communities they would go in and have
a barbeque and get introduced to the community by the navigators. With this
issue [FASD and drinking alcohol during pregnancy] our people will not talk
straight away, they have to get to know you. They have to have time to think
about these things before they said yes or no to be involved in the research. We
gave them time to think.[142]

As with any research project, the Research Team had to apply for permission
from an identified human research ethics committee to conduct the study and to
have the study design, parent information sheet, consent form, questionnaire and
clinical assessment process approved.

In the case of the Lililwan Project this involved not only the
University ethics committee (University of Sydney Human Research Ethics
Committee) but also the relevant committee in Western Australia
(Western Australia Country Health Service Board Research Ethics Committee) and
the Western Australian Aboriginal Health Information & Ethics
Committee. In addition, all research conducted in the Kimberley must be
approved by the Kimberley Research Subcommittee of the Kimberley Aboriginal
Health Planning Forum.[143] This
committee was established in 2006 to ensure that research conducted in the
region that might include Indigenous peoples was coordinated, that the
people of the Kimberley would derive the maximum possible benefit from any
research conducted there, and that any adverse impact of the research on either
the community or its health services would be kept to a
minimum.[144] Each part of the Liliwan Project will go through this arduous – but absolutely
essential and extremely helpful –
process.[145]

Data collection for Stage 1 was completed by the end of August 2010.

The success of the Lililwan Project so far is testimony to the careful
investment in partnership, consultation, negotiation and consent.

So now we have completed Stage 1 and we know that the entire population of
children born in 2002 or 2003 across the Valley is approximately 138 children.
Of these, we were able to access and contact 132 and 95% of them gave their
permission to be interviewed. So we know that the data we will have is
representative of the entire
population.[146]

In addition to high participation rates, the Research Team reports that Stage
1 of the project has produced high quality
data.[147]

Although we haven’t measured it specifically we know that when we
travel around people have a level of knowledge about FASD. You don’t need
to start explaining from the start. The community has a level of knowledge that
if we had been there three years ago they would not have
had.[148]

The community driven nature of the Lililwan Project, with consent
processes embedded into its fabric, provides strong evidence that, when
empowered to do so, Indigenous communities can address their most sensitive and
difficult issues.

(ii) Assessing the prevalence of FASD and developing
appropriate response

Data collection for Stage 2 of the project will commence in May 2011 led by
clinicians from the Discipline of Paediatrics and Child Health Care at Sydney
Medical School, Sydney University. It will see a comprehensive multidisciplinary
health and developmental assessment of all children. This will include physical
and cognitive assessments of the children. It will identify the functionality of
each child and to indicate what health and educational support structures will
be needed for each FASD affected child. In other words it will create
individually targeted management plans. This Stage will be complete by the end
of 2011.

The George Institute obtained philanthropic funding for the initial
consultations and Stage 1. Nindilingarri, The George Institute and The
University of Sydney actively sought government funding for Stage 2. In July
2010, the Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous
Affairs (Minister for Indigenous Affairs) and the Minister for Indigenous Health
jointly announced that the Australian Government would support Stage 2 of the Lililwan Project with a $1million grant to the research
collaboration.[149] This will
support approximately half the cost of the project.

This project is considered to be one of the many positive developments
emerging out of the Fitzroy Valley since the alcohol restrictions.

^Top

3.4 The challenges ahead
in governance

The last thing we want on the back of the positive profile that the Fitzroy
Crossing has achieved is additional investment by government in the things they
have always done... That would be disastrous because it would simply create
confusion and undermine the authority of the Aboriginal community leaders who
have achieved so much [since
2007].[150]

Since the beginning of my term as the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
Social Justice Commissioner, I have spent time visiting Aboriginal and Torres
Strait Islander communities across Australia. A common theme that continues to
be brought to my attention is the uncoordinated delivery of government services
and programs and the detrimental impact this is having on communities.

Like many remote communities, this bureaucratic confusion has had negative
impacts in the Fitzroy Valley and the Kimberley region. Janet Hunt and Diane
Smith from the Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research outline the
inherent difficulties communities face when government does not effectively
coordinate services:

Multiple levels of government and agencies all want their patch and all have
their own advisory committees or reference groups. All are advisory and create
their own bureaucratic dysfunctions within communities. It creates divisions,
inefficiencies with no clear line of power or decision-making process. The
fragmented coordination of government services fragments the
community.[151]

The consequence is that these programs fail, the community is left to
untangle a bureaucratic mess, and disadvantage is further entrenched. Noel
Pearson has argued that this bureaucratic entanglement dis-empowers the
community and fosters Indigenous
‘passivity’.[152] The
role of government needs to transform to that of an enabler; to do this
governments must reform their ways of working.

(a) National Partnership
Agreement on Remote Service Delivery

The Remote Service Delivery is an opportunity where government has been heard
loud and clearly that this is a new arrangement, let’s take that on and
work creatively.[153]

Governments of Australia have agreed to reform the way they do business in
remote communities in Australia. The COAG National Partnership Agreement on
Remote Service Delivery (Remote Service Delivery Partnership) is the framework
for this new way of providing services. This National Partnership Agreement is a
whole-of-government approach to the delivery of services in remote priority
locations. Appendix 5 provides a detailed outline of the Remote Service Delivery
Partnership.

Fitzroy Crossing is one of the 29 priority communities designated for the
roll out of COAG’s Remote Service Delivery Partnership. The Remote Service
Delivery Partnership marks renewed political will and unprecedented levels of
funding for services to these priority locations.

In effect, the Remote Service Delivery Partnership is a national commitment
to stop the blame game and begin reforming the way remote services are
delivered. This commitment opens an opportunity to rectify the years of
under-investment in remote Australia and to address the systemic and underlying
causes of entrenched economic and service disadvantage.

At a high policy level the Remote Service Delivery Partnership promises a new
whole-of-government, coordinated approach to delivering services working in
partnership with local Indigenous communities. It could offer new ways of
working that address the problems of coordination through a paradigm shift away
from the silo mentality of government service delivery.

A single government office in each priority community provides a direct
government interface for the delivery of services. This is the office of the
Local Area Coordinator (or Government Business Manager) and the Indigenous
Engagement Officer. Regional Operations Centres provide additional support.
Fitzroy Crossing is supported by the Broome Regional Operations Centre, which
also services the other priority locations in Western Australia; Beagle Bay,
Ardyaloon and Halls Creek. The roll out of these reforms is monitored by the
Coordinator General for Remote Indigenous Services (Coordinator
General).[154]

The challenge for the Remote Service Delivery Partnership is to ensure that
high level policy translates into action and outcomes on the ground that leads
to effective and appropriate delivery of services.

(b) Combating a business
as usual approach

In 2004, former Secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Dr
Peter Shergold referred to whole-of-government approaches to delivering services
in Indigenous communities as a ‘bold experiment’ and as ‘the
biggest test of whether the rhetoric of connectivity can be marshalled into
effective action’.[155] In a
speech made in 2008, Tom Calma, as Social Justice Commissioner, argued that:

The capacity of government to deliver on its commitments is the proverbial
‘elephant in the room’....

There are two key issues at stake here. The first is the ability of the
federal government to work on a whole of government basis, where the life
circumstances of Indigenous people are not divided into smaller bureaucratic
responsibilities that inevitably do not fit together or cover the whole.

And the second is the capacity of this system to respond to the circumstances
of Indigenous people wherever they
live.[156]

In that speech, Tom Calma quoted politicians from both sides of the political
spectrum, as well as senior bureaucrats, all of whom were strong in the belief
that a business as usual approach to Indigenous affairs was not
working.[157]

The Remote Service Delivery Partnership offers an alternative. However, high
level agreements outlining new ways of working mean nothing unless they
translate into better services and resources in communities.

The first report of the Coordinator General of November 2009 noted that in
spite of the new arrangements, there is a real challenge translating policies
into a format that can fit into a whole-of-government approach to service
delivery.[158] This challenge is
particularly onerous where agencies or departments have not contributed staff to
the single government interface. The Coordinator General has noted that despite
commitment to reform ways of working through the Remote Service Delivery
Partnership, pre-existing institutional arrangements can inhibit a coordinated
whole-of-government approach.[159] The NTER Review Board similarly outlined the difficulty in moving beyond the
rhetoric of whole-of-government into real and tangible differences in doing
government business.[160]

At its core, effective coordination of services requires good working
relationships underpinned by effective communication. This includes
communication that transmits information from government to community and
vice-versa, as well as communication within the various levels of government and
across their respective agencies.

Effective coordination requires genuine partnerships between local
communities and governments. This in turn requires us, as Aboriginal and Torres
Strait Islander communities, to be able to actively participate in decisions
made about us.[161] In the context
of policy development and implementation it means that governments and social
services must be positioned so that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
peoples take control of their lives. For this positioning to be successful,
governments must move beyond a service delivery paradigm to a fully integrated
model of engagement.

The critical step required to achieve a significant improvement in the lives
of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples is that governments and service
providers recognise, endorse, and treat us as substantive players and major
stakeholders in the development, design, implementation, monitoring and
evaluation of all policies, programs and legislation that impacts on us.
Embedding this critical step into the reality of policy development and
implementation will require a framework or mechanism for Indigenous engagement
at the national, regional and local levels.

A manifestation of inadequate coordination and poor communication is red
tape. The Coordinator General has received information from almost every
priority location that red tape is hindering the delivery of services. The most
critical of these concerns is the ‘myriad of contracts, reporting
requirements and funding periods and the inability to tailor national, State and
Territory programs to suit local
circumstances’.[162] This
view is supported by the findings of the Senate Select Committee on Regional and
Remote Indigenous Communities. The Committee argued that regional and remote
Indigenous communities needed longer term and more flexible funding arrangements
with less burdensome reporting
requirements.[163]

A chief concern highlighted by the Indigenous Community Governance Project, a
joint research project examining contemporary Indigenous governance conducted by
the Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research and Reconciliation Australia,
was:

’[W]hole-of-government’ policy frameworks and goals are not
matched by departmental program funding arrangements, or by the implementation
of place-based initiatives in Indigenous contexts. Indeed, there appears to be a
significant mismatch between policy purpose and policy implementation on the
ground.[164]

(i) The Wadeye experience

Like Fitzroy Crossing, Wadeye is one of the 29 priority communities
identified for the roll out of the Remote Service Delivery Partnership. As a
former COAG trial site, for a trial that began in 2003, Wadeye has a history of
attempts at whole-of-government approaches to service delivery. The COAG trial
in Wadeye offers insight into the difference between the rhetoric of
whole-of-government and its on-the-ground impact.

Prior to the independent
evaluation conducted in 2006 by Bill Gray AM, a former senior government
official, Wadeye had been heralded by the then Minister of Indigenous Affairs,
as a shining example:

In the COAG trial we dealt directly with the 'Thamarrurr' [the local
governance arrangement] so each of the clans has been able to have its say. As a
result of us listening to the Thamarrurr and responding, life is now improving
for the people of Wadeye.

The Thamarrurr, Territory and Australian governments agreed education was a
priority and just last week there was a massive increase in the number of
children attending school. So much so that more desks had to be put on the barge
from Darwin.[165]

The independent review of the Wadeye trial painted a very different picture.
The Social Justice Report 2006 described the findings of the Gray report
as identified below.

Text Box 3.7: The ‘Gray Report’: The Wadeye COAG Trial
Evaluation – a failed
experiment?[166]

The Wadeye community is the largest Aboriginal community in the Northern
Territory and indeed one of the larger Northern Territory towns. Despite
extremely low life expectancy, the population has a very high rate of natural
increase. Wadeye has appalling health statistics, serious overcrowding, and
significant crime and violence which at times render the community virtually
dysfunctional.

Wadeye seemed a good choice for a COAG trial – a large community with
a number of pressing needs. Initially, there were strong expectations that the
COAG trial, based on a whole of government approach and direct engagement with
the community (through the Thamarrurr Regional Council), would lead to more
effective service delivery and consequently improvements in social and economic
circumstances.

As part of the trial, a Shared Responsibility Agreement (SRA) was signed
between the Australian Government, Northern Territory Government, and Thamarrurr
Council in March 2003. The SRA identified three priority areas for action: Women
and families; Youth and Housing; and construction.

The Gray Report shows that in key aspects the trial has been a significant
failure. There was no identified leadership of the trial. Contrary to the
trial’s objective of a reduction in red tape, the burden of administering
funds increased markedly. Flexible funding and streamlining did not eventuate.
Experience of communications within and between governments was mixed with a
reduction in effective communication as the trial progressed.

The government’s objective of improving engagement with Indigenous
families and communities was not achieved. There was a significant breakdown in
relations with Thamarrurr. Other key structures or processes agreed under the
SRA, such as Priority Working Groups, either never became operational or
faltered.

The community’s expectations of improvements in infrastructure and
services were not realised. In particular, nothing was done about the priority
area of ‘Youth’. The community had expected that youth issues, gang
violence and safety would be addressed and resolved at an early stage of the
trial. Instead this agreed priority area was allowed to ‘fall between the
cracks.’ If anything, things became worse causing considerable
disappointment and anger within the community.

Provision of more housing at outstations was seen (and remains so) by the
community as the only sustainable solution to overcrowding at Wadeye. At the end
of the trial the pressing needs of Wadeye remain. The community needs a major
commitment of resources including an urgent investment in housing, especially at
outstations. It also needs support for activities and resources to deal with
youth and gang-related difficulties.

 

The Wadeye example shows that cooperation between governments and communities
does not simply occur as the result of processes and agreements. A structure
must be established to mandate collaborative ways of working and facilitate open
dialogue. The Wadeye experience shows that even when there is a local governing
body and an intention from government to streamline processes, things can go
wrong.

The Thamarrurr Council represented the Wadeye community voices and government
departments had their own separate mechanisms for meeting and making agreements.

In contrast to Fitzroy Valley, with the Fitzroy Futures Forum, there was no
mechanism of engagement and information exchange that was viewed as legitimate
by the local communities and government agencies and departments. This meant
there was no authoritative decision-making forum to bring all parties together
and progress the agenda. There were no established relationships between
government and community members and leaders. At Wadeye, the government
responses were characterised by in-fighting between departments and very little
was achieved in collaboration with the Thamarrurr Regional Council. Whereas in
the Fitzroy Valley, a relationship between the local communities and government
has developed that is underpinned by good faith and mutual trust.

The whole-of-government approach in Wadeye actually increased the
administrative burden on the Thamarrurr Regional Council. Prior to the COAG
trial Thamarrurr Regional Council administered around 60 government funding
agreements. Yet at the time of the Gray Review it was administering over 90. The
review found that despite the additional resources in the Wadeye community,
there was no change in the way services were
delivered.[167]

This is a very real challenge confronting the roll out of the Remote Service
Delivery Partnership.

(c) Key considerations
to guide the delivery of government services

(i) Engagement with local communities

It’s about waking up in the morning and feeling good about the
community we live in, not a community judged by the dominant society as being
fraught with social problems that need to be managed by constant government
interventions.

This is not just my vision. It is the hope of practically all people in my
community. And I know what can be achieved because I know my community. I know
its capacity and its’ potential. I know its depth of leadership and social
capital. I know what our people are capable of achieving when they are entrusted
with responsibility and given support through resources and responsibility to
act.[168]

The former Chief of the Australian Army and now Chair of the Indigenous
Implementation Board in Western Australia, Lieutenant General Sanderson has
raised concerns about the ways in which governments engage with and provide
services in remote Australia. He argues:

Remote governments’ running the country from cities can only be about
interventions, it cannot be about partnerships. In my experience the only way
through social and community problems is through empowerment. In conflict zones
you protect citizens by empowerment. If we are to build communities in
Aboriginal Australia we must empower the citizens, and this cannot be done
through intervention, it can only be done through partnership, facilitation and
engagement.[169]

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people must be active participants in
the development and implementation of policies that affect us. My predecessor,
Tom Calma described it in these terms:

Much of the failure of service delivery to Indigenous people and communities,
and the lack of sustainable outcomes, is a direct result of the failure to
engage appropriately with Indigenous people and of the failure to support and
build the capacity of Indigenous communities. It is the result of a failure to
develop priorities and programs in full participation with Indigenous
communities.

Put simply, governments risk failure if they develop and implement policies
about Indigenous issues without engaging with the intended recipients of those
services. Bureaucrats and governments can have the best intentions in the world,
but if their ideas have not been subject to the “reality test” of
the life experience of the local Indigenous peoples who are intended to benefit
from this, then government efforts will
fail.[170]

Genuine engagement equals good policy. Human rights standards require the
engagement of Indigenous peoples in processes that lead to the design and
implementation of policies, programs and legislation that are relevant to
us.[171]

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people will be able to engage in the
Remote Service Delivery Partnership through the development of the Local
Implementation Plans. These are the centrepiece agreements between local
communities and governments. In addition, an increased government presence in
communities should foster an increased level of engagement.

However, the Coordinator General has indicated that the level of engagement
between government and communities varied between different sites. There were
some good examples of engagement, but there was no consistent good engagement in
all priority communities.[172]

The Coordinator General has cited the Fitzroy Futures Forum as an excellent
example of community-government
engagement.[173] The Forum is an
effective model for engagement because it is a structure that brings together
the Fitzroy Valley communities and government voices in an equal dialogue.

Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people come together in forums such as the
Fitzroy Futures Forum, which includes all residents, service providers, private
sector businesses and pastoralists. Anyone you can think of who lives in the
Fitzroy Valley can come to that forum, be informed and look at matters that
impact all that live here. I understand that it is the only forum of its kind in
Western Australia, if not nationally. It is something that we have raised with
the Coordinator-General and the people who are involved in COAG’s Closing
the Gap and remote service delivery programs. We have been promoting it as a
model for other organisations in this state as well. This is a community that is
growing and embracing everyone. It is about building a safe community where
everyone can thrive, particularly our children, and where people feel valued,
acknowledged and appreciated for what they do and for their contribution to this
community.[174]

What is required is a new relationship that structurally connects the
Aboriginal culture and social domain with government’s responsibility to
provide good government. In the Fitzroy Crossing there is already the beginnings
of an Indigenous partnership with government:- the Fitzroy Futures Forum made up
of the four language
groups.[175]

Genuine engagement can only be facilitated at the local level where all
parties can participate and interact. Meeting mechanisms like those of the
Fitzroy Futures Forum are essential to the success of engagement.

(ii) An effective workforce

Engagement mechanisms, like the Fitzroy Futures Forum, must be supported by a
skilled and culturally competent government workforce. Government officials must
be able to position themselves to effectively engage with local Aboriginal and
Torres Strait Islander communities, be they from remote, regional or urban
locations.

The NTER Review Board found that new attitudes must be developed to redefine
the relationship between the entire bureaucracy and Aboriginal and Torres Strait
Islander peoples:

There needs to be much greater understandings of the different world views of
Indigenous, cultural and regional richness and the social integrity of
Indigenous families and
communities.[176]

It also suggested that government officials working with Aboriginal and
Torres Strait Islander peoples must be supported with professional development
training from nationally accredited training
providers.[177] I fully support
these findings by the NTER Review Board.

Whilst I was writing this Chapter, the Australian Public Service Commission
published Circular 2010/4, Revision of Special Measures and Identified
Positions/Criteria
provisions
.[178] This provided
Australian Government departments and agencies with updated information on:

  • the Special Measures provision for recruiting Aboriginal and Torres Strait
    Islander people
  • the use of Identified Positions/Criteria when recruiting staff with an
    involvement in issues relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
    peoples.[179]

I
support the Special Measures to increase Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
recruitment in the Australian Public Service (APS). I also welcome the 2009
commitment of COAG, through the National Partnership Agreement on Indigenous
Economic Development
to increase Indigenous employment across all levels of
the public sector to at least 2.6% by
2015.[180] I will continue to
monitor the progress towards the attainment of these targets.

The Fitzroy Valley experience has shown that Aboriginal and Torres Strait
Islander peoples are best placed to address the issues confronting their own
communities. Governments would do well to learn from this lesson, and target the
maximum possible employment of local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
people to manage and work on local programs and services for that community.

In addition to increasing the recruitment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait
Islander peoples in the APS, the use of the Identified Position/Criteria helps
foster a culturally competent bureaucracy. Identified Positions usually require
an additional two criteria to be established by a successful applicant:

  • an understanding of the issues affecting Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait
    Islander people
  • an ability to communicate sensitively with Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait
    Islander people.

The selection process for Identified Positions
should also have at least one Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person on the
selection panel and the applicant should have at least one Aboriginal or Torres
Strait Islander referee.[181]

I believe the use of Identified Positions is a minimum criteria for employing
people to work and engage effectively with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
peoples. However, the Australian Public Service Commission stated that despite
the fact these criteria have been in existence for some time their use and
operation is undermined by confusion. Differential application of similar terms
at state and territory jurisdictions was earmarked as a compounding
factor.[182]

Currently, departments and agencies are only encouraged to use Identified
Positions/Criteria. If government departments and agencies are serious about
engaging with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, effective usage of
these criteria must be achieved by all levels of the APS, as well as the
bureaucracy in other jurisdictions.

To ensure the effective use of Identified Positions/Criteria by all
departments and agencies these criteria should be mandated in legislation. The
Australian Government should also work through COAG to establish them as
national uniform standards.

(iii) Meeting the aspirations of local
communities

Community aspirations can be stifled by inflexible funding arrangements. For
example, The Overburden Report showed that inflexible funding
arrangements characterised by complexity and fragmentation hinder the delivery
of primary health care by Aboriginal Community Controlled Health
Services.[183] This report also
suggested that this problem negatively impacts Indigenous organisations across
other portfolio areas.[184]

A whole of community head contract was recommended by the Royal Commission
into Aboriginal Deaths into Custody as a key measure for addressing ineffective
delivery of services and inflexible funding arrangements that impedes
development in Indigenous communities.

Text Box 3.8: Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in
Custody[185]

Recommendation 190:

That the Commonwealth Government, in conjunction with the State and
Territory Governments, develop proposals for implementing a system of block
grant funding of Aboriginal communities and organisations and also implement a
system whereby Aboriginal communities and organisations are provided with a
minimum level of funding on a triennial basis.

Recommendation 191:

That the Commonwealth Government, in conjunction with the State and
Territory Governments, develop means by which all sources of funds provided for,
or identified as being available to Aboriginal communities or organisations
wherever possible be allocated through a single source with one set of audit and
financial requirements but with the maximum devolution of power to the
communities and organisations to determine the priorities for the allocation of
such funds.

 

The Coordinator General raised concerns about the difficulties caused by
inflexible funding arrangements. This has been recognised by the Australian
Government in creating a $46 million Remote Service Delivery Flexible Funding
Pool.[186] This flexible funding
allows governments to respond quickly to priority projects in the
communities.

I welcome the Flexible Fund to allow urgent community priority programs to
cut through inflexible funding arrangements that might otherwise thwart them.
This is a clear indication of the government’s willingness to move beyond
traditional ways of funding. However, I am concerned that the culture of
government is improved as a result of this new approach. We need to guarantee
that unnecessary red tape and the burden of bureaucratic process is minimised,
as much as possible, to ensure that the various grant processes are flexible and
straightforward enough to guarantee programs are responsive to community needs
and aspirations. An example of bureaucratic burdens are the difficulties
associated with the supply of adequate housing for staff running newly funded
services or programs in remote communities. Without housing, these positions go
unfilled and the services cannot be delivered. In order for funding process to
be successful, decision-making about service delivery and the allocation of
funding must be shared with the local community.

At this stage, the $46 million Flexible Fund is for discretionary projects
that are managed by the Australian Government and much of the project funding
still comes from different government departments at the state and federal
levels. What is required is a consolidation of funding from all government
departments by geographic location.

The Coordinator General supports a pooled funding approach in remote
communities, that is ‘a whole of community head contract which aggregates
funding by location rather than
program’.[187] A head or
master contract with pooled funding would centralise funding in a way that would
support local decision-making control. Rather than funds being distributed by
government departments based on the priorities of departments, pooled funds are
located in communities to be responsive to local needs. In response to the
Coordinator General, COAG has stated that this type of funding is ‘an
option that can be
considered’.[188]

The Senate Select Committee on Regional and Remote Indigenous Communities
support the idea of a head or master contract. In the Committee’s Fourth report 2010 it recommended that COAG ‘expedite’
implementation of more ‘flexible funding approaches which aggregate
departmental funding into a master contract’ with each Remote Service
Delivery Partnership priority
location.[189] This reflects the
Committees ‘long held’ view:

... that Indigenous communities are best placed in determining their own
priorities for funding community infrastructure. This pool of funding responds
to the specific needs of individual communities. The committee considers that it
is important to ensure that there are high levels of community consultation
prior to delivery of services or infrastructure in regional and remote
Indigenous communities.[190]

To a large extent, the Fitzroy Futures Fund was established to address the
problem of piecemeal funding, poor service delivery and community engagement.
The Fitzroy Futures Fund is committed to a framework that will pool funding and
provide more consistency in the funding cycles and more community control over
service and program delivery. At this stage the Fund is very small at $2.5
million. It is hoped that in the future, governments will commit to localised
head or master contracts with associated funding. The Fitzroy Futures Fund would
then become a significant source of funding for all community infrastructure,
service and development requirements.

(iv) Accountability

Another challenge facing the Remote Service Delivery Partnership is the need
to clearly delineate responsibility and accountability between the various
levels of government and the community. It is simply not enough to inject
greater funding into remote communities and expect improved
outcomes.[191] In 2008 Coroner
Hope, commented that despite an enormous injection of funding into the Kimberley
region[192] ‘the living
conditions for many Aboriginal people were appallingly bad’ which
‘constitutes a disaster but no one is in charge of the disaster
response’.[193] He
specifically questioned where the money had
gone.[194]

The monitoring role of the Coordinator General as an independent statutory
office holder marks a point of departure from previous approaches to service
delivery in remote communities. It provides a necessary additional oversight
tool to increase accountability.

Visiting all of the 29 priority communities was one of the first tasks
undertaken by the Coordinator General after his appointment. In doing so the
Coordinator General engaged with more than 1000 people to discuss and listen to
community-level issues relating to the Remote Service Delivery
Partnership.[195] I commend the
Coordinator General for his approach. It is necessary for him to be exposed to
the first-hand experiences, including both the challenges and opportunities, of
each priority location. This provides community members with the chance to
directly raise their concerns and aspirations at a high level and to be directly
involved in the evaluation of the Remote Service Delivery Partnership
arrangement.

Targeted monitoring is essential to move the Remote Service Delivery
Partnership from rhetoric into reality. The Coordinator General reports
biannually to the Minister for Indigenous Affairs on the progress of the Remote
Service Delivery Partnership.[196] It has been a welcome practice for the Minister to release these reports to the
public. The Coordinator General also produces an annual report that is tabled in
Parliament, and subsequently made publicly
available.[197] This regular
independent public reporting process is a clear departure from the previous
approaches.[198]

The reporting process is influencing the roll-out of the Remote Service
Delivery Partnership. The creation of the Remote Service Delivery Flexible
Funding Pool was a direct response to a recommendation of the Coordinator
General. COAG also responded to a recommendation from the Coordinator
General’s first report. In their April 2010 Communiqué, COAG agreed
to amend the National Partnership Agreement to recognise the role that local or
municipal government plays in the delivery of services. This role will now be
captured in the Local Implementation
Plans.[199]

I am concerned that the effectiveness of the Coordinator General’s role
is constrained by resourcing. The Coordinator General advised that his office
can monitor effectively at the jurisdictional level. Senior Advisor networks and
regular reports provide a good overview of what is being delivered in the states
and the Northern Territory. However, a lack of resources means that the
Coordinator General is constrained from ‘getting out on the ground’
as frequently as is necessary to monitor and evaluate the implementation and
effectiveness of these
arrangements.[200]

Given the unprecedented investment into the Remote Service Delivery
Partnership, it is essential that monitoring and evaluating is comprehensive and
targeted. The Coordinator General should be able to regularly visit communities
as well as receive reports on their progress.

^Top

3.5 Concluding
observations on the Fitzroy experience

Section 3.1 Community-led alcohol restrictions in the Fitzroy
Valley

The strategy to address the problem of alcohol in the Fitzroy Valley had some
important features:

  • A significant portion of the community at the women’s bush camp
    reached agreement that there was a problem that needed addressing.
  • The campaigners sought the support and endorsement of the elders and the
    local community leadership before taking action to restrict alcohol.
  • Key government partners were engaged but the process remained community
    driven.
  • The restrictions were initially confined to a six month trial period and
    extended only after evaluation, consultation and establishing evidence of its
    positive impacts.
  • The approach was reviewed after the trial period and the communities were
    able to express their responses to the alcohol
    restrictions.

Section 3.2 Fitzroy Futures Forum: Local governance
and local voices

  • The Fitzroy Futures Forum was formed when community leaders identified a
    need for a platform for communication between the local communities and
    government service providers.
  • Trusting relationships were built between the communities and government
    representatives over time.
  • The Fitzroy Futures Forum offers residents an opportunity to share their
    views on the future of the Valley and acts as a two-way information exchange
    that gives voice to local concerns and informs the progress of projects and
    programs.
  • The Fitzroy Futures Forum is the entry point for any service coming into the
    Fitzroy Valley.
  • The Fitzroy Futures Forum is building community capacity and decision-making
    power in awarding grants for community projects.
  • Residents are concerned that the Remote Service Delivery Partnership may
    overwhelm the Fitzroy Futures Forum. They are also concerned about the future of
    the Forum given that its funding is due to expire in
    2011.

Section 3.3 A community approach to Fetal Alcohol Spectrum
Disorder

  • The Fitzroy Valley communities considered that Fetal Alcohol Spectrum
    Disorders (FASD) was an area of concern because of its genuine threat to the
    health and well-being of local children, its threat to the preservation of
    culture and the damage it would cause to future generations.
  • The FASD project is an example of a community-led collaborative process to
    address a highly sensitive community identified issue of concern.
  • A strategy to address FASD was developed by local community leaders. The
    lead partner is the Nindilingarri Cultural Health Service at Fitzroy Crossing.
    Other key partners are The George Institute for Global Health, The Sydney
    Medical School of the University of Sydney and paediatricians working in the
    region.
  • Nindilingarri Cultural Health Service is the lead agency with responsibility
    to work with partners to develop the FASD strategy design.
  • The Fitzroy Futures Forum keeps the communities informed about all work on
    FASD and provides an opportunity for local people to have input into the project
    and provide consent and feedback at key points of its progress.
  • Comprehensive community consultations demonstrated widespread community
    support for a FASD prevalence study.
  • The FASD prevalence study will form a key component of the evidence base to
    advocate for funding and resources to implement remedial projects to address and
    prevent FASD.
  • The FASD prevalence study is a community led model for project development,
    engagement and consent processes.
  • Careful investment in communication and consent processes ensured that 95%
    of families in the Fitzroy Valley with children aged seven and eight years
    consented to participate in the study.

Section 3.4 The challenges
ahead in governance

  • The National Partnership Agreement on Remote Service Delivery is an
    opportunity for governments to address past problems impeding coordinated
    service delivery in remote Australia.
  • The coordination of services in remote Australia has been a perennial
    problem for governments. Poor service coordination manifests in red tape,
    including overly complex reporting processes and short-term funding.
  • The challenge for governments is to reform their practices so that they work
    in collaboration with remote communities.
  • The monitoring role of the Coordinator General for Remote Indigenous
    Services marks a clear point of departure from previous whole-of-government
    approaches to service delivery in remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
    communities.
  • Evidence indicates that effective coordination of services does not occur as
    the result of whole-of-government processes and agreements.
  • Addressing workforce issues is a necessary component of any effective
    engagement framework with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
  • A head contract that centralises funding to a location and devolves
    decision-making to a local level could address ineffective delivery of services
    and inflexible funding arrangements.
  • Effective engagement at the local level is essential for the development and
    delivery of policies and services. The establishment of local government offices
    and the development of Local Implementation Plans are insufficient in
    themselves. Community involvement is crucial to success.
  • A governance structure is required to bring community and government
    together in dialogue and cooperation.
  • The Fitzroy Futures Forum is an example of a governance structure that
    brings the communities and government together in one forum to identify local
    needs and to develop local priority action.

^Top

3.6 Conclusion

Four years ago, I visited the Fitzroy Valley. My perspective as an outsider
was that these communities, like many remote Indigenous communities, had a lot
of issues and needed a lot of support to address them. In researching and
preparing to write this Chapter, I again visited the Fitzroy Valley in July and
August 2010. As I drove into Fitzroy Crossing I noticed significant change since
my previous visit.

This time, I witnessed communities with strong leadership that were striving
for a better future. You could see the difference in the communities. People
weren’t hanging around the streets, which was the case last time I was in
Fitzroy Crossing. It was even more remarkable when I went for a meal at one of
the two licensed premises in the town. The locals who were there, both
Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal, had a sense of calmness that was not there when I
last visited. In my meetings with local people I noticed they were now talking
about the future of Fitzroy. People were engaged in the wellbeing of the
place.

The Remote Service Delivery Partnership offers an opportunity for governments
to consolidate these gains made in the Fitzroy Valley communities. In order to
do this, governments must reform the way they do business in remote Australia.
Government agencies and service providers will be most effective if they develop
service models in collaboration with local communities. When governments take
unilateral control, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are inhibited
from becoming agents of change.

The recent experiences of the Fitzroy Valley are testimony to the fact that
positive change can occur when communities are agents of their own change.
Government would do well to take the lessons of the Fitzroy experience in
developing national engagement strategies that filter down through processes
such as COAG, and are implemented at regional and local levels. The active
participation of those who are directly affected by government policies and
legislation must be facilitated at all stages of the development of these
processes to ensure that they are targeted and appropriate.

In the Fitzroy Valley, the Fitzroy Futures Forum is the entry point for
engagement. It funnels everything into a community controlled space where local
people are at the table with government decision-makers.

The Forum allows Aboriginal people to identify their priorities for action,
and to be actively involved at the earliest possible stage in any policy design
process. The benefits of this are evident in the success of the alcohol
restrictions and the FASD project to address alcohol related harm.

Earlier in this Chapter, I noted that the Fitzroy Valley experience offers an
alternative process to address social crisis that is in contrast with the NTER.
That alternative is community empowerment, community control and genuine
engagement. The Review of the NTER stated:

Robust frameworks, adequate resources, functional governance and professional
capabilities are necessary—but without the genuine engagement and
active participation of the local community, deep seated change will not be
achieved
. It must be nurtured within the community. That is the lesson of
the Intervention.[201]

This is also the lesson of the Fitzroy Valley. It is the lesson that should
inform the roll out of the Remote Service Delivery Partnership and other
government approaches to service delivery in Indigenous communities.

The story of the Fitzroy Valley is a story of how strong local leadership can
drive communities to deal with the most sensitive and intractable issues on
their own terms.

This is a story of hope.

Its exciting being in Fitzroy Crossing right now. I’m working with
Indigenous people across the whole Valley, male, female and families as well,
young people as well out in the schools. And I know when I look at those little
kids... they are going to inherit this change. They are going to grow up in a
community and start its healing process, its doing it on its own terms, its
facing its own histories, and with this extraordinary effort by all, is going to
face a much better
future.[202]

 

Recommendations

  • 3.1 That the Australian and Western Australian Governments respond to the
    priorities identified by the Fitzroy Futures Forum. Further, that those
    responses should be made with and through mechanisms agreed by the Fitzroy
    Futures Forum.
  • 3.2 That the Australian and Western Australian Governments provide immediate
    funding to drug and alcohol services, mental health services, rehabilitation
    services and law and culture programs in the Fitzroy Valley.
  • 3.3 That the Australian and Western Australian Governments provide ongoing
    funding and support for the Fitzroy Futures Forum. Further, that the roll out of
    the Council of Australian Governments Remote Service Delivery Partnership work
    within this established community governance framework.
  • 3.4 That the Australian Government provide adequate resources to the
    Coordinator General for Remote Indigenous Services to enable him to fulfil his
    statutory responsibilities in the 29 priority communities.
  • 3.5 That the Australian Government work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait
    Islander peoples to develop a national engagement framework that is consistent
    with the minimum standards affirmed in the United Nations Declarations on the
    Rights of Indigenous Peoples
    . Further, that the Australian Government commit
    to using this framework to guide the development of consultation processes on a
    case-by-case basis in partnership with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
    peoples that may be affected by a proposed legislative or policy measure. This
    framework will also require the development of regional and local engagement
    plans.
  • 3.6 That the Australian and state/territory governments implement necessary
    reforms to both their structures and workforce to ensure they have the capacity
    to engage effectively with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. These
    reforms should include:

    • (i) The introduction of national uniform legislation to mandate the use of Identified Positions/Criteria for all positions in the public service
      that have any involvement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples,
      organisations and communities.
    • (ii) That relevant officers have the appropriate skills and cultural
      competency to work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and
      communities.
    • (iii) That targeted education and training programs are developed with
      accredited training providers to facilitate the development of appropriate
      skills and cultural competency.
  • 3.7 That the Australian Government accelerates efforts to consolidate and
    streamline programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities with
    an aim to ensure:

    • (i) That funding grant programs are simplified and are pooled where multiple
      grants come from multiple government entities.
    • (ii) That local communities have certainty of long term core funding.
    • (iii) A greater role in planning and decision-making over funding at the
      community level.
    • (iv) Greater flexibility to respond to local needs.
  • 3.8 That the central role of effective governance structures is acknowledged
    by governments and respected as a form of community empowerment. Where effective
    governance structures and processes are in place these should form the basis of
    government engagement with communities. Where governance structures and
    processes require further development communities and organisations should be
    appropriately supported in this process.
  • 3.9 That community governance structures and processes should be developed
    by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and appropriately supported
    by governments, with the aim of empowering them to take control of their own
    identified issues and aspirations. Communities, in engaging both internally and
    externally, should be guided by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights
    of Indigenous Peoples
    in exercising the right to self-determination; the
    principle of free, prior and informed consent; the right to participate in
    decision-making; and good faith.

^Top


[1] J Oscar, community member and
CEO of Marninwarntikura, Speech to the Western Australian Equal Opportunity
Commission Forum
(Speech delivered at the Western Australian Equal
Opportunity Commission Forum, Perth, 10 August 2009), pp 1-2. At http://www.eoc.wa.gov.au/Libraries/Documents/JuneOscarAugust2010WAHumanRights_EqualOpportunityCommissionForum.sflb.ashx (viewed 15 September 2010).
[2] J
Oscar, community member and CEO of Marninwarntikura, in Yajilara (Directed by M Hogan, Reverb, 2009),
00:30.
[3] For more detail see: F
Morphy, Population, People and Place: The Fitzroy Valley Population
Project
, CAEPR Working Paper No 70/2010 (2010). At http://caepr.anu.edu.au/system/files/Publications/WP/CAEPRWP70.pdf (viewed 12 July 2010).
[4] J
Latimer, E Elliott, J Fitzpatrick, M Ferreira, M Carter, J Oscar and M Kefford
(eds), Marulu The Lililwan Project Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD)
Prevalence Study in the Fitzroy Valley: A Community Consultation
, The George
Institute for Global Health (2010), p
4.
[5] F Morphy, Population,
People and Place: The Fitzroy Valley Population Project
, CAEPR Working Paper
No 70/2010 (2010), p 10. At http://caepr.anu.edu.au/system/files/Publications/WP/CAEPRWP70.pdf (viewed 12 July 2010). Based on The Kimberley Pastoral and General Land Use Map,
Kimberley Development
Commission.
[6] J Oscar, community
member and CEO of Marninwarntikura, in Yajilara (Directed by M Hogan,
Reverb, 2009), 02:18 .
[7] S
Kinnane, F Farringdon, L Henderson-Yates and H Parker, Fitzroy Valley Alcohol
Restriction Report: An evaluation of the effects of a restriction on take-away
alcohol relating to measurable health and social outcomes, community perceptions
and behaviours after a 12 month period
, Report by the University of Notre
Dame Australia to the Drug and Alcohol Office, Western Australia (2009), p 24.
At http://www.dao.health.wa.gov.au/IntheMedia/tabid/105/DMXModule/443/Default.aspx?EntryId=1125&Command=Core.Download (viewed 28 April 2010).
[8] J Ross,
community member, meeting with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social
Justice Commissioner, Fitzroy Crossing, 31 July
2010.
[9] M White, Community-Owned Approaches to Social Recovery – Overcoming Despair in
the Fitzroy Valley: Service Analysis of the determinants necessary for a good
life well lived
, Marninwarntikura Fitzroy Women’s Resource & Legal
Centre, Marra Warra Warra Aboriginal Corporation, Nindilingarri Cultural Health,
Kimberley Aboriginal Law and Cultural Centre (2009), p 12. At http://www.aph.gov.au/senate/committee/clac_ctte/suicide/submissions/sub120.pdf (viewed 25 August 2010).
[10] A
Hope, State Coroner of Western Australian, Coronial inquest into 22 deaths in
the Kimberley,
Ref No: 37/07, Coroner’s Court of Western Australia
(2008), executive summary.
[11] A
Hope, State Coroner of Western Australian, Coronial inquest into 22 deaths in
the Kimberley,
Ref No: 37/07, Coroner’s Court of Western Australia
(2008), p 5.
[12] E Carter,
community member and Chair of Marninwarntikura, in Yajilara (Directed by
M Hogan, Reverb, 2009),
02:53.
[13] A Hope, State Coroner
of Western Australian, Coronial inquest into 22 deaths in the Kimberley, Ref No: 37/07, Coroner’s Court of Western Australia (2008), p
57.
[14] J Oscar, community
member and CEO of Marninwarntikura, Through women’s hearts –
indigenous people, history, environment and an inclusive future
(Speech
delivered at WA Women’s Advisory Council Conference, Perth, 14 June 2010),
p 7.
[15] E Carter, community
member and Chair of Marninwarntikura, meeting with the Aboriginal and Torres
Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Fitzroy Crossing, 2 August
2010.
[16] J Latimer, E Elliott,
J Fitzpatrick, M Ferreira, M Carter, J Oscar and M Kefford (eds), Marulu The
Lililwan Project Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) Prevalence Study in the
Fitzroy Valley: A Community Consultation
, The George Institute for Global
Health (2010), p 4.
[17] E
Carter, community member and Chair of Marninwarntikura, interviewed on
Australian Broadcasting Corporation, The 7:30 Report, Coroner to investigate
deaths in Fitzroy Crossing
(Broadcast 13 October 2007). At http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/content/2007/s2049936.htm (viewed 27 April 2010).
[18] Unidentified service provider interviewed for the 12 month review of the alcohol
restrictions in the Fitzroy Valley: S Kinnane, F Farringdon, L Henderson-Yates
and H Parker, Fitzroy Valley Alcohol Restriction Report: An evaluation of the
effects of a restriction on take-away alcohol relating to measurable health and
social outcomes, community perceptions and behaviours after a 12 month
period
, Report by the University of Notre Dame Australia to the Drug and
Alcohol Office, Western Australia (2009), p 57. At http://www.dao.health.wa.gov.au/IntheMedia/tabid/105/DMXModule/443/Default.aspx?EntryId=1125&Command=Core.Download (viewed 28 April 2010).
[19] Director of Liquor Licensing, Western Australia, Decision of Director of
Liquor Licensing, decision number: A 185682
(2007), p 1. At http://www.rgl.wa.gov.au/ResourceFiles/Decisions/CrossingInnSection64InquiryDecision.pdf (viewed 25 August 2010).
[20] Director of Liquor Licensing, Western Australia, Decision of Director of
Liquor Licensing, decision number: A 185682
(2007), p 3. At http://www.rgl.wa.gov.au/ResourceFiles/Decisions/CrossingInnSection64InquiryDecision.pdf (viewed 25 August 2010).
[21] Director of Liquor Licensing, Western Australia, Decision of Director of
Liquor Licensing, decision number: A 185682
(2007), p 3. At http://www.rgl.wa.gov.au/ResourceFiles/Decisions/CrossingInnSection64InquiryDecision.pdf (viewed 25 August 2010).
[22] J
Oscar, community member and CEO of Marninwarntikura, telephone interview with
the Office of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice
Commissioner, 24 May 2010.
[23] J
Oscar, community member and CEO of Marninwarntikura, meeting with the Aboriginal
and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Broome, 3 August
2010.
[24] J Brown, community
elder and cultural leader, in Yajilara (Directed by M Hogan, Reverb,
2009), 05:26.
[25] Director of
Liquor Licensing, Western Australia, Decision of Director of Liquor
Licensing, decision number: A 185682
(2007), p 4. At http://www.rgl.wa.gov.au/ResourceFiles/Decisions/CrossingInnSection64InquiryDecision.pdf (viewed 25 August 2010).
[26] J
Oscar, community member and CEO of Marninwarntikura, meeting with the Aboriginal
and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Broome, 3 August
2010.
[27] J Oscar, community
member and CEO of Marninwarntikura, The Fitzroy Valley – To Dream the
Gift of a Better Life
(Speech delivered at Parliament House, Canberra, 18
August 2009), p 4.
[28] Director
of Liquor Licensing, Western Australia, Decision of Director of Liquor
Licensing, decision number: A 185682
(2007), p 9. At http://www.rgl.wa.gov.au/ResourceFiles/Decisions/CrossingInnSection64InquiryDecision.pdf (viewed 25 August 2010).
[29] Quoted in Director of Liquor Licensing, Western Australia, Decision of
Director of Liquor Licensing, decision number: A 187548
(2008), p 14. At http://www.rgl.wa.gov.au/ResourceFiles/Decisions/A187548.pdf (viewed 25 August 2010).
[30] Director of Liquor Licensing, Western Australia, Decision of Director of
Liquor Licensing, decision number: A 187548
(2008), p 15. At http://www.rgl.wa.gov.au/ResourceFiles/Decisions/A187548.pdf (viewed 25 August 2010).
[31] Director of Liquor Licensing, Western Australia, Decision of Director of
Liquor Licensing, decision number: A 187548
(2008), p 60. At http://www.rgl.wa.gov.au/ResourceFiles/Decisions/A187548.pdf (viewed 25 August 2010).
[32] Department of Racing, Gaming and Liquor (WA), Restrictions in Remote
Regions
, http://www.rgl.wa.gov.au/Default.aspx?NodeId=92&DocId=113 (viewed 6 August 2010).
[33] J
Oscar, community member and CEO of Marninwarntikura, telephone interview with
the Office of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice
Commissioner, 24 May 2010.
[34] R
Murphy, community member and Fitzroy Futures Forum Community Consultant, meeting
with the Office of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice
Commissioner, Perth, 4 August
2010.
[35] J Anaya, Report of
the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms
of indigenous people, James Anaya
, Report to the Human Rights Council, 12th
session, UN Doc A/HRC/12/34 (2009), para 43. At http://unsr.jamesanaya.org/PDFs/Annual2009.pdf (viewed 29 July 2010).
[36] Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, Report of the International Workshop on
Methodologies regarding Free, Prior and Informed Consent and Indigenous
Peoples
, UN Doc E/C.19/2005/3 (2005), paras 46-48. At http://www.humanrights.gov.au/social_justice/conference/engaging_communities/report_of_the_international_workshop_on_fpic.pdf (viewed 9 August 2010). See also J Anaya, Report of the Special Rapporteur on
the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people,
James Anaya
, Report to the Human Rights Council, 12th session, UN Doc
A/HRC/12/34 (2009), para 46. At http://unsr.jamesanaya.org/PDFs/Annual2009.pdf (viewed 9 August 2010).
[37] J
Oscar, community member and CEO of Marninwarntikura, Speech to the Western
Australian Equal Opportunity Commission Forum
(Speech delivered at the
Western Australian Equal Opportunity Commission Forum, Perth, 10 August 2009), p
2. At http://www.eoc.wa.gov.au/Libraries/Documents/JuneOscarAugust2010WAHumanRights_EqualOpportunityCommissionForum.sflb.ashx (viewed 15 September 2010).
[38] J Oscar, community member and CEO of Marninwarntikura, telephone interview with
the Office of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice
Commissioner, 24 May 2010.
[39] Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, A draft guide on the relevant
principles contained in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of
Indigenous Peoples, International Labour Organisation Convention No. 169 and
International Labour Organisation Convention No. 107 that relate to Indigenous
land tenure and management arrangements
, UN Doc E/C.19/2009/CRP.7 (2009), pp
20-21. At http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/unpfii/documents/E_C_19_2009_CRP7_en.doc (viewed 28 May 2010).
[40] S
Kinnane, F Farringdon, L Henderson-Yates and H Parker, Fitzroy Valley Alcohol
Restriction Report: An evaluation of the effects of a restriction on take-away
alcohol relating to measurable health and social outcomes, community perceptions
and behaviours after a 12 month period
, Report by the University of Notre
Dame Australia to the Drug and Alcohol Office, Western Australia (2009), p 6. At http://www.dao.health.wa.gov.au/IntheMedia/tabid/105/DMXModule/443/Default.aspx?EntryId=1125&Command=Core.Download (viewed 28 April 2010).
[41] For
further information see T Calma, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social
Justice Commissioner, Social Justice Report 2007, Human Rights and Equal
Opportunity Commission (2008), ch 3. At http://www.humanrights.gov.au/social_justice/sj_report/sjreport07/index.html (viewed 15 September 2010).
[42] Northern Territory Emergency Response Review Board, Report of the Northern
Territory Review Board
, Attorney-General’s Department (2008), pp
10-11. At http://www.nterreview.gov.au/docs/report_nter_review/default.htm (viewed 28 April 2010).
[43] Statement by the women in attendance at the Marninwarntikura Annual
Women’s Bush Camp, 2009 in J Latimer, E Elliott, J Fitzpatrick, M
Ferreira, M Carter, J Oscar and M Kefford (eds), Marulu The Lililwan Project
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) Prevalence Study in the Fitzroy Valley:
A Community Consultation
, The George Institute for Global Health (2010), pp
6-7.
[44] E Carter (community
member and Chair of Marninwarntikura), meeting with the Aboriginal and Torres
Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Fitzroy Crossing, 2 August 2010.
[45] S Kinnane, F Farringdon, L
Henderson-Yates and H Parker, Fitzroy Valley Alcohol Restriction Report: An
evaluation of the effects of a restriction on take-away alcohol relating to
measurable health and social outcomes, community perceptions and behaviours
after a 12 month period
, Report by the University of Notre Dame Australia to
the Drug and Alcohol Office, Western Australia (2009), p 6. At http://www.dao.health.wa.gov.au/IntheMedia/tabid/105/DMXModule/443/Default.aspx?EntryId=1125&Command=Core.Download (viewed 28 April 2010).
[46] Defined as the act of harassing an individual for money, cigarettes, a lift,
food and generally making a nuisance of oneself: S Kinnane, F Farringdon, L
Henderson-Yates and H Parker, Fitzroy Valley Alcohol Restriction Report: An
evaluation of the effects of a restriction on take-away alcohol relating to
measurable health and social outcomes, community perceptions and behaviours
after a 12 month period
, Report by the University of Notre Dame Australia to
the Drug and Alcohol Office, Western Australia (2009), p 4. At http://www.dao.health.wa.gov.au/IntheMedia/tabid/105/DMXModule/443/Default.aspx?EntryId=1125&Command=Core.Download (viewed 28 April 2010).
[47] S
Kinnane, F Farringdon, L Henderson-Yates and H Parker, Fitzroy Valley Alcohol
Restriction Report: An evaluation of the effects of a restriction on take-away
alcohol relating to measurable health and social outcomes, community perceptions
and behaviours after a 12 month period
, Report by the University of Notre
Dame Australia to the Drug and Alcohol Office, Western Australia (2009), pp 6-7,
21, 26, 39. At http://www.dao.health.wa.gov.au/IntheMedia/tabid/105/DMXModule/443/Default.aspx?EntryId=1125&Command=Core.Download (viewed 28 April 2010).
[48] Commonwealth, Official Committee Hansard: Reference: Involvement of
Indigenous juveniles and young adults in the criminal justice system
, House
of Representatives Standing Committee on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
Affairs (31 March 2010), p 7 (Ms Christine Gray, Marninwarntikura). At http://www.aph.gov.au/hansard/reps/commttee/R12898.pdf (viewed 9 August 2010).
[49] S
Kinnane, F Farringdon, L Henderson-Yates and H Parker, Fitzroy Valley Alcohol
Restriction Report: An evaluation of the effects of a restriction on take-away
alcohol relating to measurable health and social outcomes, community perceptions
and behaviours after a 12 month period
, Report by the University of Notre
Dame Australia to the Drug and Alcohol Office, Western Australia (2009), p 7. At http://www.dao.health.wa.gov.au/IntheMedia/tabid/105/DMXModule/443/Default.aspx?EntryId=1125&Command=Core.Download (viewed 28 April 2010).
[50] S
Kinnane, F Farringdon, L Henderson-Yates and H Parker, Fitzroy Valley Alcohol
Restriction Report: An evaluation of the effects of a restriction on take-away
alcohol relating to measurable health and social outcomes, community perceptions
and behaviours after a 12 month period
, Report by the University of Notre
Dame Australia to the Drug and Alcohol Office, Western Australia (2009), pp 6,
10. At http://www.dao.health.wa.gov.au/IntheMedia/tabid/105/DMXModule/443/Default.aspx?EntryId=1125&Command=Core.Download (viewed 28 April 2010).
[51] J
Oscar, community member and CEO of Marninwarntikura, Through women’s
hearts – indigenous people, history, environment and an inclusive
future
(Speech delivered at WA Women’s Advisory Council Conference,
Perth, 14 June 2010), p 8.
[52] S
Kinnane, F Farringdon, L Henderson-Yates and H Parker, Fitzroy Valley Alcohol
Restriction Report: An evaluation of the effects of a restriction on take-away
alcohol relating to measurable health and social outcomes, community perceptions
and behaviours after a 12 month period
, Report by the University of Notre
Dame Australia to the Drug and Alcohol Office, Western Australia (2009), p 10.
At http://www.dao.health.wa.gov.au/IntheMedia/tabid/105/DMXModule/443/Default.aspx?EntryId=1125&Command=Core.Download (viewed 28 April 2010).
[53] S
Kinnane, F Farringdon, L Henderson-Yates and H Parker, Fitzroy Valley Alcohol
Restriction Report: An evaluation of the effects of a restriction on take-away
alcohol relating to measurable health and social outcomes, community perceptions
and behaviours after a two year period
, Report by the University of Notre
Dame Australia to the Drug and Alcohol Office, Western Australia (2010), pp
11-15.
[54] National Drug
Research Institute, Restrictions on the Sale and Supply of Alcohol: Evidence
and Outcomes
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xvii. At http://ndri.curtin.edu.au/local/docs/pdf/publications/R207.pdf (viewed 3 May 2010).
[55] S
Kinnane, F Farringdon, L Henderson-Yates and H Parker, Fitzroy Valley Alcohol
Restriction Report: An evaluation of the effects of a restriction on take-away
alcohol relating to measurable health and social outcomes, community perceptions
and behaviours after a 24 month period
, Report by the University of Notre
Dame Australia to the Drug and Alcohol Office, Western Australia (2010), p 12.
[56] J Oscar, community member
and CEO of Marninwarntikura, The Fitzroy Valley – To Dream the Gift of
a Better Life
(Speech delivered at Parliament House, Canberra, 18 August
2009), p 4.
[57] I Gibson, Senior
Sergeant, Officer in Charge Fitzroy Crossing Police Station, telephone interview
with Office of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice
Commissioner, 16 August
2010.
[58] F Morphy, Centre for
Aboriginal Policy Research, meeting with the Office of the Aboriginal and Torres
Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Canberra, 27 May
2010.
[59] J Oscar, community
member and CEO of Marninwarntikura, telephone interview with the Office of the
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, 24 May
2010.
[60] Fitzroy Futures Forum
Governing Committee, Guiding Principles (2010).
[61] Fitzroy Futures
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[62] M White, Community-Owned Approaches to Social Recovery – Overcoming Despair in
the Fitzroy Valley: Service Analysis of the determinants necessary for a good
life well lived
, Marninwarntikura Fitzroy Women’s Resource & Legal
Centre, Marra Warra Warra Aboriginal Corporation, Nindilingarri Cultural Health,
Kimberley Aboriginal Law and Cultural Centre (2009), pp 7-8. At http://www.aph.gov.au/senate/committee/clac_ctte/suicide/submissions/sub120.pdf (viewed 25 August 2010).
[63] Fitzroy Futures Forum Governing Committee, Guiding Principles (2010).
[64] Fitzroy Futures
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[65] J Oscar, community
member and CEO of Marninwarntikura, telephone interview with the Office of the
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, 24 May
2010.
[66] Fitzroy Futures Forum
Governing Committee, Guiding Principles (2010), p
12.
[67] R Aspinall, Acting
Western Australian State Manager, Department of Families, Housing, Community
Services and Indigenous Affairs, telephone interview with the Office of the
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, 5 August
2010.
[68] T Walley, former
Fitzroy Futures Forum Executive Officer, meeting with the Office of the
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Perth, 4
August 2010.
[69] T Walley,
former Fitzroy Futures Forum Executive Officer, meeting with the Office of the
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Perth, 4
August 2010.
[70] T Walley,
former Fitzroy Futures Forum Executive Officer, meeting with the Office of the
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Perth, 4
August 2010.
[71] Fitzroy Futures
Forum Governing Committee, Guiding Principles (2010).
[72] Fitzroy Futures
Forum Governing Committee, Guiding Principles (2010).
[73] T Walley, former
Fitzroy Futures Forum Executive Officer, meeting with the Office of the
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Perth, 4
August 2010.
[74] K May, Fitzroy
Futures Forum Executive Officer, Correspondence to the Office of the Aboriginal
and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, 31 August
2010.
[75] F Morphy, Population, People and Place: The Fitzroy Valley Population Project,
CAEPR Working Paper No 70/2010 (2010), pp 1-2. At http://caepr.anu.edu.au/system/files/Publications/WP/CAEPRWP70.pdf (viewed 12 July 2010).
[76] J
Oscar, community member and CEO of Marninwarntikura, Through women’s
hearts – indigenous people, history, environment and an inclusive
future
(Speech delivered at the WA Women’s Advisory Council
Conference, Perth, 14 June
2010).
[77] F Morphy, Population, People and Place: The Fitzroy Valley Population Project,
CAEPR Working Paper No 70/2010 (2010). At http://caepr.anu.edu.au/system/files/Publications/WP/CAEPRWP70.pdf (viewed 12 July 2010).
[78] Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research, Annual Report 2009,
Canberra (2010), p 25. At http://caepr.anu.edu.au/system/files/Reports/AnnualReport2009.pdf (viewed 24 September 2010).
[79] F Morphy, Population, People and Place: The Fitzroy Valley Population
Project
, CAEPR Working Paper No 70/2010 (2010), p 2. At http://caepr.anu.edu.au/system/files/Publications/WP/CAEPRWP70.pdf (viewed 12 July 2010).
[80] Fitzroy Futures Forum Governing Committee, Guiding Principles (2010).
[81] T Walley, former
Fitzroy Futures Forum Executive Officer, meeting with the Office of the
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Perth, 4
August 2010.
[82] K May, Fitzroy
Futures Forum Executive Officer, telephone interview with the Office of the
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, 15 June
2010.
[83] T Walley, former
Fitzroy Futures Forum Executive Officer, meeting with the Office of the
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Perth, 4
August 2010.
[84] B Gleeson,
Coordinator General for Remote Indigenous Services, Six Monthly Report
July-November 2009
, Office of the Coordinator General for Remote Indigenous
Services (2009), p 54. At http://www.cgris.gov.au/site/letter.asp (27 April 2010).
[85] J Oscar,
community member and CEO of Marninwarntikura, telephone interview with the
Office of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner,
24 May 2010.
[86] Commonwealth, Official Committee Hansard: Reference: Involvement of Indigenous juveniles
and young adults in the criminal justice system
, House of Representatives
Standing Committee on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs (31 March
2010), pp 4, 11. At http://www.aph.gov.au/hansard/reps/commttee/R12898.pdf (viewed 9 August 2010).
[87] K
Thorburn, ‘Fitzroy Futures Forum: A new approach to partnerships’ in
J Hunt and S Garling (eds), Community Governance An occasional newsletter
from the Indigenous Community Governance Project: Vol 3 No 2
(2007), p 5. At http://caepr.anu.edu.au/system/files/cck_misc_documents/2010/06/CG_Newsletter_Vol.3_No.2.pdf (viewed 6 September 2010).
[88] B
Gleeson, Coordinator General for Remote Indigenous Services, Six Monthly
Report July-November 2009
, Office of the Coordinator General for Remote
Indigenous Services (2009), pp 54, 95. At http://www.cgris.gov.au/site/letter.asp (viewed 27 April 2010).
[89] J
Ross, community member, meeting with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
Social Commissioner, Fitzroy Crossing), 31 July
2010.
[90] J Oscar, community
member and CEO of Marninwarntikura, Through women’s hearts –
indigenous people, history, environment and an inclusive future
(Speech
delivered at WA Women’s Advisory Council Conference, Perth, 14 June 2010),
p 10.
[91] K May, Fitzroy Futures
Forum Executive Officer, meeting with the Office of the Aboriginal and Torres
Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Broome, 3 August
2010.
[92] R Murphy, community
member and Fitzroy Futures Forum Community Consultant, meeting with the Office
of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Perth,
4 August 2010.
[93] F Morphy, Population, People and Place: The Fitzroy Valley Population Project,
CAEPR Working Paper No 70/2010 (2010). At http://caepr.anu.edu.au/system/files/Publications/WP/CAEPRWP70.pdf (viewed 12 July 2010).
[94] R
Murphy, community member and Fitzroy Futures Forum Community Consultant, meeting
with the Office of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice
Commissioner, Perth, 4 August
2010.
[95] M White, Community-Owned Approaches to Social Recovery – Overcoming Despair in
the Fitzroy Valley: Service Analysis of the determinants necessary for a good
life well lived
, Marninwarntikura Fitzroy Women’s Resource & Legal
Centre, Marra Warra Warra Aboriginal Corporation, Nindilingarri Cultural Health,
Kimberley Aboriginal Law and Cultural Centre (2009), pp 7-8. At http://www.aph.gov.au/senate/committee/clac_ctte/suicide/submissions/sub120.pdf (viewed 25 August 2010).
[96] B
Gleeson, Coordinator General for Remote Indigenous Services, Six Monthly
Report July-November 2009
, Office of the Coordinator General for Remote
Indigenous Services (2009), p 54. At http://www.cgris.gov.au/site/letter.asp (27 April 2010).
[97] M Carter,
community member and CEO of Nindilingarri, meeting with the Aboriginal and
Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, 2 August
2010.
[98] J Oscar, community
member and CEO of Marninwarntikura, East Kimberley achievements award
speech
(Speech delivered 19 September 2009), p
2.
[99] AM Laslett, P Catalano, T
Chikritzhs, C Dale, C Doran, J Ferris, T Jainullabudeen, M Livingston, S
Matthews, J Mugavin, R Room, M Schlotterlein and C Wilkinson, The Range and
Magnitude of Alcohol’s Harm to Others
, Alcohol Education and
Rehabilitation Foundation (2010), p 177. At http://www.aerf.com.au/Harm_to_Others_Full_Report_with-errata.pdf (viewed 10 September
2010).
[100] L Burns, E Black
and E Elliott (eds), Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders in Australia: An
Update
, Intergovernmental Committee on Drugs: Working Party on Fetal Alcohol
Spectrum Disorders (2009), p
18.
[101] L Burns, E Black and
E Elliott (eds), Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders in Australia: An
Update
, Intergovernmental Committee on Drugs: Working Party on Fetal Alcohol
Spectrum Disorders (2009), p
18.
[102] L Burns, E Black and
E Elliott (eds), Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders in Australia: An
Update
, Intergovernmental Committee on Drugs: Working Party on Fetal Alcohol
Spectrum Disorders (2009), p
19.
[103] L Burns, E Black and
E Elliott (eds), Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders in Australia: An
Update
, Intergovernmental Committee on Drugs: Working Party on Fetal Alcohol
Spectrum Disorders (2009), p
19.
[104] See L Burns, E Black
and E Elliott (eds), Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders in Australia: An
Update
, Intergovernmental Committee on Drugs: Working Party on Fetal Alcohol
Spectrum Disorders (2009), p
20.
[105] J Latimer, E Elliott,
J Fitzpatrick, M Ferreira, M Carter, J Oscar and M Kefford (eds), Marulu The
Lililwan Project Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) Prevalence Study in the
Fitzroy Valley: A Community Consultation
, The George Institute for Global
Health (2010), p
6.
[106] J Latimer, E Elliott,
J Fitzpatrick, M Ferreira, M Carter, J Oscar and M Kefford (eds), Marulu The
Lililwan Project Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) Prevalence Study in the
Fitzroy Valley: A Community Consultation
, The George Institute for Global
Health (2010), p
5.
[107]Convention on the
Rights of the Child
, 1989, preambular para 6, arts 23, 24, 25, 28, 29. At http://www2.ohchr.org/english/law/crc.htm (viewed 15 September
2010).
[108] E Elliott, J
Payne, A Morris, E Haan and C Bower, ‘Fetal alcohol syndrome: a
prospective national surveillance study’ (2008) 93 Archives of Disease
in Childhood
732.
[109] A
Hope, State Coroner of Western Australian, Coronial inquest into 22 deaths in
the Kimberley,
Ref No: 37/07, Coroner’s Court of Western Australia
(2008), p 14.
[110] J Ross,
community member, in Yajilara (Directed by M Hogan, Reverb, 2009),
16:34.
[111] E Carter,
community member and Chair of Marninwarntikura, meeting with the Aboriginal and
Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Fitzroy Crossing, 2 August
2010.
[112] E Carter, community
member and Chair of Marninwarntikura, meeting with the Aboriginal and Torres
Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Fitzroy Crossing, 2 August
2010.
[113] See Permanent Forum
on Indigenous Issues, Report of the ninth session, UN Doc E/C.19/2010/15
(2010), paras 4-35. At http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/unpfii/documents/E_2010_43_EN.pdf (viewed 31 August 2010).
[114]United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, GA
Resolution 61/295 (Annex), UN Doc A/RES/61/295 (2007), arts 11, 12, 13, 31. At http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/unpfii/en/drip.html (viewed 31 August 2009).
[115] J Latimer, E Elliott, J Fitzpatrick, M Ferreira, M Carter, J Oscar and M Kefford
(eds), Marulu The Lililwan Project Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD)
Prevalence Study in the Fitzroy Valley: A Community Consultation
, The George
Institute for Global Health (2010).
[116] J Latimer, E
Elliott, J Fitzpatrick, M Ferreira, M Carter, J Oscar and M Kefford (eds), Marulu The Lililwan Project Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD)
Prevalence Study in the Fitzroy Valley: A Community Consultation
, The George
Institute for Global Health (2010), p
vi.
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Fitzroy Valley: A Community Consultation
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Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Broome, 3 August
2010.
[122] M Carter, community
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Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Fitzroy Crossing, 2 August
2010.
[123] J Latimer, The
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Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Sydney, 22 July
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and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Fitzroy Crossing, 2
August 2010.
[126] J Latimer, E
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[127] J Latimer, The George
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Social Justice Commissioner, Sydney, 22 July
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[129] J Latimer,
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Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Sydney, 22 July
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Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Fitzroy Crossing, 2 August
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[135] E Elliott, Sydney
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[137] Nindilingarri
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Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Fitzroy Crossing, 2 August
2010.
[143] See Kimberley
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[174] Commonwealth, Official Committee Hansard: Reference: Involvement of
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[179] It also provided
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