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Monday, 25 June 2007

UAICC response to Governemnt's intervention in the Northern Territory


For immediate release

The Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress (UAICC) of the Uniting Church is urging the Australian Government to revise its approach to its emergency response reforms to tackle Indigenous child abuse in the Northern Territory if it is to affect real improvements.

UAICC National Administrator the Rev Shayne Blackman said he fully supported moves by the Australian Government to provide positive intervention to tackle child abuse but questioned their hasty emergency response approach in an election year which he said lacked full and proper negotiation with relevant Indigenous stakeholders.

‘This rapid reform approach taken by the Government needs to be negotiated from the ground up in conjunction with those Indigenous community leaders with a demonstrable record of achievement and not just solely imposed from Canberra” said Rev Blackman.

‘“The Government’s ferocious and hasty reforms are laced with military style coercion and have not been fully negotiated with those Northern Territory communities in a manner and timeframe that will enable all Indigenous stakeholders in this issue to be in a position to support the reforms in any cohesive fashion.

“While positive intervention is required we do not welcome this fierce approach by the Government which further marginalizes Indigenous community decision makers and which will serve to create further resentment.

“Every Australian child deserves a secure future free of abuse and if the Government is impartial in its dealings with the citizens of this nation then the same heavy handed tactics it is employing in Indigenous communities of the Northern Territory should be applied rights across every town and city, with abuse perpetrators to be dealt with under our existing legal framework.

‘We are calling upon the Government to enact policy in collaboration with Indigenous leadership that encourages individual empowerment and ownership of responsibility and this requires a new structural governance framework that conduits Indigenous wisdom from a community level into legislative decisions.

“In the interests of equality and justice I call upon the Government to reassess its approach” said Rev Blackman.


UAICC Media Contact: Ramon Peachey (07) 4773 5077