Lindsay Murdoch in Darwin and Stephanie Peatling
June 27, 2007
PANIC about the Howard Government’s crackdown on child sexual abuse has spread widely throughout remote Aboriginal communities, where parents fear their children will be taken away in a repeat of the stolen generation.
Some families have already fled the first community to be targeted, Mutitjulu at Uluru, but the Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Mal Brough, blames “liars” who have something to hide from police and military personnel for terrorising people and spreading hysteria.
A 6 month, authoritarian, paternalist policy unveiled 6 months before an election. Boffo. If indigenous people are lucky, it’ll go away at least that quickly, but HoWARd is signalling years of occupation.
Now, who will be explaining to the parents that the government is going to put their minor children through compulsory sexual health examinations? I sure hope it’s Johnno- and that he’s got some asbestos earmuffs. Indigenous folk are pretty obviously seeing this as more of the same- and with some fairly reasonable cause for suspicion.
Rotating community health workers through aboriginal communities or even worse, bringing in the Army, will simply not work in these communities. Aboriginal people develop trusting relationships with outsiders much more slowly than other Australians, if at all. Bouncing workers in and out means the people have to re-develop their relationship with these workers, something which may exceed the period of posting. These communities need permanent facilities with long-term staff to have any chance at success- and preferably, they’d eventually be staffed with community members who have sought an education and returned to help their own mobs.
Let’s all get a grip. This ‘national emergency’ will take at least as long to address as it took to develop. If HoWARd thinks he can ramrod a quick-fix in this case, he’s doomed to fail.
7 Comments so far
Leave a comment
Leave a comment