Four lost years and another lost generation of uneducated Aboriginal children is Labor’s legacy due to inaction to help Indigenous Australians, The Shadow Minister for Indigenous Affairs Senator Nigel Scullion said.
With today’s release of the Stronger Futures in the Northern Territory report, Senator Scullion said the Labor Government has finally realised after four years the programs implemented by the Coalition during the intervention in the Northern Territory can work.
“The Coalition had children attending school but Labor let it slip backwards again while spinning their wheels and we lost four years and another generation of uneducated Indigenous primary school children is Labor’s legacy.
“Labor have finally decided to go and talk with people in remote Indigenous communities rather than city leaders or lobbyists in comfy Canberra offices and found that compulsory income management schemes, alcohol bans and improved education and housing programs initiated under the Howard Government need to be fully implemented and supported,” Senator Scullion said.
“There is nothing in the Stronger Futures consultation report that is new or surprises me,” said Senator Scullion.
“What is now admitted is that Labor has been stuck in first gear for four years and is now returning to square one by revisiting initial measures such as greater income management to drive school attendance.
“Actions that would not be necessary had the government simply enforced the measure when first implemented.
“We needed to move forward from tough measures to also include ways at improving employment and business opportunities in these communities so people have something to aspire to.
“The aim of the immediate intervention was to ‘stabilise’ communities.
“This involved an influx of police officers to enforce or introduce law and order in communities that never had a police presence, the introduction of alcohol and pornography restrictions, health checks on all children, enforce the school enrolment and compulsory school attendance, and the introduction of income management.
“The stabilisation phase was anticipated to last for 12 months.
“The next phase was to ‘normalise’ communities with the focus on school attendance, employment participation, housing construction, economic development opportunities and community capacity and governance development.
“This was meant to be the focus for the final four years of the five year intervention.
“The final stage was to ‘exit’ the communities having addressed substance abuse, built the necessary physical infrastructure such as roads, schools, houses and police stations, and fostered a level of community capacity that was capable of continuing to move communities forward in their independent development.
“That was the plan, but Labor won the 2007 election and has sat on their hands for four years.
“Many of the measures from the intervention are still needed but it must also go further to advocate for better educational and economic outcomes.
“While the Coalition supports the motive behind focusing on issues such as school attendance, it is wrong to say that previous measures have failed given that both the NT and Federal Labor governments did not whole heartedly embrace or enforce them.
“We could have done the intervention better by being more consultative but the various methods were right and were, and are, working.
“We can and will do better at helping our First Australians overcome the crisis in their communities.
“Hopefully now, Jenny Macklin will realise she must immediately implement a compulsory income management scheme in the APY lands in South Australia, where people have been crying out for it for two years,” Senator Scullion said.
“The Federal Government still needs to better coordinate its response, as stated in the fourth six-monthly report issued by the Coordinator-General for Remote Indigenous Services which shows that the Gillard Labor government have failed to help Indigenous people due to poor planning and wasteful spending.
“They still have no real plan to help Indigenous Australians so they have used ours,” Sen
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Labor’s legacy on Indigenous people is a lost generation.pdf