Commenting on the tenth anniversary of the controversial Northern Territory Intervention, Oxfam Australia Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples Program National Manager Justin McCaul said:
“Political leaders should acknowledge the failure of the Northern Territory Intervention and recast policies to generate jobs and cut the horrendous rates of imprisonment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
“The Intervention was enacted on the premise it would fix a range of social issues impacting on Aboriginal people. Sadly, that has not happened. It is yet another example of policy-making that neglected to consult Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people about matters affecting their lives.
“The punitive approach of the Intervention has disempowered communities, worsened employment, education and income levels, and increased criminalisation and rates of imprisonment, especially among young people. As a result, the Intervention has been an abject failure for Indigenous Australians.
“The Intervention was heavy handed and undid a lot of good work which had been led by communities, including the highly effective Commonwealth Development Employment Program (CDEP). Since the Intervention, this program has gone through several changes and is now replaced with the inappropriate Community Development Program (CDP), which has led to much hardship for communities through harsh penalties.
“Research by Monash University’s Professor Stephen Gray has shown that the Intervention led to ‘little progress’ in improving employment outcomes in the Northern Territory, and that the income gap is in fact widening.
“Earlier this year, Oxfam Australia released a report calling on governments to address stark Indigenous inequality by genuinely including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in decision-making. The right to self-determination and consultation is absent in current approaches to Indigenous policy.
“A decade on from the controversial Intervention, the Federal Government must progress the rights of our First Peoples by working in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.”
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