Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Improving lives for Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory

Joint Media Release with:

  • Warren Snowdon MP, Minister for Indigenous Health, Member for Lingiari

Community safety for Aboriginal people living in remote communities continues to improve with a stronger police presence as part of the Northern Territory Emergency Response (NTER).

The latest Closing the Gap in the Northern Territory Monitoring Report demonstrates that assaults, alcohol-related incidents and child welfare incidents continue to fall in NTER communities.

This consistent trend shows that the Government’s record investment in programs and services to communities under the NTER is beginning to make a difference.

The NTER initially led to increases in incidents reported to authorities as more police were available on the ground to address issues. Recent police data showing a steady decline in several crime incident categories highlights the importance of a stronger police presence.

The number of confirmed aggravated assaults recorded by police in the NTER communities rose 41 per cent between 2007-08 and 2008-09 but dropped by 23 per cent between 2008-09 and 2009-10 and fell slightly from 2009-10 and 2010-11.

Convictions for assaults fell by 10 per cent over the past year on the back of a 29 per cent increase between 2007-08 and 2009-10.

Alcohol and substance-abuse related incidents have also continued to fall, down by five and seven per cent respectively over the past year despite increases of 28 per cent and 47 per cent respectively between 2007-08 and 2009-10.

Ensuring the safety and wellbeing of communities, especially for women and children, has been a key priority for the Australian Government under the NTER.

Since 2007, 62 additional police have been deployed to NTER communities and police are now located in 18 communities that did not have a presence prior to the NTER.

Night patrols also continue to play an important role in improving safety, highlighting the benefits of government and community working together.

The Australian Government has now funded 80 night patrol services and 22 safe places are operating in NTER communities.

The services provide safety and services for local people and employ more than 420 local Indigenous people.

Between January and June 2011, night patrol services helped people get to a safe place on almost 60,000 occasions.

The mobile child protection team has also been working to improve community safety and has investigated and provided follow-up services in more than 1,220 matters between January and June 2011, with 157 visits to communities.

Through the school nutrition program, more than 7,000 meals are being provided each day across 66 primary and secondary schools servicing 73 communities. Of the 200 jobs this program has created in remote communities, 165 are held by local Indigenous people.

The education gap is still too large in the Northern Territory and the Government is determined to continue to work to find ways to ensure children are enrolled at and attend school every day. In the past year, 50 extra teachers have been employed in NTER communities, bringing the total number of extra teachers employed since the start of the NTER to just under 200.

Other services delivered under the NTER in the last six months include:

  • 252 short-term placements of health workers including doctors, nurses and allied health professionals;
  • 451 audiology checks conducted and 433 children received audiology follow-up services
  • 1,273 dental checks conducted and 1,009 children received dental follow-up services
  • 14 remote Aboriginal family and community workers in place in communities
  • the numbers of teacher houses available in communities has more than doubled.

The Australian Government has been conducting discussions with Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory about the next steps in building stronger futures together.

Throughout the consultation process, Aboriginal people have made significant contributions to discussions about how to work together to address disadvantage and build stronger futures for families and communities in the Northern Territory.

The Government is currently analysing the information and views provided by individuals and communities and developing policy proposals for the future.

A summary of service delivery since the commencement of the NTER is attached.

To view the full NTER monitoring report visit: