Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Changing lives for the better in the Northern Territory

Joint Media Release with:

  • The Hon Warren Snowdon MP, Minister for Indigenous Health, Rural and Regional Health & Regional Services Delivery and Member for Lingiari

A stronger police presence in remote communities as part of the Northern Territory Emergency Response (NTER) is helping to improve the wellbeing and safety of Indigenous people and communities.

The latest Closing the Gap in the Northern Territory Monitoring Report demonstrates that the Government’s record investment in programs and services to communities under the NTER is helping to change lives for the better.

Initially the NTER led to increases in incidents reported to authorities as more police were available on the ground to address any issues; however, recorded incidents have now started to decline, highlighting the ongoing benefit of a stronger police presence.

Confirmed aggravated assault incidents recorded by police in NTER communities dropped by 31 per cent between 2009 and 2010 following an increase of 15 per cent between 2008 and 2009.

Convictions for assaults have also decreased by 15 per cent between 2009 and 2010 despite a 28 per cent increase between 2007 and 2009.

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.

The work of the police is supported by 80 active night patrol services and 22 operational safe places providing a safe haven and services for clients and delivering jobs for around 430 local Indigenous people.

Between July and December 2010, night patrol services assisted people to a safe place on almost 50,000 occasions, including safe places funded by the Australian Government.

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

The mobile child protection team established in 2008 has investigated and provided follow-up services in almost 1,400 matters including 492 matters between July and December 2010.

Across the same six month period to December 2010, the sexual assault mobile outreach service teams made 189 visits to 80 communities and town camps providing 347 case-related services to children and their families and 726 non-case related services to service providers and community members.

The Australian Government believes in the importance of giving children the best start in life.

Since 2007 we have delivered on our target of nine new cr`eches and upgrades to 13 existing cr`eches in NTER communities. This has provided 49 jobs for local Indigenous people as part of a total of 204 new child care jobs for Indigenous people across the NTER.

In the six months to December 2010, 170 children and 189 adults benefited from parenting programs and more than 300 young children participated in playgroups.

Through the school nutrition program more than 7,000 meals are being provided each day across 66 primary and secondary schools servicing 73 communities and providing employment for over 200 local people including 165 Indigenous people.

The Government wants all children to get a decent education. In many cases 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.

Other services delivered under the NTER include:

  • Over 10,600 health checks for children and more than 24,000 follow-up specialist services provided from 1 July 2007 to 31 December 2010;
  • 691 short-term placements of health workers, including doctors, nurses and allied health professionals and 273 new health worker positions from October 2008 to 31 December 2010;
  • 92 community stores were licensed at 31 December 2010;
  • More teachers than ever before are employed in NTER communities with 146 additional teachers currently working in these communities; and
  • 908 job placements in NTER communities in the second half of 2010 – 6% higher than for the first six months of 2010.

A separate independent evaluation report of the Australian Government’s expansion and reform of primary health care programs in the Northern Territory has confirmed people in remote communities are benefitting.

The Final report of the evaluation of the Child Health Check Initiative (CHCI) and Expanding Health Service Delivery Initiative (EHSDI) illustrates the Government’s commitment of almost $300 million to Northern Territory health programs has resulted in a major improvement to the availability of key services such as primary health care, dental and hearing care.

Since re-instating the Racial Discrimination Act 1975, the Government has rolled out a new non-discriminatory income management scheme to continue to ensure welfare is spent on the essentials of life and in the best interests of children.

The Government recognises that ending the disadvantage caused by decades of underinvestment will take time and a sustained effort is required.

The Government wants to ensure that the benefits achieved through the NTER are sustained into the future and we will continue to work with communities to drive change that improves the lives of Indigenous people living in remote communities, town camps and urban communities in the Northern Territory.

To view the full report visit: