Transcript by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Figures show NT intervention alive

In recent days, the Shadow Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Tony Abbott, has claimed the Northern Territory Emergency Response has lost momentum. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Since the election, the Australian Government has strengthened and expanded the allocation of resources to the Northern Territory Emergency Response, investing more than $1.2 billion extra to help overcome decades of government failure as well as a further $1.7 billion for remote Indigenous housing in the NT.

The living conditions, violence and abuse endured by many Aboriginal Australians living in remote communities is nothing short of an emergency, a national emergency, demanding a concerted, sustained and uncompromising response from government.

There are now more police on the ground, more night patrols, more safe houses, cr`eches, playgroups and early childhood services, school nutrition programs. More health services to reduce chronic disease and treat eye and ear complaints in children. And after 22 months, progress is being made. In November 2007, there were 38 new police deployed in 10 communities and around one third had night patrols; today there are 66 extra police on the beat and 72 active night patrols: another five permanent police stations have been funded.

Since April 2008, when we launched the Sexual Assault Mobile Outreach Service, 149 visits have been made to 46 communities and town camps across the Northern Territory. Fourteen months ago there were ten safe houses in remote communities. Today there are 21 safe houses and 13 Aboriginal family care workers.

When we came to office, just over 4,600 child health checks had been undertaken. By 30 June this year, 14,610 health checks had been made, 3,166 children had received audiology services and more than 3,360 children had received dental services.

Income management has been expanded to make sure women and children get the necessities of life. There are 15,424 people having their income support payments managed across all 73 prescribed communities, outstations and town camps – that’s 14,016 more than in November 2007. And so that income-managed funds can be spent in the best interests of children, we now have 86 licensed community stores selling fresh meat, fruit and vegetables compared with ten in November 2007.

Almost 2,100 service delivery jobs have been created by the Australian and NT Governments, 97 additional teachers are at work and children are being taught in 24 new classrooms.

And in 69 communities, school nutrition programs are providing around 3,600 breakfasts and 5,300 school lunches every school day and more than 3,000 parents on income management are making voluntary contributions to the program. As well, the program is employing 149 local Indigenous people.

These are the facts, the hard evidence that demonstrates the Government’s unwavering resolve to close the gap. While there’s no denying the complexity or the difficulty of the challenges ahead, we will continue to deliver the structures and support that are essential for Indigenous Australians to live safe, healthy and productive lives.