Media Release by The Hon Mal Brough MP

NT Emergency Response Taskforce

Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Mal Brough, today announced the Taskforce which will advise him on issues surrounding the emergency response strategy to protect children in the Northern Territory.

"The Taskforce, to be led by Dr Sue Gordon, will guide the emergency response and advise on a range of issues to assist in this major effort, "Mr Brough said.

The terms of reference for the Taskforce will include providing advice to the Government and oversight of a Taskforce Operational Group effort, including;

  • Community engagement, design of intervention, coordinated delivery of resources and activities and data gathering and monitoring;
  • Set up and appointment of community government business managers;
  • Nominate communities in critical situations; and
  • Liaise with the Australian Government, the NT Government and other State authorities to provide the best emergency support efforts on the ground.

"It is anticipated that the Taskforce will operate for at least 12 months and will be supported by full time administrative and field staff.

"Through this Taskforce I will be supported by some of the highest profile professionals in social policy, government and industry," Mr Brough said.

Members of the Taskforce include:

  • Dr Sue Gordon OAM (Chair) – Western Australian Magistrate in the Perth Children’s Court, Dr Gordon is also Chair of the National Indigenous Council. Dr Gordon chaired the Inquiry into Response by Government Agencies to Complaints of Family Violence and Child Abuse in Aboriginal Communities, in Western Australia in 2002. In 2003, Dr Gordon received the Centenary Medal for service to the community, particularly the Aboriginal community and in 1993 she was awarded the Order of Australia for commitment to Aboriginal people and community affairs. In 1986 she was appointed as Commissioner for Aboriginal Planning becoming the first Aboriginal person to head a government department in Western Australia.
  • Shane Castles – Career police officer with 32 years experience, including as Assistance Commissioner with the Australian Federal Police. His experience includes international deployment and investigating illicit drugs. He was Police Commissioner of the Solomon Island’s until early this year.
  • Dr Bill Glasson – A practicing ophthalmologist and former Australian Medical Association President, Dr Glasson has worked in a voluntary capacity in various Indigenous communities. He recently travelled to East Timor as part of a team which treated in excess of 3,000 East Timorese patients. He is a consulting ophthalmologist to the Australian Army with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.
  • John Reeves QC – Practicing barrister, and Chair of Red Cross NT and national board member. 30 years experience in Indigenous issues. Mr Reeves was also the federal ALP Member for the NT and is experienced in local government. In 1998 he completed a review of the Northern Territory Aboriginal Land Rights Act for the Australian Government.
  • Roger Corbett AM – Chairman of CIES Food Business Forum, Member of the board of the Reserve Bank Australia and former Chief Executive Officer and Group Managing Director of Woolworths Ltd. Member in the Order of Australia (AM) in 2003 for service to the retail industry, particularly as a contributor to the development of industry policy and standards, and to the community.
  • Miriam Rose Baumann AM – Principal of St Francis Xavier Catholic School, Daly River, NT and current member of the National Indigenous Council and Chair of the NT Aboriginal Benefit Account Advisory Committee. In 1998, Ms Baumann was awarded an Order of Australia – Australia Medal – for her services to the community of Nauiya Nambiyu as a member of the community council.
  • Dr Peter Shergold – Secretary of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet since February 2003.
  • Paul Tyrrell – Chief Executive of the Northern Territory Department of the Chief Minister and head of the Northern Territory Railway unit.

Mr Brough said the Taskforce Operation Group will be located in Alice Springs.

Mr Castles will be the Operational Commander as well as being a member of the Taskforce.

"I thank these outstanding Australians who have volunteered their time, expertise and knowledge to help us save Indigenous children from future abuse," Mr Brough said.

"We now have the chance to help provide a safe environment for current and future generations of Indigenous people and this Taskforce will help make a real difference," Mr Brough said.

The Minister this afternoon will brief three NT Ministers; Dr Chris Burns; Ms Delia Lawrie; Mr Elliott McAdam.