Media Release by The Hon Mal Brough MP

Government outlines Phase One of NT reform

Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Mal Brough, today outlined the concept of operations for the next few days and weeks as part of the Howard Government’s NT reform package to protect children.

Small survey teams will commence community engagement and area surveys in a number of communities across the southern half of the NT.

"Teams will start visiting communities this week to meet and talk with the communities about the Australian Government’s decision and commitments and to asses the infrastructure and additional resources communities require," Mr Brough said.

"The teams will consist of NORFORCE vehicles, personnel and logistic support for a small group comprising officers from Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Health, DEWR and Centrelink. There may be some AFP personnel.

"It is important that these small teams, many of whom have NT understanding and experience, have the opportunity to sit down and have a meaningful engagement with communities.

"These initial visits this week will include scoping existing facilities in communities and establishing future needs as part of the reform package.

"After these discussions, more substantive involvement in these communities will commence during next week based on the outcomes of the community survey.

"While those services are being placed in the communities, the advance teams will begin discussions with the next group of communities, with this pattern of discussions followed by implementation continuing over the coming months.

"During yesterday’s video link up with three NT Ministers, I requested they consider amending NT liquor licensing laws in line with the Prime Minister’s announcement last Thursday.

"As the Prime Minister and I have said, the reform process in the NT will take time. We are determined to do this and it will be a deliberate and firm process but with respectful engagement with communities at the local level.

"This initial phase is critical and the fact that we have been able to mobilise action in such a short space of time demonstrates not only our commitment, but also the co-operation being received from communities, the NT Government and the states that have already pledged police."

Mr Brough said that he would arrange a process for official media briefing as the process unfurls in order the keep the media and the Australian people appraised on operations.

"The ongoing rollout of the necessary support to these communities will be dependent upon the availability of qualified personnel, in particular police, and I again call those states that are yet to commit to supporting the NT with these resources to do so urgently," Mr Brough said.

"I have today received a commitment from Tasmania, a very small jurisdiction, with an initial offer of two police.

"The Government has brought urgency to this matter, but is also ensuring that the implementation is conducted in a structured, orderly and considered manner.

"Our one primary objective continues to be the short term protection, coupled with the long term wellbeing, of these Australian kids."