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Community Affairs Legislation Committee
20/02/2012

ANDERSON, Mr Garrard

CONRAD

INKAMALA, Mr Mark

KANTAWARRA, Mr Daryl

KANTAWARRA, Mr Rex

KENNY, Ms Roxanne

KLOEDEN, Mr Selwyn

LECHLEITNER, Ms Ada

LEYDEN, Ms Robby

MALBUNKA, Ms Mavis

NASH, Mr Alan

OLIVER, Mr Patrick

RONTJI, Mr Joseph

SILVERTON, Ms Raelene

WILLIAMS, Ms Cassandra

WILLIAMS, Ms Serena

WINDLEY, Mr

Committee met at 10:15

CHAIR ( Senator Moore ): We are members of the Senate Community Affairs Committee. Some of us have had the privilege to be in your community before. It is wonderful to be back. I have an official opening statement to read. First of all I must pay my respects to the traditional owners and also acknowledge their rights as first peoples of our country. Every time we walk on Aboriginal land we should remember that.

This morning, the idea is that we are going to come and listen to you about how you feel about the legislation that is having an impact on your community. It is called the Stronger Futures legislation. I know that it has been out there but I am not sure whether all of you have had the chance to read it, listen to it and talk to people about it. We want to hear what you think about your community and where to go into the future.

Could people who need a translation make sure they get it. I do not want to embarrass people by pointing them out but it is no good if you do not understand what is going on. I will keep going, and people can let me know.

We have people with us from the National Indigenous TV network. They are over there with their camera. We love having them with us but if anyone does not want to have themselves on film please let us know. I know the guys are really experienced and they can make sure that that no-one is filmed against their will.

You can see the names of the senators at the table but they are probably too small to read. I am Claire Moore from Queensland. Rachel Siewert from Western Australia is also on the committee and we have Sue Boyce from Queensland as well as Senator Scullion from the Northern Territory, whom you probably know. There are other senators who are on this committee but we are the ones who have been lucky enough to come up and visit you today.

We are going to be recorded. That is what all this equipment that you can see is for. We have tried to make it as informal as possible because we really want to have a discussion. But we need to have the discussions on tape so that we can refer to it when we are making the recommendations to parliament. We will be sending a copy of everything that has been recorded to the community so that you can work together to see that everything from that record is real and true. That should be coming through sometime next week to all of you.

I will move on and go through the formal bit to start the committee. Then we will move onto talking with people. At any time if people want to ask a question, or they have a comment or are lost as to what is going on, please let us know because it is our job to listen to you rather than talk about you.

I also want to introduce Venessa Curnow, who is over there. She is a director of the National Congress of Australia's First Peoples. The congress are travelling with us all this week for our committee hearings. She is happy to talk with you at any time. Remember, Venessa is there to be with you, as well. Venessa, do you want to say a little bit about congress so people know about it, rather than just putting a label on?

Ms Curnow : My family is from up in the Torres Strait. My clan is Ait Koedal and Sumu. It is lovely to be here on your country. Thank you for the opportunity to come out. We are a salt water people so it is nice to see the desert. The National Congress of Australia's First People is an independent organisation separate from government. We help to lobby and help to bring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voices to the government because we know that the government is quite complex. There are lots of departments and different people working in them so we have funding now for a national group to come together so that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples from all around the country can be helped to talk to the government.

CHAIR: So when you have a chance to speak with Venessa, please take it, during the day, if you would like. I am going to read this statement and then I am going to find one of our interpreting team. I really want to say thank you to the people who volunteered to help. We hired and booked an interpreter but it just has not worked. My understanding is that Raelene, Helen, David, Mavis and Mark have all said that they would help us out. Thank you so much. When I finish doing this statement I am going to hand it to you and see how much of it you would like to interpret to people just to make sure they know what has been said.

I declare open this public hearing and welcome everyone who is present. Our Senate Community Affairs Committee is looking into the Stronger Futures in the Northern Territory Bill 2011 and related bills. Today is our committee's first public hearing. These are public proceedings, although the committee may agree if people ask to give their evidence in private. If that is something we like we can agree to that. Sometimes people feel more confident giving evidence in private.

I remind witnesses that in giving evidence to our committee they are protected by parliamentary privilege. It is unlawful for anyone to have anything bad done to them as a result of giving evidence. So there can be no bullying or hassling or any trouble as a result of giving evidence to our committee. If a witness has a problem answering a question they should tell us why. If you do not want to answer a question tell us why and we will work together on it.

When you are asked a question or you want to give a comment, because we have these roving microphones we really need to know who you are. We need to know your name. So when you get the microphone tell us who you are then we will go on with that. In the same way as we have told you who we are, we need to know who you are when you are making a comment.

You have seen that the microphones are pretty tricky. You just have to talk in the right way. I am just going to finish this statement and then we will go on. The senators are reminded that we are using interpreters. Be as clear as possible and talk to the witness and not to the interpreter. That is the opening statement. David, what is the issue?

Interpreter (David) : Maybe segments could be shorter.

CHAIR: I am sorry, David.

Interpreter (David) : I think you stopped at a good time. Thank you.

CHAIR: Is there anything that I just said that you need to talk to people about. You do not need to read all the formal stuff. I changed it a bit.

Interpreter (David) then spoke in language

Interpreter (David) : In this place people might say 'kulla' which is indicating that we have finished that little bit.

Mr D Kantawarra : In what you said before about this new legislation you did not exactly tell the people here what the 'stronger future' is from. My understanding—and let me put it in a simple way—is that 'stronger future' is probably another name for the intervention, but with a longer term of 10 years instead of five years, which is how long the intervention was carried out. Thank you.

CHAIR: Does your question need interpreting?

Mr D Kantawarra : I can do that.

Mr D Kantawarra then sp oke in language—

Mr D Kantawarra : Is this still the same intervention with a different legislation and another name? This man here is my brother, Mr Windley.

Mr Windley : I agree with what my brother is saying. It is very important to all of us in this community. We are going back to front. This intervention made a lot of trouble to all the families. It put as in a bad situation. This new thing, this new future, that you are talking about, will there be a lot of employment for the people or what? I am asking you a question.

CHAIR: Mr Windley, we need to have your name.

Mr Windley : My name is Kenny Windley, but they call me 'Winley' here. They cannot say my name. I can interpret too.

CHAIR: Okay.

Mr Windley then sp oke in language—

Mr Windley : I have been living here all my life. I see a lot of changes in this community. I come from Darwin. I was born in Darwin and I was brought up on Melville Island. When we were taken away from here, from Tennant Creek, when we were kids, everything was really good in the early days. But now things are turning back to front for us Aboriginal people. It is not working properly. The Prime Minister and the government are saying that they are going to close the gap on Indigenous people. I listen to the news all the time. I want to know if it is true or not that they are going to close the gap on Indigenous people like Kevin Rudd did.

Mr Windley then spoke in language—

CHAIR: The reason our committee has come here is to hear what you have to say about the legislation. It is not our job to defend or attack the legislation. But we will answer questions as well as we can. I am looking at the interpreters to see when you want me to stop before you have to interpret what I have said. The senators represent different parties. As you would know, this is a combined committee. So there are different views amongst the senators about how good this legislation is. What we can tell you is what is in it. I am a government senator so I am talking from Jenny Macklin's point of view. Senator Scullion is talking from the opposition's point of view, as is Senator Boyce. And Senator Siewert is talking from the Greens' point of view. They all have different views. What I can tell you—and I am waiting for other senators to jump in and agree or disagree with me, and I am looking at the interpreters so that I do not go on—is that is not the intervention.

It is really important that people understand the legislation which came to be known as 'the intervention' is over. It reached the end of its term. The legislation here has been drawn up to replace that legislation. From the government's point of view, it is new. We are trying to move on from the term 'intervention', because it had some good things and some bad things. What is in the legislation that we are talking with you about is new. It talks about alcohol zones and penalties for alcohol. I know that people have very strong views about some of the things in the legislation such as increased penalties for illegal use of alcohol.

The legislation talks about the SEAM program, which is about education and links to the schools. I know that we will hear from the schools talk about how they feel about that and how the link with people going to school and people getting welfare will happen. The legislation talks a lot about quarantining—income management. There are things in the legislation about income management. There are things in the legislation about leasing—changing the way leasing happens and ending the compulsory five-year leases that were part of the previous legislation. This legislation is ending that.

There are things in the legislation about how customary law and practice can work in some areas but not all. I know that there are some views about how we should use customary law more. Without reading you all the legislation—I am just checking with the other senators as to whether there is anything else we should tell you—there are those kinds of headings. Also, this legislation is about making sure that the money from government continues to come to community. You would know that in the past money was given on the basis of program by program almost year by year. This legislation is trying to ensure that the money is in the ongoing budget so that you do not have to go back every three years and ask for the same money again. That is not to say that there will not be a need to keep arguing for more money, but the things that are linked to the program will be in the legislation. So things to do with education, health and police will be guaranteed. It is also about jobs. You have asked particularly about jobs. The expectation is that out of some of this legislation and other legislation there will be a commitment to ongoing jobs in community. That is an overall thing.

I want to make sure that the other senators feel that I have given you the best possible coverage. I will ask Senator Siewert, as deputy chair, whether she wants to add something to those questions. I am checking with the interpreters and no-one is actually waving their hand to say that they need an interpreter.

Ms Silverton : I was born and bred here. This is my country as well. I invite you people here, and now I have to talk to my people. Ms Silverton then spoke inlanguage—

CHAIR: Can you tell us what you have said so that we know?

Ms Silverton : I am not really an interpreter. I did not learn interpreting. So I can just explain it to you. They supported the first intervention for five years, and they found out it was working no good. Only one answered me—he doesn't like it to go on for 10 more years. So I told him to speak up for themselves. I explained it to them properly as well what to say. If they want to support the government people, they have to say it right here and now. Thank you.

CHAIR: Thank you very much. What we were going to do was have several witnesses and then go into a community forum. I would still like to hear from the witnesses, but I think we have started the community forum. So I think it is easier if people want to speak to us that they speak to us now and then we will go back to the witnesses. Is that okay with everyone? I do not want to cut people off. Has somebody got the microphone over there?

Ms Kenny : Good morning. My name is Roxanne and I am talking on behalf of the people. All they want to know is what is the difference between Stronger Futures and the intervention. That is what they want to know. What are the changes?

Senator SCULLION: First of all, as a committee we have had a number of submissions. One of those submissions comes from an organisation I would have hoped had already talked to you, and that is the Central Land Council. It might be useful to know that, even after we leave today, it is not the last opportunity to put forward some of your views. It is clear that when we came here we made some assumptions that information had been passed to the community about what this legislation was about. The difficulty is that we have arrived here to hear what you think about that but what you are really saying is, 'Let's go back to the first stage, because we do not understand what the differences are.' That is okay. We will be able to work with that.

There is an organisation called Aboriginal Peak Organisations Northern Territory made up of the Central Land Council, the Northern Land Council, CAALAS, NAAJA and AMSANT. You would be aware of CAALAS. NAAJA is like a legal aid justice organisation. Those bodies have come together and have an agreed submission about what those organisations think about the legislation. I will leave the submission here and we will try to get a number of copies made. The new legislation deals with three principal things. Firstly, it talks about alcohol management plans and the capacity for the Commonwealth—the minister from Canberra—to approve community alcohol management plans. Secondly, it sets out consultation processes. It is my opinion—and I am not in government—that those consultation programs with the communities seem to be a part of the Stronger Futures legislation, which also talks about how we will communicate with the communities. So the three issues are, first, alcohol management plans—

Ms Kenny : The question was: what are the changes? What are the differences.

Senator SCULLION: As I said, there are three areas and I will go through them. The first is the alcohol management area of law. The second is land tenure and leasing. The third is community stores and the licensing of all stores in communities. The last one, which we will be very interested in, is the attendance program that has been run here in this community, the School Enrolment and Attendance Measure or SEAM program. Income management is, under this legislation, continuing not only here but across the Territory and possibly into other places of Australia. To be of use and to make submissions, you can talk to us about what you think about each of those items or any of those issues and what you think should be done in the new law.

Ms Kenny : Everything on this piece of paper is already in the book. Nothing has changed. That is the only thing I can say: nothing has changed. That is why we have to stand strong.

Senator SCULLION: I know it is very easy to say that this legislation is the same as the intervention. I am happy to leave here—I think it would be very beneficial—both a copy of the Northern Territory Emergency Response legislation and a copy of the Stronger Futures legislation. In August of this year, all of the intervention legislation stops, because it had a rule that in August of 2012 it would be finished, so it will go then. You are able to look at what will start in August of 2012. There will be two pieces of information and you can make your own mind up about that, but they are considerably different. That might not make you happy. It will be useful for you to look at both of those. You are still able to make submissions, and perhaps, given the circumstances, we might even be able to arrange for a spokesperson to take further evidence at a later stage through a teleconference, or some mechanism. In any event, we will do our best to be able to take further submissions, given that you do not seem to have the information that you should have had. We would be interested to hear about any of those matters.

CHAIR: The things that Senator Scullion has pointed out are alcohol management, income management, leases and food security. They are the four big issues. We would also like to hear from you, particularly from the school, about the program that is trying to keep kids at school. They are the big issues. We would really like people to talk to us about how they feel about those five things because that is what is in the legislation. Does anyone have a particular point they want to make?

Mr D Kantawarra : I want to talk quickly about the alcohol management plan. When Mark Weaver introduced me, he said that I was the chairman of Wurla Nyinta Local Reference Group. Wurla Nyinta is the local implementation group. In our local implementation plan, we have been talking about an alcohol management plan for a while. If we want to make that stronger or talk about it more, can we get someone from a government department to come out and sit down at our meetings so we can discuss it further?

CHAIR: We will take that back if that is what you want.

Mr D Kantawarra : No, we want someone to come out and sit around the table with us and listen.

CHAIR: Yes, we will take that back.

Senator SIEWERT: What are the key things that you want in an alcohol management plan, and who should tick if off and say, 'That's the plan that we're going to implement'? Who gives approval for it?

Mr D Kantawarra : I have just told you that. We have a local implementation group here, right in the community. It has been going for four or five years. This is just the chairman talking, but we would like to get someone—or, when we are ready, invite someone; I do not know who yet—to come over, sit around the table with us so and hear it straight from us. It will fit in with this new legislation coming out as well.

Senator SIEWERT: Under the new legislation, the minister gets the final approval if it meets what the government says it should meet. Do you think that is a good approach?

Mr D Kantawarra : Someone from the minister's office can come out and sit around the table with us as long as they take the message back to the minister's office.

CHAIR: Does anyone else want to talk about alcohol?

Senator BOYCE: What would you want us to have in the management plan? What are the important things to have in the alcohol management plan?

Mr D Kantawarra : I really cannot say off the top of my head, but there has got to be an alcohol management plan. How the intervention started off was by focusing on children, women and older people. They still get humbugged by drugs. They are wanting their BasicsCard or their keycard. Grandchildren—grand-sons and grand-daughters—have come in and taken that off them and are spending it the way they want to spend it. So right now they look at other avenues, like putting it in a safe place or somewhere. Does that answer your question?

Senator BOYCE: Yes.

Senator SCULLION: You say that there are still drunks humbugging people in Hermannsburg. Given that the community said that they wanted this to be a dry community and that the community agreed to that, why do you think people are still able to be drunk and still able to humbug people? Is it because there are not enough police or they do not understand the rules? What do you think needs to be changed to change that?

Mr D Kantawarra : Was that a question to me?

Senator SCULLION: Yes, Sir.

Mr D Kantawarra : You hit me with three different questions. I will answer the first one firstly. Hermannsburg is not as bad as it used to be alcohol-wise. I am only speaking for Hermannsburg; I do not know what the other communities are like. But it is not as bad as it used to be with alcohol. For people who want to drink, 50 kilometres out there is a thing called the boundary gate. You probably passed the grid on your way out here. People sit there and have a drink. Sometimes they will come back with their belly full; sometimes they will camp there.

Senator SCULLION: So I can get this clear, they are not actually drinking here but they are drunk when they are here.

Mr D Kantawarra : I would not say that. People still do smuggle grog in.

Senator SCULLION: So what do you think? You have been in the community a long time. What sorts of changes do we need to make? Do you think there are any changes that we can make that can help that situation?

Mr D Kantawarra : I cannot answer that unless I read all that thoroughly if the new legislation comes out. We can answer questions like that when we sit around the table at our Wurla Nyinta meeting and then everybody has their say. Does that answer your question?

Senator SCULLION: Yes, to a degree; I understand. I guess the reason we are asking all these questions is that this committee will make recommendations to government. This is a parliamentary committee. Our recommendations for change to the new legislation will be taken into account. You make some very good points. This is an opportunity for the minister and government to better understand the sorts of changes you want. The community knows best about the issues that face your community and how to suggest good ideas to make it better, and that can be taken into consideration in this new legislation.

Mr D Kantawarra : When is your next Senate hearing in parliament?

CHAIR: Next week.

Senator SCULLION: Yes, at some stage next week. We are sitting in parliament next week and this committee will have a sitting next week.

Mr D Kantawarra : You see this Stronger Futures legislation recommendation—not many people have read that.

Ms Silverton then spoke in language—

Mr D Kantawarra : What people are saying is that not many people saw those Stronger Futures recommendations. So you can see where the people are coming from. They cannot really answer any of the questions, because nobody has really read it.

Senator SCULLION: I understand that.

Community members then spoke in language—

Mr D Kantawarra : It is a last-minute, spur of the moment thing really. I only heard about it last week: 'Oh, the Senate's coming out'.

Senator SCULLION: Can I say that the Central Land Council was told and had a complete briefing on the matter as soon as this legislation was to be put. In fact, I understood that there was a Stronger Futures consultation process where people actually came to this community and all communities that would be affected. That was over three months ago. So I am sorry, I accept that that is the case here, but that is normally the process of connection between the government and communities such as this.

Mr D Kantawarra then spoke in language—

Ms Silverton : I am the Land Council delegate and I did not get any paperwork on that. But my group, the Intervention Rollback Action Group, gave it to me, and that is why I gave it to you people this morning.

CHAIR: It is not just the Central Land Council who should have been getting this message out there. We will be following up as to why you have not got more information, but to make it at least so we can hear what you say about issues with alcohol and with all those things—

Ms Silverton : Security?

CHAIR: Somebody has said that they did not like the intervention. We can hear why. I know that Raelene has some comments about rehabilitation to do with alcohol. Raelene, maybe you could tell us those things and then we could hear from people. The gentleman behind there said earlier he did not like the intervention. Maybe if we hear why he did not like it we can see where it may be changed in this legislation.

Ms Silverton : Yes, about alcohol. We wrote this to Canberra, me and my two daughters: we are asking for them to put this in the new changes. We need treatment and a rehabilitation centre for dealing with alcohol and substance abuse—not imprisonment. No Aboriginal people want to get this same treatment of imprisonment. We do not want to put our people in jail. So we need rehabilitation for all the drinkers in the Northern Territory. I am talking for all Aboriginal people.

CHAIR: Where should that rehabilitation be?

Ms Silverton : We have plenty of room here. I was thinking about the fight for the high school for bigger kids so they can learn more. I want to bring Hermannsburg back. It is still dead. Everybody is sleeping here. You can see it right now. They are not doing anything. I went to school here but not this school. The school was where those buildings are. I went to school there at the start of the 1950s. But I went to school at Areyonga first. My mum and dad sent me here to learn more about Christianity and how to look after people. It says in this paper I wrote to the Senate in Canberra that I went down south. They were going to send me by myself. I said, 'No. I want company to come with me,' so Mavis came with me. So Mavis and I went down south. I went there for one year and Mavis went there for two years. She wanted to be a teacher.

I want to help my people to stop drinking or, if they drink, to have a home here instead of Alice Springs. I want everybody here. Jenny Macklin asked them to go back in Alice Springs. Everybody has to go back and you people have to help. I want this rehabilitation home for them. We need that sort of new thing.

Mr E Rontji : Sometimes the community is not here when I am handling all those papers about Stronger Futures. Last time I had the papers some were not here, so I run around with new information. I pass it on to all these people. I just take my reference group here. Sometime I get some bit of information or, if I meet someone, I give it away just by shouting or something.

Senator SCULLION: One of the things the committee will take back is the assumption we have made that the community will be completely informed about the differences between the intervention and Stronger Futures—it was not right. We will need to take that back and ensure we can have some more support for that.

Ms Malbunka : I am really based at Hermannsburg. I wanted to tell you a bit of my history. When I was married I moved from Hermannsburg to my husband's homeland. I saw his homeland as a better place for our children. In my community I had family and friends but we still have some struggles. I also have a Christian background. I work in Hermannsburg as a counsellor for a school here. I speak strongly for our school and for our kids attending it. At home I sometimes talked to families and friends about our kids.

I know that the intervention really scares people. The intervention has not been explained properly. They think the welfare is going to come and take their kids away. But we say no. We have to be strong to look after our kids. We have to try to work with the police. They are our local policeman working for the community. They have a lot of work to do. We are still worried that we will get outside police posted here to work with the community and for our children.

Getting back to the outstations, we still have school in the outstations. Every family that moved into Hermannsburg brought their children to with them. We try to help the kids and teach them both cultures—white fella culture and Aboriginal culture. We teach them about their land, their food and their language and to respect their old people and their families. I was not happy with the way all this movement happened—bringing kids into Hermannsburg. But now I would like to ask the government to support the outstations, just with transport to pick up our kids and bring them to Hermannsburg. But we need to be here to see our kids attending. Also, we need to make sure that when kids are disciplined we do not want to go against each other. We have to help our community. I really belong here. The homeland belongs to my family, to my husband. I am trying to work with both—the community and the outstations—because I have seen in my life that when I moved from Hermannsburg the outstation was not a problem for looking after our children. If the government is still looking at a base, Hermannsburg could be a base, but we need help from the outstations for bringing the kids in for their education.

Also, we talk about land tenures, like with the land council. But the land council has to listen to not just one side's families. We are all a family that belongs to this land. They have to listen to how we want the houses to be built for our young people. The government wants to see us living in a good house. I was born and brought up in a humpy so there was no problem in my life. The government tried to help us, to give us a good life and a good house. We brought our children to school every day. I used to come to school every day. When I left school, like Raelene mentioned, we both were sent away from home. Which way is best? We have to not feel bad about what we are leaving behind. We tried our best to learn from the whitefella. First, we went to stay with the Lutheran families and we learned from them. As Raelene mentioned, we both went the first year. In the second year, I went back and learned to be a teacher. I came back and taught my people here at the school. So I still feel strongly about helping my people in the community. I lost my hearing from a health problem. I have cancer. The doctor tried to help me but some of the problems I have are from my parents.

Please listen to me and explain to my interpreter so that he can explain to me what you say. I know the intervention. I worked with the intervention. The government looked for people who would help them, talk to them about how we should be working for the future. But I did not know the intervention was going to affect my people. I did not understand how they felt it was racist. The government was looking at what had happened to our community and to our young children. We have to try to help them too. The government came in with the intervention to help. As an old person, I see there is a problem still here. It has not gone. It is behind our people's back, behind a closed door.

M s Malbunka then spoke in language

That is why I still feel strongly for the outstation where my family lived. We came into Hermannsburg to bring the kids in for school. Alcohol is still strong here. My people still bring grog in. We got the land trust to help the community. We have a few councillors in the community. I am also on the school council and I help in the shop and in the prison. This is about our kids' education. They see they have got to learn. They have to attend school every day. But we have to solve the discipline problem in our school. We do not want to see our families fighting each other over the kids. We want to see kids that are Christian kids and that show respect. We still have church. We have got to teach the kids to come to Sunday school. Education is important for our children. Thank you.

Ms Malbunka then spoke in language

Senator SCULLION: I wonder if I could ask a quick question of Mavis. Mavis, for the benefit of the committee, how far out is your community and your outstation from Hermannsburg?

Ms Malbunka : Fifty-six kilometres south-west of Hermannsburg.

Senator SCULLION: Today is Monday. How do your kids now get from the community to Hermannsburg? Is there a school bus?

Ms Malbunka : Our station is 56 kilometres south-west of Hermannsburg. When the numbers dropped down we still had a teacher out there but then Hermannsburg decided to move the teacher and the kids to Hermannsburg because the numbers dropped down. But there is no communication from our people that I have about why they were moving into Hermannsburg. I thought that, from the land rights way, families wanted to move back to their homeland as that was the first homeland that they had from their ancestors. But we asked the government to put up a school for our outstation because many kids attended the outstation. In the mission days the missionary used to travel out and sent teachers out to teach our kids under a tree. Then from there, when everything got bigger and bigger, the school was built and we had both cultures that were taught there. But then when the numbers dropped down the families should have gone back to tell us, when we had that school, why they were moving into Hermannsburg. They kept going out to see the outstation and it was getting empty and empty and there were not many people with kids there. Then we had no way of asking people, so they should have told us why they were moving away. Now we have got a health problem but I am sure, as we have got bush medicine, that we can survive. With bush tucker we can still survive. That is how I was teaching my kids and other kids, so you take them out and teach them about Aboriginal culture and law to make them respect the family and family kinship. So it is still huge. We still have all that culture in our land and our there our kids do not forget. Schoolteachers, both Aboriginal and white teachers, have asked me if I could get involved. But I have got tourism at home, and I have got to teach the tourists as well about our law and culture. They want to learn from us, but there is not much support we get from the Central Land Council, I can tell you. They are only looking at the big community. We are going to lose our outstation because of what is happening with mining. The land council wants to talk to all the traditional owners if they could give the land away. What about the spirit of God and their people in their land? They are not strong enough. They are all claiming Hermannsburg as their base community. They are forgetting about their land, about their God's spirit. Please, listen to me what I am saying; I can't hear much what you say to me. Thank you.

Senator SCULLION: Thank you.

CHAIR: Thank you, Mavis. It is a good chance to go to Mr Kantawarra from the school.

Mr R Kantawarra then spoke in language

CHAIR: Thank you, Mr Kantawarra, are you able to translate for us? Would someone help us out with what you have just said.

David (Unofficial community interpreter) : I think the crunch line is what Rex was asking at the end. Should mother and father be the people getting the kids to school or should maybe other family members who might be carers, like grandmothers or whatever. I think it is a discussion point. He is saying that it is happening right now and it is a very good discussion point. Appoint responsibility, and how all the family can grow stronger.

CHAIR: How does it work now, Mr Kantawarra?

Mr R Kantawarra thens spoke in language

Mr B Williams (Official interpreter) : This situation started already with the intervention and there is an attendance issue. It is very difficult to get certain kids to school. It needs further exploration and discussion.

Senator SIEWERT: Do you have any suggestions about what should be put in place to help get kids to school? What sorts of things need to be done to make sure that kids get to school?

Mr R Kantawarra : First, we need a community meeting.

Mr R Kantawarra then spoke in language

CHAIR: Mr Kantawarra, can we get a translation of what you said.

Mr R Kantawarra and others then spoke in language

CHAIR: It is great that people are getting involved in the discussion but so that we know what was said we will get our formal interpreter to translate. Can we hear what Mr Kantawarra was saying about the school and the SEAM process.

Mr Williams (interpreter) : More or less you can see the expression of our mob in the community that the intervention was more a problem when it was introduced into communities. More or less you can see that it created a problem. That is what Mr Kantawarra is saying. As you all know, there is a problem with the intervention. Ever since it started a lot of kids were coming to school, and what he is saying that they are not really learning at school. Attendance is really poor, not only in this community but everywhere else. And like my brother there, my sisters and my nieces work at the school here. They are just wasting their time working. That is more or less what they are saying.

CHAIR: Did all the kids go to school before the intervention?

Mr R Kantawarra then spoke in language

Mr Williams (interpreter) : The intervention started when the kids went to the school or kids not going to school? Now you cannot harm or slap any kids. They will take you to court.

CHAIR: I am sorry, I missed that.

Mr Williams (interpreter) : He is talking about child abuse. If you slap a kid you will be thrown in front of the judge for child abuse—discipline. You cannot teach them discipline by smacking them. If you do, you will be talking to these fellows here, in the black shirts.

CHAIR: What do you think we should do about it? That is Senator Siewert's question: what should happen?

Mr Kloeden : Finke River Mission has been here since 1877. We have been deeply involved with the rights of the local people, and seek to help them out in their daily living. Before the intervention, because there was trouble in the community from the young children, there was a public meeting where the community decided that they wanted the stores to close until the kids went to school. That has continued to today and, particularly in the last few weeks, we have been strict on that and do not open until at least 9.30 am. I think school attendance at the moment is around 150. Even before intervention they were lucky to get 30 or 40, and it would be a different 30 or 40 for the whole week. This was a community decision and they support it fully, and it costs the government nothing—not one cent. The people have spoken, and they have come up with a decision that works.

From what we hear about the SEAM program, it seems like a fairly longwinded process. What Rex and the others were just talking about is that parents seem to have lost the ability to discipline their children. They are so scared, and they mention this at every meeting. Just recently, when we had a spate of break-ins, they again said: 'We can't discipline our kids. We can't smack them because we're so scared at getting locked up.'

Discipline starts in the home, and Finke River Mission will support that through the church and through the store, and it will encourage the parents, the elders and the carers to be able to discipline their children. However, if they are scared because of some government regulations then that somehow needs to be addressed. There is not much point in the store continuing to close to get kids to school. That behaviour change has to start back at the house.

Mr D Kantawarra : I want to say something too. I am the ex-chairman of the school here, and I was chairman for many years. Before the intervention came to Ntaria, all the kids used to go to school every day. Then when Mal Brough came and puts his big foot here, putting intervention here, that has made big trouble. Before the senators started to come and talk, nobody came here from the government, from Canberra, to come and talk to us. Today, you mob come here to talk about this new regulation or some bloody thing.

They said, if a kid does not go to school the mothers will get their money cut off, and all the parents will have no money to spend. That is what the Centrelink mob said two years ago, right in the schoolyard, behind me where the canteen is. They said, 'If the kids don't go to school there'll be no money for anybody.' And that is true. That is why I got this shed going up here when I was the chairman, I got this basketball court going here and a new school, and a lot of kids are starting to come to school. But we do not want the intervention interfering with people's lives. It has made it really bad, like Selwyn and my younger brother, Rex Kantawarra, have been saying here today. So I want to know what this new future is about.

I am a member of the national congress too, like this lady here. I want to know the truth about what is going to happen now when all Aboriginal people have been marked as undisciplined people. We have been sold by our own people in Canberra. That is true. Our own people in Canberra sold us, people like Warren Mundine and Pat Dodson and all them. Let them come and talk to anybody here. Like my mother said. I want them come here and talk to other people. Why don't they come and talk to all the people? We have got a delegate member right here, Patrick Oliver. My sister is over there, Raelene. People should come and talk to us properly.

Mr D Kantawarra then spoke in language—

What I just said is that intervention is not working for anybody.

Senator BOYCE: Selwyn, can I ask you a question, please? You talk about parents being frightened of going to jail for disciplining their children. What has happened to make people frightened about that? Have people been sent to jail, or what?

Mr Kloeden : I cannot really answer that problem because it stems from before my time. I have been here for about 10 years, so I have seen a lot of change of school principals, police, nurses, you name it. But something has happened before that time. Up until the 1980s when Finke River Mission controlled the place I believe all the kids went to school, they all learnt to read and write very well and everybody had jobs. Once this has been handed back to the people it seems to be on a downward spiral. The direct answer to your question is that I do not know why they are so scared but obviously from their statements, yes, some people have been jailed or prosecuted or visited by the police, even though the police have said you can discipline your children as long as you don't break their arms and draw blood, but they can get a smack, they can be told. But it has got to the stage now where the kids simply do not listen to the parents at all in most situations. There are a couple of families where it does work but in nearly all situations children rule this community because they do not do what they are told.

CHAIR: We will take two more before we break for morning tea.

Ms Williams : I am a community elder of Hermannsburg. On school attendance, people are frightened now because as the intervention came in, and now you have got the Strong Futures or whatever it is—another name for the intervention, isn't it—people are frightened because of the money they have to pay to the government when the kids don't come to school. Every kid is not like that. There are good attenders too. Some from the community attend school every day. The only thing they do not have at home is probably food because there is not enough food to go around the kids. But they have food at the school. It is good to see kids come to school because they know they have got food here and they get fed three times a day. When kids come to school it is good to see parents get awarded for those things instead of being put down all the time because they don't send their kids to school. We would like to see more excursions. That makes the kids come to school, because they know they are having good things coming to them after they had been attending school. In the curriculum they have got two languages taught: their language, their culture, and English. But we are born into our language and I would like to see more English being taught at school because we know our language from birth. The more English our kids learn at the community school, the better the education they might get or the better knowledge of mainstream schools in Alice Springs. They will have more idea of it. The school council does work really hard with the kids and they encourage the kids and us as parents. It is really good that they have a bus service here pick up the kids. Even if they are late, they still go to look for them. We have to praise our school because they work really hard for our children. The only thing most of the people are afraid of now is that, if their children do not attend school, they will be fined and they will be punished for that.

Community members then spoke in language—

Conrad: I just want to say something about the BasicsCard.I think it is good for the homeless people to use the BasicsCard. I am on a BasicsCard. You can see one day in town, Alice Springs, they got food but not all of them. Some of them want to get a full amount. Also I wanted to bring customary law. We want our customary law to discipline our kids. With our law, that has gone. Before intervention come, we had no worries. Now we have got kids breaking in—shop, clinic. Why? Because kids are running amok from intervention. Because we cannot discipline our kids. Otherwise you face seven months. One did that with his kid running amok calling all night. She tried to fix her up and she went to jail. We have been brought up tough and rough. I didn't even go to school. I am not good educated. I can read and write. When I grow up, I can go to Canberra to sit on the thing. I have done a lot of things in 20 years. My people said I grow up good. Five years I maybe change my life but I'm still thinking. We got disciplined as kids because welfare, in our time we had really good school councils, tough. They used to use the puller gate. They used to belt us in school; nowadays nothing. We need to see our customary law, our young fellows would coming from push. When I come to town, [inaudible]. That is what we need now, customary law. The police do not do a thing. They say, 'What are you mob doing?' The police have got to be very careful with our young fellas.

Mr Williams : Everybody in every community talks about the intervention. Not just one individual but everybody was against the intervention. Think about it.

CHAIR: We are wondering whether you are giving evidence or translating? If that is your evidence, that is fine.

Mr Williams : What I am saying is this mob is a part of my community. To help you understand, they have to say something to you about the intervention.

Mr J Rontji : We had a big meeting in Brisbane. I am in leadership now. We had a big meeting in Canberra with a top English lawyer and a top American lawyer to sort everything out. I talked with elders from Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria. That is why we made a camp there for me to take kids over there when it is school holidays. But the principal said, 'We've got no money for that trip.' When we used to be on the school council, we used to check up Darwin, then we would have a meeting and send a letter straight to Darwin, and they used to send a project for us. This fence here was the first one.

The intervention was to go for five years only, not more than five. It has to stop, because it was invented by someone. It is rubbish to me. That is why I want to close the gap. When we close the gap then blackfella and whitefella will be one. I got a story about that one. I was doing tourism for a while. I would work and say, 'My name is Joseph.' When the tourists would see me then the bus driver would collect all the money for me. I created my job and that is why I was appointed job creator when we had CDEP. That is why I want CDEP to come back. We used to know our funding but now we cannot see anything. That is why I will be joining your political mob.

Proceedings suspended from 11:50 to 12:11

CHAIR: We are going to start again. I have a list of people who said they want to say something but they were too shy to put their hands up, so we are going to go through that list and then we will see what we have. I also want to tell the women that I have had an approach saying that the women want to have a meeting at the end of our session so that they can talk with us. I can guarantee that before we go we will have a meeting with the women. The first speaker is Edward.

Mr E Rontji spoke in language—

CHAIR: Mr Rontji, could you tell us now what you said?

Senator SCULLION: Could you tell us in English what you said?

Mr E Rontji : I just told you about how as a community, Wurla Nyinta, we work as a team. The government gives us a school and all this, the trade training. We have centres here, and we have a bus to pick up little kids. We have the night patrol coming here, walking around in the communities. We always work together as a team, with Wurla Nyinta. A lot of positive things are happening in this community. We do not have to wait for another community to come and tell us what to do. This is our community [Indigenous language]. Look at all this work you mob bin do.

Mr E Rontji then spoke in language—

And you fellas built all this from scratch—what we are today.

We need the BasicsCard because we have seen a lot of negative stuff happening here. This community was really a worse community before. People used to fight here with [Indigenous language]iron bars, you know? Now we have seen a lot of changes.

We need more police on the ground because all the drinkers are sneaking up—and drugs, really strong. We need the government to help this community. We need more help, more resources.

Mr E Rontji then spoke in language—

I know myself that I was a heavy drinker, but I want to see the community change to make a better community. We all have to live.

Mr E Rontji then spoke in language—

Around the world, around the globe, and it is really strong.

Mr E Rontji then spoke in language—

CHAIR: Can you tell us what you have just said so we can keep it?

Mr E Rontji : What I said was that I was a drinker. We have seen a lot of changes coming because we are sick people in this community, not just here but every remote community. But I am not talking for them; I am just talking about my community. The government could give us something to help our people. Like renal patients—we have to pick up some of them. Sometimes my sister comes here. All the other people are lining up for renal machines. I think maybe we need more renal machines. Thank you.

CHAIR: Thanks very much. The next person is Daryl.

Mr D Kantawarra : I will just make it short and sweet. I will not take up any more time. When the intervention first came, the first thing they abolished was the Racial Discrimination Act. With this new legislation, is the Racial Discrimination Act going to be put back?

CHAIR: We believe so, yes. The government's position is yes, the Racial Discrimination Act now operates across all people in the country. There are no exclusions.

Senator SCULLION: No suspension of the Racial Discrimination Act with stronger futures.

Mr D Kantawarra : So what you are saying is: it will not be put back.

CHAIR: I am saying that the Racial Discrimination Act covers everybody and there are no things that can apply to Aboriginal people only in this legislation.

Senator SCULLION: In the intervention there was suspension of the Racial Discrimination Act. In stronger futures there is no suspension of the Racial Discrimination Act.

Mr D Kantawarra : When I read this quickly there was what Conrad was talking about—the customary law. We want to hang on to that and make that stronger.

CHAIR: There are elements of the act which bring back customary law to do with some things, but not with everything. That will be an ongoing debate, but there are things for customary law in the legislation that have been returned. but we have not brought, in this legislation, customary law into everything—which is I think what Conrad wanted, that customary law would deal with everything. We have not done that.

Mr D Kantawarra : Does that include sacred sites?

CHAIR: Yes.

Senator SIEWERT: Yes. The element that is being reintroduced is the element essentially to do with heritage, objects and places.

Senator SCULLION: On your behalf, the Aboriginal peak organisations have put in a submission, but this will show you the sorts of things they have dealt with. This is what the land councils and other people have said: 'We welcome amendments allowing customary law and cultural practice to be considered in offences involving cultural heritage and cultural objects.' They are welcoming that, but they are saying they remain opposed to provisions prohibiting consideration of customary law and practices in sentencing. That is the same.

They have also said that they urge the government to remove clauses 3 and 8 from the consequential and transitional bill. I do not have those in front of me, but they principally relate to the capacity for the magistrates to be able to use, in either bail or sentencing provisions, customary law. They said if the government decides to introduce the legislation, your organisation calls for a review on the operation after three years and for evidence to be collected on the basis of how it is working. That is one of the things about customary law that they have put in—that is, the Central Land Council, the Northern Land Council and the other mob—on your behalf. I am just taking the opportunity to ask: does that reflect the things you want, because they will obviously be going through this and it will be useful for them to know.

Mr D Kantawarra : Yes, all right. Another quick thing: the Central Land Council and the Northern Land Council sit in their offices and say, 'This is good for Aboriginal people' without coming to the communities and consulting with people. They make decisions for us.

CHAIR: We will ask them that, because they are coming to give evidence. We will say to them that the people from Hermannsburg were asking about that and we will see what they say, and you will be able to see what they say.

Mr D Kantawarra : Like we said, we have a local body here called Wurla Nyinta, and we have a regular meeting every month.

Senator SCULLION: So the stronger futures legislation, as far as you know, has not been discussed at the monthly meetings with the Central Land Council, as far as you know.

Mr D Kantawarra : No, I was talking about Wurla Nyinta. I know nothing about this strong future. Whoever is doing this stronger future thing with Central Land Council, I would not have a clue.

Senator SCULLION: We will let them know.

CHAIR: Thank you. We will ask them. The next people on the list are Mark and Ada.

Ms Lechleitner : In the Kimberley there is a little department called 'researchers'. We do that and we go around and talk to people individually. You get more information by doing that than at a meeting. That is what we do, combining with NINTI One. At the moment, we would like a bit more funding to go with it. I will pass to Mark now.

Mr Inkamala : I will talk about Stronger Futures. The only thing I would say about Stronger Futures is about young people. For instance, we have an whole group of young people. We need a lawn there and lights on the oval for our sport. These young people are our future. We need to talk about alcohol. The money is going to run out soon. It is probably going to run out for the researchers working with NINTI One. That is why we need local researchers—to get more employment.

Senator SIEWERT: Is there anything from the one on one meetings you were talking about which you think is relevant for us to hear? What are the things that people are saying, during the one on one research, that they want changed or they think it is important to fix?

Mr Inkamala : The researchers are people who talk the language. If you get white people coming in here, you get nothing at all. We talk the language and get more information.

Senator SIEWERT: When you are doing that, what are the things people are saying are good or bad or they think should be fixed?

Mr Inkamala : They say things like, 'We need a garage for fixing tyres and stuff.' They say we need things for small business, things for local culture awareness and, mainly, things for sport, I think.

Senator SIEWERT: I did not hear that last one.

Mr Inkamala : I am sort of into sports and everything—I really like seeing that sort of thing. Get the oval going and put lights there and everything. You could fix education and sports. That is the way to go. You need local researchers—you need to get real local people to do your research on alcohol and things like that. And you would save travelling.

Senator SIEWERT: Were you involved in any of the consultations over Stronger Futures when the government came around six months ago?

Ms Lechleitner : No.

Mr Inkamala : No.

CHAIR: The next person on the list is JJ. How are you, JJ?

Mr Anderson : I am a Luritja Arrernte Warlpiri Pintubi man. I would like to the Senate today about what it means to be a young person living in the community. I work as a team leader for our youth service with the MacDonnell Shire. We have a very large population of children and young people—about 500—under the age of 25. This means we have a lot of needs and not all of them are being met. One of the main things we are worried about is that it has taken way too long for us to get our new recreation hall. The government is the one holding this up. We know that in the last 18 months CAALAS has talked to 15 different people from the government and they have had to rewrite the submission 40 times. We are sick of waiting; we really want it. You should come and have a look at the rec. hall we have now, which is not really—

CHAIR: We have seen it JJ; it is pretty small.

Mr Anderson : It is too hot, especially in summer time. We want to see all the money come together at the same time for our new recreation hall so that it can be properly done.

I want to say things about other services coming in. They do not talk to each other or to us. So they just come in and out. They do not come to us as a community to get things properly done for youth. We want to see more community involvement, with services coming out and properly doing what is right for youth.

Sometimes they have come up to me in other places. I have been working here in Hermannsburg for five or six months. Before that I was working at Papunya. The same thing happens all the time. I have had services coming up to me and asking, 'How can we get names of young people so that they can get more stuff?'—as in work equipment ready for work. I have given them names of all these young people and they have been so happy to receive, but they have not received anything. So the young people lose trust in me and lose trust in other people. I think that when this happens it is a waste of time and you are not really doing right by yourselves, the community and young people.

We have had a lot of good ideas about what is needed to make a better life for kids and young people in the community. Some of these ideas were: get another youth worker to work with the older kids; have career advisers in school to help kids think about what they can do in their lives; more help for young fellas coming out of jail, especially for people who want to stop drinking or smoking; and a proper internet room so they can learn about the internet, email, do music and learn about the outside world. We would love to have a swimming pool here in the community. We hope you listen to us and, when you go back to Canberra, think about us back here in Hermannsburg trying to make a difference with our young people. Everyone says we are the future, but we do not know what kind of future we have to look forward to. We do not want to lose any more young people to suicide and grog. Thank you for visiting our community and listening today.

CHAIR: Thank you.

Senator SIEWERT: Can I ask about the rec hall. You said that there have been applications for funding. Which organisations or which level of government was that—Territory, federal or local?

Mr E Rontji : We have got $5 million for that rec hall, but we are still waiting. The minister is going to sign off on that. We are just waiting for her.

Senator SCULLION: What is the total cost of the hall? Is it $5 million for the whole hall or is there more money to come?

Mr E Rontji : We are still waiting at the moment.

CHAIR: Can we get the details of that project sent to us?

Senator SCULLION: Later we might get some details of the project. Thank you.

Mr E Rontji : We are still waiting. We don't want to wait too long. Can someone deliver the money a bit quicker please?

CHAIR: We will follow it up for you, Edward.

Senator BOYCE: People here today have said that parents are frightened to discipline their children and that children just run wild and do what they like. What do you think about that? How would you fix it? Do you agree?

Mr E Rontji : We have too much of people trying to control us and say how we should live our lives. They think they know what is best for us and that they can control us. We know how to live our lives and how we want to bring up our children. People are trying to control how we do. That is why people are stuck in their house and not wanting to come here to meetings. You see 10 per cent of the community here but not all of the community. They are afraid that they will be saying the same thing and you will not be listening and that you are trying to control how we live our lives.

CHAIR: Thank you. Is there anyone from the Western Aranda Health Aboriginal Corporation who wants to talk with us?

Mr Oliver : We have a bus service that takes patients to Alice Springs five days a week. I am the main bus driver and I have been in the job for 7½ years. I like the job and I would like to see that service continue. Some other communities have not got that service. We are one of the lucky ones. I take a few dialysis patients into Alice Springs. We leave about 6 in the morning and we get there before 7.30. The service is going well. I am employed by Congress to work with WAHAC. I think the service is being funded by the intervention. What is going to happen to the funding when the intervention is finished? That is what I am worrying about.

CHAIR: We will follow that up for you and find out what is going to happen to that funding.

Senator SCULLION: I take it that part of the intervention you like!

Mr Oliver : There is another question I want to ask. I was going to talk earlier but we broke for lunch. All the laws that are changing, is that only for the Northern Territory or is it for all over Australia?

CHAIR: The laws to do with income management are spread across the whole country but there are some that are only going to be in the NT, and that is in this legislation. The other laws about land and alcohol are only in the Northern Territory. They are only in communities in the Northern Territory at this stage.

Mr Oliver : When is the Northern Territory going to become a state?

CHAIR: That is up to your government. They are pushing for it.

Mr Oliver : I think they are pushing before the state comes along. The government is putting all those laws in but what we really need is for the government to put in more money for jobs for our young kids. When they come out of school they do not know where to go. Where is the work here? They might want to work somewhere else. Thank you.

Mr Kloeden : I just want to put it on the record that some organisations were asked not to speak today, WAHAC being one of them.

CHAIR: By whom?

Senator SCULLION: Who asked you not to speak?

Ms Leyden : It was congress that requested nobody—

Senator SCULLION: I understand that congress has put in a submission and will be putting in a further submission, though I am not sure why. If you are part of that organisation, that is a matter for the organisation. If you have something to say to this committee as an individual, not necessarily as a worker, you can say you are not representing Congress but you are an individual giving evidence, and we would be very happy to take that evidence.

CHAIR: I think it is important to put it on the record that we are talking not about the national congress but the Central Australian congress. There are two organisations called congress. Next on the speaking list is MacDonnell Shire. Is there anyone from the MacDonnell Shire who wishes to speak?

Mr Nash : I am the Acting CEO of MacDonnell Shire. I came just to observe today and the idea was to let the Aboriginal people here speak and I just wanted to listen as well.

CHAIR: We have got Carl, Mildred and Roxanne here from the MacDonnell Shire. Okay, they do not want to speak. From Joseph we will have one more contribution. Joseph, it has to be quick because you have already had a go.

Mr J Rontji : From what I have seen of the intervention I now know of the word and it was invented by someone. That has got to be thrown away. On another thing, I want to rip away his name, when he would be finished. He is forever with the high court. You know this. Another thing I want to say is about children. Our government judged that we were really not good—the federal government.

CHAIR: While the microphone is coming across, we know there is a video that has been produced and that talks about all of the changes and about Stronger Futures. Has anyone seen that video? I would like to get a sense of whether anybody in the group has actually seen the video, which I saw this morning and which was distributed to communities to talk about these issues. Thank you for that indication.

Senator SCULLION: I will say here that what I understand from the government is that they came here, probably about five to six months ago, and sat down with this community with a Stronger Futures consultation. We as a parliament have now got a document, a Strong Futures consultation document or something like that, and it will reflect the views of the people from this community in that book. So somebody was here. Obviously, there are individuals—many or few, we are not sure—who disagree but as a committee we will be putting that to government that that is the feedback, that basically you have not seen videos or that it is claimed that the people never arrived. I know that the government invested a fair bit of money in that. As part of the estimates process, we will certainly be ventilating the issue as to whether people really came and how many people and when—and we will let you know.

Ms Williams : On behalf of the community I would like to ask you a question; and could you answer it. What differences have you seen since the intervention started in this community alone?

CHAIR: We will have to go back and get it—a huge evaluation has been done of all that process. My understanding—

Senator SCULLION: There has already been evidence this morning from members of your own—

Ms Williams : I was not here. What was it?

Senator SCULLION: A number of people have said that it has gotten better, particularly with the alcohol. The specific evidence given this morning was that things have gotten better, particularly in the area of alcohol. Personally, I have travelled over many places in the Northern Territory and, significantly, I think that people believe the elements of the intervention, like having access to police in the community, have been welcomed. Regarding the 750 houses and the 2,500 refurbishments I am a great critic of how those have been done, but I think the new houses have been welcomed.

Across the board the upgraded medical facilities, which are part of the intervention, have been welcome. But in the off-side, which is what you are looking for, most of the criticism is that when people say 'intervention' they mean income quarantining and income management—they are almost one and the same. I do not think too many people have a problem with the issues about investment, police, houses and all of those things. They have a problem with the other side of the intervention.

But, in general, I have seen a fundamental change, particularly in women, who have told me that they think the intervention has changed their lives for the better.

Ms Williams : What difference will the 10-year rollover make?

CHAIR: We are not here to defend the intervention.

Ms Williams : I am just asking a question.

CHAIR: With the 10-year rollover the proposal in the legislation is that instead of a five-year process before it is reviewed there is going to be a 10-year process. That is what the legislation says now.

Ms Williams : Why is that?

CHAIR: It is to give more time for it to settle. The proposal we have before us says that it takes a long time for there to be real change. You can put the money in and make changes but it takes a long time to see where those changes have made a difference. The proposal is that, if you have a 10-year period, that will be a real test to see whether or not it works. You can actually say whether or not you agree with that, but that is the proposal in the legislation.

Senator SCULLION: How long do you think it should be?

Ms Williams : We should not even have it any more.

CHAIR: Cassandra, I will send you the evaluation. Does anyone else wish to make a contribution?

Ms Malbunka : I want to go back to the intervention, we still see one problem. If one of our kids gets into a tragedy, remember, our law behind our back is still strong. You hear in the community bad things about what alcohol is doing to our people. This is about our children. Payback will still happen. It still stands behind closed doors. No government rules or policy will break our payback; it is still there. Even though the right person is protected by the police we will still be the victim through that payback. So, please come back and listen more to us. Our lives are still at risk and in danger.

Ms Silverton : I don't like the intervention to go on. Five years was enough. I didn't like it in the beginning when we heard the word 'intervention' because we grew up with intervention in the 1920s, 1930s and 1950s and we are still going back there. Can someone stop that? We want to go forward with you people. Why is it that you do not want Aboriginal people to join in?

CHAIR: Raelene, can you tell us what you mean by the intervention? Not just a word, what do you mean?

Ms Silverton : The intervention, I want us to go forward with white people. Why knocking us back?

CHAIR: Can you tell us what that means? Cassandra, you were saying the same thing.

Ms Silverton : I cannot understand why you people are putting us back through intervention.

CHAIR: You say you don't like the intervention. Can you tell us exactly what you mean?

Ms Silverton : I do not understand you as well. You have got to explain to me as well.

CHAIR: About what was the intervention?

Ms Silverton : Yes. Because we are talking about intervention.

Senator SIEWERT: Raelene, do you mean that the intervention came five years ago, which was like other policies that have adversely impacted on Aboriginal people in the past, like ration days and things like that? Is that what you mean?

Ms Silverton : That is what I am saying, yes. I grew up with that. Joseph grew up with that. So did Mavis. We are the oldest people in the Hermannsburg area. We want to see Aboriginal people changing and living clean and looking after their children properly. Centrelink people that look after or if they want to support people, put that in clean card away. Why they want to keep going giving a clean card? People want to see themselves what they are doing, just like you.

CHAIR: Thank you. I am checking to see whether anybody else wants to speak. We have given a commitment to talk with some women now and we are happy to do that. We want to wind up the first session. Eddie?

Mr E Rontji then spoke in language—

Mr E Rontji : What I am saying is that intervention is starting from community because a lot of community women went there and put their point for a number of years. You might want to stop violence and drinking and too much marijuana. We all know that. Speaking out loud, so the government can hear voices from the community, nannas, aunties, mothers, sisters. Thank you.

Ms Kenny : This is maybe the same question that I asked earlier on: what is the difference between the alcohol plan and the intervention towards a Stronger Future?

CHAIR: There are couple of differences. The best thing I can do at this stage is send you something. We will make sure.

Ms Kenny : I think we all need—

CHAIR: We will get some more specific information on the alcohol changes.

Ms Kenny : There was another thing I wanted to ask. Is it true that Hermannsburg is getting 26 houses built? Is it true that they will be building on top of the old houses?

CHAIR: I do not know. We will find that out.

Senator SIEWERT: The thing to point out there is that the intervention did not provide the housing. That came under the SIHIP program, the housing partnership program. The only houses really that the intervention provided were the GBM houses, the government houses, and the safe houses. The building program was separate to the intervention. So, when people say the intervention delivered the houses, in fact it did not.

Ms Kenny : But I thought this was to do with Stronger Futures.

Senator SIEWERT: Stronger Futures will not do the houses either. It is a separate program.

CHAIR: Thank you very much. We have agreed as a committee that we will come back with you. Did you want to speak again, Mark?

Mr Inkamala : If you guys are going to talk about the women's business, why can't we get Senator Scullion to talk with the men?

CHAIR: I can assure you that Senator Scullion is now going to talk with men.

Mr Williams : Getting back to this shire business and the housing thing. We have got a lot of problems with these houses, with the lights and windows to be fixed. Nothing has been done because NT Housing says we cannot even touch it. We are quite capable of fixing things. They are just saying that we are not allowed to do it because they are going to send contractors from town to do it. It is just wasting the funding for the shire workers as well. When we ask to fix something, they say we have not got enough funding to fix houses or fix fences and all that. Where is it all going?

CHAIR: We will follow up for you and ask that question. Thank you all. We have committed to doing a lot of things in sending back more information, and that will happen. We have been asked to send information which clearly shows the difference between Stronger Futures and the previous legislation. We will get information out to you on that. We have been asked about specifically the alcohol changes, to make sure people understand what is in that. We have been asked to ensure that someone from the minister's office is in contact with your local alcohol management group to have a look at how that is running. We have been asked to follow up on all the funding issues around the recreation centre, to see what has happened with that and the general funding. We have also been asked to follow up on the school attendance. The other thing we will follow up on is the statements that have been made about people being too scared to discipline their children. We will follow up on those. Is there anything else that your group wants our committee to follow up on?

Mr D Kantawarra : Ask our Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, to stop closing the gap on Aborigine people all the time. What about the people in the cities? They drink a lot and piss in the streets and all that. Think about them mob too. Don't think about Aborigine people all the time. Aborigine people are trying to get their lives back here. I am telling you the truth. They are trying to get their lives back, and now people are trying to change things. Be good to us, please. Come on. Leave us alone and let us get to work. Thank you.

CHAIR: Thank you very much. Now Senator Scullion is going to talk to any gentlemen who want to talk with him, and we have been told that there are some women who want to have a talk to the women. It will be off the record. We will just have a talk about what the issues are.

Committee adjourned at 13 : 05