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Taskforce head says emergency intervention is -

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Taskforce head says emergency intervention is making progress

The World Today - Thursday, 5 June , 2008 12:22:00

Reporter: Lindy Kerin

ELEANOR HALL: The head of the Northern Territory's emergency taskforce has appealed for the
intervention in remote Aboriginal communities to continue.

Sue Gordon finishes her term at the end of this month and says the Federal intervention has made
significant progress in dealing with problems in Indigenous communities, but she says there's great
uncertainty in communities about the future, as Lindy Kerin reports

LINDY KERIN: It's almost a year since the former prime minister John Howard announced the emergency
response to tackle child abuse in Northern Territory communities.

JOHN HOWARD: Ladies and gentlemen, Mr Brough and I have called this news conference to announce a
number of major measures to deal with what we can only describe as a national emergency in relation
to the abuse of children in Indigenous communities in the Northern Territory.

LINDY KERIN: The intervention has been one of the biggest mobilisations of police and Government
services. Almost 9000 health checks have been carried out and scores of extra police have been sent
in to communities.

WA magistrate Sue Gordon has been in charge of overseeing the first year of the program. She says
it's delivered some positive results.

SUE GORDON: The awareness of the situation that Aboriginal people found themselves in in the
Northern Territory has been the main thing, the awareness that for a long, long time by governments
of all persuasions, that there have been breaches of human rights and breaches of the rights of the
child for a long time. These breaches involve basic services, basic right to law and order, those
sorts of things, and children to be free from harm.

LINDY KERIN: Under the previous government's plan, the intervention was expected to last five
years, but the Rudd Labor Government has announced it will carry out a review after the first 12
months. Sue Gordon says there's great uncertainty and some fears about the future of the
intervention.

SUE GORDON: Aboriginal people have been saying to the intervention people on the ground: what
happens after 12 months? You're not finishing up? And my answer has been, no. That was in the early
days, no, the Government said this would be for five years.

Now we have had a change of government since then so what I've said to communities since the change
of government: the new Government has said that they will have a review after the first 12 months
to see, based on the evidence that they get, what is required and whether the intervention will
continue.

LINDY KERIN: The future of the intervention will largely depend on the outcome of the Government's
review. The Federal Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin is yet to announce the makeup of the
review team or the terms of reference.

Sue Gordon says she's concerned the process could be hijacked.

SUE GORDON: Minister Macklin has said it will be an independent review team. Now that's the word
that I hope remains, because the future of the intervention does rest on those individuals. Now
there will be a review team and a panel to advise. Now if there were people who were very, very
opposed to the intervention, I just get a bit worried that they may come with their own agenda.

LINDY KERIN: Jenny Macklin was unavailable for an interview today but in a statement she said the
Government is committed to a whole of government approach in the Northern Territory Indigenous
communities. She said this was reflected in the recent Budget which provided funding for measures
across a range of portfolios, including health, education and law and order.

There was no mention in the statement of when the review of the intervention will be announced.

ELEANOR HALL: Lindy Kerin reporting.