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Intervention brings relief to Hermannsburg pa -

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Intervention brings relief to Hermannsburg parents

The World Today - Friday, 20 June , 2008 12:26:00

Reporter: Kirsty Nancarrow

ELEANOR HALL: When the Federal Government launched its intervention into the Northern Territory a
year ago, many Aboriginal people were opposed to it. But while opposition remains in some
communities, many residents of Hermannsburg near Alice Springs say that the welfare changes in
particular have brought positive changes to the lives of the community's children.

As Kirsty Nancarrow reports from Hermannsburg.

(Sound of cash registers and voices)

KIRSTY NANCARROW: It's lunchtime at the Finke River Mission Store at Hermannsburg, 130 kilometres
west of Alice Springs.

SHOP ASSISTANT: What would you like love?

CHILD CUSTOMER: Can I please have a Nemo, please?

KIRSTY NANCARROW: It's the only time the children are served during the school day as a result of a
no school, no shop policy the community agreed on two months ago.

Hermannsburg was one of the second wave of Northern Territory Aboriginal communities to receive
welfare quarantining as part of the Federal Government's emergency response.

For 279 of Hermannsburg's residents, it means half of each Centrelink payment is set aside to be
spent on essential items such as food and clothing.

Selwyn Kloeden has lived at Hermannsburg for six years and runs the Finke River Mission store that
holds much of the quarantined money.

SELWYN KLOEDEN: There've been little issues along the way but we worked very closely with
Centrelink and they've been really good in helping the people understand the, what it's all about
and how it works.

KIRSTY NANCARROW: So the store has been no worse off as a result of the intervention?

SELWYN KLOEDEN: Oh, certainly not. Sales have probably increased a bit. Our cigarette sales have
nearly halved but our meat and vegies have all increased considerably. That's got to be good for
the community.

KIRSTY NANCARROW: Mr Kloeden says it's not just people's spending habits that are changing.

SELWYN KOEDEN: If you ask a few of the oldies in particular, they're very happy how income
management has worked. They're happy that they have to spend on good food. They have less pressure
from their partners. The kids seem happy. We're seeing a general improvement in the relationships
between people. There seems to be less arguments.

(Sound of cash register and voices)

KIRSTY NANCARROW: Bronwyn Lincoln has been employed at the store full time for six months and she
wants welfare quarantining to stay.

BRONWYN LINCOLN: Now is a little bit alright, no more problem. Not as much fighting, drinking,
petrol sniffing.

KIRSTY NANCARROW: So you feel a bit safer?

BRONWYN LINCOLN: Yes.

(Sound of children's voices)

KIRSTY NANCARROW: Perhaps the biggest change can be seen at the Ntaria school, where more than 110
children are now attending regularly, and up to 139 on some days.

Darrell fowler has been the school's principal for 13 weeks.

DARRELL FOWLER: This community, compared to some of the others that I've been working in over the
last 12 months, seems to be quite behind the education process and yeah, encouraging their children
to come to school and yeah, it's certainly quite a refreshing change from some of the places I've
been. Yeah, I'd say it's probably 40 to 50 per cent better than it was in the past.

KIRSTY NANCARROW: New classrooms have had to be ordered to accommodate the additional students and
the school is expecting two extra teachers, part of the 226 pledged by the Federal and Northern
Territory Governments for remote communities over the next four years.

Gwen Inkamala is the school's home liaison officer.

GWEN INKAMALA: More younger kids coming, and even the older women and men coming to, to come and
learn about their education and why it is important, education is for them.

KIRSTY NANCARROW: She's had a strong hand in helping to change community attitudes to education and
work, but it's no easy job.

The intervention hasn't managed to keep alcohol out of the dry community.

GWEN INKAMALA: I told them, "you better do something, Don't just sit there and watch the sun. You
gotta do something better for you and for your children future too. Don't waste your time."

KIRSTY NANCARROW: What sort of response do you get from people when you say that to them?

GWEN INKAMALA: They say to me "Oh, I got a problem here. I didn't had a good sleep last night and
there's going to be another, maybe another one coming tonight", and I said, "You gotta be strong,
tell them to go, because you got a children to take care. Children have to go to sleep and you have
to go to sleep so you can get up and make breakfast for them and get ready for school", and they
was still talking, "Oh, it's very hard, I can't do this" but I turn around and said, "Excuse me? I
got a same problem too but I send my kids to school and I go to do my work".

KIRSTY NANCARROW: Gwen Inkamala is hoping one day soon she'll no longer be in the minority at
Hermannsburg as someone who's employed full-time.

It's a hope shared by Ntaria principal Darrell Fowler.

DARRELL FOWLER: There's some real potential here to develop work in hospitality, tourism, also just
maintaining the buildings and infrastructure in the community. There's no reason why, you know, a
number of our students shouldn't be looking towards apprenticeships in all sorts of different trade
areas that I think could in the longer term you know, make the community a far more sustainable
place.

ELEANOR HALL: Darrell Folwer, the school principal ending Kirsty Nancarrow's report.