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Fed Govt planning next phase of NT interventi -

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Fed Govt planning next phase of NT intervention

The World Today - Monday, 27 October , 2008 12:46:00

Reporter: Sarah Hawke

ELEANOR HALL: The Federal Government is planning to introduce legislation on the next phase of the
Northern Territory intervention next year.

And the Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin has already signalled that she won't be taking in
any soft approaches to dealing with child abuse in Aboriginal communities.

The Minister has already signalled that compulsory quarantining of welfare payments will continue
despite an independent review saying it should be voluntary.

Sarah Hawke has our report.

SARAH HAWKE: When the former Federal Government rolled out the intervention citing a national
emergency, a corner stone of its response was extra police.

Officers were sent from interstate and there was a promise of an extra 66 Australian Federal Police
officers.

Sixteen months later there are now an extra 51 officers and 18 new stations in communities that had
never had a police presence before. But there is a desire for more.

The independent review commissioned by the Government stated that the overall number of police in
Northern Territory Aboriginal communities should be significantly increased.

The Police Federation of Australia says 50 per cent of the 73 targeted communities are still
without police.

Senior vice president of the Northern Territory Police Association Tim Lloyd says this wouldn't be
acceptable in other communities in regional Australia.

TIM LLOYD: I think some of these communities are quite sizeable and unfortunately at this point of
stage, there has not been a police presence, a permanent police presence. Some of those communities
may well be serviced from a close by community but we believe some of those communities should
have, not only police presence but other agencies like health, education.

We believe this effort should be a synergistic effort and needs all those agencies to ensure we
achieve the aims that are required.

SARAH HAWKE: Many of the additional officers are from interstate and come in on a fly in, fly out
basis.

Tim Lloyd says to ensure better law and order outcomes, the Government should provide more money
for Northern Territory sworn officers who spend more time in the community.

TIM LLOYD: In most cases they spend about six months in the Territory and one month is spent in
Darwin as part of orientation and training and then we don't sort of, it doesn't sit happy with us,
this fly in, fly out type policing because it is not the dedicated type policing or permanent
policing that these communities are entitled to expect.

So that is one of the issues that we have. That is why we strongly of the notion that these
communities should be serviced and supported by Northern Territory police officers.

SARAH HAWKE: I guess when the intervention was first announced, it was regarded as an emergency
situation and I guess you do get these fly in, fly out situation. Why now should the Government
look at more permanent presence? What sort of benefits would that provide a community?

TIM LLOYD: I think, continuity I think. I think that is important that those communities, you know,
have an expectation that the staff will not only police but are there on a permanent basis.

I suppose that ensures peace of mind also that those officers and those other health workers,
teachers get to know the community and so you can actually provide a dedicated service.

Normally, those remote stations if they are served by a Northern Territory police officer,
generally that commitment is at least two to three years.

SARAH HAWKE: The exact numbers and financial bill of such a commitment are still to be determined;
but not everyone is convinced that extra policing is the right way to go.

Priscilla Collins from the North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency says many of the prosecutions
from the increased police presence have been for driving offences.

PRISCILLA COLLINS: What we do support is providing those communities with the resources that are
essential to be able to address the problem. The majority of the issues on those communities can be
addressed by their own communities themselves. They can be given safe houses; they can be given
resources so that there is night patrols there.

There is education programs not only in the schools but for adult education and then that way we
are addressing the issues out there rather than increasing prosecutions.

SARAH HAWKE: Was the lack of police one of the issues that perhaps led to these problems that
required the intervention in the first place?

PRISCILLA COLLINS: Well, what we've seen so far is even with an increase in police, there isn't an
increase in child sexual abuse cases being brought up. We haven't seen any.

ELEANOR HALL: That is Priscilla Collins from the North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency. She
was speaking to Sarah Hawke.