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Indigenous leader honoured at Deadlys calls f -

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TIM PALMER: A prominent Indigenous leader has appealed to Tony Abbott to scrap the so-called ‘intervention’ in the Northern Territory. Retired magistrate Pat O'Shane says the Howard-era policy is a human rights failure and must end.

Last night, Ms O'Shane was honoured with a lifetime achievement award at the Deadlys, the annual Indigenous awards ceremony.

Peter Lloyd began by asking Pat O'Shane about that honour.

PAT O'SHANE: I was very proud and honoured. It was a total surprise to me. I had no idea.

PETER LLOYD: With the ascension of Tony Abbott to the prime-ministership and his commitment to Aboriginal and Indigenous affairs, what priorities would you like to see him focusing on?

PAT O'SHANE: Get rid of the intervention in the Northern Territory. And the health conditions still have to be tackled in a meaningful way, that is; properly planned, properly resourced, and given his full backing.

PETER LLOYD: Why do you say the intervention has failed?

PAT O'SHANE: Well it's a big political question of course, but to suspend the Racial Discrimination Act in order to implement that program is an absolute injustice. And I think everybody knows that my driving force as it were in my lifetime has been the response against injustice. Injustice comes in many forms, but that is one of the worst.

PETER LLOYD: How do you believe that the issues that brought about the intervention should best be dealt with?

PAT O'SHANE: Well first of all to respect the people themselves, to ensure that they are able to build viable communities. It's impossible to develop employment for people in some of those communities. They're a long way from where the biggest resources are. But it can be done and I think it's key - employment, housing, of course health and education are the key to building sustainable communities.

PETER LLOYD: To remove the intervention or to remove the policies that have been built around it, essentially you're talking about a massive boost in funding across these areas of health, education.

PAT O'SHANE: And why not? I think that's exactly what we need.

PETER LLOYD: How much of a role in this advocacy would you like to play? Do you anticipate perhaps even asked to play a role?

PAT O'SHANE: If I'm asked to play some sort of a leadership role I will step up to the mark because I know what I'm capable of doing. But otherwise I'm quite happy to let other people show their mettle.

PETER LLOYD: As we speak right now, where are you headed?

PAT O'SHANE: I'm heading to the College of Law (laughs).

PETER LLOYD: So at 72 you're still studying?

PAT O'SHANE: Yes. I'm doing a Master of Laws in Family Law and I plan to work in family law. But otherwise, you know, the other areas that I've been involved in over the years, criminal law especially because I think that's where we see the most injustice.

TIM PALMER: Still working. Pat O'Shane, the winner of the Marcia Langton award for lifetime achievement in Indigenous leadership, speaking there to AM's Peter Lloyd.