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Tuesday, 14 August 2007
Page: 41

Debate resumed from 13 August, on motion by Senator Scullion:

That these bills be now read a second time.

upon which Senator Chris Evans moved in respect of the Social Security and Other Legislation Amendment (Welfare Payment Reform) Bill 2007, the Northern Territory National Emergency Response Bill 2007 and the Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs and Other Legislation Amendment (Northern Territory National Emergency Response and Other Measures) Bill 2007 by way of amendment:

At the end of the motion, add:

                  “but the Senate notes that:

              (a)    the protection of children from harm and abuse is of paramount concern to all Australians;

              (b)    the documented instances of child abuse within Indigenous communities in the Northern Territory are of such gravity as to require an urgent and comprehensive response to make  children and the communities they live in, safe;

              (c)    these legislative measures taken together represent a major challenge for Territorians and a change to current arrangements;

              (d)    we will not succeed in our goal of protecting children without the support and leadership of Aboriginal people of the Northern Territory; the Commonwealth must gain their trust, engage them and respect them throughout this emergency and beyond;

              (e)    the work of strong and effective Indigenous community members and organisations must continue to be supported during this emergency;

               (f)    it is important that temporary measures are replaced in time with permanent reforms that have the confidence and support of Territorians, and short term measures aimed at ensuring the safety of children grow into long term responses that create stronger communities that are free of violence and abuse;

              (g)    In the case of town camps effective partnerships with lessors and negotiated outcomes should obviate the need for compulsory acquisition;

              (h)    this includes stimulating economic development and more private sector partnerships to secure greater self-reliance;

               (i)    both levels of Government must work in partnership; there must be political accountability at the highest level - with the Prime Minister  and Federal Minister  for Indigenous Affairs;

               (j)    program funding must hit the ground through evidence-based delivery; there must be relentless focus on best-practice and rigorous evaluation by all parties set within specific timeframes;

              (k)    practical measures must include;

                    (i)    police to keep every community in the Territory safe, particularly children, women and elders;

                   (ii)    safe houses that provide a safe place for women and children escaping family violence or abuse built using the direction and leadership of local Indigenous women;

                  (iii)    night patrols that provide important protection;

                  (iv)    community law and justice groups that play an important role in the effective administration of justice;

                   (v)    appropriate background checks for all people providing services in communities who work in proximity to children;

                  (vi)    comprehensive coverage of child and maternal health services are essential to give children the best start comprehensive coverage of parenting and early development services for Indigenous parents and their babies;

                 (vii)    an effective child protection system in the Northern Territory;

                (viii)    all children enrolled and attending school and Governments to deliver teachers, classrooms, teacher housing and support services (eg Indigenous teacher assistants);

                   (ix)    investment in housing construction and maintenance to reduce the shortfall in Indigenous homes and infrastructure; and

                    (x)    reform of the Community Development and Employment Program, including transitioning participants who are employed in public sector work into proper public sector jobs and ensuring participants are not left without sufficient income or participation opportunities”.