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Improving safety in Northern Territory Aboriginal communities



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M e d i a R e l e a s e

JENNY MACKLIN MP

Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs Minister for Disability Reform NICOLA ROXON MP Attorney General Minister for Emergency Management

WARREN SNOWDON MP Minister for Indigenous Health Member for Lingiari

SENATOR TRISH CROSSIN Senator for the Northern Territory

Improving safety in Northern Territory Aboriginal communities

Strengthened remote policing, community night patrols and legal assistance services are critical to continuing to improve safety and build stronger futures for Aboriginal people in remote Northern Territory communities.

A $619 million funding boost will provide these services in remote communities across the Northern Territory for the next 10 years, as part of the Stronger Futures in the Northern Territory package.

Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory have told the Government that they want vital community safety measures, including additional policing and community night patrols to continue.

The funding will ensure the Northern Territory Government can continue employing 60 full-time Northern Territory police officers in 18 remote communities, and build an additional four permanent remote area police complexes in communities.

The Australian Government will also support the continued operations of the successful Substance Abuse Intelligence Desks (SAID) and Dog Operations Unit which have played a key part in disrupting commercial drug distribution networks from other states into Northern Territory Aboriginal communities. The new SAID headquarters in Darwin was officially opened today.

An independent 2012 review of SAID found that the Government’s investment to reduce substance misuse in remote communities is making a difference, with increased enforcement, the rollout of Opal fuel, and more consistent alcohol restrictions lowering petrol sniffing and alcohol abuse in some communities.

In response to strong community support for night patrols, the Government will continue to fund this important community safety measure across 80 communities, including in Katherine, Tennant Creek and Alice Springs.

The Australian Federal Police will also continue to support the multi-agency Northern Territory Child Abuse Taskforce, and the Australian Crime Commission will continue its work with the National Indigenous Violence and Child Abuse Intelligence Taskforce.

Community safety for Aboriginal people living in remote communities is improving, with the latest Closing the Gap in the Northern Territory Report demonstrating that assaults, alcohol-related incidents and child welfare incidents continue to fall in remote communities.

The Australian Government will also extend legal assistance and services through the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services, Women’s Legal Services, and the Northern Territory Legal Aid Commission, ensuring greater access to advice, support, referral and representation for those who need it.

These initiatives play a key role in improving community safety for Aboriginal people living in remote areas, by enforcing alcohol restrictions, maintaining law and order and working with local residents to keep their communities safe.

They will also deliver important job opportunities for local people through community night patrol jobs.

These initiatives are also being supported through the $76 million the Government has already announced it is investing in tackling alcohol abuse as part of the Stronger Futures package, to extend current alcohol restrictions, develop alcohol management plans and increase penalties for grog running.

Ensuring the safety and wellbeing of communities, especially for women and children, is a key priority for the Australian Government.

Continuing to improve community safety is essential to building stronger futures for Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory.

Chief Minister Paul Henderson has welcomed the funding.

“We welcome funding to help bolster our Police in remote communities and bring us four new remote Police stations,” Mr Henderson said.

“This investment is also an important boost to helping stop marijuana and other drug from making their way into Territory communities.

“Our Police do a fantastic job often in challenging circumstances - it’s great we are able to back them up with the funding support the need to keep doing the excellent job they do in their communities.”

Date: 28 March 2012

Media Contact: Kate Thwaites 0429 067 500