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Tuesday, 8 May 2018
Page: 2612

Senator McCARTHY (Northern Territory) (20:57): I rise to talk about the community of Tennant Creek, a fantastic town in the Northern Territory that's certainly doing its best as a community to deal with and move forward from some pretty tough and tragic incidents recently. I spent the days leading up to Anzac Day in Tennant Creek and what struck me was how the town's services and organisations are certainly making a very concerted effort to work together to create a better future for the town and its residents.

A cultural authority group has been established to ensure all high-level visitors to Tennant Creek, particularly political visitors, speak to the correct people. The group also works on issues such as community safety and keeping children safe. The cultural authority group is currently unfunded and I understand the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet is looking at funding to get them some administrative support, so I very much urge this to happen as a matter of priority. This sort of local decision-making and authority needs to be encouraged and supported, and it was terrific to have the opportunity to get around so many of the strong and resilient service providers in Tennant Creek.

It's 30 years next year since the Tennant Creek women's refuge opened. I was able to celebrate the 20th anniversary with them and I'm looking forward to returning next year to mark their 30th year of providing a safe refuge and just for being there for those who need support, especially our women and children in the Tennant Creek and Barkly region. In another related anniversary, it's also 10 years next year since the Northern Territory Labor government introduced mandatory reporting of domestic violence and we were the first jurisdiction to do so. This was a significant achievement and one I'm immensely proud of as I was the Territory minister for families and children at the time the mandatory reporting legislation was introduced. The next step is financial empowerment of women so as to move out of entrenched poverty and violent relationships, an absolutely critical step in assisting our women across the Northern Territory.

I'd like to thank the CEO of the refuge, Mary Ryan, and the dedicated staff, Christine Gullifer, Denise Ricky, Ronnie Staunton and Shirleen Alum. As well as providing a safe place, the refuge also operates some innovative programs in partnership with Barkly Regional Arts. The refuge launched the Which Way? Right Way project last month, a series of commercials made in Tennant Creek and aimed at the local community to combat domestic violence. The community driven and created project includes a song as well as the videos, and I certainly recommend to those here in the Senate to look at the Barkly Regional Arts YouTube channel. It is well worth having a look at it.

Anyinginyi Health Aboriginal Corporation is the town's Indigenous controlled primary health service. It was a pleasure to catch up with CEO, Barb Shaw, the chair of the area and also the board and dedicated staff. The staff there, and the organisation, support other main local Indigenous community controlled organisations, such as Julalikari and Papulu Apparr-Kari Aboriginal Corporation. They have been at the forefront of the push for strong alcohol restrictions to be implemented in Tennant Creek. The trial restrictions in place see takeaway liquor only available for sale Monday through to Saturday between the hours of 3.00 pm and 6.00 pm. Takeaway liquor sales on Sunday are prohibited and there are also limits on the volume of alcohol a person can purchase each day.

Naturally, this trial has mixed results and responses from the different people that you speak to. But in terms of the overall feel of the town and the opportunity for people there to have a bit of a breather, to reflect on how things are going and to make decisions best for the future for all individuals and families who live there, this is an important and critical time for the community of Tennant Creek. Julalikari Council Aboriginal Corporation is a strong supporter of the alcohol restrictions, and it's on track under the guidance of a strong board and new management.

Papulu Apparr-Kari, under the guidance of the CEO, Karan Hayward, and the board are settling into a new purpose-built home and are continuing their important work preserving local languages in the Barkly and Gulf region, including languages such as Warlpiri, Warumungu, Yanyuwa, Garrawa and Gudanji.

The mayor of Tennant Creek, Steve Edgington, was away on holidays when I was in Tennant Creek but I would certainly like to thank the councillors Jeff McLaughlin, Kris Civitarese, Ronald Plummer and Sid Vashist for their time and advice, and also the staff at the council for briefing me and filling me in on just how things are going in the region.

I'd also like to thank the staff at Barkly Region Alcohol and Drug Abuse Advisory Group for taking the time to inform me about their service. Also, thank you to the staff at the Tennant Creek Hospital. Thank you very much for your time in showing me around. I listened to how things are going in terms of the alcohol restrictions in the town.

And I'd like to make special mention of the Tennant Creek RSL. It was wonderful to be able to spend time with them, their members and the community of Tennant Creek for the important dawn service, and also the service again at 11.00 am. It was an incredible privilege to be asked to receive the general salute as the Anzac parade marched through Tennant Creek. That was a beautiful moment for me, and one that I will certainly take as one of my highlights working in political office. It was lovely to be able to spend the couple of days that I did with all the people of Tennant Creek.