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The Forum > Article Comments > Getting positives from the negative > Comments

Getting positives from the negative : Comments

By David Coles, published 9/7/2007

The most heartening and positive aspect of this Indigenous policy is that the lid has now been lifted.

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Great article.

It's good that someone who criticises the federal governments response to indigineous health has an option of their own put forward.

Whilst I agree with the arguments you make, I disagree with a few points. Fundamentally I disagree with having a dialogue with the people.

This has been tried for over thirty years by the white supremacist left - who had the audacity to believe Aboriginies could keep their tribal values yet live productive lives in a western society.

Utter insanity.

They need to be ripped away from 'communal' thinking, for it is this that has led to the paedophiles, welfare being abused, and made it impossible for people to live their lives.

Aboriginies are in dire need of a firm hand, not discussion. Prosecute the criminals who would abuse women and children, check their medical status, and if need be - remove them.

I can't believe anyone would advocate discussion when it has so obviously failed. Who would you talk to anyway? All their leaders are self-styled populists who only represent middle-class white Aboriginies who see this situation as a means to gain some power, like all ethnic leaders.

Fit in, become Australians, adopt our values. Perhaps deportation to Sri Lanka should become an option.

That is, after all, where they're from originally.
Posted by Benjamin, Monday, 9 July 2007 10:20:29 AM
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Little Johnny has set the cat amongst the pigeons. But I must say that it's always hard to work out what's motivating him. He is desperately looking for an issue to take to the next election. At the same time this is something that has needed a circuit breaker for years and I have long thought that we have been too worried about being PC to have the courage to face the problems of indigenous Australia front on. So I am willing to support Howard in at least administering the sharp shock that might wake us all up. To his credit Brough has been concerned and looking for solutions to indigenous problems.He has been consistent in his approach and has probably stirred Howard into action. The fallout that has commenced is predictable. The Greens and the Democrats will argue that problems can only be solved by everybody being nice. That doesn't always work. You may have also noticed the dissent amongst the aboriginal leadership. Pearson is under attack from former ATSIC members, a thoroughly discredited organisation. You might ask where was ATSIC when earlier reports of abuse were being made? The Central Lands Council leadership have also complained but who was in charge of Mutitjulu? Likewise the NT Government has not been very responsible. Apart from reluctantly releasing the latest report they have long been in denial that anything was amiss in indigenous communities. You may recall that a public prosecutor let fly about sexual abuse of indigenous children some time ago. I heard an hysterical denial that anything was wrong from someone who said he was the NT Minister for Health and anyway everything would be OK real soon! It's going to be rough for some but maybe the Federal takeover will be the best thing that anyone's done for a long time in indigenous affairs. I wouldn't vote for Howard in a fit but I think he's done well in opening up the issue to public scrutiny even if I would never publicly admit it. It now cannot be ignored and maybe some good will come of it.
Posted by AyJay, Monday, 9 July 2007 1:27:19 PM
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The best thing I've read yet on this issue. At last a practical assessment. The absence of high flown rhetoric is a relief. Their has been much more sound and fury about "rights" in the city than in central Oz, where even long term workers in this area (whose political affiliations were never Conservative) see that good can come out of this.

Another positive in all this is that existing services provided to indigenous communities will be more effective when the worst abuses are curtailed.
Posted by palimpsest, Monday, 9 July 2007 5:15:19 PM
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Good on you, Graham Coles.
No-one can doubt John Howard's motives: they are always political. My guess is that Brough really threatened to resign. Obviously, action was not as bad politically as losing a front-line minister.

Brough really wants to fix an horrendous problem, but he doesn't like facts to interfere with his own views. He really believes sending in the police will prevent child abuse.

Brough-Howard's response shows all the signs of planning on the back of a serviette - no room for details. For example, an exit strategy for stability and sustainability. A cynical person would say it's only months to the election.

The 87 recommendations of the 'Little Children are Sacred' report seem to be irrelevant. Graham is right about the cultural differences, although you'd think genuine (Western) social research might carry some weight, e.g. the stuff that validates the necessity to engage the people concerned.

Recommendation One says to involve the people. The introduction to the recommendations emphasises "In the first recommendation, we have specifically referred to the critical importance of governments committing to genuine consultation with Aboriginal people..."

Well, that certainly didn't get a guernsey. Or Recommendation 16: "...undertake greater liaison with family or clan groups..."

Or Recommendation 31: police "receive ongoing training and education on child abuse" and police and prosecutors dealing with child sexual abuse "to receive training similar to that recommended in the Asche Report (1999)" and that only trained people should carry out child interviews.

Extensive training isn't done in two weeks, so we have a bunch of untrained personnel running around in a dozen communities. Also note the 1999 reference, a reminder of just how long governments have been sitting on their hands.

Let's hope that people of good conscience can subvert the government's probably cynical and certainly poorly thought out exercise into something that good can come from.
Posted by Pequod, Tuesday, 10 July 2007 8:38:48 AM
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A reasoned article that doesn't dwell on motives or criticism and which has forward looking agenda.

The only point not explored is how long? Indefinately, till all issues are adequately addressed or 'fixed' or simply short term, until the surface issues of childabuse, school attendance and drunkeness are 'rectified'.
Posted by keith, Tuesday, 10 July 2007 9:29:35 AM
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considering your 20 years in the NT and the mesh there is than I am wondering what on earth were you doing?

Also, no matter how good intentions anyone may have, if it is unconstitutional then it is and never must be acceptable. After all, where does the government then stop with acting unconstitutionally?

Consider also that the Federal government has indicated to dictate those receiving social security how they are permitted to spend their monies, and not just Aboriginals. As such also people on old age pensions. Next the Federal Government might indicate where you are to purchase your groceries, etc.

Come on, the Commonwealth of Australia has no constitutional powers to interfere with a persons liberty, social life, etc. This is for the States/Territories to deal with.

I have posted material on my blog at

It is terrible what has been happening, but no excuse then for us, society, to ignore Aboriginals and others their constitutional and other legal rights! Whatever we do we must ensure not to make it worse, and that is what I view we are really doing.

If we for whatever reason are going to justify this kind of conduct then we simply have no democracy!
If we do not seek to stop it then we may just find that the real TERRORIST will be the least of our problems, as we have already lost in the meantime our democratic rights
Posted by Mr Gerrit H Schorel-Hlavka, Wednesday, 11 July 2007 1:01:07 AM
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