A year ago, the Australian government decided to implement new policies in the Northern Territory in order to “assist” Aboriginal people in having more successful lives and to improve the lives of their children. A Board appointed to evaluate the program discovered that after 12 months not a single parent had been arrested for child sexual abuse–the grounds on which the government justified intervention. Measures to increase school attendance have been completely unsuccessful. According to the report, “there is intense hurt and anger at being isolated on the basis of race and subjected to collective measure that would never be applied to other Australians.” The report was scathing about several other interventions such as providing safe houses for victims of domestic violence. Shelters consisted of ship containers grouped together and women refused to live in them because they appeared to be detention centers.
The Board called for ending the intervention’s exemption from the Racial Discrimination Act, and wanted more effective programs to halt alcohol abuse. The report found in many cases, individuals switched from alcohol to drugs. A major issue revolved around what to do about children who are not attending school. According to the original intervention policy, the solution was to manage the lives of parents. In the long run, such intervention only makes things worse. The real issue is still not being addressed –how does one assist families whose children are not attending school