Brough calls for emergency summit on violence in Indigenous communities

ABC Local Radio AM Transcript
May 18, 2006

Reporter: Lindy Kerin

TONY EASTLEY: The Federal Indigenous Affairs Minister Mal Brough will today ask state and territory leaders to attend an emergency summit to discuss the problems of violence in Indigenous communities.

Mr Brough will make the announcement at Alice Springs, where he spent last night visiting Aboriginal town camps, which are plagued by violence and substance abuse.

Lindy Kerin reports.

MAL BROUGH: Good to see you again. Didn't expect to see me so soon did ya?

LINDY KERIN: The Federal Indigenous Affairs Minister Mal Brough arrived in Alice Springs last night and headed out with the Tangentyere Night patrol service.

MAL BROUGH: Alright, well, when they're ready we'll hit the road. Go and do a bit of work.

LINDY KERIN: It's his second visit to town camps within the last month and comes amid intense debate about the best way to deal with shocking rates of violence and sexual abuse in Indigenous communities.

Over two hours Mal Brough visited four town camps, a women's hostel and the Alice Springs hospital, where he helped a young woman and her child.

MAL BROUGH: Where we going?

(Inaudible answer)


LINDY KERIN: Mal Brough says his visit was about listening to people who live in town camps.

MAL BROUGH: It's been interesting chatting to some of the people we've picked up tonight, particularly some of the young women, and the young lady I just spoke to now.

And I said if there was one thing I could do for you, what would it be? And she said, just get rid of the grog. She said that's the problem and she said do that and we'll be a lot better off.

So, you know, I think that's just a pretty solitary lesson for us all to understand that that is the root cause of so many problems here.

LINDY KERIN: One of the night patrol workers out with the minister was Robert Wiseman.

ROBERT WISEMAN: We see a lot of violence, but we just try to get the police in as soon as possible. But they'll ask us what's their names, if any weapons are involved, we just… just half the time weapons are involved - sticks, iron bars. Anything that Aboriginal people can get their hands on. Tyre levers or anything.

LINDY KERIN: Today Mal Brough will write to state and territory leaders, urging them to come together for an emergency meeting to tackle abuse in communities.

MAL BROUGH: There are two aims that I have, two objectives that I think that we as governments and law enforcement agencies need to achieve out of this meeting and they are:

Giving people Indigenous people the confidence to be able to report crime. Clearly, again tonight, I've heard and I hear it constantly, that that is something that too few people believe they have the confidence in doing.

And secondly, also giving people confidence that they won't be subject to retribution, they won't be subject to crime themselves as a result of giving evidence in a court of law.

LINDY KERIN: Alison Anderson is a former ATSIC Commissioner and is now a member of Northern Territory Parliament.

She took part in the Prime Minister's Family Violence Summit in 2003, with 15 other Indigenous leaders from around the country.

She says there's no time for talk fests and that the Prime Minister was made aware about the horrific cases of abuse three years ago.

ALISON ANDERSON: The abuse that was happening to children nationwide, you know, four-month-old babies being raped, seven-year-old children presenting to clinics with STIs.

And these people put in a lot of effort and time to tell the Prime Minister of Australia that these shocking things were happening to Indigenous children.

TONY EASTLEY: Northern Territory Parliamentarian Alison Anderson ending Lindy Kerin's report.


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