As someone who works in the area (and has close connections with the Alice Legal Service) I would say that Mal Brough’s claims of paedophile rings are rather far-fetched. The offences tend to be more opportunistic than planned.

The real problem is that no-one, and certainly no-one in the NT government, actually cares enough about what happens to Aboriginal children to actually do anything with the information – this is the only pattern I can identify. As for expecting people who are chronic alcoholics or petrol sniffers to make informed decisions about taking responsibility – well it makes the government and even the likes of Nanette Rogers look good for making the suggestion and then blame the victims etc for not succeeding. And providing more police and laws and imprisonment as the solution (the one thing we know that doesn’t work) – no wonder people don’t want to report it if this is the best they can do.

The other problem I have is that what is being said is blatantly racist – people are calling this “Aboriginal violence” no doubt assuaging some old guilt about living off the spoils of crime, the benefits of colonisation while denying what actually happened and is still happening to gain those benefits. This is psychotic behaviours acting out the frustration, anger and helplessness that is the legacy of colonisation for us.

So it would be good if Mal could do something meaningful to fix things up – like resourcing an Aboriginal Child Care Agency that has a watching brief over the protection of children. The only one in the NT is in Darwin, and has now been defunded by the NT Government of its miserable $159,000 per year (comparable budget in Victoria is $6m) due to not wanting to be challenged on the disgraceful job they do vis a vis Aboriginal children, was at least able to provide some service in the Top End so we don’t have the same degree of problems up here.

Peter Fray

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