Vicki Gillick, Co-ordinator of the
Ngaanyatjarra Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (NPY) Women’s Council (Aboriginal
Corporation) has written to Crikey in response to yesterday’s article.

Gillick tells us that the NPY Women’s Council operates “… in
the Central Australian cross-border
region in a number of areas including domestic violence, youth
(including involvement in a number of petrol sniffing inquests), disability
(often from sniffing), frail aged and child nutrition…”

Gillick vigorously defends Lateline and urges Crikey to focus on the point of the “sorry tale”: that “women and
kids have been subjected to violence, bullying and abuse at Mutitjulu and in
other Central Australian communities for years and the response to the efforts
of this organisation and other agencies and individuals has been negligible, to
put it mildly. The excessive focus on one person amongst the number who
appeared and told similar stories is difficult to comprehend. To those who
think this is all some terrible conspiracy, forget it…”

We agree with Gillick. The point of this story is the violence and
abuse in Central Australian communities. She continues: “Crikey seems
very happy to use anonymous witnesses and rumours. Have its anonymous
sources also been physically threatened
with retribution by violent men in remote communities?…Try to focus
on the
issues, not the imaginary conspiracies and non-existent plots.” She adds:

1. There were
(& remain) good reasons for the ‘youth worker’ to be anonymous – reasons unrelated to his job.

2. There has
been no discernible ‘political manipulation’ of Lateline’s
reporting in this instance.

3. He was
not pressured by Minister Brough’s office to appear – in fact, the opposite
applied. He came under some pressure not to appear.

4. Calling
him a ‘youth worker’ was an honest mistake & in fact wasn’t his suggestion.

5. He does not work for Minister Brough.

6. Lateline
contacted him before Minister Brough’s
office became aware of that the program was to be made.

7. His
allegations were (very obviously) corroborated by other interviews presented in
the program & in subsequent programs

8. It has
been widely reported that the document faxed to the NT police, although
unsigned, was preceded and followed by phone calls in order to identify the
sender & ensure it was treated seriously.

But what about manipulation of these
issues? Crikey spoke to Warren Snowdon, the Federal member for Lingiari
(Mutitjulu falls under his electorate) this morning
about the revelations surrounding Lateline‘s Mutitjulu story.

“It
seems to be common knowledge that the youth worker on the Lateline program was
in fact not a youth worker but a person who had previously been employed as a
community development officer as part of the Working Together project, which is,
I understand …co-funded by the NT and Commonwealth governments and was a
position to work with the community of Mutitjulu,” Snowdon told Crikey.

“And now this person is a senior official in Minister Brough’s
department…He’s now involved in advising the minister
and indeed other senior departmental officials and carrying out their
work….He was recently in Mutitjulu on behalf of the Commonwealth,
laying down the law, so one wonders how accurate or what advice
he’s giving the Commonwealth about what’s happened in Mutitjulu…”

Peter Fray

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