• Alcohol is absolutely totally destroying our communities and our families. There is no doubt about that. Something serious needs to be done to curb this river of grog. It’s killing people, spiritually, physically, psychologically, there’s a total breakdown in families when people are sort of drunk, most of the time, and everyone around them. And children are not safe… Where those conditions prevail, we know from the literature and certainly from our findings, where there is unemployment, poverty, alcoholism, drug taking, overcrowding, unemployment and what have you, you can guarantee that those children, at some point, are severely at risk, and eventually are going to be s-xually abused. — Pat Anderson, co-chair of the panel which handed down the report, Sacred Little Children, on The World Today
  • Finally, we can hear them screaming. A new report, this one not easily dismissed, proves beyond doubt that Aboriginal children are being abused in every indigenous community in the Northern Territory… The report makes 97 recommendations, but one of the key points is this: police must act… The Australian again calls for more access to indigenous communities, some of which are completely closed to reporters. This report is an urgent call for action. There must be no attempt to silence critics.  — The Australian editorial
  • Your Headline: generation at risk in s-x abuse crisis. REALLY. What crisis! I named these issues as endemic and epidemic in 1989 in a report I wrote for the National Inquiry on Violence; in 1991, in a report I wrote for Prime Minister and Cabinet; in 1999, in the report we did for the Queensland government — the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women’s Task Force on Violence Report. Since then I have worked intensively and constructively to develop educational approaches to respond to the the distressful issues as outlined in the NT report. Before the Nanette Rogers report; before the Lateline ‘exposure’, I was walking the corridors of Parliament House, Canberra, asking the ministers responsible for Indigenous Affairs in Australia: Health; Education; Attorney-General; Justice; Employment; FACSIA, to coordinate their approaches to this very need. A whole o government approach. They don’t know what it means. They do know buck passing however… — Judy Atkinson, Director of the College of Indigenous Australian People at Southern Cross University, writes in a letter sent to The Australian, The SMH, Lateline and politicians.
  • A line has been drawn in troubled sand. A taboo, long and artfully maintained, stands broken. From this day on, no one can say they do not know how deep the nightmare is in remote Aboriginal Australia, or how urgent the need… Yet, for all the 97 recommendations, this is a conservative report; it concentrates its fire on government, and what government can do. Perhaps because the deeds committed by s-xual abusers are so obvious, little stress is laid here on the responsibilities of Aboriginal men, who are the main offenders in the s-xual arena. The agenda of personal responsibility sketched out by Noel Pearson of Cape York, and editorially supported by this newspaper, makes scant appearance in this document… The time for darkness and taboos and excuses has gone. Perhaps the time is even here, 40 years after the referendum, for Aboriginal people to enjoy both the rights and the responsibilities of citizenship.– Nicholas Rothwell, The Australian
  • The report into child abuse in Indigenous communities in the Northern Territory is a damning indictment into the failure to protect children… That the inquiry finds child abuse occurring in every Indigenous community and that there are s-x trades and juvenile prostitution occurring is something that should sicken all Australians. These are issues that I raised soon after taking over the Indigenous Affairs portfolio 18 months ago… Child protection is absolutely a state and territory responsibility. However, recognising the need for leadership, I convened a summit on this issue 12 months ago and secured funding of $130 million to help tackle some of the issues related to child abuse… Months and months have been lost as a result of the Territory Government’s refusal to cooperate with the Valentin review of policing until just May 16 this year when it finally provided the information required. — Minister for Indigenous Affairs Mal Brough, press release.
  • The fact that I was told I was grandstanding 15 months ago, we have 15 months where we could have been helping people. If people are going to get hung up about that term [p-edophile rings] and if that term and the ridicule that I copped for making it has been one of the drivers (for highlighting the issue) … then I’ll take all of that on the chin. — Mal Brough again, PM.

  • We need to take a big stride forward on this issue, but it must be done in partnership. There’s a lot more that this Territory Government has to do, there’s a lot more the Australian Government has to do, the non-government sector, and importantly, Aboriginal people themselves. And I give a commitment to Territorians that we will stride forward on this issue, we will tackle an issue that we are simply not doing enough on. — NT Chief Minister Clare Martin

  • On Friday, yet another report into the appalling conditions endured by indigenous Australians detailed the morass of entrenched alcoholism, s-xual abuse of young children, violence towards women, educational failures and unemployment in indigenous communities. Everyone agrees urgent action is needed. Everyone except the vested interests. The power-drunk Aboriginal leaders who control those communities are one of the biggest hurdles to urgent action needed to address the dysfunction infecting their own communities. And, of course, the army of activists and lawyers who support them. That much also became clear on Friday. — Janet Albrechtsen, The Australian

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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