There’s a document circulating around Yuendumu, Central Australia’s largest Aboriginal community, that suggests federally appointed Government Business Managers on Aboriginal communities in the Territory will have the power to direct police activities on those communities.

Northern Territory coppers are to be ordered to round up kids wagging school and conscript them into work gangs so they are “worked until visibly tired”.

Nowhere else in Australia is it possible for civilian bureaucrats to have that power, let alone the power to force kids as young as five years of age to undertake enforced labour.

The document “Yuendumu – School Attendance Proposal” has been drawn up by Noel Mason, the newly appointed Government Business Manager at Yuendumu.

Explaining that the kids from Yuendumu “enjoy staying away from school in Yuendumu far too much”, Mason states that “the names of children staying up late at night will be collected and those children will used to assist with the clean up the town site the next day … The aim is to make children who want to avoid school, have a busy, tiring day.”

He goes on:

Children listed will be collected each morning by Night Patrol staff and Police with the assistance of elders, questioned about why they are not at school, then moved to an area of rubbish in the town site and will be required to collect rubbish as punishment. Family elders, Police, Night Patrol staff and CDEP staff, will manage the rubbish collection. Students will be worked until they are visibly tired. Water and fruit will be available for them whilst working.

The local police will “support Night Patrol and elders collect children identified for work crews” and check on the work crews “throughout the day”.

NT Police Association Vince Kelly has already been critical of many aspects of the Federal Intervention. It will be interesting to see how his members feel about this attempt to coerce them to follow orders from Canberra civilians rather than senior officers.