Jul 12, 2012

NT intervention: what happened to outcomes?

The fifth anniversary of the NT intervention was supposed to be "liberation" day for prescribed communities now supposedly "stabilised, normalised and exited". Instead it was another day of shame, says Jon Altman.

The fifth anniversary of the Northern Territory Emergency Response Intervention ticked over June 21. It was supposed to be “liberation” day for prescribed communities in the Northern Territory, by now supposedly “stabilised, normalised and exited”.


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5 thoughts on “NT intervention: what happened to outcomes?

  1. Bob Durnan

    Thanks for the useful analysis of these data from the last two censuses.
    Even more interesting and useful would be to compare the same data categories from the previous three or four censuses with these ones, so clearer long term trends may be discerned. Would it be possible for you to put such a table together and publish it?
    Secondly, I agree that the ‘Closing the Gap’ approach is probably not the most useful one that could be taken, as it does obscure or neglect some Indigenous values and aspirations, and so probably fails to fully enlist, or reflect, the benefits of Indigenous engagement in
    certain areas.
    However the Commonwealth government should be given some credit for achieving small improvements in the face of enormous difficulties, against a backdrop of great need and dire problems, some of which are seemingly insoluble. The fact that particular ‘Gaps’ may never be fully closed by achieving this rate of progress does not invalidate efforts to try making improvements.
    In some areas, the small improvements being seen could be the sign of the beginninings of significant ‘turnarounds’occurring, and these may well be the
    platforms needed for beginning to achieve greater rates of improvement, and possibly eventually closing larger parts of these gaps.
    The really useful lesson might be obtained from some form of
    cost-benefit analysis, where this is feasible, to identify what the benefits of different types of investment of these monies might be in relation to Indigenous wellbeing, autonomy and economic development.

  2. Clytie

    Business and government tell us it doesn’t matter so much when people suffer, because success is measured in dollars. When it’s obvious a choice or set of actions has actually lost money, they shift focus again. It’s all about “‘looking forward” and aspirational statements without any real KPIs.

    Harming people is wrong. Wasting money is devaluing the effort of the people who produced it. Perhaps it’s time we remembered that society is all about the people who comprise it.

    Indigenous society can teach us a lot in that respect.

  3. Hoojakafoopy

    Hear Hear Clytie!

  4. Saul Geffen

    Professor you are selectively misrepresenting statistics to support your moral position on the intervention. The fact that socio economic division is greater between 2006 and 2011 may reflect that non indigenous groups have simply improved faster or greater.NOT that the intervention hasn’t helped. You should compare non intervention communities, measure arrest rates, domestic violence, school attendance in total etc. ps I make no judgement on your moral stance.

  5. Jon Hunt

    There are many academics out there who understand that the intervention is only the most recent of 200+ years of intervention, all of which has had negative impact upon Aboriginal people. You can’t take away a peoples’ country and culture without expecting dysfunction. What the government seems most keen to do, as it always has done, is to keep these people further under their control, presumably because they feel they know best, or perhaps just because they enjoy this. This is more than a little ironic, and sad, and I wish that people would have enough sense to realise this can’t possibly help, but they don’t.

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