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INTRODUCTIONIn this essay, we would discuss the Northern Territory Intervention or Northern Territory Emergency Response. It is a range of controversial and complex measures that the government introduced in the year 2007. It was observed how the Indigenous community residing in the Northern Territory suffered from violence, sexual abuse, poor housing conditions and poor health. This intervention was a response to the AmpeAkelyernemaneMekeMekarleReport which meant “Little Children are sacred”. This report focused on the sexual abuse that the children living in Northern Territory were facing (Evans, 2012). Through the graphic imagery, and striking facts the government wanted to recognize the social seclusion and extreme disadvantage that theindigenous and remote communities face in the Northern Community. This587$ million worth of legislature had to change a lot in the Northern Territory. These changes ranged from the acquisition of land, health initiatives, alcohol consumption restrictions, education initiatives, restrictions on pornographic content and pornography, and initiatives for employment. CRITICAL REFLECTION PARTThe AlmaAtta declaration was made in the year 1978 that called for a comprehensive approach for healthcare with the combination of preventive, rehabilitative, promotive and curativeactivities creating a holistic approach towards health. According to statistics for the year 2011 in the Northern territory 30% of the population was that of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in comparison to only 3% in other parts combined all over Australia. Australia has laggedfor healthcare provided for the Indigenous people as they still experience inequalities in health. They have a 10 year lower life expectancy than a European settler population. Their employmentrate is only 65 % in comparison to 75% to the general population, and their income is about 2.5%times lower in comparison to general population. With the introduction of NTER it was seen thatgovernment was facing issues in engaging the community in this intervention. The challenges they faced were usually in balancing evidence based medicine with the community desires. The Alma Atta declaration was also not followed when the strategies that were listed in this intervention was found out to be not culturally respectful to the Indigenous people. The Australian Indigenous doctors association has taken a health impact assessment (HIA) report which showed that the different components of NTER are missing the aspects that are mentionedin the “Dance of life” painting depicting wellbeing and health for aboriginal people. The different physical, cultural, spiritual integrity, health and psychological dimensions being depicted in the painting have been supported by factors such as training and education. This painting showed how an individual can remain grounded and healthy by being connected spiritually. While reflecting back on our culture can attain a good and balanced life for us.Through this assessment, it was seen how NTER is leaving a negative impact on the spiritual andcultural aspect of the community. For aboriginals, the spiritual connectedness is the crucial central point that balances all parts of their life. But the intolerance and misunderstandings related to their believes and values have hurt the progress of this intervention (Lowe,& Coffey,
2017). This has limited the Aboriginal leaders to incorporate their views in the policies and legislatures. Culture gives a person his position in the society. Due to the clash of cultural views of the European settlers and aboriginal people caused numerous misinterpretations that have given rise to institutional racism, and marginalization in the social and political structures(Walter, 2016).Another question that arises is “has the intervention worked so far”?. Many organizations like Amnesty International and Australian Indigenous doctors association has become the voice of the affected communities and have termed this intervention as “Travesty”. Many argue that this act has only regulated the lives of the Aboriginal community as now they feel that they are more vulnerable and dependent on the state. It was only in the year 2006 when Ms. Nanette Rogers who was Crown Prosecutor for Central Australia briefed about her controversial paper about sexual assault cases that she has come across in her 12 years of practice as a prosecutor. She stressed how Aboriginal community was suffering from violent crimes on women and especially children. In the past two decades, there were numerous commitments that were made for equal access to services and resources for the Aboriginal people. But it was only on 21 June 2007 that Northern Territory Emergency Response was announced by Minister Mal Brough. This intervention was supposed to introduce alcohol restrictions throughout the Northern Territory, it also had to introduce welfare reforms tostreamline cash flow for children welfare, through this intervention the government wanted to enforce school attendance by linking the family assistance payments to the school attendance, thealso introduced compulsory income support, compulsory health checks, cleaning communities through local workforce, improving housing reform, and banning pornography. It was introducedin the parliament on 7th August 2007. This intervention was a response to the AmpeAkelyernemaneMekeMekarleReport which meant “Little Children are sacred”. But many stakeholders contest that numerous other factors influenced its implementation. Some of these factors are the announcement coincided with the federal elections, another factor is that there was an ongoing disinvestment in the Aboriginal movement by State and Australian government and lastly the Australian Government holds additional powers in the Northern community in comparison to the other states. Many say that this intervention was more like a “SHOCK” to the affected communities as this legislature required to keep aside provisions of theRacial Discrimination Act. Racial Discrimination Act was passed in 1975 which makes it unlawful to discriminate a person based on their ethnic origin, race, and color. It can also take place when an act or law treats some in a different way and has unfair effects on a certain group of people. Critics complained how this intervention was introduced without any notice even when it included numerous compulsory measures. (Hallberg et al.,2014).The two main factors that are hurting the outcomes of this intervention are external leadership, control, and governance along with compulsory income management. The NTER did work on the Ampe Akelyernemane Meke Mekarle which means ‘Little Children are Sacred’ report but itsimplementation took the control from communities that were being affected and handed it to the
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