NT Intervention: Australia

Aboriginal children at mission

The “intervention” into indigenous people’s lives in the Northern Territory, Australia, deserves more international attention than it is receiving; and given its continuation of a way of ‘managing’ aboriginal populations that has dark eugenic resonances, is also relevant to the ‘what sorts of people should there be?’ project.

The intervention was introduced by the previous Howard government when its approval ratings were flailing prior to last year’s election, in what can be seen as a last ditch effort to raise the prejudice, fear and hatred that won him the election in 2001 (just on the heals of September 11). The action involved creating a state of emergency in remote aboriginal communities, and then deploying the army and ad hoc teams of social workers, doctors, and bureaucrats into the area to examine children for signs of sexual abuse. It also has led to the quarantining of welfare payments, bans on liquor and pornography, and (perhaps more controversially) the suspension of what little self-determination indigenous people had in this area, such as the permit system (more about this below).

Apparently in response to a report commissioned by the Northern Territory government, “Little Children Are Sacred“—a report which detailed and proposed solutions to endemic hardship suffered, especially by children, in remote communities of the Northern Territory (sexual abuse being just one of these hardships)—the government called a state of emergency in these communities. Focusing only on sexual abuse and ignoring poverty, the Prime Minister said to Australia that this situation was “our Katrina“. Continue reading