Emeriti Faculty

Intervention and Aftermath


One of the glories of Australia is its vast mystical wilderness. The aboriginal peoples of the continent enjoyed the wildness of the place and that is also what immediately struck the European settlers, especially when they ventured into the outback. To appreciate the Australian wilderness you have to be quiet, to move slowly over the landscape and let nature take its course. The full appreciation of the wilderness bubbles up from below, from the inner spirit of a person, from the unconscious, subconscious. Miriamrose Ungersmeer tried to communicate this when she wrote her piece, Dardiri. Contemplative people who have been in the country for a long time sometimes talk this way, about sitting back, not interfering too much with life. It takes time to find this out, to move from becoming a meditative to being a contemplative person. The culture of the aboriginal peoples was to do whatever was necessary to preserve the land and then to let the land feed and nurture them - to rest in peace on the land - to be born in your own proper place, live there and die and be buried on that land. This is a vision that seems too romantic to the people of today.

The shakers and movers of the Intervention, ministers and administrators who instituted the Intervention in 2007 and later a Review in 2008 to improve the quality of aboriginal life, came from a very different culture. It is perhaps the most important thing to remember when talking about the Australian government’s Intervention. For these movers and shakers it almost seems wrong somehow to keep still, to let the grass grow under your feet. They believe that what the land can provide is “raw materials” and if anything can be made from them it would be a sin to leave them “raw”. People who keep still and are quiet too much of the time, need to be watched. They are doing nothing much to improve the total wealth of the community, perhaps even to feed themselves. Besides, if the mind is not stimulated with new information, new ideas, new experiences, it will grow fallow and be overgrown with psychic weeds. To sit still and have no conversation will generate too much imagination and will probably lead to mischief. They believe that outsiders need to come in and stop all that and proactively Intervene in order to set things right; shouldn't they?

The Little Children are Sacred Report, was issued. The Report (2007) focused on concerns about the sexual abuse of little children (thought to be rampant); the deprivation of children from food, clothing and reasonable shelter; the misuse of welfare money being diverted to alcohol, drugs and tobacco; children not receiving any education worth mentioning; and about the general squalor and unhygienic campsites the children were living in. The Report signaled the need for immediate action by government to face what was thought to be a national emergency. It was not the kind of emergency that comes up after a natural disaster like a tsunami, a tornado or major earthquake. What needed to be done in a case like this was a restoration of what had already been in place. It was time to call in help to care for the injured, to bury the dead, to rebuild the buildings and to help the survivors get on with their normal life, but this Intervention was not intended to be so. The damage it was supposed to address was not so much the physical loss but rather damage caused by an incorrect way of life because that was the way the supporters of the Intervention viewed the situation. This was not the way the aboriginal community saw things. They felt that the Report unnecessarily vilified them, especially on the matter of supposed rampant sexual abuse of their children. It was simply not the case that this was happening all the time. They pointed out that the Report had no statistics and only some anecdotal stories and that no statistical answer had ever been given to the question, how many? Aboriginal people, like all Australians, believed that sexual abuse of children was bad, wicked, criminal and should not happen at all. Many would agree that excess alcohol was present in aboriginal communities, but there were so many loopholes in the laws and regulations that it was difficult for aboriginal communities to effectively police their own communities and townships. Communities that were legally dry, (no alcohol at all) and wanted to remain dry, found there were pubs and takeaways just outside community limits and there were supermarkets a short drive away, so who was more to blame? Many mothers and grandmothers would agree that too little money was being spent on food for the children and that something should be done about that. Schooling in general was a good thing, but what local outback schools were teaching (the curriculum) seemed to make no sense and to lead schoolchildren nowhere. Improvements at school would be welcomed. There was indeed violence in small communities (in Darwin, too) from time to time, police protection could be helpful then. If the Report and the subsequent government Intervention generated suspicions and uncertainty about what it would mean, it also raised expectations and some curiosity about what would actually be done. In 2007 it was time to sit back and see what would happen.

Executive Summary and the Intervention Report (hereafter the Review) recognized even after the expenditure of a lot of money, the problem of overcoming the built-in disadvantage that the aboriginal people faced remained. It had not gone away. A number of myths, or better yet, long-standing conventions, surrounding non-aboriginal and aboriginal relations, were broached by the original Intervention orders in June, 2007, something which the Review was well positioned to look into. I will return to the Review, but first let us talk about the original Intervention itself.

The original Intervention attempted to do at once many different things. There were two large baskets of issues. The first basket contained what I would call an administrative bundle of issues; and the second basket contained what I would call a legal-cultural bundle of issues. The latter has received much less press, but is the most fundamental. Firstly, the administrative issues included matters relating to health, education and welfare, making sure that welfare money (in all its forms) was being spent as it should be - on food for growing children, proper clothing, petrol for cars needed for necessary travel, basic telephone service. The items necessary for any well run bare-bones rural household budget.[1]Administrative issues included finding ways to insure that children do attend school on a regular basis; that children learn at home the things families should teach them; that everybody gets a bit more than simple medical attention and receives ongoing, preventative medical care. Within the area of administration were also the issues of child safety from sexual abuse and violence at home, and the availability of well-trained police so everyone could feel safe in the streets.

We should also put into the administrative basket all those programs that involved employment the dole, CDEP, the Rangers, the Aboriginal Art Centres and proper pay for work done under government sponsored schemes - in short everything that is needed to enable someone to make a living in the bush. I call the above administrative measures because they are the sorts of services that are normally delivered by local and state (Territory) governments through the social welfare departments, the community development offices and by routine police protection. [2]

At this point a footnote needs to be made about aboriginal communities. Some of them are virtually townships - those with populations of 2,000-2,500 with highway access, a shopping centre, a clinic, a post office - and some are remote communities of a few 100 people with a small store, a classroom site and a community centre. There are very remote communities made up of a few families living together with no notable facilities at all and little access to roads. Outstations are family offshoots from a nearby township that are dependent upon it for what services they have. [3] One size clearly does not fit all communities in the N.T. or anywhere in the rural outback. Some communities have been doing fairly well, thank you, while others have been dysfunctional disaster units. We can be certain that anecdotal stories about aboriginal communities will not be uniform either. The original Intervention needed to approach communities differently but lost an important opportunity by issuing blanket laws.

Admittedly, the administrative basket I have outlined is large and complex. Was one year enough time to start asking questions such as - Has the Intervention worked? What parts have been successful? What parts have failed? Where has all the money gone? In response to the administrative issues, it is natural to expect quantitative, statistical answers, however we often can only get anecdotal reports drawn from different types of outback communities. It was too early to tell.


Let us turn now to that other big bundle of issues, which I have put into the legal-cultural basket. They involve suspension of the Racial Discrimination Act of 1975 and questions of civil rights. The original Intervention, using compulsory acquisition, took effective control of large areas of aboriginal land.[4] It mandated five-year leases of 73 aboriginal communities (and any others the Minister might wish to order later on) and ordered the appointment of Government Business Managers (later called GBMs in the Review). They were effectively administrators over aboriginal communities over communities large and small. GBM’s were given wide ranging powers to build up the infrastructure of the communities under their charge and could apparently require unemployed men and women to work at assigned tasks on a work-for-the-dole basis.[5]They could seek compulsory acquisition of property.[6]The Intervention allowed (even encouraged) individual aboriginals to lease small areas of land under communal ownership title in order to build and own their home and/or to start a small business on their property.[7]In addition, whole communities could grant a head lease to areas of communally owned land (under Native title) for periods of up to 99 years (granted that 99 years was an outside limit) for development development could conceivably involve setting up a hotel, a tourist venue, or even a manufacturing plant. These measures were presented in the press as something new and daring, but reading legislation already on the books, it seems they were perhaps not so new after all.[8] In a cultural sense, however, the measures introduced by the original Intervention in June, 2007 were not routine, but upended long-standing conventions, (or at least post-Mabo understandings) between government and aboriginals concerning aboriginal use and control of land.[9]

In this legal-cultural basket we can also put those cultural imponderables that are at the heart of misunderstandings between aboriginal non-aboriginal people - matters like showing respect, prior consultation, being careful about building/destroying self-worth and reputation.

The legal-cultural issues, unlike the administrative, are not easily addressed with the quantitative-statistical approach, in fact this approach cannot be applied directly at all. Once a lease is granted, for example, the lessee is able to use it however the civil law allows (unless there happen to be restrictions in the terms of the lease). Leasing for 99 years or even 49 years removes communal land from communal control for the lifetime of two or three generations of aboriginal owners, including the traditional owners. Obviously, no one can look that far ahead statistically. The commercial worth to an individual of bits of communal property owned now in a freehold manner may be measurable, but this change redefines communal ownership. This change is value-based and values are not quantitative.[10] The ability of communities to lease their property to others who may alter its whole character changes the basis for communal land ownership from heritage to commodity.An award of a lease to an outsider goes a long way toward challenging the aboriginal belief in the inalienable possession of land. Ongoing communities see particular parcels that they own as ceded to them at a time-out-of-mind by an ancestral figure that has left behind no written record. Loss of property rights is always a justice matter which requires, at the very least, consultation and conversation, and conversation which is truly consultation, requires trust. These values take a certain amount of time to build up and to mature. They are values which cannot be measured with a yard stick. In the original Intervention they were not taken into account.


Within a year or so, people began to ask has the Intervention worked? It has cost a lot of money has it changed things?Opinions were and are still mixed. We have Mr. Rex Wild (author of the Little Children are Sacred Report) saying that the Intervention, “has created hurt and bitterness and little improvement” “…governments have missed the central point of recommendations…no solution should be imposed from above.” Ms. Anderson, the co-author, also felt disappointment. [11]‘…Marion Scrymgour (once Minister for Indigenous Policy in the N.T) disliked the original plan and called for a new approach to service delivery as well as a better governance approach. The National Indigenous Times headlined (Oct 13, 2008), The Intervention: a battalion of human rights breaches – arguing that owners were being forced to sign over their land on leases up to 99 years in order to gain access to additional housing and to resources such as schools.[12] On the other hand, we have warm accounts of mothers happy with compulsory income management but it appears to me that these accounts come from the larger of the outback communities.There is truth in all of the stories, but we still needed to ask has the Intervention worked?

Looking again into our administrative basket-at the service delivery bundle of issues-our question takes the form: Are children being better fed, clothed, housed? Are there medical services nearby? Are children going to school more? Are they being better protected? Is there a better sense of well-being and safety, especially in the more remote aboriginal communities and in the town camps? The Executive Summary of the Review report makes the point that “measures designed to reduce alcohol-related violence, to increase the quality and availability of housing, to improve the health and well-being of the communities, to advance early learning and education leading to productive and satisfying employment these matters are uncontentious”. True! But that does not mean that consensus has been achieved. The devil lies in the details.The chief mechanism of enforcement was the inauguration of a compulsory income management scheme, or more colloquially, quarantining of welfare payments where a percent (50%) of these payments could only be spent in approved ways.[13](I believe there are 69 communities now under this scheme.) A card is given to an aboriginal individual which enables he or she to buy food, some clothing, some white goods at a store which is empowered to cash out the value recorded on the card. Individuals under the compulsory managed income can receive approval for vouchers which enable them to exchange the voucher for petrol, for necessary car repairs, for travel, and so forth. Is the compulsory managed income system working?[14] Are children better off; are families less dysfunctional?About this we have some thin statistical evidence and a great deal of anecdotal reporting pro and con. Grocery stores report more fruit, vegetable and meat are being purchased. Examination of garbage in trash heaps suggests that there are fewer bottles and cans and fast food wrappers. The weight of children has increased.[15] There is also much positive anecdotal evidence especially from women that good food can now be bought because they can control how their welfare money is being spent at least 50% of it - and they are rescued from seeing it spent where it should not be spent, on grog, cigarettes, card playing, and the elderly are spared from humbugging. The community is quieter now, they claim, which seems to follow indirectly from quarantining of money since there is less cash available to be spent on grog purchased near home, and there is less money to buy petrol to drive to purchase it at a distance. The quiet also seems to follow from more night patrols (in more populated places) and from more police presence, at least in those communities which have them. On the other hand, we have the ABC[16] reporting severe hardship being imposed on pleasant, clean, well-spoken aboriginal men and women by bureaucratic management of income which has destroyed what little stability their lives might have once have had.[17]Many requests have appeared in the press, and in the submissions, that the managed income program be modified, that it should not be automatically applied across the board to everybody and perhaps made voluntary except where the welfare of children is at stake. The Review suggests that people who do not wish to participate should be free to leave the scheme, that it should be limited as a precise part of child protection measures, and the report adds that managing income should include education to improve financial literacy. [18] These suggestions were immediately met with anger by Vicki Gillicki, Scrymgour, Marcia Langton and the Minister who insisted that the comprehensive income management system would not be scaled back for at least a year; there is still a national emergency; the stabilization must continue.[19]

Are children attending school with more regularity? The evidence suggests that attendance is still very poor even into 2010-11. Nothing much has changed, it is said. The test scores in smaller communities have been particularly disappointing if the cities like Darwin are better. The jury seems to still be out on positive affects for education by the Intervention. Spending large sums of money on new buildings is not the best priority in the short run. It seems obvious that school curricula needs to be revised with more input from local community leaders as to what is needed and what they will support. Clearly, children and teenagers must be able to read and write, but in what language? They must be able “to figure” but they will need to work on their computer skills as well.[20] In aboriginal communities more aboriginal teachers need to be employed and all teachers to be encouraged to stay at their posts for longer periods. Handling these issues is not easy especially because too many “new” programs have been tried out before. This is also one of the goals promoted in the Review, but it appears there as a distant prospect. At the end of a Four Corners program Sarah Ferguson said (with a sigh I presume),“successive generations of new teams of enthusiastic educators have arrived on the Tiwi islands determined to set things right. The biggest fear is that in 40 years time someone will dig out these pictures from the archives to find out what went wrong this time.” [21]

What is being done about housing? One positive ray of hope came from the statement from Jenny Macklin, the Minister at Wadeye, that houses would be built, that there was a real need for them, and they would be designed and built by the local people themselves. Tracking in prefabricated sweat boxes designed for profit was not the way to go. New houses will and are being built and many old ones refurbished.

Have the prospects for employment improved since the Intervention? Whatever may be said of CDEP it was work on a job for a wage. The money was earned money. By stopping CDEP the original Intervention destroyed too many good programs - programs that were doing good for aboriginal communities even if they did not seem to be cost efficient to outsiders.[22] The cancellation was a step toward work-for-the-dole, which was seen as a punitive welfare scheme. It is difficult to see where any new jobs have entered the communities.[23] This was a real shame since frustration from being without work was a main problem that needed to be addressed. Without finding ways for aboriginal men to show initiative, communities will never become self-sufficient. It is important that a good percentage of the work be done by local people and not by outside workers.

Many feel that nothing has really changed with regard to child safety,[24] more insistent however, are continuing reports of seething anger under the surface that the Intervention evinced a lack of trust in aboriginal people.Deep frustration is felt by people who see themselves helpless to do anything about managing their own affairs. The frustration of the “Prescribed Peoples Alliance” at Alice Springs is a recent witness of this.

The administrative basket includes what we might call service delivery, i.e., delivery of good food, education and housing. These issues have gained a great deal of attention, far too much attention, I suspect, so that our minds have been distracted from some more fundamental issues. From the beginning, the Intervention clearly had a legal-cultural agenda. The compulsory acquisition of 73 communities without forewarning, consultation or consent was a breathtaking legal action. Enforcement involved suspension of the Racial Discrimination Act of 1975.[25] In taking over 73 communities, the government took the good with the bad and injustices occurred. Aboriginal communities, for example, where no reports of sexual abuse of children had occurred, which were dry and financially independent from the proceeds of raising cattle, lost their independent authority destabilizing a community which with good reason thought itself a model of stability.

How has the Intervention proceeded on the legal-cultural front and where are we going after the Review? We have more of a work in progress here. In the Media Release from the Minister’s Office (Oct. 23) there is a promise of more legislation in the Spring Session of Parliament in 2009. The compulsory five-year lease of land will continue. The taking over of 73 aboriginal communities and appointment of Government Business Managers, (GBMs) will also continue –until, as is said, “greater stability is shown in aboriginal communities”. Community is a difficult word to use to describe a collection of people scattered over a wide area who frequent some sort of a “centre from time to time.[26] Rather than communities, the terminology now used is “prescribed areas.” (The 73 really only referred, we now find, to the larger centres). The prescribed areasunder supervision include all the territory held under the Aboriginal Land Rights Act (N.T.) 1976, all aboriginal communal living areas and all aboriginal town camps.[27]This means that 70% of all aboriginal people in the N.T. in 500 communities live within these prescribed areas. For these prescribed areas the Review talks of place-based agreements whether regional or local {to} provide a framework for more effective community development and coordination of government services.Again, substantial investment of public funds in community housing, requires security of tenure which must rest on payment of just terms.[28]Aboriginal speakers have been asking about rent from the government for those aboriginal lands leased for five years and for indemnity for damages that may be incurred. The Minister has agreed that a reasonable rent should be paid.[29] There will also be some discussion about the reduction of the boundaries of these leased areas (which are distinct from prescribed areas.) The terms of leases, moreover, will now allow for a “full range of appeal, tribunal mechanisms afforded to other Australians.”

About leasing of Communal land by individual aboriginals or about a community making head leases of its lands for development negotiations for long term leases will continue, in particular to insure that the Australian government’s $547 million investment in housing, upgrades, reformed tenancy arrangements can progress.[30]While some leases on land have been taken out, I have not had time to find how many or what exactly is entailed by them.[31]Leasing by individuals which was an important prospect offered by the original Intervention, raises major issues about the integrity of aboriginal properties and the maintenance of aboriginal identity. These are issues which will not go away.

What about those Cultural Imponderables to be found in that other basket of issues? The matters of prior consultation, of showing respect, of promoting initiative, of not ruining reputations, of not destroying a community’s sense of self-worth? The Review admitted that there remains among aboriginal people a deep belief that the original Intervention and the measures introduced by the Australian Government were a collective imposition based on race.This is not surprising. The Intervention came down on aboriginal communities not on any non-aboriginal ones. It came without any warning, even to the N.T. government (that government was in fact kept in the dark) and was executed like a military-police operation.[32] The initial aboriginal reaction to a proclaimed national emergency and to the army units entering their towns was a cautious welcome mixed with uncertainty, fear and remembrance of the history of the bad old days. The Executive Summary and Review agree that there was a “strong sense of injustice [among aboriginals people] that aboriginal people and their culture have been seen as exclusively responsible for problems within their communities that [in fact] have arisen, it was felt, from decades of cumulative neglect by governments in failing to provide the most basic standards of health, housing education and ancillary services enjoyed by the wider Australian community.”[33] Their feelings of anger over the injustice of attributing to them all the problems and failings in the bush was, again, well founded. A great deal of instability in aboriginal communities has been perpetuated by continual shifting of government (local and Federal) programs and of initiatives taken without much knowledge or reference to local conditions and then dropped when the money ran out.[34] The attitude that ‘we can make this better for you than you can produce it for yourselves’ still prevails. Partnerships and relationships are continually arranged where aboriginals are always the junior partners even on their own lands.The Review panel does recognize that without genuine engagement and active participation of the local community deep seated change will not be achieved. It must be nurtured with the community. This is the lesson of the intervention,-and perhaps this is how Canberra now sees it.


Did the original Intervention and the subsequent Review get it right? The original Intervention tried to do many things and it certainly did not get them all right. Moreover it diminished its own effectiveness through the failure to engage constructively with the aboriginal people it was intended to help.[35]Does the present Review of the original Intervention get it right?Mr. Yu’s panel is obviously split, at least on compulsory income management and perhaps on much more. It is also apparently split from the government and this has extended uncertainty. The Review, (as I read it)did better than the initial Intervention and promised much. As so often happens, however, there is not enough money available in the right places to put flesh on the rhetoric, nor are there enough people trained to carry it out.[36]The promise to deliver more services along with the admission (which aboriginals have long claimed) that enough resources were not provided for education, health, housing and security, have occupied most of the Review and it is a step in the right direction. What seems to have been missed, however, is the more fundamental point -facilitating local initiative. Although governments vigorously deny wanting a top-down approach, the Review still speaks very much from the top down model -like a doctor who alone possesses the medicine to cure ones ills.The continual use of the word participation is a bother. Participation inevitably leaves the impression of someone being invited in to execute your plans, not theirs. Aboriginal people in the Review are regarded as a separate class of people who must be taught what to do and to conform. Withal it does not seem to make enough room for promoting aboriginal initiative or identity. If this should be the case, like so many interventions before, it may wind up spending a lot of money with little tangible result.[37].

In his Boyer Lectures in 1967 (over 40 years ago), W.E.H. Stanner put forward something else:

"... on the evidence the Aborigines have always been looking for two things: a decent union of their lives with ours but on terms that let them preserve their own identity, not their inclusion willy-nilly in our response to a scheme of things and a false identity but development within a new way of life that has the imprint of their own ideas.”[38]

For this, we all need in justice to work on three things

  1. Respect for each others culture, (even being polite would help)

  2. Prior consultation & mutual discussions before all important decisions

  3. Full employment (find a way to make a living even living in the bush)

[1] Items largely covered in Chapter 2 of the Report.

[2]The Summary of the Review admits that there has not been enough money spent to provide a level of safety andwell welling comparable to any other Australian community. (cf. top of p. 2 Executive Summary NTER).

[3]The Review has a good map with location, population and type in Appendix 4. The Review admits that Outstations are in an administrative limbo at the moment.

[4]Appendix 15 of the Review admits, This was …without consent of the Aboriginal land owners or the AboriginalLand Councils, admitted on p. 39.

[5]CBM’s were placed in many Indigenous communities in the NT situated on land held under the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976 and the Pastoral Land Act 1976 (the latter known as community living areas). For a lengthy account of what they can and should do, see, Appendix 3: Roles Government Business Managers and Community EmploymentBrokers (later called CEB’s).

[6]Cf., Review, p. 39 and 46. This was not entirely new in Australian law. Ron Levy Principle Legal Officer of the Northern Land Council on the Law Report on ABC Radio National, 20 May 2008 quoting the Griffiths Case noted that the N.T. under its lands acquisition legislation can acquire private property, in this case Native Title, and give it to a private person to undertake private development for private profit…When asked, he went on to agree that the Minister can acquire land under this Act [Northern Territory Land. Acquisitions Act] for any purpose whatsoever.See the Law Report of the ABC Radio National (20 May 2008) . The provision was introduced into the Act in 1998 (Ron Levy). As an example Damien Carrick stated that the small town of timber Creek …lost its fight against moves by the Northern Territory government to compulsorily acquire community land and then hand it over to a private group for agricultural commercial development.(p. 1) . Jon Altman in discussing Native Title presents several limitations, however, when discussing the nature of title to Aboriginal land, and the role of land Councils and Trusts, cf., Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy research (CAEPR), p. 10. (Oxfam Australia).

[7]As noted in footnote 7, acquisition was not entirely new.Cf., Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976 under Commonwealth Consolidated Acts., Table of Provisions, www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/cth/consol_act/altra1976444retrieved Oct 12, 2008. The arguments put forward in the 2007 Intervention to justify taking land in this way was to promote Aboriginal development. A contrary argument has been put by Jon Altman argues,… evidence does not support the notion that private individual ownership of low-value land in remote settings can be the driving force in addressing housing or other needs. …[he argues] that present levels of Ministerial involvement in decision-making about land use are excessive and burdensome…state occupation of Aboriginal-owned land generally remains on a non-commercial footing. Cf.,Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy research (CAEPR),Executive Summary, p. 5, and seethe longer discussion, p. 8b-13,(Oxfam Australia).

[8]Cf.,footnote #7

[9]It appeared to break some new legal ground, however, since legislation was required and wa, s, rapidly pushed thr, ough Parliament with only one days debate in order to accomplish the goals set by theIntervention.

[10]There are many films and programs, like the one on Sunday 7:00pm, showing the emotional, quasi- religious love their own land exhibited by aging Aboriginal Elders when they can return to their land after an absence of years.I have witnessed this myself.

[11]NT News Sept. 15, 2008, remarks made to an indigenous legal conference in Melbourne¸ The Age Sept. 10 , www.theage.com.au/national/sacred-children-author-has-regrets-20080909-4d28.html.

[12]NIT was comparing the action to UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, an external criterion.National Indigenous Times, # 163, News p. 4. They also reported that the Australian Indigenous Doctor’s Association said many Aboriginal Territorians had their health harmed as a result of the NT intervention. (p. 3)

[13]Quarantining applies only to welfare or grant money, not to earned income like CDEP or wages from employment.

[14]In any program of this type (thought up within 72 hours) there will obviously be many glitches, unforeseen problems, lost records, mistaken identities at check out counters and the like.They can be very hard on the people who experience them, but can be corrected over time, even short periods of time. But individual cases do not answer the question, is the system working?

[15] This was argued by the Minister, Jenny Macklin to Kenny O’Brien on the 7:30 Report Oct 23 and I have heard similar reports myself first hand.

[16] Program of October 30 for Beswick, Barundga, Eva Valley and Binjari (all near Katherine)

[17]Intervention: Katerine, N.T.ABC-TV Oct. 30th 9:300pm, directed by Julie Nimmo and Tom Zubrycki.

[18]Executive Summary NTER, p. 1. The Report itself suggests that quarantining of welfare not be automatic or universal, but will be imposed where child welfare is directly at stake., p. 21.

[19]Australian Government, Media Release (Oct. 23, 200*)

[20] I have seen a program supposedly designed to teach children fractions which was boring, dumbed down beyond belief, guaranteed to empty a classroom quite smartly.

[21]Cf., Report, p. 31. Also cf.,… Transcript: ABCorporationFour Corners 16th June 2008, last page of the full transcript.

[22] It will be reinstated with some requirements for training and education added and hopes that these will lead to full time jobs. Government will no longer subsidise CDEP tasks but will pay a full wage for work done. Report p. 22.

[23] The employment broker scheme (CEB’s) to promote outside work seems quite useless on the ground

[24]The situation in remote communities and town camps was- and remains- sufficiently acute to be described as a national emergency.. The Intervention should continue Marcia Elia Duncan said in the NTER.ReviewRepeated in Sunday’s Age (Oct. 19, 2008) where she said that nothing has changed very much about child abuse in the N.T.

[25] The High Court had used this ACT to invalidate the a law passed by the State government of Queensland which attempted to derail the Mabo suit by declaring extinguished all claims to native title which might have existed in Queensland from the date of annexation.Cf.,The First Australians, #7, SBS, Sunday Nov. 2 2008.

[26]To complicate the matter before the originalIntervention the N.T. government had planned to re-divide local government into a Shire system which has been implemented since the Intervention started. This has tended to transfer local council authority to a distant city centre.The Shire system is now finding it sea-legs in running practical day to day affairs.

[27]From the Executive Summary NTER,Review Board, p. 1

[28]From the Executive SummaryNTER, pp. 1 and 2.Appendix 14 to the Report only lists the 5 year leases and which communities are under them.

[29] Some had also asked the government to stop raiding the ABA to pay for the Intervention expenses.

[30] Media Release, Oct 23 2008, p. 4.

[31]We are all aware of course, from press reports of the headland lease arranged by Yunupingu in Arhnem land and the lease to buy a house by Barney Narjic at Wudapuli.

[32] The rollout was a strictly controlled exercise…against non negotiable timelines. Report,p. 43

[33]Executive Summary NTER p. 1 and Report p. 25.

[34]Beyond Humbug by Dillon and Westburygoes into this is some detail.

[35]Executive Summary NTER p. 1, andChapter 3 of the Report, p. 47 admits that the original intervention was not based on a consideration of current evidence about what works in indigenous communities.- as found in Reconciliation Australia.

[36]The section on money, cf. Report from p. 49, gave a good account of problems of overlapping authorities and use of money which it hoped to improve.

[37]Appendix 16 of the Review calls attention to an address by Stephen Cornell of Harvard who suggests looking into the American and Canadian experience with their own indigenous communities. The key point here was that self-determination really meant self-determination, where indigenous people really did run their own affairs. They did not do this overnight and did not do this by simply learning to copy Western governance models, but by following their own traditions of how authority worked with them.

[38]W.E.H. Stanner - After the Dreaming ABC Boyer Lecture, 1968, ABC 1969