Section B - Summary of DFA Task Force Findings as at July 2008
3.Top End and Remote regions
Update Report from DFA Director, Isobel Gawler RN
- Federal budget's impact on alcohol and the NT particularly regarding Indigenous people. Budget reduction for the Intervention over $200 million less than current year. Work for dole approach changed from 6 months to 12 months to equip oneself for work.
- $90 million over five years for child and maternal health services (Indigenous).
- No reduction in consumption of alcohol in Darwin "Town Camps" eg. Bagot Community.
- Urban Communities seem to have 'missed out' on help from Intervention.
3.2 Drug related issues:
- Legalisers want to reinstate 'regulated' kava use amongst Indigenous people. Chief Minister Paul Henderson and Opposition Leader, Terry Mills have publically promised never to pass future legislation to ‘regulate’ Kava amongst indigenous people.
- Alcohol consumption during pregnancy by Indigenous women and girls.
- Opal Sniffing death. Boy, 12 years dies. Assumption that Opal cannot be sniffed is wrong. Need warnings and education urgently.
- Two members of the Tiwi Land Council have been reprimanded for breaching local liquor laws by allegedly taking alcohol into dry areas on Melville Island.
3.3 Mental health issues:
- The National Mental Health Report 2007, reveals that the NT figure is almost double that of Tasmania.
- Spending on mental health in the NT increased from $18.5 million in 2002-3 to $24.5 million in 2004-05. Costing much more in NT than elsewhere. AND
- Recent article in the Medical Journal of Australia regarding Cannabis related indigenous mental health. 64% of indigenous people in Arnhem Land are using ganja.
- Cannabis (Ganja) and alcohol (grog)-related hanging suicides continue.
3.4 Promising Progress:
- The plan for half-way house and out station rehabilitation in Bagot Community close to implementation.
- Remote and urban Indigenous people say there is more food and clothing available in families because of Income Management.
- In remote communities there is a reduction in the consumption of alcohol.
- Boarding schools will be built for Territory indigenous students in remote communities Houses to be close enough so the kids still have contact with their family on the weekend. The Building Strong Foundations Program will provide professional development for teachers and resources to develop individual learning plans for indigenous students up to Year 10 to better target their needs.
- Reinstatement of the Permit system seems to be giving people a sense of security.
Alice Springs and central regions
Update Report from DFA Director, Major General Peter Phillips AO MC (ret’d)
On my return to Alice Springs, it was pleasing to note that the intervention seemed to be working well. Certainly there was no public drinking and no aboriginal camps on the Todd River. I had a long talk with Geoff Shaw, a Vietnam veteran and indigenous, Chairman of the Tangentyere Corporation which runs the town camps. He was far less critical of the intervention than when I saw him last year.