Circumstances leading to the introduction of the NTER measures are complex and it is apparent that the gaps in life expectancy and opportunities between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians will not be lessoned in the short term.
The AASW believes there is insufficient evidence to assess the overall progress of the NTER at this early stage. However reports indicate mixed impacts of the NTER to date and these vary from community to community. On-going commitment and recurrent resources, rather than short term measures, is required utilising a community development, whole of government, interdepartmental, collaborative model in partnership with Indigenous communities to close the well recognised gaps in the areas of health, education, housing, employment and other community infrastructure.
The AASW believes the issues of Indigenous disadvantage are not only limited to the NT and urges the Review Board to adopt a strategic approach to address Indigenous disadvantage across Australia. The AASW believes that until the provisions of the Commonwealth Racial Discrimination Act 1975 and the NT Anti Discrimination Act 1993 are reinstated and the NT Intervention measures are subject to the safeguards of NT and Commonwealth equal opportunity legislation the NTER will always be viewed as discriminatory by many Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.
On going evaluation and monitoring of the NTER measures is required to ensure sufficient flexibility and adaptability to each Indigenous community’s situation and the intended benefits of the measures do occur. Unintended impacts of the measures, such as strain on welfare services in urban centers and other bordering interstate communities also need to be monitored to ensure any negative impacts do not outweigh the intended outcomes.