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Human Rights the Indigenous Australian and a Government Intervention

Updated on January 7, 2019

Land of the Indigenous Australian

Northern Territory, for most Australians holds a mystique, a sense of wonder from afar. It is a land that is far from the maddening crowd and a land of vast population. The majority of the people, may not be indigenous but it depends on where the statistics are collected. In one community there are 700 indigenous peoples, 20 non-indigenous Australians.

Many towns have reverse statistics and the only city, Darwin, boasts a population of 125,000 and while Aboriginals are in the minority, the overall statistics for the Territory are estimated at about 60,000 indigenous people or 30-38% of the population. But there is little doubt, nor argument, that the spirit of this northern land lies with the indigenous people.

It was midway through the year of 2007, a modern year as many before in this century. As the world progresses, Australia continued to move in her own slow pace, slightly behind the times, perhaps, but with a gentle movement that is the Australian way - don't rock the boat, don't make waves. But there was trouble afoot. There was seen to be a dilemma in the north central region of this great country.

Many aboriginal communities can only be accessed by dirt roads.
Many aboriginal communities can only be accessed by dirt roads. | Source

National Emergency Response, a Government Intervention

The politicians called it a ‘National Emergency Response’ but it was commonly referred to as a government intervention. According to the Prime Minister of the day, John Howard, it was a measure that had to happen to improve the living conditions of Aboriginals and to protect their children. There was no consultation with the Aboriginal population nor the territory and local governments.

Little Children are Sacred Report

How did the Intervention Come About?

Following reports of child abuse a board of inquiry was set up. The "Little Children are Sacred Report" was the outcome of that inquiry. At the presentation of this report the Australian Government of the time believed that something had to be done, and without delay. Move in, sort things out and move on.

Daily Life on an Aboriginal Community

Daily life on Aboriginal communities in the territory continues, much the same as it has, for many years passed. There has been a shift in terms of what can be bought at the general store, but for most, life goes on. There is still a definite lack in medical care for the sick, elderly and newborn compared to facilities offered in major towns.

Cultural commitments within the tribal system means the change in structure of the way an individual is allowed to access money, has had little effect. If another family member needs money and someone else has it, they have to share. That is the Aboriginal way.

Title Quote by a Senior Yolungu Lawman

Housing remains insufficient and overcrowded. The problems continue to grow on a daily basis. What are the benefits of living on a community under the rule of the government Intervention compared with the days before it? It seems nothing much has changed. Sub standard living conditions prevailed before the government stepped in with little obvious improvement since. Children continue to suffer illnesses. Excessive alcohol consumption continues but this happens outside the community boundaries. Violence, child abuse, it’s all still there.

Violation of Human Rights or Child Protection?

The government stepped in, the lives of ordinary people were intruded upon and the nation is affected by the ripples on the surface. The undercurrent will spread over time with the final repercussions not known, for years, or even generations to come. Is this a violation of human rights or is this a good thing in the name of protection and enforcement of children’s rights?


A Bandaid Solution to a Nation’s Gaping Wound

While the initial impact of the intervention may have made serious inroads to improving conditions for people living on Aboriginal communities, the reality is that it has had little more effect than placing a bandaid on a gaping wound.

One elderly woman from a community east of Alice Springs said that it has made a difference for her. She can now go to the store with money set aside especially for food and essential items for the benefit of her children and grandchildren. No other family member can take that away from her to pilfer for the purchase of alcohol.

There are some positive responses to the multi-million dollar operation from a national government. But there are plenty of negatives. The Aboriginal people are as divided on this issue as the non-indigenous.

© 2010 Karen Wilton


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    • Karanda profile imageAUTHOR

      Karen Wilton 

      8 years ago from Australia

      Sadly, the problems continue and no-one seems to know how to fix it. Thank you Mura Mura Art for your comment.

    • Mura Mura Art profile image

      Mura Mura Art 

      8 years ago

      Bringing this to light should help address the problems and make people aware of the unlivable circumstances. Thanks for sharing!

    • Karanda profile imageAUTHOR

      Karen Wilton 

      9 years ago from Australia

      Thanks for reading and commenting 6hotfingers3. The intervention brought with it a new set of problems that are unlikely to be corrected any time soon. Some say the cure was worse than the complaint.

    • 6hotfingers3 profile image


      9 years ago

      Thank you for this article. It informs the world of the realities of a people's plight in the world. It also sets an avenue which puts the Australian government in the spot light to humanly correct a wrong.

    • Karanda profile imageAUTHOR

      Karen Wilton 

      9 years ago from Australia

      It is a sad situation DzyMsLizzy for all countries that have a displaced indigenous population. No one seems to know the answer, or even where to start looking for a solution.

    • Karanda profile imageAUTHOR

      Karen Wilton 

      9 years ago from Australia

      Thank you for your comment angel115707 and I can certainly understand the points you have made. I only became aware of the extent of similar problems in North America through HubPages. Government intervention without consultation has proved futile in the past. Surely it is time to find new ways to correct the outcomes of wrong decisions.

    • Karanda profile imageAUTHOR

      Karen Wilton 

      9 years ago from Australia

      Thanks for the vote up and the share Princessa. This is a topic that is very dear to me having spent many years working with Aboriginal Australians. I am so glad for the opportunity to research the problems and submit them here.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Happy New Year moi friend x

    • DzyMsLizzy profile image

      Liz Elias 

      9 years ago from Oakley, CA

      Sounds very much an echo of what happened here in the USA with our native American "Indian" populations. It is a very sad situation indeed.

      Great hub!

    • angel115707 profile image

      Angel Ward 

      9 years ago from Galveston, TX

      We have many problems here in America too. Reservations are full of alcohol, drugs, rape, incest, poverty, shacks, trash etc. There are some Native Americans standing up for it and protesting to their own people to snap out of it and take care of their families. It is controversial and heart breaking.

      The new governments caused the sore, leaving many homeless and displacing tribes, to new lands they did not know, but now the problems lay within the people as well. The tribes want freedom from any government intervention, free from having to work and from laws, taxes etc, but they no longer want the responsibility that comes with it.

      They used to hunt for food, build their own houses, and were not wasteful enough to have trash, now that they have tasted the advantages of modern society, they want all the perks without being held accountable, for laziness, trashing their own communities, alcoholism etc. They live in shacks because they take whats given them, and refuse to work... people can argue for them all they want to, but if they continue to get free money, no taxes etc then they should be growing their own food, and not allowed to go buy alcohol and junk like sodas just to trash their streets, you cant have it both.... those of us outside reservations cannot go get drunk all day, throw our trash out all over our front yard, live mortgage free and let our kids run around naked in the streets... its not right for them to try and take advantage of modern amenities and claim freedom none of us have to lay around in filth and complain...

      Now this is something hard working Native Americans are fighting, and exposing also, its sad, I understand the complacency and depression, from what has happened to them, but they do have to snap out of it for their kids sake... If the government cannot intervene, then I also think they need to quit asking the government for hand outs and start to work hard like their ancestors did to live naturally as before...

    • Princessa profile image

      Wendy Iturrizaga 

      9 years ago from France

      Voted up and shared. Thanks for taking part in the weekly HubMob bringing awareness about this issue.


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