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Moderator: Government turns back the clock

Moderator of the Uniting Church Queensland Synod Rev Dr David Pitman

This statement was released today by the Moderator of the Uniting Church Queensland Synod Rev Dr David Pitman in response to the Federal Government announcement regarding Indigenous Communities in the Northern Territory.

The announcement by the Prime Minister regarding intervention by the Federal Government into the critical situation of child abuse in indigenous communities is a matter for grave concern.

No one doubts either the seriousness of the problem or the urgent need for a constructive and sustained response, notwithstanding the recent release of yet another report, these realities have been disturbingly obvious for years.

Now, with an election just months away, the action proposed by the Prime Minister smacks of political expediency.

He could be forgiven if what was being proposed represented a strategic plan for the future of indigenous communities addressing the key issues of employment, health, education and housing, developed and implemented in consultation and cooperation with indigenous leaders.

Instead, the declared intent is the imposition of a series of social and legal penalties to be enforced by a special contingent of police. In this way the Federal Government shrugs off its long-standing indifference and inaction and lays the blame squarely on indigenous people.

It is reprehensible that it should now propose to use the force of law to compensate for its own lack of commitment and endeavour on behalf of our indigenous people.

It is deplorable that it should use the threat of withholding welfare from already desperately needy families in order to impose its will in this matter. This will only ensure that those already suffering will suffer even more!

So now, it seems, having instituted and maintained the context in which these appalling problems have been allowed to develop, we are to turn back the clock and impose the same kind of policies that helped create this situation in the first place.

When will we ever learn?

Photo : Moderator of the Uniting Church Queensland Synod Rev Dr David Pitman