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Church disappointed by Senate Report into Stronger Futures

THE Uniting Church in Australia has expressed its disappointment in the Senate Report into the Stronger Futures Legislation.

General Secretary of the Northern Synod, Mr Peter Jones, who appeared at the Darwin hearings for the Senate Inquiry,
expressed his concern over the harsh and disempowering legislation that the Senate Report supports.

“Since day one of the Intervention, we have seen the dismal failure of top-down approaches to addressing the real problems of Indigenous disadvantage.

The pain and shame in Northern Territory Aboriginal communities has been exacerbated by the Government’s unwillingness to enter into true partnership with our Indigenous brothers and sisters,” said Mr Jones.

Mr Jones supports action in the Northern Territory, but warned against extending the current approach.

“Government decisions and actions taken without the active participation of Indigenous peoples must stop.

This Senate Inquiry offered us a chance to reset the relationship between the Government and the First Peoples and it appears that it is now a wasted opportunity.

“Indigenous peoples in the Territory attended the consultation meetings in good faith – believing that their calls for real change would be answered.

“If the Government fails to act now it will be clear that their interest lies only in extending the current Intervention.

“This will not create ‘stronger futures’ for Indigenous communities in the Northern Territory.

We will only get more of the same – just ineffective short-term fixes,” said Mr Jones. Rev Elenie Poulos, National Director of UnitingJustice, urged the Government to reject the Senate Committee recommendations for only minor change and instead redesign the legislative package to refl ect the wishes of those most affected by the legislation.

“It is unacceptable that the Bills proceed without taking account of the concerns of so many Indigenous people who gave evidence to the Committee.

“The consultation processes have been and continue to be paternalistic and tokenistic.

“It is not too late for the Government to begin to right the wrongs caused by the Intervention, and commit to building positive partnerships with Indigenous peoples,” said Ms Poulos.