Land Rights News Central Australia: Land Rights News (April 2012)
Stronger Futures laws ready to go
A Senate Committee Report has recommended changes to proposed legislation as the sun sets on the Intervention laws.
A Senate Committee Report into the proposed Stronger Futures legislation for the Northern Territory delivered in March contained only minor recommendations for change.
The Stronger Futures legislation will repeal and replace the Northern Territory Emergency Response, most of which was valid for five years and expires this year.
The committee received 452 submissions and form letters from more than 500 people.
The inquiry made 11 recommendations, which included clarifying how the School Enrolment and Attendance through Welfare Reform Measure (SEAM) will work and improving the way the Government consults Aboriginal people.
There were a number of submissions about SEAM and the lack of evidence that it has improved school attendance from the trials held so far.
The committee expressed concern about the increased penalties for grog running, which technically allow a person to be imprisoned for very small amounts of alcohol.
It recommended that an infringement notice be issued for minor offences.
The report said the Committee had heard conflicting views on income management.
The Government has justified income management by claiming that it is non-discriminatory because it is being rolled out in other parts of Australia.
But so far these measures have not been extended to the other sites.
The application of income management in the NT involves people being put on income management based on the length of time a person has been in receipt of Centrelink payments (the so-called Disengaged Youth and Long Term Welfare Payment Recipient measures).
In practice, most of these people are Aboriginal.
The Greens wrote a dissenting report, which said the “top-down, punitive nature of the Intervention is actually undermining and disempowering Aboriginal people and communities”.
The CLC made a submission mainly concerned with the NT Government’s legislative and planning constraints on Community Living Areas, or excisions as they were known.
The CLC also contributed to the Aboriginal Peak Organisations submission.
The legislation is before the Senate at present and amendments have been put up by all parties.