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Intervention review board unveiled

Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin has this afternoon unveiled the board that will review the controversial Northern Territory emergency intervention.

Chair of the review board will be Peter Yu, a prominent West Australian Indigenous leader. Mr Yu was the long-time director of the Kimberley Land Council and has been a prominent rights campaigner for Indigenous Australia.

NSW Aboriginal leader and former Chair of the NSW Aboriginal Child Sexual Assault Taskforce, Marcia Ella Duncan has also been appointed to the review board, along with former Australian Electoral Commissioner, Bill Gray AM, will also be on the Review Board.

Ms Ella Duncan conducted a study several years ago into child sexual assault in NSW. Mr Gray was appointed by the Howard government in 2006 to review the COAG trials process.

All three have extensive experience in Indigenous affairs.

In a surprise move, in addition to the trio the government has appointed an “independent expert group” who will support the Review Board. The group is comprised of 11 experts drawn from public policy, health, child welfare, legal and economic development fields.

It includes Dr John Taylor from the Centre For Aboriginal Economic Policy Research, at the Australian National University. Dr Taylor is the author of the now ‘infamous’ Taylor report, which exposed massive federal and territory government neglect in the Northern Territory community of Wadeye.

The expert group also includes Tobias Nganbe and Anne Rebgetz, co-principals of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart School in Wadeye.

Dr Mark Wenitong, Senior Medical Officer at Apunipima Cape York Health Council and past president and founding member of the Australian Indigenous Doctors Association, is also on the expert group, along with Central Land Council director David Ross.

Neil Westbury, once the highest ranking public servant in the Northern Territory, will also serve, as will Donna Ah Chee, Deputy Director of the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (health care service), Alice Springs.

The expert group also includes: Michael Berto (NT), CEO of Roper Gulf Shire Council and Chair of the Northern Territory Indigenous Housing Advisory Board, Katherine; Vicki Gillick (NT), Coordinator of the Ngaanyatjarra Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Women’s Council, Alice Springs; Ronald Lami Lami (NT), Chairperson of the West Arnhem Shire Transition Committee and resident of Warruwi and Mavis Malbunka (NT), Vice President of the Ntaria Council (Hermannsburg).

In a written release, Minister for Indigenous Affairs Jenny Macklin said the board was being established to “… conduct an independent and transparent review of the NTER to assess what is working, whether the measures are effective and their impact to date on individuals and communities. “

It Board would “consult widely and seek public submissions”.

Specifically, the NTER Board has been tasked to:

  • examine evidence and assess the overall progress of the NTER in improving the safety and wellbeing of children and laying the basis for a sustainable and better future for residents of remote communities in the Northern Territory (NT);
  • consider what is and isn’t working and whether the current suite of NTER measures will deliver the intended results, whether any unintended consequences have emerged and whether other measures should be developed; and
  • in relation to each NTER measure, make an assessment of its effects to date, and recommend any required changes to improve each measure and monitor performance.

“The Government is determined to improve the safety and wellbeing of children and families in remote Northern Territory communities and is committed to an evidence-based approach to closing the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians,” Ms Macklin said.

“Promoting economic participation, improving health and education outcomes and better engaging Indigenous people in developing solutions are key to the Government’s plan for closing the gap.

The NTER Review Board is expected to provide its final report by September 30.


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