The central Australian town of Tennant Creek has been making news headlines for all the wrong reasons this week.
The news of a two year old Aboriginal girl being sexually abused by her Uncle is truly disgusting. The story has outraged many people right across the country. Many Australians are pointing the finger at the Indigenous community for the problems. But when you take a closer look, you will see the Indigenous community at the centre of this story are just as outraged.
Let’s take a look at some of the facts:
- The 24 year old man appeared to be badly beaten after the incident which suggests that some kind of pay back was handed out to the man for his actions.
- A total of 21 notifications of concern were made to the government welfare organisation known as Territory Families.
- Family members at the centre of the story have blamed the top down decision making process from the government as a core issue in Tennant Creek.
- The acting N.T Chief Minister has admitted that the government has failed the girl.
- The minister for Indigenous Affairs is calling on the N.T government to be transparent in their investigations of the incident. His mistrust stems from the N.T governments massive under spending on Indigenous communities in key areas of health, education and housing for over 10 years.
Even though many Australians are pointing the finger at the Indigenous community for these issues, the government agencies have actually admitted they have failed. The Indigenous community knows there are major problems with alcohol, domestic violence and substance abuse but the top down decision making processes have left them without a voice in solving the problems.
A week before this incident, we heard admissions from the government that they had failed to close the gap. One of the key reasons for the lack of progress was leadership and the ever changing governments who don’t really seem to show any concern for regional, urban and remote Aboriginal communities.
This lack of care and poor leadership in Canberra has a flow on effect to those working in front-line government positions such as family services who either feel just as helpless as the voiceless members of the local Indigenous community or are just happy to sit and collect a salary in the current top down system.
Unemployed people of Tennant Creek have been on the government’s basic card for over 10 years now, so obviously this is not something that is solving the problems in Tennant Creek. If the problems are ever going to be solved, it needs to start by letting those on the ground lead the way.
Thankfully the incident appears to have been the final straw for the community and they are desperate for urgent change. But will the government listen? Or will they continue to act like they know what’s best and then turn their backs as the community destructs even further?
Or will the government let outspoken Indigenous people like Warren Mundine and Jacinta Price hi-jack the situation and drown out the community voices in a bid to suit their own agendas?