Debates Day 1 - Tuesday 10 October 2006
Parliamentary Record 10
Debates for 10th Assembly 2005 - 2008; 10th Assembly 2005 - 2008; Parliamentary Record; ParliamentNT
Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
DEBATES Tuesday 10 October 2006 3096 We must invest in people in our communities and, by investing in our people we are investing in the Northern Territory. We know for a fact that, in 20 years time, the population growth of our communities in our remote areas is such that half the population of the Northern Territory will be Aboriginal people. I am confident that our government is absolutely focused on working not only in the area of petrol sniffing but in other areas where abuse is rampant in our communities especially alcohol and other substance abuse. Over the first two years of the volatile substance misuse funding, a total of $1.44m was allocated to the remote service development. This has proved both rewarding in community interest and commitment. However, it has also been difficult and, in some instances, has not been able to be fully realised. We are conscious of that. It is something that, when we give a full 12-month report on how this issue is being dealt with in our communities, we will be able to progress on issues that are occurring in places like Groote Eylandt, Umbakumba, Numbulwar and Ngukurr. With the roll-out of Opal fuel, I would like to stress to our federal counterparts the importance of having that fuel out in our communities and regions where it is desperately needed. They must listen to those organisations and individuals who are asking for that fuel to be there. We must do what we can as a community - both federally and in the Northern Territory - to recognise that needs of our most vulnerable in society outweigh the economic needs of those who see that Opal fuel is not what they thought it would be. As of August this year, some 26 communities and five islands in the Northern Territory have been approved to be supplied with Opal. There are currently 25 communities and seven roadhouses supplying Opal fuel. I recognise that the Australian governments part in Opal fuel is important. I say to the minister and her department that there is ongoing concern with the federal government agenda in funding of homelands and communities, and the current issues being raised about the permit system. All of this is important in the future direction, planning and the vision for our communities and where they are going, and where we would like to encourage them to go. We are being told at a federal level that our communities are no longer going to be around, that some of them are going to be scrapped and thrown away, and people are going to have to think about moving into the towns and cities with no consideration given to the cultural value to those homelands and those communities and the sense of identity of Aboriginal people. This is an agenda that we need to be absolutely vigilant about. It is quite horrifying to think that the federal government is intending to move along those lines, with all the messages that it is sending from Canberra. I encourage the minister and our government to be absolutely vigilant about the future growth of our regions. Madam Speaker, I commend the ministers statement to the House. Ms ANDERSON (Macdonnell): Madam Speaker, I speak in support of the progress report on the implementation of the Northern Territorys Volatile Substance Misuse Prevention and Intervention program brought to this House by the Minister for Family and Community Services. In the first six months of operation, the Volatile Substance Abuse Prevention Act, in conjunction with the roll-out of Opal fuel, has made a real impact on inhalant abuse. In Central Australia, there has been a significant reduction in petrol sniffing, and the communities of Central Australia have responded so positively to the VSA legislation that the department has had to work hard to respond to all the requests for management plans and treatment. I am proud of the response of my communities to this legislation. All of the communities in my electorate where petrol sniffing has been a problem have applied for community area management plans - Papunya, Mt Liebig, Kintore, Ikuntji, Mutitjulu, Docker River, Imanpa and Ntaria. Hoppys Camp in Alice Springs, whose residents have cultural and family ties to the Luritja/Pintubi communities at Papunya, Ikuntji, Mt Liebig and Kintore, are also considering applications for an area management plan. As the minister said, the initial success of this legislation has been due to a real team effort. For the community, some real support is being provided in tackling substance misuse by everyone from individuals in the communities, to police, NGOs and the staff from Alcohol and Other Drugs programs. This is an impressive start for the introduction of this legislation and reflects the fact that residents of these communities see management plans as a concept step that they can take to reduce inhalant abuse in their communities. They are welcoming the opportunity to actually do something. In the past, programs rolled out 10 years ago were not a consultative process, did not have the input of the community, and were targeting just petrol sniffers. Other children in the community who were attending school on a regular basis and being good students of the community, good children to their parents, saw programs being rolled out in these communities that were just
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