Territory Stories

Parliamentary record : Part I debates (17 June 1986)



Parliamentary record : Part I debates (17 June 1986)


Debates for 4th Assembly 1983 - 1987; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 4th Assembly 1983 - 1987




Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory





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Northern Territory Legislative Assembly

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Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)

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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory



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DEBATES - Tuesday 17 June 1986 several smaller communities such as Elliott, Mataranka, and Pine Creek. Again I use Professor Turner's words: 'Community government is a means for Aborigines to step into Australian society on their terms' and, 'not just for Aboriginal people, although it is specially suited to their needs'. The background for community government is the policies of self-determination and self-management seen against community development in its broadest sense. These aspects are enshrined in what the Department of Community Development has established in its strategic planning as its purpose and goal. The departmental purpose is: to promote and protect the social wellbeing of communities, families and individuals in the Northern Territory and advise the Minister for Community Development on strategies for the social development of the Northern Territory; to foster self-sufficiency amongst the Northern Territory population; and to provide services which are equitable, effective and efficient. The department's goal is to facilitate a process of community, family and individual development whereby people of the community define their own common and individual needs, organise themselves for planning and development, and execute their plans with maximum reliance upon community resources; and to provide, where necessary, service and other forms of assistance designed to alleviate identified needs. Honourable members will recall the important initiatives that have been taken by the government in Aboriginal programs. I refer members to the Chief Minister's 1985 budget speech when, in relation to the transfer of Aboriginal essential service functions to the Department of Community Development, he said: This is a major area of thrust in this year's budget. It has been decided to lay the groundwork for Aboriginal communities to take much greater responsibility for identification of their needs and for design, construction and management of all essential services on their communities. Under current arrangements, there is a mix of responsibilities between Transport and Works, Community Development and the communities themselves. It is now proposed firstly to place in the Department of Community Development full responsibility for the flow of funds to Aboriginal communities. This department will then be the single focus for all government expenditure in essential services in these communities. This change is reflected in the budget documents. The second element of the changed administrative arrangements, which is not yet finalised, is for the communities themselves to accept far greater responsibility for the construction of assets and the management of the services. Mr Speaker, as would be expected, the report is strong in its anthropology and in its presentation of Aboriginal culture. The report stresses that Aboriginal culture and traditions should be taken seriously and are relevant in modern Australian society. An important part of the development of community government is the right of each community to determine important aspects of its own scheme. The report indicates that the question of boundaries is an important issue. It is something that excited Aboriginal people. Professor Turner stated in his report: 'Meetings came alive when discussions of community government shifted to the issues of boundaries and representation'. The strength of the Community Government Scheme is that it allows a community to determine its own boundaries and to determine who shall stand for office and who shall vote. Professor Turner sees the issue of 20

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