Territory Stories

Parliamentary record : Part I debates (27 February 1990)



Parliamentary record : Part I debates (27 February 1990)


Debates for 5th Assembly 1987 - 1990; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 5th Assembly 1987 - 1990




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 27 February 1990 Territory. We are not an urbanised society. Unlike larger places, Darwin is not an anonymous city. It is a relatively small town by comparison with Melbourne and Sydney, and I suggest that the reason that Australia has become a more violent place since the World War II, with increased homicide rates, is because we are an increasingly urban society. Off the top of my head, I cannot quote the figures but, as I recall, prior to World War II, fewer than 50% of Australians lived in cities with a population over 100 000 whereas I believe that 70% or 80% of Australians now live in cities of over 100 000 people. When we say that Australia has become more violent since World War II, we have to bear in mind that Australia has also become a more urbanised society, and that is an advantage we have in the Territory. I simply wish to stress that we must be realistic as opinion makers and as leaders in the community. We have a responsibility not to encourage people in their concerns about being the subject of violence. There is one area where we really do need to take stock of ourselves. In his statement, I thought that the Chief Minister somewhat understated the situation. In passing, he mentioned the high homicide rate in the Northern Territory to which the report refers. He referred to the relative youthfulness of our population, the high proportion of males, many of them transient, and the large Aboriginal population. I have reservations about the impact of the relative youthfulness of our population. Mr Perron: It is young people who commit most crimes. Mr BELL: I take that on board, but I suggest to you, Mr Speaker, that far and away the most important and the saddest cause of the epidemic homicide rate is in the traditionally-oriented Aboriginal communities with which I am very familiar. Mr Perron: I did not say other than that. Mr BELL: In response to the Chief Minister's interjection, I said that disagreed somewhat with his emphasis because I think that relative youthfulness and a slightly higher proportion of males in the Territory is less important a factor than the epidemic homicide rate among traditionally-oriented Aboriginal people. Mr Perron: I agree. Mr BELL: I think it needs to be stated in exactly those terms, and I think that the Chief Minister's statement rather understated that. I think that the report itself could have brought that out. Because the numbers in the Territory are different from elsewhere - we are only 1% of the country as a whole - those per capita rates by themselves do not necessarily reveal the socioeconomic and sociocultural causes of homicide. I have said it before and I will not 1 abour the poi nt today, Mr Speaker. I go to funerals. I know these people personally. I know the faces and the families behind these tragedies, and it makes me weep. Another issue that the Chief Minister could have mentioned in his statement is the step. forward taken by this Assembly in establishing a Sessional Committee on the Use and Abuse of Alcohol by the Community. The committee's terms of reference relate to the problems associated with alcohol abuse. The Chief Minister said that one of the committee's recommendations is that government support alcohol and substance abuse education and rehabilitation programs in Aboriginal communities. He commented that the Territory is a leader in this area. In that particular 8741