Hone or John: who to believe?
Hone or John: who to believe?
Maori Party Releases Comment
on the 'Little Children Are Sacred' report
Maori Party Co-leader, Dr Pita Sharples
Monday 9 July 2007
The Maori Party today confirmed that it is carefully considering the report of the Inquiry into the Protection of Aboriginal Children from Sexual Abuse which focuses on the safety of Aboriginal Children in the Northern Territory of Australia.
“This report, Ampe Akelyernemane Meke Mekarle, Little Children Are Sacred, provides a very significant analysis of the situation confronting Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory” said Dr Pita Sharples, Co-leader of the Maori Party.
The report summarises feedback from 262 meetings with individuals, agencies and organisations, visits with 45 communities, and 65 written submissions.
“We welcome the first recommendation which emphasizes that “government commit to genuine consultation with Aboriginal people” and the over-riding emphasis throughout the 97 recommendations on child protection, community justice, and community involvement”.
“Given the scope of this report, it is, of course, of concern to learn of the growing concerns from Australia and at home, at the way in which the Howard Government has responded to it” said Dr Sharples.
"And we know this is not the first time that such damning reports of the State’s response to allegations of sexual abuse in isolated communities have emerged " said Dr Sharples. "The question obviously remains - how satisfactory have been the responses to these previous reports?"
“From our initial analysis, we would not have thought military intervention to be at all appropriate in dealing with the sensitive nature of the situation outlined in the report” said Dr Sharples.
“We are aware that the Australian Prime Minister’s comments have been met with considerable anger and alarm from Aboriginal communities, non-Aboriginal social service groups and politicians across the Tasman” said Dr Sharples.
“We have learnt, for example, of the views of Michael Anderson, elected spokesman for the Gumilaroi nation in northwest NSW and southwest Queensland, who has described the Howard Government’s seizure of Aboriginal Affairs as “a snow job for another agenda” said Dr Sharples.
“And we have been advised that a group of ninety indigenous and welfare groups have accused the Australian Government’s actions in declaring the situation a state of national emergency, “as an excuse for a land grab”.
“The ACT Chief Minister, Jon Stanhope, has branded the Aboriginal community measures "racist"” said Dr Sharples.
“Tasmania’s Community Development Minister, Michelle O’Byrne has said there hasn’t been any discussion with states about the plan and she is not convinced it will address health and education concerns”.
“In this context, the comments by our own Member, Hone Harawira, reflect the level of concern that this situation has generated” said Dr Sharples.
“We will be talking further as a caucus before we release any further response of our own to the report of the Northern Territory Board of Inquiry into the Protection of Aboriginal Children from Sexual Abuse”.
“What we do know is that it appears that there is a lot more going on than immediately meets the eye” said Dr Sharples.
“It is critical that careful analysis is undertaken of all of the information to hand about the focus of the report before any further comment is made by the Party”.
Parliamentary Crime Prevention Committee, 1995 (Victoria) presented a report to improve effectiveness of the State's response to child sexual assault.
The Gordon Inquiry 2002 made 197 findings and recommendations into the Response by Government Agencies to complaints of family violence and child abuse in Aboriginal communities.
The Aboriginal Child Sexual Assault (2006) (Breaking the Silence) contained 119 recommendations to give effect to the aspiration of Aboriginal communities in NSW to address violence.