In June 2009, we went to Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory with some ideas on how to make the Northern Territory Emergency Response better so it respects Australia’s human rights obligations and conforms with the Racial Discrimination Act 1975.
We listened very carefully to what people told us in hundreds of meetings and workshops across the Northern Territory.
We have delivered on our commitment to introduce legislation into Parliament in 2009 to reinstate the Racial Discrimination Act. After listening carefully to people, we have proposed changes to the NTER. A Senate Committee will look closely at the changes. These changes will be debated in Parliament in Canberra in early 2010.
If the Parliament agrees, we will be able to start making these changes from 1 July 2010.
Main changes being talked about
Income Management (BasicsCard)
We want income management to apply to all Australians on the same basis, not just Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory.
From July 2010, we want to introduce income management place by place, across the whole of the Northern Territory. This includes all the towns. This is the first step to starting income management in disadvantaged regions across Australia.
Income management will be different. Most old people on the pension and those on disability support will have a choice about whether to stay on income management. If they choose to stay on income management they will get $250 for every six months that they stay on.
Some people must stay on income management. For example, young people who aren’t working or studying, or people who’ve been without a job for a long time or parents who don’t get their kids to school.
For people who have to stay on income management, the government will help them save money by matching their savings if they finish a money management program. Most people on CDEP who have moved off CDEP wages and onto welfare will be income managed.
We want to change the alcohol restrictions to make it possible for a community to develop their own restrictions to stop alcohol abuse, grog-running and people drinking in areas outside communities. We want to change the signs about alcohol and pornography restrictions in consultation with Aboriginal people so they are more respectful. We want to change the law that gives police the power to enter homes without a warrant to arrest a drunk person so that this power only applies if a community wants it.
We want to make clear that 5-year compulsory leases over townships can be used only for benefiting communities and with respect for Aboriginal culture. We will also continue to pay compensation for the leases.
Food and community stores
We want to make sure that shops and roadhouses that supply food and other essentials to Indigenous people are well-run, by having a stronger stores licensing system.
Getting more information
These are the main changes being talked about. For more information on all the changes being talked about, speak to your Government Business Manager or Indigenous Engagement Officer.
For information on how the proposed income management changes might affect you, contact Centrelink.