15 March 2010

Health Impact Assessment of the Northern Territory Emergency Response: New advocacy HIA released in Australia

A health impact assessment of the Australian Government's Northern Territory Emergency Response was launched on Friday at Old Parliament House in Canberra, Australia. The HIA was conducted by the Australian Indigenous Doctors' Association (AIDA) with the support of CHETRE and the Fred Hollows Foundation.

The Northern Territory Emergency Response (NTER), also know as 'The Intervention', is a major policy response by the Australian federal government to concerns about Aboriginal health and welfare in Australia's Northern Territory. The NTER includes a number of far-reaching measures, including:
  • Suspending parts of the Racial Discrimination Act.
  • Introducing income management for support payment recipients by restricting expenditure to certain shops and linking it to children's school attendance.
  • Child health checks.
  • Appointing managers of all government business and acquiring land title in prescribed communities.
  • Some increases in policing and on-ground clean up.
  • Alcohol and pornography restrictions on Aboriginal land.
  • Abolishing the CDEP.
The HIA found that:
...the intended health outcomes of the NTER (improved
health and wellbeing, and ultimately, life expectancy) are unlikely to be fully achieved through the NTER measures. It is predicted that it will leave a negative legacy on the psychological and social wellbeing, on the spirituality and cultural integrity of the prescribed communities. However, it may be possible to minimise or mitigate these negative impacts if the Australian and NT governments commit to and invest in taking the steps necessary to work in respectful partnership with the Aboriginal leaders and organisations responsible for the governance of the prescribed communities in the NT. (p. ix)
This is an important HIA on the most significant Aboriginal health and welfare policy in a generation. The measures included in the NTER also have broader significance, with the Government now seeking to extend income management to income support recipients in other areas. I urge you all to read the report.

The launch coincided with the opening of the AIDA's new offices in Old Parliament House, a location of considerable historical significance. Some of the photos I took at the launch are available on flickr.

Media Coverage of the HIA Report