19 February 2011

The Impact of an Advocacy HIA?

An open letter on Australian human rights was published today, signed by 32 prominent Australians. It makes direct reference to the Northern Territory Emergency Response HIA that was published by the Australian Indigenous Doctors' Association last year (article, report).

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.
This HIA was conducted without the direct support or involvement of the proponent or the decision-maker, both the Australian Government in this case. The goal was to identify potential impacts and to create pressure for the implementation of the Intervention to be improved.

The HIA didn't result many obvious immediate changes. However this open letter and other references to the HIA have shown that it influenced thinking amongst a number of stakeholders.

We need to take a broader view when thinking about what makes an HIA effective.