‘you’ve got 60% of Aboriginal men of working age (in …

Comment on NT needs someone to ‘call things honestly’ says Havnen … by ralph folds.

‘you’ve got 60% of Aboriginal men of working age (in the NT) who have no income…’ this statement shows the disconnect between the ex Coordinator-General of Remote Services and the reality she is attempting to describe.

ralph folds Also Commented

NT needs someone to ‘call things honestly’ says Havnen …
Remote communities have highly mobile populations with multiple residences, in several communities, outstations and town camps, confusing names (for whitefellas), overestimations of remote community populations based on actual residence at just about any particular time and, as a result, data that is inaccurate and equivocal enough to be subject to a range of interpretations depending on one’s bent. Against that, remote community men can, in no way, afford to not have an income. Remote community men who are not employed access a range of benefits including a share of family payments and other forms of welfare and there is a very high level of pressure on agencies to ensure that any elgible person is getting a benefit. The failure of a single payment for any reason can produce a storm of protest. What I particularly object to from someone with the assumed credibility of the former NT Coordinator-General of Remote Service Delivery is that her statement has strong implications for policy action to remedy a host of other problems. It’s a false trail, yet another one, and it absolutely needs to be challenged in a forthright manner in the public domain. I do understand that the role of coordinator general has many passionate and articulate defenders, but to be effective it needed to be grounded in the day to day realities of remote community life and it simply wasn’t.


NT needs someone to ‘call things honestly’ says Havnen …
Annie, so you’re ‘not in any way engaged with the data’ but simply object to the language I use? W.E.H Stanner highlighted the importance of grounding policies in the real lives of Aboriginal people, and wrote in an understated way that you may find more satisfactory: ‘We thus sometimes beg the question whether we have consulted the right reality in the first place’. I would think that this applies rather well to Olga Havnen’s claim that 60% of Aboriginal men of working age (in the NT) have no income.

ED – The ‘60% with no income’ claim was with respect to men living in remote communities in the NT, not the NT as a whole.


NT needs someone to ‘call things honestly’ says Havnen …
Thanks Annie,
I would have thought that the 60% figure is extraordinary enough to require some rigour of its own in the form of credible evidence to support it, and I neither see that in the comments nor can find it in my research of the available data. Please direct me to it. My ‘evidence’, of a couple of decades of working in remote communities and with their residents, tells me that the statement is absurd. That it could be presented by the former NT Coordinator-General of Remote Service Delivery is disturbing, and I think, justifies the claim that she is disconnected with the reality she describes.


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@ Another Local: It’s interesting that you say that Nturiya had a health centre built some years ago and it was burned to the ground.
In the white administrative enclave of Ti Tree that is exactly the reason given for the neglect of the community, it is also claimed that 15 years ago the store was burned down.
Nturiya is pariah community where a few incidents long ago are used to justify the horrific neglect.
Docker River store was burned down many years ago as was Kintore school etc etc but these communities have stores and schools and clinics.
I personally have found the people of Nturiya hospitable and peaceful.
Heard of any Willowra style riots or major family disputes?
People at Yuendumu were actually compensated by the NT Government when they torched houses and cars.
About time to stop making excuses and blaming the victims. Put services into these neglected communities.


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One of the issues that bedevils communities in the Barkly region and which negatively affects many residents is the gutlessness of the housing agency to management properties effectively.
There might be one occupant in a three bedroom house and a family with six kids in a one bedroom house or even with no house at all so crammed into a relatives house.
Eight people living in one room.
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Large families in overcrowded houses see this happen and complain about it but no action is taken.
There is certainly overcrowding in the Barkly but there would be a lot less if families were assigned houses according to their needs.


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