There are manifold problems that afflict the residents of the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands. They need to be fixed and the latest report is not going to do it.
State Ministerial Intervention is needed.
Sexual abuse of girls and boys, petrol sniffing and alcohol abuse, general ill health, early death rates and poor education. We all know it is happening but a veil of secrecy seems to have fallen over “The Lands”.
The issues are the same in many Northern Territory remote indigenous communities. A difference being that “The Lands” are set up under SA Legislation and subject to State Ministerial Control.
There are between 2000 and 3000 people, depending on which reports you prefer, who live on “The Lands”. By no stretch of the imagination can it be said that the Act’s purpose “to provide for efficient and accountable administration and management of the lands by Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara” has being remotely met while under the control of the Indigenous APY Board for the last 20 years.
There have been at least four appointed “non-Anangu” managers in the last four years with reports that the last Manager, Sean McCarthy, was suspended for failing to provide funds to the APY Chairman on a Saturday at the Alice Springs Casino! There seems to be no publicly available information as to whether he is now sacked or terminated subject to a privacy clause.
The Australian article speaks for itself.
Publicly available information shows that Mr. McCarthy had all the tools for the job (except security of tenure). If he could not begin to break through the issues, I don’t think any employed manager, subject to summary dismissal, now can.
An independent inquiry by retired Judge Dr. Robyn Layton in November 2013, after visiting “The Lands”, reported on potential amendments to the APY Lands Act to improve management but said not a word about petrol, alcohol or child abuse, early death or chronic ill health. They were not part of the inquiries imprimatur.
The Mullighan Inquiry into sexual abuse was informed that Anangu girls accept that they will be sexually abused. They do not consent to the sexually abusive activity. It is expected of them. They simply believe that resistance is futile. The abuse occurs in over-crowded houses and elsewhere in communities.
The Advertiser this week reports that sexual abuse continues and crosses all barriers and includes children of both sexes.
The Mullighan Report said, years ago now, that “there is an urgent need to implement strategies to prevent sexual abuse of children on ‘The Lands’” and, “It is not appropriate to merely react to disclosure or detection of sexual abuse.”
Mullighan recommended that initiatives related to salary and conditions of Families SA staff on “The Lands” be frequently reviewed to ensure that Families SA is able to attract and retain appropriate professional staff to implement its strategies and programs dealing with child sexual abuse on “The Lands”.
There are currently no child protection officers on “The Lands”. The positions are vacant. Yet the Minister continues to report to Parliament that they are implementing the inquiry’s recommendations!
Mullighan recommended that the Childrenʼs Protection Act or regulations be amended to add the function of the “Guardian for Children and Young People” to act as an advocate of an Anangu child who has made a disclosure of sexual abuse and that in accordance with section 52B of the Act, the Guardian be provided with sufficient staff and resources to carry out this function. This has not been done.
The Anangu children have no public guardian. Why not?
Minister Gago was enthusiastic about the Layton Report into proposed amendments to APY management and late in 2013 reportedly was, like me, confident in the abilities of Mr. McCarthy.
It seems to me that an employed manager, subject to summary sacking, cannot succeed even with amendments that, it can be surmised, will come from the Layton Report.
It seems to me that Ministerial Intervention following the processes set up in the Act is the only proper course of action remaining. The terrible history that has occurred under the rule of autonomy and self-determination must be sufficient grounds to commence giving urgent directions to APY Management.
There is no other place in South Australia that contemporarily reports such a consistently vile record.
The children of the lands are crying out for someone who has the power to stand up to the Management Board when they make bad decisions. It seems to me that the Ministerial Appointment of an administrator for the APY Lands is the way forward. It needs someone who cannot get sacked for trying to make good decisions. This is now the only way that APY land residents can be brought into the first world. Dr. Layton’s report can then be used to amend the Statute and re-set the indigenous management structure.
More reports won’t do it and amendments to the Act won’t do it. My take is that most voting people that I speak with would support an intervention for better management and human conditions.