Interventions aimed at helping indigenous people in Australia could worsen problems

BMJ 2010; 340 doi: (Published 17 March 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;340:c1492
  1. Melissa Sweet
  1. 1Sydney

    A programme of interventions aimed at improving the lives of indigenous people living in the Northern Territories of Australia risks doing more harm than good, a major new health impact assessment concludes. Although the programme may bring benefits in terms of better health, it is likely to add to the trauma of Aboriginal people and lead to distrust of government in the long term, it says.

    The Northern Territory Emergency Response (NTER) was announced in 2007 by the previous conservative government in response to concerns about child sexual abuse and was implemented hastily, without extensive consultation.

    It included the introduction of child health checks, compulsory income management (whereby recipients of welfare support for children have to spend 50% of the support on food and clothing, to be bought in specified outlets), restrictions on alcohol and pornography on Aboriginal land, increased policing, and the appointment of government business managers in communities. Sections of the Racial Discrimination Act were suspended to …

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