Originally published in the National Indigenous Times, July 2007.
By Chris Graham & Amy McQuire
THE federal government’s emergency intervention into Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory appears to be mired in confusion and chaos and unsustainable media spin, according to documents obtained by the National Indigenous Times.
NIT has obtained a leaked copy of the list of the 73 communities ear-marked for intervention by the federal government. But government sources have revealed numerous Aboriginal communities have been listed for intervention twice – once under their Aboriginal name, and once under their “white” name.
One community – Alpurrurulam – was originally left out of the list altogether because federal government officials believed it was in Queensland (the community is in the Northern Territory, but is situated near the Queensland border and has an “07” Queensland area code). The community has since been added to list.
And then there╒s the growing problem of media spin. Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Mal Brough has blamed the state of Indigenous communities in the Territory entirely on the NT government. But NIT has identified at least half a dozen communities on the list that have been under the control of the federal government for decades.
Brough and mainstream media – particularly the ABC – have claimed Mutitjulu╒s parlous state is a result of NT Labor government neglect. But the township is actually administered through the federal government, and has been since the mid-1980s.
Mutitjulu falls within the boundaries of the Uluru Kata-Tjuta National Park and the local council – the Mutitjulu Community Aboriginal Corporation (MCAC) – is funded and controlled directly by the federal government (through the Office of the Registrar of Aboriginal Corporations – ORAC).
The community of Epenarra (also known as Wutunugurra) in the east of the Territory is governed by the Julalikari Council Aboriginal Corporation (JCAC) based in Tennant Creek. JCAC is also funded directly by the federal government and is registered under ORAC.
Robinson River, which is in the north east of the Territory and has a population of around 300, is another federally-funded community that has been listed for intervention. Its local council is also controlled by ORAC.
In the south-west of the state, the community of Kintore, population around 450, is listed for federal government intervention. It is funded directly by the Commonwealth government through its local government body, the Walungurru Council.
The community of Ampilatwatja – 325km North East of Alice Springs – is listed for intervention, but the surrounding communities of Irrultja, Atnwengerrp and Welere, each of which fall within the same community council (Aherrenge), have not been included.
The community of Utopia – north east of Alice Springs – does not appear in the government list, but has been federally controlled for several decades. Its local council – Urapuntja – looks after around 1,000 people across 16 different outstation communities.
The federal government has refused to release the names of communities ear-marked for federal government intervention. However, NIT has obtained a copy of the most recent list of communities. There are 73 in total. They are printed at right.
On the list
Atitjere (Hart Range)
Canteen Creek (Owatilla)
Galiwinku (Elcho Island)
Gapuwiyak (Lake Evella)
Gunyangara (Ski Beach)
Haasts Bluff (Ikuntji)
Imangara (Murray Downs)
Jilkminggan (Duck Creek)
Kalkarinji (Wave Hill)
Kaltukatjara (Docker River)
Manyallaluk (Eva Valley)
Milikapiti (Snake Bay)
Milyakburra (Bickerton Is)
Minjilang (Croker Island)
Nauiyu (Daly River)
Nguiu (Bathurst Island)
Pmara Jutunta (Ti Tree Six Mile)
Wadeye (Port Keats)