Pearson finally distinguishes his NQ Intervention from the NT Intervention

Extract from article
'Eyeballing injustice' - The Meddling Priest
Fr Frank Brennan Eureka Street May 1st 2011

Remember the Northern Territory Intervention of 2007. The Howard Government regularly trotted out Noel Pearson as a respected Aboriginal leader as a supporter of this intervention. And yet one month ago, Noel Pearson finally distinguished his own North Queensland Intervention from the NT proposal.

Writing in The Australian he said:

Commonwealth legislation underpinning the Northern Territory Intervention and Cape York welfare reform was passed at the same time in mid-2007. While the reform objectives are similar, there are fundamental differences. The first difference is that in Cape York the reform agenda has been the initiative of Aboriginal leaders and the policy proposals have come from the Cape York Institute, not from government. The Northern Territory policy is unilaterally decided by government. A second difference is that in Cape York the reform agenda is being implemented in large part by Aboriginal leaders and organisations. State and commonwealth governments work in partnership with our organisations, whereas in the Territory it is almost exclusively a government-run show.

Many government critics were saying as much three years ago. But they were identified as trendy lefties who were out of touch, not understanding tough love. Jesuit Social Services has recently set up a project in Alice Springs to resource the local parish and local Aborigines from Santa Teresa who are wanting to take more control of their own lives in the wake of the roll back of CDEP, the amalgamation of shires and the Canberra directed Intervention — three policy changes by different levels of government which cumulatively have left local people feeling powerless and lacking in agency. We have now appointed Xavier Desmachelier as our project officer. Only with a grounded presence can we have any credibility in the national debate about indigenous policy.

Like many welfare groups, Jesuit Social Services has been very wary about the income management programs introduced by the Howard Government, maintained by the Rudd Government and now expanded by the Gillard Government. Once again to quote Noel Pearson:

Cape York income management occurs only in cases where welfare recipients have failed to fulfil their conditions for receiving income support. Where welfare recipients fail to send their children to school or fail to look after their children and abide by their housing tenancy obligations and the law, a group of local elders appointed to the Family Responsibilities Commission, established under complementary Queensland legislation, is empowered to ensure mutual obligations. The Family Responsibilities Commission has the discretion to decide what proportion of income is managed and for what duration.

The difference from the (Northern) Territory is that the Cape York scheme encourages community members to take up their responsibilities. If people are being responsible, they are not affected by income management ...

Fr Frank Brennan SJ is professor of law at the Public Policy Institute, Australian Catholic University and adjunct professor at the College of Law and the National Centre for Indigenous Studies, Australian National University. The Eureka Street article is from his 2011 Costigan Oration at the Jesuit Social Services Dinner, Melbourne, on 30 April 2011.

The above extract from:
Eyeballing injustice The Meddling Priest
By Fr Frank Brennan Eureka Street May 1st 2011
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