A “humanitarian crisis” has been identified in the Northern Territory’s Indigenous communities and has sparked the establishment of a professional group to lobby for change to the Australian Government’s Northern Territory Emergency Response.
The group, comprising welfare and social work professionals and established at the Strength in Unity Conference held mid-November in Sydney, will use humanitarian activism to highlight the issues with the Government.
A Social Work and Humanitarian Studies lecturer at Charles Darwin University, Dan Baschiera, presented a paper at the conference entitled “The NT – a humanitarian paradox” which asked why “fourth world pockets” existed among Indigenous communities in the Territory, despite billions of dollars having been allocated to address the poverty.
The term “fourth world” was coined by leading urban theorist Manual Castells, who used it to define “black holes of social exclusion”, a relatively new phenomenon of a wealthy society excluding another, usually a minority group, so wholly that only a radical change in the governing law could help them.
“As taxpayers, let alone human service professionals, should we not be questioning the Federal Auditor about where all the money has gone? Where are the billions of dollars granted since NT self-governance? Why has only a little money hit the ground in a real sense?” he asked the conference.
“Has the history of Indigenous health, education and welfare been deliberately underfunded to generate stress and dysfunction, and not funded to succeed?”
Mr Baschiera argued that real leadership generated harmony and community care, but both sides of Australian political leadership still manipulated the situation for political gain.
“We will continue to have a humanitarian crisis in Indigenous communities while the Australian politic delays Australia’s transition through decolonisation.”
Mr Baschiera said he hoped that the new professional group would issue a challenge to political leaders to “realise this crisis as a number one priority and address it through a huge social infrastructure redevelopment”.