Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Media Statement from Mutitjulu

Leaders of the Mutitjulu community today questioned the need for a military
occupation of their small community.

We welcome any real support for indigenous health and welfare and even two
police will assist, but the Howard Government declared an emergency at our
community over two years ago - when they appointed an administrator to our
health clinic - and since then we have been without a doctor, we have less
health workers, our council has been sacked all our youth and health
programmes have been cut.

We have no CEO and limited social and health services. The government has
known about our overcrowding problem for at least 10 years and they¹ve done
nothing about it.

How do they propose keeping alcohol out of our community when we are 20
minutes away from 5 star hotel? Will they ban blacks from Yulara? We have
been begging for an alcohol counsellor and a rehabilitation worker so that
we can help alcoholics and substance abusers but those pleas have been
ignored. What will happen to alcoholics when this ban is introduced? How
will the government keep the grog runners out of our community without a
permit system?

We have tried to put forward projects to make our community economically
sustainable - like a simple coffee cart at the sunrise locations - but the
government refuses to even consider them.

There is money set aside from the Jimmy Little foundation for a kidney
dialysis machine at Mutitjulu, but National Parks won¹t let us have it. That
would create jobs and improve indigenous health but they just keep
stonewalling us. If there is an emergency, why won¹t Mal Brough fast track
our kidney dialysis machine?

Some commentators have made much of the cluster of sexually transmitted
diseases identified at our health clinic. People need to understand that
Mutitjulu Health Clinic (now effectively closed) is a regional clinic and
patients come from as far away as WA and SA; so to identify a cluster here
is meaningless without seeing the confidential patient data.

The fact that we hold this community together with no money, no help, no
doctor and no government support is a miracle. Any community, black or white
would struggle if they were denied the most basic resources. Police and the
Military are fine for logistics and coordination but healthcare, youth
services, education and basic housing are more essential. Any programme must
involve the people on the ground or it won¹t work. For example who will
interpret for the military?

Our women and children are scared about being forcibly examined; surely
there is a need to build trust. Even the doctors say they are reluctant to
examine a young child without a parent¹s permission. Of course any child
that is vulnerable or at risk should be immediately protected but a
wholesale intrusion into our women and children¹s privacy is a violation of
our human and sacred rights.

Where is the money for all the essential services? We need long term
financial and political commitment to provide the infrastructure and
planning for our community. There is an urgent need for 10¹s of millions of
dollars to do what needs to be done. Will Mr Brough give us a commitment
beyond the police and military?

The commonwealth needs to work with us to put health and social services,
housing and education in place rather than treating Mutitjulu as a political

But we need to set the record straight:
ü There is no evidence of any fraud or mismanagement at Mutitjulu ­ we
have had an administration for 12 months that found nothing

ü Mal Brough and his predecessor have been in control of our community
for at least 12 months and we have gone backwards in services

ü We have successfully eradicated petrol sniffing from our community in
conjunction with government authorities and oil companies

ü We have thrown suspected paedophiles out of our community using the
permit system which our government now seeks take away from us.

ü We will work constructively with any government, State, Territory or
Federal that wants to help aboriginal people.

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