Saturday, March 29, 2008


Treat alcoholics too: Macklin

Russell Skelton, smh

March 29, 2008

THE Indigenous Affairs Minister, Jenny Macklin, believes violent Aboriginal men - many in the grip of alcoholism - have been largely ignored by the the emergency intervention, which has correctly focused on the victims of abuse.

Speaking after a visit to Aurukun and Weipa on Cape York Ms Macklin said: "We cannot treat these men as a lost cause. We need to deal with why these men turn to alcohol and violence.

There are programs, but there needs to be more."

Ms Macklin also flagged that the new bipartisan commission to deal with indigenous issues would initially focus on housing, because it was such a complex area involving co-operation across three levels of government - local, state, federal and territory.

Asked if there was any longer a need for an indigenous affairs minister, Ms Macklin, who also has responsibility for families, housing and community services, said: "Goodness no, the commission is concentrating on housing and that is a significant issue."

The shape and future direction of the commission has been tightly controlled by the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, who has been consulting the Opposition Leader, Brendan Nelson.

Ms Macklin strongly backs the Prime Minister's approach to closing the life expectancy gap and quarantining welfare payments for food and other necessities.

Ms Macklin said reforms being undertaken in Queensland to prevent councils from managing alcohol outlets was also a step in the right direction because it would clear the way for bans on the sale and consumption of booze in communities like Aurukun.

The Government would also extend hostel accommodation for secondary students in the Northern Territory so children could complete their education outside the chaos of remote communities battling dysfunction.

with Tim Colebatch