Author Topic: G'Day and Good Riddance My Aboriginal Mates  (Read 81 times)

Damon X Reppin ATL

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G'Day and Good Riddance My Aboriginal Mates
« on: April 22, 2003, 02:15:48 PM »
Curfew plan earns State racism tag
 
By Charlie Wilson-Clark
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
A CURTIN University academic has labelled the Gallop Government institutionally racist after it announced a planned curfew banning juveniles from Northbridge after dark.

Health economics professor Gavin Mooney said Premier Geoff Gallop's announcement this month displayed a trend of racist policies which further disadvantaged WA Aboriginals.

"We have a very difficult, sensitive situation where, as I understand, there was no consultation with Aboriginal organisations such as the Aboriginal Legal Service or ATSIC," he said.

"Does Geoff Gallop think about why these children are roaming the streets and are not at home - they need a refuge."

After delivering his theory on institutional racism at health conferences in Sydney four times last year, Professor Mooney said the WA Government could not be left out of the assessment.

Evidence for the label existed in the inequities between spending for the health of Aboriginals compared with non-Aboriginals.

He said a WA-based study had shown Aboriginals born in the 1940s accessed about half the amount of Medicare benefits non-Aboriginal people of the same age accessed.

"In terms of hospitalisation, the level of benefits of Aboriginal people hospitalised was only 67 per cent of that for non-Aboriginal people," Professor Mooney said. "Yet we know that Aboriginal people are on average much sicker when they enter hospital. What we (also) know is that the teaching hospitals frequently over-spend and there is no attempt to fill in the sort of acquittals Aboriginal organisations are having to do."

Dr Gallop rejected the criticism as nonsense. He said the $75 million response to the Gordon inquiry showed his Government was serious about issues of family violence and child abuse in Aboriginal communities.

"The $32 million homelessness strategy will also significantly benefit Aboriginal people," he said.

ATSIC South-West commissioner Farley Garlett questioned the validity of a statement of commitment the State Government signed with the peak indigenous body 18 months ago.

"Are we still in partnership?" he said. "Unless we can shore it up a little bit, it is impossible to say - something as serious as a curfew and we have not had an opportunity to sit down and talk. You've got to start questioning its worth."

Mr Garlett said it was clear the plan was targeting Aboriginal children, who made up a small proportion of the people who committed crime in Northbridge.

Dr Gallop said Aboriginal people would be consulted as the arrangements for the curfew were completed and the objective was to target behaviour, not race.

Parental sanctions could be the key: former officer

SANCTIONS against parents could help a curfew work, the former police officer who headed a controversial crackdown on unaccompanied juveniles in the mid-1990s believes.

Kevin Moran, who headed Operation Sweep in 1994, said a curfew for unaccompanied juveniles under 15 could work if it was in all Perth suburbs and if police charged parents with neglect under the Child Welfare Act.

Mr Moran urged caution when using the word "curfew" to describe long-term use of police powers under the Child Welfare Act to return unaccompanied children in moral or physical danger to their parents.

He said the 1994 Operation Sweep - widely reported as a juvenile curfew - started as a police clean-up of problems in Northbridge nightclubs. But the focus of the operation changed quickly, though its name stayed the same, when plainclothes officers identified youths with welfare concerns.

"Police found mixed with the disorderly, dishonest, drug users and pushers were the innocents abroad from the suburbs, all being drawn into a dangerous culture of booze, drugs and aggression," he said. "Some were as young as 10."

He said the six-week Operation Sweep, once on the streets, received widespread criticism from youth workers, but was well received by parents. Fremantle citizens blocked a move for the operation to move there. But in June 1994, Assignment Family Values quietly started in Perth and continues in a similar form today.

Veteran youth worker George Davies said Mr Moran's plan to charge parents was flawed because they needed support rather than more pressure.
- Kate Gauntlett