The recent damning report card released by the Indigenous doctors suggests that the Northern Territory intervention, which is focused on improving physical health, will likely be outweighed by its negative impact of psychological health, spirituality and cultural integrity.
The Australian Indigenous Doctors' Association report states that though the new sustained investments in material resources including education, housing and health care services and delivery will make a significant contribution to improved physical health for some people, the ways in which the intervention was introduced and is being implemented are likely to contribute to the high burden of trauma and disease already carried by Aboriginal people across generations.
The report predicts the proposed health outcomes from the intervention, which was launched back in 2007 to deal with child abuse, may not be fully achieved. It will leave a negative legacy on the psychological and social wellbeing, on the spirituality and cultural integrity of the prescribed communities.
Compulsory income management is recommended to be halted immediately, suggests the doctors' association as it carries a profound long term negative impacts in its implementation. The welfare payments should be limited for only for specific cases of proven abuse or neglect - or if there is a voluntary opt-in by the people.
The Federal Government is taking the opposite approach with plans of extending income management to all disadvantaged areas of the Northern Territory and finally, Australia. Exemptions are applicable only to people who can prove they're capable of handling their own affairs.
The report does not agree with the ban of alcohol and pornography as it will not likely to work in the longer-term. The programs should be introduced in a way that would lead to reduced demand, instead of just prohibition.
According to the Indigenous doctors, the key to permanent change is working in respectful partnership with leaders and organizations of the Aborigines.
Tamara Mackean, chairman reports, It is simply not possible to fight oppression with oppression.