Friday, 25 February 2011

Are there Double Standards in the Intervention

I listened to a discussion about the Northern Territory Intervention this week and heard one of the speakers make this interesting claim. The incidents of alcohol abuse, drug abuse, sexual abuse and child abuse which formed the basis of the justification for the Intervention are also found throughout the remainder of the Australian population. We're left to infer that this renders the Intervention discriminatory, or that there should be an equivalent action taken in the rest of society.

This is going to make me sound heartless at first, but it needs to be said. I'd like to see some statistics about the incident rate across Australia, sorted by location rather than ethnic group, to help me understand this claim better. I don't doubt that the abuses are found everywhere (just look at any leaked video about a football team party, or trawl through the facebook status updates over the weekend) and across all segments of Australia. I would, however, like to know if it's uniformly distributed or whether we have problem areas; be they remote communities, suburban communities, or wherever.

Secondly, even if there is only a single case of abuse, surely some kind of intervention is required. We commonly think that the police should intervene and arrest the perpetrator. But how can we prevent things like this from happening in the first place? Or, what are the cultural and social conditions required to prevent abuse? And furthermore, should we apply those in the Northern Territory instead of the Intervention we now have?
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