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25 July 2016 - 

Labor Leader Michael Gunner has today announced the most extensive return of local decision making to Indigenous communities ever announced in the Territory.

Speaking from Maningrida, Michael Gunner said a Labor Government will introduce a 10 year roadmap that will see Indigenous communities take control over:

  • Housing
  • Local Government
  • Education and Training
  • Health
  • Looking after children and
  • Law and Justice


The implementation of the roadmap will be supervised by a Local Decisions Oversight Board made up of Indigenous Leaders from around the Territory reporting directly to the Chief Minister and Minister for Indigenous Affairs.

“I believe that the more local a decision is made the more likely it is to be right.” Michael Gunner said.

“Decisions made in Canberra or Darwin will never be as in touch with local needs and local solutions, as decisions made in the local community are.

“Governments of all political colours have made a habit of taking local decision making away over many years.

“If elected, a Gunner Labor Government will turn this policy approach around.”

Michael Gunner said the return of decision making will be done at a pace determined by the relevant Indigenous groups and people and in a manner and arrangement supported by locals.

“We recognise that building, supporting and investing in strong Indigenous governance is necessary to ensure local people drive local solutions and Indigenous organisations are supported.”

Local decision making will include:

  • Support for strengthening local authorities in local government.
  • Tenancy management and building, repairs and maintenance of public housing will be managed by local groups.
  • Community Led Schools run by Local School Boards.
  • Growing and developing Indigenous non-government organisations focussed on looking after children in out of home care.
  • Increasing the use of a local court system that includes traditional leadership in its decision making.


In making sure that Labor understands what people want in what order of priority, Labor is committed to extensive consultation with Indigenous communities

We will:

  • Consult and work with Traditional Owners.
  • Consult and work with the organisations that represent Indigenous Territorians.
  • Ensure the voice of Indigenous women is heard loud and clear.
  • Continue to support First Circles as a development opportunity for youth leadership.
  • Continue the Community Champions program.
  • Bring back Community Cabinet meetings with an emphasis on remote Territory meetings.


“This is the most extensive roadmap to local decision making with the aim of placing Indigenous Territorians at the centre of control over their lives.”

“Labor will work with Indigenous people to determine the outcomes we both wish to achieve and will then bring their skills, knowledge and priorities into place to reach those outcomes.

“This is a massive change of direction by government. Until now the Territory Government has directed people from the top down. I look forward to helping people achieve the goals they set themselves,” Michael Gunner said.


MEDIA CONTACT: Cameron Angus 0404 021 192

IAS cuts crippling our youth programs

Territory Labor is listening to Indigenous organisations and supporting them in their calls to have IAS funding decisions reviewed, Opposition Minister for Young Territorians Lauren Moss said

“What we are hearing is that Indigenous Advancement Strategy (IAS) cuts could cripple some of our vital and successful programs right across the Territory: from Alice Springs to Manigrida and Tennant Creek to Katherine,” Ms Moss said.

“The Chief Minister says he’s heard stories about front line job losses but no evidence, an extraordinary claim from a man who claims to be the NT Indigenous Affairs Minister.

“The Barkly Regional Council has had its youth development shattered and 27 Indigenous jobs are on the line.

“Katherine YMCA has had its funding decimated and the future of many of its successful young programs in uncertain.

“Central Desert Regional Council says it hasn’t been funded to meet the real costs of service delivery with cuts to its youth services and essential school nutrition programs.

“He is not listening to the Macdonnell Regional Council who will lose 51 Indigenous jobs from remote communities. Youth development services are decimated, with the Council only receiving 8 per cent of its current funding.

“Adam Giles is not listening to the Youth Service at Maningrida which has built up a suite of services keeping young people engaged and off the streets, but is now facing an uncertain future because of IAS cuts.

“20 per cent of Amity’s funding has been cut, resulting in Indigenous jobs losses and a reduction in programs working with young people and dealing with volatile substance abuse.

“If Adam Giles doesn’t believe these cuts will impact on the frontline that shows he’s really not listening.

 “Adam Giles must ask his CLP colleague Nigel Scullion to release a full list of the organisations he’s de-funded, the list of organisations that have had severe cuts and explain his rationale about why he has savaged proven and successful programs.

“The Chief Minister should also be calling on Senator Scullion to free up the rumoured $200 million kept aside as “demand driven activity grants” to meet the shortfalls in funding.

“We’re also asking what the ‘demand driven’ funding is aimed at and seeking reassurances this is not going to be used to fund pork barrelling exercises going into elections.


Media contact: Louise Connor 0438 241 211

Tracker Tilmouth remembered with love and laughter

Tracker Tilmouth’ s State funeral at St Mary’s Cathedral and reception at Parliament House, Darwin was a worthy send-off for a dedicated and passionate activist, Labor Opposition Leader Delia Lawrie said today.

“He deserved no less than this. It was poignant, but also filled with laughter. Many speakers reminded us that, unfortunately, Tracker’s life-long work isn’t done with his passing," Ms Lawrie said.

“The large number of people who attended from all over the Territory and interstate, attested to his leadership and courage. From humble people who lived and worked alongside him in the many struggles he championed, to the politicians and business leaders he held to task; all held him in esteem."

“Tracker played a strong role together with other activists during 1970s in establishing the Central Australian Aboriginal Legal Aid Service and the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress. He also served on the boards of several Indigenous representative groups.

“As Chairman of the Central Land Council for six years he fought Federal and Territory Government attempts to erode land rights and weaken native title.

“He brought an entrepreneurial focus to discussions around land rights and native title rights and championed the opportunities available to traditional owners through business partnerships to secure employment and community development.

“Tracker strived to make our Territory a better, fairer place and never remained silent in the face of prejudice and adversity.”


Media contact: Louise Connor 0438 241 211    



Shadow Minister for Women, Lynne Walker, today called on the Territory and Australian Governments to prioritise funding for domestic violence legal and support services.

“Domestic violence is at epidemic levels across our nation with 1 in 3 Australian women having experienced physical violence while Indigenous women are 45 times more likely to be a victim of domestic violence.

“This epidemic requires a national and coordinated response and I support the Federal Opposition Leader’s call for a National Crisis Summit, so we ensure front-line responders to domestic violence are at the table to participate in mapping a national framework.

“The Senate Inquiry will hear today from service providers about challenges they face in responding to domestic violence, particularly in regional and remote areas, the gaps in services and funding, and the coordination needed.

“Immediate challenges include the threat of reduced funding for legal aid and community legal services by the Australian Government, despite the clear evidence more support and continuity of funding is needed.

“Other services such Dawn House in Darwin that runs a shelter for women and children experiencing domestic violence have reported that they cannot assist all the families that need help, turning away 211 families in the past 6 months – more than were taken in.

“We need the Australian Government to provide certainty to the sector and to stop ripping out funding to these community services,” Ms Walker said.

“The former Territory Government toughened laws to tackle domestic violence, introduced mandatory reporting to influence community attitudes, and provided additional funding to increase crisis accommodation including providing safe houses in remote areas, but more needs to be done.

“While we welcome that the current Territory Government has continued a domestic violence strategy, we call on the Territory and Australian Governments to work together to further increase crisis accommodation options and support services, particularly to support indigenous women.”

Media contact: Louise Connor 0438 241 211


Shadow Minister for Indigenous Policy Ken Vowles said today that comments by Senator Nigel Scullion showed how the CLP has completely abandoned the bush at a National and Territory level.

Mr Vowles said Senator Scullion’s statement that he saw no problem with Indigenous Territorians staying on work for the dole programs for generations showed the CLP had no intention of developing regional economies.

“Senator Scullion’s astounding comments show the CLP has put the bush in the ‘too hard’ basket.

“For him to say there is nothing wrong with people being on work for dole programs forever and to brush off remote communities by saying there is no economy is appalling.

“He doesn’t recognise there are opportunities to develop regional economies in the Territory but it means working in a real partnership with local people and the land councils.

“As an example there are caring for country and ranger programs that provide real employment and skills development on country, but Senator Scullion doesn’t recognise that.

“The Territory CLP and the Federal Liberal Governments need to abandon their approach of taking away people’s rights to land as a pre-requisite to development.

“Labor is developing policies that will see real jobs opportunities in remote communities but we won’t be taking away people’s land rights to do this.

‘We will work in partnership with local communities and land councils to grow and support local initiatives to develop stronger regions with decent housing and real jobs.”

Mr Vowles said Senator Scullion should be apologising to Indigenous Territorians for his comments that compared Aboriginal people to cave dwellers and animals.

“I was shocked when I read his statement that:  ‘Many of my communities live on the floor, it is like a cave. I think that one of the characteristics of civilisation must be that you don’t have to eat at the same level as your animals.’

“If Senator Scullion is so concerned about improving living conditions in remote communities he needs to get on with improving housing.

“He may want to ask his CLP Government colleagues why they have scaled back on their original commitment to spend $41 million on remote area housing in the coming financial year, under the National Partnership on Remote Indigenous Housing.

“That has been slashed to $8.8million due to the CLP’s incompetence and bungling.”

Louise Connor 0438 241211


Vale Bruce (Tracker) Tilmouth

Leader of the Opposition, Delia Lawrie, today paid tribute to Bruce (Tracker) Tilmouth who passed away last night aged 62.

Ms Lawrie said that Tracker Tilmouth was an outstanding Territorian who will be sadly missed by many.

"Tracker was at the forefront of the Aboriginal rights movement and leaves a legacy of regional economic development as a pathway to social and economic opportunities," Ms Lawrie said.

"We are deeply saddened at Tracker's passing; he was such a strong voice for Aboriginal Territorians who spent decades challenging accepted norms.

"Tracker was a strong Labor man who challenged us to take action to improve the lives of Territorians.

"His sharp intellect combined with a wicked sense of humour was a tool he would wield to challenge us all to do more for his people."

Ms Lawrie said that Tracker was a Centralian who had been raised on Croker Island and in Darwin as part of the Stolen Generation.

"He was a man of the Territory and the grief of his loss is being felt across the Top End and in Central Australia," Ms Lawrie said.

"I was fortunate to have known Tracker for many years and considered him both a friend and mentor.

"Our lives kept crossing paths, from his teenage friendship with my late brother Charlie when they were ratbags together, through the years of Territory Labor politics and then to my employment of his daughter as my media advisor."

Ms Lawrie paid her sincere condolences to Trackers widow, Kathy; daughters Cathryn, Shaneen and Amanda; sons-in-law Luke Bayetto and Jarrad Doudle; granddaughters Elaina and Yvette; and siblings William Tilmouth, Patrick Tilmouth, Margaret Hampton, Harry Nayda and Ian Nayda.

"May this great man rest in peace."

Media contact: Louise Connor 0438 241 211


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