The Northern Territory Emergency Response: The More Things Change, The More They Stay the Same

  • Nicole Watson Nicole is an Aboriginal lawyer from Queensland, Australia. She is a research fellow at the Jumbunna Indigenous House of Learning, University of Technology, Sydney.

Abstract

The Northern Territory Emergency Response (NTER) was a raft of measures introduced by the Commonwealth of Australia in response to allegations of child sexual abuse in Northern Territory Aboriginal communities.  The measures included the compulsory acquisition of Aboriginal lands, the quarantining of welfare payments, prohibitions on alcohol, and the vesting of expansive powers in the Commonwealth Minister to intervene in the affairs of Aboriginal organizations.  This article aims to provide a brief historical background of Aboriginal people's experiences with the law in Australia, discuss certain provisoins of the NTER, and, finally, examine the consequences three years after the implementation of the NTER.  Through this analysis, the author suggests that history remains a powerful influence, resulting in the NTER being based on assumptions of Aboriginal people that are grounded in a racist past.  Further, independent studies have shown that the NTER has been largely ineffective at accomplishing its stated objectives.

Author Biography

Nicole Watson, Nicole is an Aboriginal lawyer from Queensland, Australia. She is a research fellow at the Jumbunna Indigenous House of Learning, University of Technology, Sydney.
She has published work on the Northern Territory Emergency Response and is currently writing a textbook that will incorporate Indigenous content into Australian Law School Curriculums.
How to Cite
Watson, N. (1). The Northern Territory Emergency Response: The More Things Change, The More They Stay the Same. Alberta Law Review, 48(4), 905. https://doi.org/10.29173/alr139
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Articles