26 February 2015 | General Interest
Senator for the Northern Territory Nova Peris has made a passionate plea for refocusing of priorities following the release of the annual Closing the Gap report.
In an interview with ABC Radio National’s Phillip Adams, Senator Peris discussed several key issues that arose from the report, including the uncertain funding situation for 38 Aboriginal Child and Family Centres across the country.
“We’ve got 38 child care centres that were built under the Labor government; then you’ve got this political war between states and federal governments [as] to who was going to fund them. The federal government said, ‘It’s not our responsibility; it’s up to the state and territory governments.’ So, as of June 30, there is no federal funding going into those 38 childcare centres,” Senator Peris said.
“Bill Shorten and I, and many other politicians, have travelled to these childcare centres. [In] some of these childcare centres you’re looking at 80 Aboriginal kids from 0-7 years old. Now what we’re doing in those childcare centres – they’re not just childcare centres. They’re family hubs, where the parents are involved; there [are] health workers there; kids get immunised. It’s an entirety. It’s like a nucleus of a community.”
To emphasise the warped focus of governmental funding Senator Peris examined the position the community in Papunya, in the Northern Territory, now found itself in.
“There’s a community, Papunya, [whose] childcare centre has been open for one year, but they’re building a $7m police station out there. So they’ll fund the police station, but there’s no funding for a childcare centre,” she said.
“What I was saying in my speech the other day – we were talking about responsibility, and how to empower people. For me, it’s not the government’s responsibility to get children to school. It’s the parents’ responsibility to get a child to school. I’m telling you now, when you go to these communities and you see 15 to 20 people in a two-bedroom house, how do you expect a child to get 8-9 hours sleep? To bounce up out of their bed every morning and get to school.”
“We’ve got twisted priorities going on here. If you want to close the gap in certain areas you’ve got to invest. That’s why I said, ‘We need houses; we need education; we need healthy water’ – all these sorts of things which Aboriginal people are being denied. They’re just being drip-fed the minimum, and we’re expected to close the gap in all these areas.”
To listen to the whole interview with Senator Peris visit the Late Night Live website.