Matter of Urgency: Jacinta's call for a Royal Commission

Jacinta moves a Matter of Urgency in the Senate on 17 October, 2023


The Acting Deputy President, Senator James McGrath: 

The Senate will now consider the proposal from Senator Nampijinpa Price:

Pursuant to standing order 75, I give notice that today I propose to move "That, in the opinion of the Senate, the following is a matter of urgency:

The need for Prime Minister Albanese to support the Opposition's call for a Royal Commission into child sexual abuse in Indigenous communities, audit spending on Indigenous programs, and support practical policy ideas to improve the lives of Indigenous Australians to help Close the Gap."


Senator Jacinta Nampijinpa Price

I rise today to speak on the urgent need for Prime Minister Albanese and the Labor government to support the coalition's call for a royal commission into child sexual abuse in Indigenous communities, audit spending on Indigenous programs and support practical policy ideas to improve the lives of Indigenous Australians and to help close the gap.

Earlier this year, I had the privilege of being joined by the Leader of the Opposition, who has on several occasions travelled to spend real time on the ground in the Northern Territory and hear directly from remote and rural Australian communities. While in the Territory, in my home town of Alice Springs, the opposition leader heard stories of what too many people in remote and rural Australia know all too well—stories of child sexual abuse and stories of children being neglected and abused.

Stories of Indigenous Australians are being ignored because their problems and the solutions they are suggesting don’t fit this government's agenda. There are stories like that of my niece known as Ruby, as reported in the Australian in 2022. In the remote Northern Territory town of Yuendumu, Ruby, then just 15, was beaten and raped by her own father. Ruby recounts trying to tell her family in Yuendumu of the horrific abuse she was suffering but says they didn't want to believe her. Incredibly, Ruby found the courage to speak up, and two years later, at just 17 years old, she testified against him. A judge in the case said the abuse had been protracted and prolonged and involved the use of weapons.

I know of a case now being dealt with where, from the age of six, a girl was raped and abused by her cousin, a man 12 years older than her. For seven years this young girl was tortured, frightened and in need of help, with no-one to turn to because too many community and family members turned a blind eye. It was only after leaving her home and moving interstate with a family member that she was able to find an adult who would help her.

But helplessness extends to the hands of organisations funded supposedly to help. The ANAO has found that the Northern Land Council is not fully implementing its fraud and corruption policy and that the Central Land Council's fraud control arrangements fall short of the minimum requirements. As I've said many times before, the gap is more about place than about race. It exists not between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians but between the cities and remote Australia, between those who have easy access to education, medicines and emergency services and those who do not. We need to focus our efforts on our most marginalised.

Over the weekend, Australians sent a loud and clear message that they want real outcomes for Indigenous Australians, and particularly our most marginalised. They do not want more of the same. They don't want more bureaucracy; they don't want an activist talkfest. They want accountability, they want transparency and they want action. We need action for those children in remote communities, our most marginalised, suffering sexual abuse, neglect and other abuse. Labor, the Greens and Senator David Pocock have denied our attempts before and chosen to be silent and overlook these issues. This is the last time. Join us in what Australians overwhelmingly seek or we will do it ourselves and hold you all to account.

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