Issue 14
Monday, 15 August 2016
Charles Darwin University
Mikey Boyce … Social conscience and interest in human rights
Mikey Boyce … Social conscience and interest in human rights

NT can ‘still feel’ Intervention aftershocks

By Patrick Nelson

The aftershocks of the Federal Government’s Intervention in the Northern Territory almost a decade ago are still being felt by Indigenous communities, a Charles Darwin University law conference has heard.

Presenter Mikey Boyce told delegates at the School of Law Showcase in Darwin this month that Indigenous communities had suffered injury, emotional suffering and economic loss under the Northern Territory Emergency Response and the subsequent Stronger Futures policy.

“These vulnerable communities have suffered substantial impairment of their fundamental rights as prescribed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” Mr Boyce said.

He cited several indicators that were heading in the wrong direction, including domestic violence, which had increased, and school attendance, which had decreased.

“Statistically, we have seen incarceration rates rise by more than 40 per cent, the number of children taken from their homes rise by 69 per cent, and the attempted suicide rate rise by 500 per cent.”

Mr Boyce said the Emergency Response was the result of what the then federal government claimed was its “moral obligation to act”, in the wake of the “Little Children Are Sacred Report”.

“But the lack of consultation and the haste in which the legislation was passed highlighted the overtly paternalistic attitude towards Indigenous relations at the time.”

Mr Boyce said that government at all levels needed to stop the “process of victimisation” inherent in the white neo-colonialist ideals he claimed shaped Indigenous policy.

“There needs to be real engagement between community and government to stop the implementation of incapacity.” 

Mr Boyce, CDU’s multi-media trainer in Alice Springs, said his social conscience and interest in human rights had prompted him to undertake a post-graduate degree in law.

“It’s something that runs in the family. My great grandfather was chief protector of Aboriginal people in Queensland in the early 1900s,” he said.

“I researched and wrote this paper during my years as a law student.

“I plan to continue my research as a participant in the Indigenous Justice and Exoneration Project at the School of Law.”

He presented the paper “NT Indigenous Communities under the Intervention: Victims of Abuse of Power” at Empowering and Disempowering First Nations People through Law and Policy, a legal showcase presented by the CDU School of Law on 10 August.