Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Government urged to continue Intervention

TONY EASTLEY: The Federal Government has been told by its hand-picked review panel that the situation in Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory is still a national emergency and the intervention needs to continue.

It's also been told there's a backlog of Aboriginal children waiting for follow-up medical treatment after the initial child health checks.

AM has travelled to Maningrida in Arnhem Land to hear how the intervention has worked and where it's failed.

Zoie Jones reports that, a year on, a group of children with serious tooth decay are still waiting to see a dentist.

In a nutshell, I would suggest from reading the rest of the transcript from today's AM programme on ABC Radio, that the funding for the intervention could be better spent. Instead of flying 12 kids in a plane for urgent dental help, perhaps it would be more economic to have a plane fitted out as a dental surgery and fly it in, something like the other clinics which happen in the outback. Take care of all the children (and adults), who need dental treatment and then conduct regular dental clinics the same way, six monthly. Wouldn't that be more feasible than flying the children out and back in small groups? It does depend on the level of treatment they require.

A community leader is interviewed and this is what she has to say:

Laurie Magaldargi says the money spent on charter planes could have been used more effectively.

LAURIE MAGALDARGI: We need a proper dentist that dentist will live here in this community.

ZOIE JONES: One of the intervention's success stories has been income management. At one of the two supermarkets in Maningrida, women and children are busy filling their trolleys with food. But the review panel has recommended that income management be voluntary or only applied when there's concern for a child's wellbeing.In Maningrida, Alice works behind the checkout.

ALICE: I think it's a good system they've put in place.

ZOIE JONES: How easy is the food card to use?

ALICE: It's pretty easy, just in and out. It's quick.ZOIE JONES: Is it mostly the women doing the shopping?

ALICE: Yeah. Lots of women. A lot of men are sort of ashamed to use food cards. They'd rather use cash.

ZOIE JONES: It's getting late in Maningrida but Phyllis Dungudja still has several hours more of patrolling the streets. (To Phyllis) Do you think kids in Maningrida are safer now?

PHYLLIS DUNGUDJA: Yeah, they're safer because we're doing a good job for the children.

And as an aside, Zoie? What were her parents thinking? Jazz up the "Jones" moniker? Arrgh!
I'd pronounce that as rhyming with soy.


Boy on a bike said...

They want a dentist to live out there?


Crikey, some people say the funniest things.

Let's see. You're a dentist. You can practice in Double Bay or Maningrida. Where do you hang your shingle?

(Try not to stand between the dentists and Double Bay, in case you are crushed in the rush).

kae said...

Boy, don't you mean "Double Pay"?

Skeeter said...

I'm reminded of the days when country folk were trying to get improved internet access, mobile phone coverage and other infrastructure in the bush.
Town-based commenters' usual advice was for the country folk to move into town if they needed that sort of facility.

Skeeter said...

Another thing: It's likely that the idea of getting dentists to practice in the communities has been considered and its costs worked out to be much greater than a few air-charter trips.
We have young friends who were all set to move their family to some unpronounceable place in outback WA and teach "art" to the local kiddies. There was considerable government funding help available, including transport and accommodation costs, with generous pay and allowances. They had accepted the job and started to sell their house in town when the enormity of consequences slowly sank in.
Much to the relief of the grandparents of their children, our young friends pulled the plug on the whole project and stayed in town.