The Australian Catholic Social Justice Council (ACSJC) is calling on Federal Government to shift the Northern Territory Emergency Response into its community development phase.

ACSJC Chairman, Bishop Christopher Saunders, said, ‘One year ago today Australians heard the Prime Minister’s momentous National Apology.

‘One word acknowledged, finally, the deep pain and suffering caused by the policies of forced separation of Indigenous children from their families. In saying “sorry”, the dignity and respect for an ancient culture was reestablished in the hearts and minds of the community. The apology to the Stolen Generations, and to all Indigenous peoples, has become the foundation for healing, unity and a renewed commitment to reconciliation in Australia.’

The Bishop welcomed the Government’s recent announcement of an additional $4 billion to ‘close the gap’ on health, employment, education and community services. He also applauded Minster Macklin’s commitment to establish a National Indigenous Representative Body.

‘It is vital that Indigenous peoples have a national voice.

‘As last year’s Independent Review of the Northern Territory Emergency Response said: “The single most valuable resource that the NTER has lacked from its inception is the positive, willing participation of the people it was intended to help.”

‘Achieving justice for Indigenous people will flow from working alongside individuals and communities. It requires less bureaucracy, genuine dialogue and enduring partnerships. I urge the Federal Government to move with haste to end the law-and-order focus of the Northern Territory intervention and adopt the community development phase,’ Bishop Saunders said.