NT government move forward on Treaty and Truth Telling.


Treaty as a priority

A question I’ve been asking leaders in the Treaty space is if they feel that by prioritising the ‘Voice to Parliament’ campaign time has been wasted by not working on the Treaty and legislating Truth Telling in federal policy. It’s a big discussion but necessary to take into consideration the current NLP parties in the states and territories not showing Bi-partisan support for Treaty and Truth Telling.

This year the Northern Territory Labor government will continue to work on the ‘Statement from the Heart’ framework and take the next steps towards Treaty and Treaties in line with the recommendations handed down in the 2023 NT Treaty Commission Final Report.
The Northern Territory Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Treaty Chancey Paech says the results of the ‘Voice to Parliament’ referendum did not go the way the NT Labor government would have liked and to move forward they are offering registrations for a Leadership and Governance Forum and two Treaty Symposiums in Alice Springs and Darwin in April.

Treaty Commission Final Report Recommendations

In accordance with recommendations 2 & 3 handed down by Tony McAvoy SC in the NT Treaty Commission Final report, The Leadership and Governance forum will include input from the four statutory Land Councils to draft an MOU to develop a new Treaty and Truth Commission Act and a draft First Nations Self Government Bill.

Tony McAvoy explains that not all community members are happy about being governed by the Land Councils and Minister Paech says the Treaty symposiums are for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples who don’t live where there is an Aboriginal Land Trust and for those who live off country and have made the Northern Territory their home.

He says the Northern Territory Department of Aboriginal Affairs want to provide an opportunity for everyone to be heard and encourage NT communities to join the meetings.

Read more about the recommendations and NT Treaty Commission’s Final Report in this interview from Tony McAvoy SC What’s next on being Treaty ready in the NT? Tony McAvoy SC breaks down the NT Treaty Commissions’ final recommendations. – CAAMA

The Aboriginal Leadership & Governance Forum / NT Treaty Symposium will be held on
4 – 5 April 2024 Alice Springs Convention Centre.
The NT Treaty Symposium in Darwin will be held at the Darwin Convention Centre on 8 April 2024. Register here.


Truth Telling funding is now available

The Northern Territory government are also calling for applications for the Truth and Healing Grants. The grants will support truth-telling activities and initiatives so First Nations peoples in the Northern Territory can create projects in a more creative way that will build a ‘Truth Nest’ of information for their story to be kept safely as an important part of history and evidence for a Makarrata and Truth Telling Commission. Minister Paech says this is a more inclusive way for the community to get involved in telling their story because academic papers and reports are for everyone.

Minister Paech would like to see applications from people who would like to document their experiences of the 2007 Northern Territory National Emergency Response and federal government intervention. He says this race-based policy is still impacting communities in the Northern Territory and shouldn’t be excluded from the history of the Northern Territory.

There will be two grant rounds, each in total a of $300,000. Applicants can apply for a maximum of $20,000 in each grant round.


      • Round one will be open from 26 February to 7 April 2024.

    Community connection vital for suicide prevention and recovery; Northern Territory Minister Selena Uibo.

    Danila Dilba Health Service Suicide Prevention Talking Circle-February 2024.

    Content Warning: readers and listeners are warned that there may be words and descriptions that may be culturally sensitive, and which might not normally be used in certain public or community contexts.

    Please contact 13 YARN (13 92 76) Lifeline 13 11 14 or your local health service/worker if you need support.

    When our Elders tell us ‘No Shame’ when it comes to talking about our feelings so many of us still find it difficult to ask for help or say that we are overwhelmed by what is happening in our lives, community and our place in a world that many of us see is in crisis. We lose so many loved ones because people think they have nowhere to go with their issues.

    Suicide was the leading cause of death for First Nations people aged 15 to 44 years in 2022. ABC Indigenous reports that only five of the nineteen Closing the Gap Targets are being met according to the latest data for 2024.

    A target that is worsening, and not on track is Target 14: Significant and sustained reduction in suicide of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

    Support for Top End communities.

    The Northern Territory government and the Northern Territory Primary Health Network are investing 3.3 million dollars for suicide prevention and recovery by supporting Danila Dilba’s Health Services with a new Healing and Recovery Service to meet the needs of families dealing with suicide and self-harm in some of the top end communities.

    “The more people talk about what is going on for them the less isolated people will feel when dealing with their wellbeing”

    Speaking with Kirstyn Lindsay the Northern Territory Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Selen Uibo is very clear about her passion for community connection and healing. With a cache of portfolios in her role as a Labor Member with the Northern Territory government, it was very clear that her heart is in the right place regarding community health and wellbeing. Selen Uibo says there is No Shame to talk about our worries and that this new healing Centre will provide support for people recovering from suicide attempts and/ or living with suicidal ideation. The Healing and Recovery Service will provide clinical and cultural practices around prevention and is a way forward to openly address this ongoing crisis in the community.

    A celebration in community-Northern Territory Minister Selena Uibo Member for Arnhem and Minister Chancey Paech Member for Gwoja.

    Minister Uibo says cultural inclusion and safety are what will make this service different to what is available in Darwin at the moment. The Centre will link families with wrap-around treatment services and provide support in First Language to prevent people from feeling isolated by the English language barrier.

    Intergenerational and modern-day trauma
    When I was preparing my questions for this interview I thought about the trauma and daily challenges that our all First Nations families and communities endure, alongside the ongoing impacts of racism, violence and segregation at the hands of colonial and settler culture, newer challenges like displacement due to the impacts of climate change and the remnants of the COVID-19 pandemic were topics I wanted to also raise in this interview.

    Minister Uibo says people are still recovering from families missing out on funerals due to lockdowns and border closures, which is a big loss in culture for many families. She also shares that her community in river country in Arnhem Land has safety challenges travelling on Country when the big rains come in, family worry all the time about their loved one’s safety and food and freshwater affordability and security also add to the layers that First Nations people live within remote and regional communities.

    ‘everyone in community is important and has a role in continuing culture and family connections.”

    No Shame, ask for help.

    My final question to the Minister for Northern Territory Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Selena Uibo was if there was anything else she would like to say to the community. Her message ran deep for me when she repeated the words ‘No Shame’ when speaking up about our worries and asking for help! She asks people to reach out to family and services. “The more people talk about what is going on for them the less isolated people will feel when dealing with their wellbeing,’ she says ‘everyone in the community is important and has a role in continuing culture and family connections.”

    Native plants healing country, healing community in the Central Desert.


    Unless you’ve been to the Central Desert it’s hard to believe how lush and diverse the country is. The regions of biodiversity and soil types range from sandy to stony soils with grasslands, herbs, shrubs and river gums. In Mparntwe (Alice Springs), a small community initiative that started during the COVID-19 pandemic is now a business for the propagation and sale of native plants for the region. Centralian Seedlings has already made significant changes in bringing back animal species and habitats through an industrial site in town and the settler-modified suburbs on Arrernte Country.

    Jorgen Doyle has propagated seedlings for purchase and provides an online resource for community members to learn about the plants for arid and semi-arid environments on country. Not only has Jorgen and his landlords rehabilitated the industrial site where Jorgen lives, but he has also created beautiful community spaces accessed by passersby bringing native birds and other animal life back into the area. His appreciation for the simplicity of having birds and desert lizards and small goannas move back in to live around the plants gives him something to talk about to his family on the phone and contributes to healing Country and community. This contribution also branches out to First Nations and other community members who feel good seeing some of the bush foods they recognise and being able to enjoy some of the gardens he’s created around town.

    Snake Vine-Tinospora Smilacina

    “I think it’s good for people to feel like where they live is not separate and abstract from the surrounding natural environment.”

    Jorgen Doyle Centralian Seedlings

    Jorgen writes on his website how future climate changes will impact the life of exotics due to how much water will be available and native plants will not only be easier to keep alive, but they can contribute to the decline of invasive species like the Olive Pine and Buffel Grass that are creating fire risks and loss of habitat.

    To collect the seeds, you need to apply for permits and Jorgen Doyle works in partnership with the Central Land Council, Bon Bon Station Reserve and Northern and Southern Indigenous Protected Areas through the Northern Territory and South Australian governments to be able to collect and propagate the seeds for commercial use.

    The Olive Pink Botanic Garden and Alice Springs Desert Park are two public spaces where you can see the extent of plant diversity and learn how to identify them for the Alice Springs and Central Desert region.

    Jorgen isn’t working alone in the community to create environmental restoration, Jerome Davy is an Anmatjere and Alyawarre native plant expert and horticulturalist and runs a business in Alice Springs, holding tenure at Olive Pink for four years working with the plants and restoring the cultural landscape. More people in the community are encouraged to plant their gardens and verges with local plants and learn about water usage. Jorgen Doyle says “I think it’s good for people to feel like where they live is not separate and abstract from the surrounding natural environment.”

    Mobile phone technology creating an Aboriginal workforce in remote communities.


    If you’ve travelled in remote and regional communities across Australia, you know the uneasy feeling of not having mobile phone coverage and how it can play on your mind while travelling.

    Communities in the Central Australian regions of Petyale, Ankweleyelengkwe, Welere, Urrermerne and Payeperrentye are now set up with the operation of five new mobile phone hotspots now contributing to forty-eight other mobile phone hotspots in remote sites throughout the Northern Territory.

    In partnership with the Centre for Appropriate Technology (CfAT) the Northern Territory Government have funded the project with an additional three hundred thousand dollars to deliver hotspots for residents and tourists.

    CfAT has trained local Aboriginal people to install the hotspot technology and will continue to train new technicians and encourage women and girls in communities to take this career path. The organisation supports the Technology on Country Program so more First Nations people can live and thrive on country through the use of technology, communications, education and training. The focus of the program is to keep people in community.

    Chief Executive Officer, Centre for Appropriate Technology Peter Renehan says these hotspots magnify the mobile signals so people can communicate for safety and business reasons.

    That’s not the end of the story, Peter is passionate about employment and training, and he says the real story is about the team that built the technology for these hotspots, the First Nations senior leaders and mentors who support the trainees to be successful employees who have been delivering the project outcomes. The mentors are qualified and have come through other industries to be strong leaders and develop and nurture the men coming through.

    CfAT would also like to support women to be trained in this field, offering training and employment pathways that are culturally safe and have women leading other women and girls to become technologists.

    First Nations Media Australia handed down the 2022 Infrastructure Audit Report highlighting information and data specific for the sector. A key theme identified is the shortage of First Nations IT, telecommunications and broadcast infrastructure technologists and engineers available across Australia and the divide is prevalent in regional and remote communities. The report identifies that all of these platforms need to co-exist and training and funding is required to meet the demand so communities can train and employee staff from the region and reduce the costs and delays caused by employing technologists from the cities. Remote IT, IP and Infrastructure work is a common practice but can still be problematic.

    The Mapping the Digital Gap project is also providing data to advise policy and programs to help close the digital gap. The project has identified the Closing the Gap Target of equal levels of digital inclusion for Aboriginal People by 2025 based on data from the Australian Digital Inclusion Index (ADII).

    Another discussion point with Peter Renehan is the priority of protocols when initiating a project to build mobile phone and other communications technology on country. Surveys and meetings with community members is important. He says non-Indigenous staff learn there are layers of communication needed when decisions are made for the projects so cultural heritage sites can be protected.

    This is an important part of the surveying and application process of a build and is more meaningful when Aboriginal to Aboriginal work together on this.

    Peter Renehan says this project provides skills exchange with non-Indigenous technicians which builds a stronger workforce for all technicians. “Learning protocols in the workforce is an important part of the surveying and application process of a build and is more meaningful when Aboriginal to Aboriginal work together on this.”

    Facilitators of Change and Connection; Boe Spearim on January 26.


    Gomeroi activist and radio host Boe Spearim speaks with passion when it comes to his motivation behind organising the January 26 Invasion Day march and gathering in Magandjin/Brisbane. He speaks respectfully about Sam Watson Jnr, Ruby and Coco Wharton and their involvement in the facilitation and organisation to unite community and commemorate the 1938 Day of Mourning which is now controversially celebrated as Australia Day.

    A cache of local activist groups will bring together thousands of people and provide what Boe calls a ‘safe space” for mob and Palestinian activists to connect and share their grief, resilience and resistance as we all navigate a challenging time not only for First Nations people post ‘Voice Referendum’ as well as the world political ‘stage’ while witnessing what some see as “genocide” of the Palestinian people in Gaza and surrounding communities. Boe says the people of Gaza are his family too and feels sad to see their suffering.

    “We get to kick off the year with something solid to show this country why we are still here, why we are still fighting.” – Boe Spearim

    Boe says he likes being busy this time of year and challenges the impacts of the Voice to Parliament Referendum on communities and shares what he wants to see in place to protect human rights for First Nations people around the world.

    This week will see local groups WAR (Warriors of Aboriginal Resistance) and Treaty before Voice inform the community of actions, they would like support for including localised Treaties separate from the state government and a call to action to blockade the 2024 Olympic Games. Boe say connecting the community on January 26 will consolidate the movement to show what we really want.

    ‘Go back to tribal way’; Alec Doomadgee on healing after the referendum.


    Listen to the interview for the full story.

    The Future

    It’s October, the week after the Voice to Parliament Referendum and Waanyi Garawa Gangalidda tribal leader Alec Doomadgee has set himself up on his mobile phone for our online interview in a coffee shop in downtown Toowoomba in western southeast Queensland. Home to the Jarowair people, this city holds the spirit of a long painful history of colonisation and atrocities of genocide and is now being graced by Alec, a man who brings optimism, love in his heart to all people and a healthy cheekiness, challenging racism, colonisation and issues impacting his people. He likes to get people thinking. 

    With his feet in many worlds, Alec Doomadgee has his law and culture and uses this as a sign of respect to take on the big guns and lead his community into self-governance while navigating the film and arts industry as a producer and actor across Australia. 

    With the sounds of the coffee shop in the background, we discussed his decision to vote No, his vision for treaties and accords and how his people used Indigenous Land Agreements to secure Native Title on their sacred Boodjamullla country after a thirty-year process. Alec says customary law is the way forward for First Nations people to self-govern, heal and speak for country and people.

     Around ten years ago Alec produced a documentary called Zachs Ceremony, he says this film is an example of how his people’s law and culture still exists. He believes that going back to the old law will rebuild the foundation separate from the colony.

    Boodjamulla National Park. Southern Cape York.

    The Fight for Country

    His Waanyi people of the southern Gulf of Carpentaria region recently took back the Boodjamulla National Park formerly known as Lawn Hill. He says that by using Native Title and Indigenous Land Use Agreements and the current mechanisms set up by the federal government, communities can take back their power and country and make it a success. Boodjamulla is his people’s creator spirit and rainbow serpent.

    In 1994, 18 year old Alec Doomadgee walked on that park with his family and they locked the park down protesting on the site for two weeks. In 1996 they started an Aboriginal Lands Act court case for Native Title. He says it took twenty years to go through the white man’s system and the ALA with the final determination being handed down in 2016. This was Alec’s second year as chair of the Native Title Corporation. It took from 2016 to 2020 for the QLD state government to sit down and negotiate. With a supportive legal and anthropologist Alec used his people’s law and culture to prove they had the jurisdiction on their country and not the government.

    At the end of the negotiations Alec said this is what worked for him. The final agreement included a clause of Treaties and that would be another discussion. The final agreement included the Waanyi people to be funded to run their country as their own business. This now provides opportunity for his community to succeed in self-governance and an opportunity to create their own income.

    Our healing comes from within us, from our law, our culture, our ceremomy

    Alec says the government should be asking First Nations for treaties and not the other way around. His message to communities is about self-empowerment and taking back culture and law as a way to navigate the system. An approach that is positive, grounding and healing. 

    Native Title determination hand back Boodjamulla National Park June 2023 Brisbane Parliment house. Lead by Waanyi Elder Mr Henry Alpin. Pictured with Quandamooka MP Leanne Enoch (QLD

    16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence – Needs Based Funding Critical.


    The Campaign

    16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence is a global campaign actioning over thirty years of international awareness on violence against women and girls. The campaign runs from the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, November 25 until December 10 falling on Human Rights Day. The United Nations Secretary-General’s UNiTE by 2030 initiative supports this year’s theme of Invest to Prevent Violence against Women & Girls, which aims to increase awareness and strengthen advocacy and resources based on lived experiences of women and girls and sector knowledge.

    UN Women Australia reports that the campaign was started by activists at the inauguration of the Women’s Global Leadership Institute in 1991 due to the high rates of violence and homicide of women and girls around the world.

    Currently in the Northern Territory, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women experience family, domestic and sexual violence 13 times the rate of non-Indigenous women and intimate partner homicide rates are seven times the national average.

    In Mparntwe (Alice Springs) Herstory consultant Kayla Glynn Braun says the 16 Days of Activism Campaign is important for awareness because violence against women is a community issue. CAAMA Radio’s Jenni Hubert spoke with Kayla on the launch of the campaign.

    Jenni Hubert CAAMA Radio Broadcaster Producer.

    What is needs-based funding?

    Tangentyere Women’s Family Safety Group reports domestic and sexual violence services are calling for needs-based funding to address the crisis in the Northern Territory receiving 1.8% of federal funding for action against domestic, family, and sexual violence (DFSV).

    Family Violence Prevention Program Manager Dr Chay Brown says the current model of federal funding for the domestic, family, and sexual violence (DFSV) sector in Australia is based on population size. She says the Northern Territory’s population is spread across large remote areas, which makes access to DFSV services more challenging and expensive to deliver. Workers on the frontline are calling for culturally safe housing, violence prevention education, trauma-based recovery and legal support.

    This year on September 26th, the Northern Territory’s family domestic and sexual violence sector held a day of action against domestic violence with their call to action being long-term needs-based funding that will provide these core services not to be included under National Partnership Agreements that don’t cover delivery service on the ground for their communities. Dr Brown says the one-off two-year funding round does not meet these needs.

    Women in Lajamanu calling for action on Family, Domestic and Sexual Violence in the Northern Territory.

    The sector’s call to action includes.

    1. An immediate injection of a minimum additional $180 million over 5 years, per the Northern Territory Government’s recommendation.
    2. The immediate establishment and ongoing funding of a Northern Territory-specific DFSV peak organisation;
    3. The allocation of %50 of new public housing to victim-survivors of DFSV

    A system in crisis

    Speaking with Kirstyn Lindsay for CAAMA Dr Chay Brown discussed her recent experience giving evidence into the landmark coronial inquest of four First Nations women in the Northern Territory murdered by intimate partners. The Northern Territory’s coroner, Elisabeth Armitage revealed that the Northern Territory government had rejected proposals from government agencies for $180m over five years to fund women’s shelters, behavior change programs and policy reform. These services have proven crucial in family violence prevention and community support.

    Dr Brown says that 20 million dollars over two years places women and their children at risk and that collaboration between the Federal and Northern Territory governments alongside service providers would reduce police callout times, build women’s shelters and be able to pay award wages for staff working in Family, Domestic and Sexual Violence services instead of reducing wages due to underfunding.

    The Northern Territory FDSV sector is currently asking the Federal Minister for Social Services Minister Rishworth to meet with them and visit their communities so she can see what is happening on the ground for the women and the sector services.

    The Minister was not available for an interview for CAAMA Radio to respond to the call-to-action request and a full breakdown of the Northern Territory funding by the Commonwealth Government was provided in an email by her department.

    On November 27, 2023, OAM to the Minister for Social Services Luke John Anthony Gosling, tabled a question in federal parliament for details on the $147 million in funding the Commonwealth Government provided for family, domestic, and sexual violence initiatives in the Northern Territory.

    In the Northern Territory, only two Men’s behavior change programs are funded in Alice Springs and Darwin. These programs are vital for cultural support for men to address their use of violence. Dr Chay Brown says these programs need experienced specialised staff to manage the programs in the communities as well as safety mechanisms set up for women and children while the men are working through the program.

    Dr Brown says the Northern Territory FDSV sector is asking the federal and Northern Territory government to collaborate with the sector on the funding issues so women’s lives can be saved, and communities have a say in what their needs are concerning cultural and physical safety in the future.

    Community in Galiwinku community coming together on the Day of Action Against Family, Domestic and Sexual Violence. September 2023.

    A pariah on the international scene; tougher penalties for racism needed. Marlene Hodder

    IRAG meeting Mt Nancy (Marlene Hodder-front row third from the left)

    Nottingham-born human rights activist and Grandmother Marlene Hodder is a Mpartwe local and has witnessed first-hand the racism her Lardil sons have experienced during their lifetime. Marlene migrated to Australia as a young woman and is concerned about the devastating rise in racism that First Nations communities have experienced during the lead-up and result of the Voice to Parliament Referendum campaign.

    “We need a clear statement to say it’s not acceptable.”

    In conversation with Kirstyn Lindsay, Marlene Hodder explains she didn’t receive any information on the true history of Australia when she first migrated here and she hopes that will change for newcomers. She would like to see in the wake of the referendum a federal anti-racism campaign, something that has better traction than previous campaigns with tougher penalties for people using racism against First Nations people.

    “We need a clear statement to say it’s not acceptable,” she says.

    Marlene also hopes to see the implementation of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights for Indigenous People UNDRIP in policy to bring change for First Nations people and accountability to people perpetrating racism.

    “I think the other issue is the UN declaration of the rights of Indigenous peoples, we need to get that into law.”

    Marlene says the United Nations has criticised the Australian government and is watching what happens for First Nations people and if there is a No result for the Voice to Parliament we will be a pariah (outcast) on the international human rights scene.
    She believes people are being misled with racism at the forefront of the voice campaign and community interests are not at the heart of ensuring First Nations people are protected from racism and political bias.

    During her lifetime she has worked tirelessly for Rollback the Intervention IRAG and on the front line for family violence prevention and youth justice working towards keeping children out of the criminal justice system and she says that racism has increased in the Northern Territory since the rollout of the Intervention; Northern Territory National Emergency Response Act 2007. Marlene says as a white fella she hasn’t had racism directed at her, but it hurts her spirit as a mother to see what her sons endure.

    Sporting the term ‘keyboard warrior’ Marlene says her days of getting out on the front line have slowed down and she will support the community and the Blak sovereignty movement in the next steps after the referendum and she realises that Treaty should have been the first step.

    In support of First Nations people experiencing racism throughout the Voice to Parliament campaign, Marlene Hodder says she finds it all overwhelming “I think it’s unfortunate that certain elements of government have told many untruths, they’ve added to prejudices to First Nations people, and they need to be held to account.”

    Protest Canberra 2008.

    Celebrating strength this Mental Health Week…MHACA has supported the Central Australia community for 30 years.


    A key strength in our community has been the work of the Mental Health Association of Central Australia which has offered psychosocial support services and health promotion programs aimed at our community and assist everyone. MHACA is celebrating 30 years in Mparntwe (Alice Springs).


    Stress Less in the Park is the featured event for Mental Health Week 2023. This free event focuses on mental health and wellbeing, promoting local support services that are available in our community.

    Alice Springs Rodeo


    An event not to be missed in the heart of Red Centre get in amongst all the action with bulls, Bronc’s Barrels and junior rodeo events plenty of entertainment for the whole family

    Some of the best cowboys and cowgirls will be competing for the title of course. The 2023 Alice Springs Rodeo has made a big impact on its comeback to the Red Centre.