Federal Government report says NT children eating healthier according to parents

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 17th December 2009

The report of a study commissioned by an Australian government body, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, has found that indigenous children in the Northern Territory are eating healthier food than prior to the government initiated Intervention in the Northern Territory.

The so-called Intervention in the Northern Territory otherwise known officially as the Northern Territory Emergency Response (NTER) took place under the former Liberal-National Coalition Federal government from late June 2007 following Federal government concerns which brought the issue of sexual and physical child abuse in Northern Territory Indigenous communities into the public eye.

As part of the Northern Territory Intervention, the Australian Government had implemented income management in 73 Indigenous communities and town camps.

The latest Report on the Evaluation of Income Management in the Northern Territory claims that 75% of families recently surveyed had their children enjoying more food with approximately 50% eating more fruit and vegetables than before the income management program came into effect.

According to the same report, more than half of parents interviewed said that their children were eating more (62.5%), weighed more (57.4 %) and appeared healthier (52.1%) than they previously were without income management. The study surveyed parents between 7 and 20 months after income management came into effect.

Around 16,000 people in the Northern Territory are currently subject to the income management program, under which 50% of income support and family payments are held back to ensure government monies are only spent on items such as food, housing, and clothing but not on items such as alcohol and cigarettes.

Although the previous Liberal-National Coalition Federal government had been criticised for implementing the Intervention in the Northern Territory, including by members of the current government, the new findings have shown the merits of the program in relation to the better food and healthier outcomes for indigenous children. The previous government had also faced down international criticism at the United Nations concerning an alleged contravention of humans rights because the Intervention targeted segments of the indigenous population only. The healthier outcomes now evident from the Intervention have reinforced moves by the current Federal Labor government to extend the same laws equally to segments of the non-indigenous population too.

The full report can be viewed here.