The Board of Inquiry was created by the Northern Territory Government in August 2006 to research and report on allegations of sexual abuse of Aboriginal children. The Inquiry was established to find better ways to protect Aboriginal children from sexual abuse.
The Inquiry gathered and reviewed a vast amount of information that was shaped into 97 recommendations for the Chief Minister. Underlying the Inquiry’s findings was the common view that sexual abuse of Aboriginal children is happening largely because of the breakdown of Aboriginal culture and society.
Important points made by the Inquiry included:
- Child sexual abuse is serious, widespread and often unreported.
- Most Aboriginal people are willing and committed to solving problems and helping their children. They are also eager to better educate themselves.
- Aboriginal people are not the only victims and not the only perpetrators of sexual abuse.
- Much of the violence and sexual abuse occurring in Territory communities is a reflection of past, current and continuing social problems which have developed over many decades.
- The combined effects of poor health, alcohol and drug abuse, unemployment, gambling, pornography, poor education and housing, and a general loss of identity and control have contributed to violence and to sexual abuse in many forms.
- Existing government programs to help Aboriginal people break the cycle of poverty and violence need to work better. There is not enough coordination and communication between government departments and agencies, and this is causing a breakdown in services and poor crisis intervention.
- Improvements in health and social services are desperately needed.
- Programs need to have enough funds and resources and be a long-term commitment.