Apology at the Aboriginal male health summit 2008

Current topic
Published in the HealthBulletin
Posted on:
24 July, 2008

The Aboriginal male health summit, Taking care of our children, taking the next steps, was held 30 June to 3 July 2008, at Ross River, Northern Territory in central Australia. It was organised by the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress and financed by the Office for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health.

At the 3 day summit, strategies were developed to ensure that Aboriginal men take control of their roles in caring, and ensuring a safe family environment. Men’s health was discussed in the context of community wellbeing and social relationships. Nearly 400 Aboriginal men took part and the occasion provided an opportunity to express the Inteyerrkwe Statement, an apology from men to women for violence and abuse.

The Inteyerrkwe Statement reads as follows:

“We the Aboriginal males from Central Australia and our visitor brothers from around Australia gathered at Inteyerrkwe in July 2008 to develop strategies to ensure our future roles as grandfathers, fathers, uncles, nephews, brothers, grandsons, and sons in caring for our children in a safe family environment that will lead to a happier, longer life that reflects opportunities experienced by the wider community.

“We acknowledge and say sorry for the hurt, pain and suffering caused by Aboriginal males to our wives, to our children, to our mothers, to our grandmothers, to our granddaughters, to our aunties, to our nieces and to our sisters.“We also acknowledge that we need the love and support of our Aboriginal women to help us move forward.”

Some of the key recommendations of the summit were:

  • Establishment of community-based violence prevention programs, including programs specific to Aboriginal men.
  • Establishment of places of healing for Aboriginal men, including men’s shelters/’sheds’, short term ‘drying out’ places for men, and more resources for long-term rehabilitation of Aboriginal men with alcohol and other drug problems, preferably within their own community. Also ‘half-way’ houses to either give ‘time out’ or time to move slowly back into work/family/training, preferably to be run by Aboriginal men.
  • Tax-free status for three years for identified communities for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal professionals to attract much-needed doctors, health workers, teachers and police. Also incentives to employ Aboriginal people in similar positions.
  • Building the capacity of Aboriginal men in literacy and numeracy to access locally-based jobs, and better support for establishing local Aboriginal-controlled businesses to tap into the minerals boom, agriculture, aquaculture or whatever business activity is relevant to their traditional country. Also the linking of education and training to locally-based employment.
  • ‘Unfinished business’ – This Summit calls on the Federal Government and the Northern Territory Government to respond to its final report within three months (by the end of September, 2008).