Aboriginal timeline: Northern Territory Intervention

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  1. The Breaking the Silence report, commissioned in 2004 and covering only NSW, finds "massive" and "epidemic" child sexual assault in Aboriginal communities.

  2. An ABCTV Lateline program reports on the abuse of Aboriginal children in NT communities.

  3. Northern Territory's Chief Minister, Clare Martin, writes a letter to prime minister John Howard proposing a "holistic, intensive intervention to communities in crisis" but receives "no meaningful response".

    Watch the second part of a speech she gave at the 19th Maurice Blackburn Oration on 5 December 2012, where she recollects the events (note especially at 5:10 where she talks about the reason for the intervention):

  4. In response to the Lateline program the Chief Minister of the NT announces the government will establish an inquiry into child sexual abuse in NT Aboriginal communities.


  1. Pat Anderson and Rex Wild release the Little Children are Sacred report which reports ‘widespread sex abuse’ of children throughout communities of the Northern Territory. The report makes 97 recommendations.

  2. Little Children Are Sacred report is presented to the NT Parliament.

  3. Prime Minister John Howard and Indigenous Affairs Minister Mal Brough announce the Northern Territory intervention. Staged as a response to the ‘Little Children are Sacred’ report, the intervention is widely criticised because it also legislates to remove the permit system for access to Aboriginal land, abolish the Community Development Employment Projects (CDEP), quarantine 50% of welfare payments, compulsorily acquire Aboriginal land and subject Aboriginal children to mandatory health checks.
    While the intervention receives bipartisan political support, many opponents label it an ‘invasion’ and promise a ‘Little Children are Scared’ report (a wordplay on the Report’s title).

  4. The Howard government introduces the Northern Territory Emergency Response (NTER), quickly dubbed the "intervention".

  5. The National Aboriginal Alliance (NAA) forms in Alice Springs as a response to the intervention of the government in the Northern Territory. It describes itself as completely independent of government and committed to Aboriginal people’s right to self-determination .

  6. John Howard loses the federal election in a landslide (‘Ruddslide’) defeat against the Australian Labor Party’s candidate Kevin Rudd. Rudd promises to say sorry to the Stolen Generations and to consult with Aboriginal people.


  1. Tom Calma, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, releases his Ten Point Action Plan proposal as a way forward for the Australian government's Northern Territory Emergency Response.

  2. The Northern Territory intervention is one year old. Jenny Macklin, Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FAHCSIA), announces a new $17.6 million trial over three years. Parents who fail to enrol their children or get them to school regularly will have their income support payments suspended until they fulfil their obligations.

  3. The Rudd government announces a BasicsCard to manage the income of all Aboriginal Centrelink recipients in the NT.

  4. Medical specialists and officers make a submission to the NT Emergency Review Board detailing chronic under-funding of existing health services, a lack of consultation with health professionals and Aboriginal communities, and the inadequacy of performing child health checks, which often duplicated information that was already known, at great cost and with little benefit.

  5. Centrelink begins distributing the BasicsCard in the Northern Territory.

  6. The Northern Territory Emergency Response Review Board provides independent review of the first 12 months of the NT Intervention to the Australian government.


  1. Contrary to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which states that all Aboriginal people have the right to self-determination, the government under the NT intervention dictates how Aboriginal people have to run aspects of their lives. 

  2. The Australian government allocates the largest amount of funding for a single year in the history of federal budgets to Indigenous affairs: A$4.8 billion. The biggest single item with A$106 million is for the Canberra bureaucracy to manage the income of Aboriginal people under the Northern Territory intervention.

  3. Federal and Northern Territory governments respond to the NTER Review Board recommendations.

  4. The Federal government announces a proposal to compulsorily acquire Alice Springs town camps.


View article sources (2)

[1] 'Howard took no interest last year: NT', SMH 23/6/2007
[2] Koori Mail 413 p.6

Cite this page

Korff, J 2024, Aboriginal timeline: Northern Territory Intervention, <https://www.creativespirits.info/aboriginalculture/history/australian-aboriginal-history-timeline/northern-territory-intervention>, retrieved 20 July 2024

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