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Baby bonus fuels Indigenous violence: ATSIC

Extract from Australian Broadcasting Corporation - ABC Online, on 23 June 2004


An ATSIC regional councillor in the Northern Territory says the Federal Government's $600 child bonus is proving disastrous for Aboriginal communities.

Michael Berto, a councillor in Katherine, says there has been a marked increase in drinking, drug abuse and violence since the money became available last week.

Northern Territory Chief Minister Clare Martin agrees the payments have caused problems in Indigenous communities.

Ms Martin says she is meeting with the Prime Minister this week and she will lobby against introducing the lump sum baby bonus payments from July 1.

Mr Berto says it is ridiculous for the Government to throw money around with no explanation about what it is for.

"They're well aware that we're desperately fighting levels of alcohol abuse and drug abuse, violence that's occurring in our communities... and they go and do this sort of thing," he said.

"You know, there's been no education campaign, nothing to say why this money was being paid to people."

Mr Berto says the spending spree has undone attempts to reduce the level of violence in communities.

He predicts things will get worse when the baby bonus becomes available next month.

This is only the start of it. We've got another period to get through when the $3,000 payment kicks in on the first of July," he said.

"That's going to increase pregnancy rates. I'm sure in our communities once those monies are able to be accessed, once they're eligible that is, you know, it's going to create more havoc."


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