Some of the details in this suddenly uncovered report seem very convenient for Tony Abbott and Colin Barnett ... and why haven't all these government police departments and undercover operations with their technology and super-weapons been able to protect our people from these western trappings anyway - this story has a strange smell of the events that preceded the NT Intervention
Nino Bucci The Age 29 March 2015
Organised crime groups are plotting to steal from Indigenous communities that survive on multi-million dollar mining royalties and land use agreements, an eight-year Australian Crime Commission investigation into isolated and trouble-plagued regions has revealed.
The explosive internal report, released under Freedom of Information laws, also found that widespread child sexual abuse in remote Indigenous communities is sometimes excused because of "traditional beliefs".
Prominent members of some communities are suspected to be child sex offenders, or to have protected offenders, and may also be responsible for drug trafficking, fraud, and stealing money from support organisations, where they hold positions of authority, for gambling.
Alcohol and marijuana abuse remain at horrific levels, the report found, but some communities have also recently recorded their first fatal overdoses from pharmaceuticals, including the painkiller Fentanyl.
The ACC tasked the National Indigenous Intelligence Taskforce with investigating crime in remote Indigenous communities between 2006 and last year.
The findings may further inflame a debate about closing Indigenous communities, an issue which sparked nationwide protests earlier this month. Further protests are planned, with those opposing forced closures also angered by Prime Minister Tony Abbott's comment that living in remote communities was a "lifestyle choice".
The West Australian Government is considering closing about 150 communities, including many that were visited by the taskforce, while the South Australian Government is yet to confirm its position.
The taskforce found that the exploitation of payments to remote communities for mining royalties and Indigenous Land Use Agreements (ILUA) was likely to increase, further endangering their survival.
"Mining royalties and payments to native title holders under ILUAs are an increasing and significant source of income for Indigenous communities," the taskforce reported.
"A number of communities also operate commercial and social enterprises that generate considerable income.
"This environment will provide significant inducements and extensive opportunities for criminal exploitation, including by organised criminal groups."
It is believed the communities most at risk are in WA, where some trusts are worth hundreds of millions of dollars, but the taskforce warned that all regions were at risk of financial crime.
While only small amounts of these funds are available, the taskforce found "incentives for individuals and organised crime groups to exploit Indigenous organisations will probably remain high, correlated with a real or perceived low risk of detection".
The taskforce was formed after an Intergovernmental Summit on Violence and Child Abuse in Indigenous Communities, overseen by the Howard government.
It is unclear whether the taskforce backed the closure of some communities, as the ACC redacted all recommendations from the report released to Fairfax Media.
The taskforce visited regional towns or Indigenous communities in every state and territory, but focused on Arnhem Land and the Barkly region (Northern Territory), the APY Lands (South Australia), the Kimberley region (Western Australia), and Western New South Wales.
Investigators could force members of these communities to give evidence, as the commission has coercive powers.
It was hoped this power would also prevent reprisals against community members who spoke to investigators.
An ACC spokeswoman said the number of criminal charges that resulted from intelligence provided by the taskforce was unclear, but 773 reports had been prepared regarding suspected offending for state and territory police forces or government organisations.
Fairfax Media was told by a person familiar with the Kimberley and Northern Territory that there had been a paltry number of convictions relating to drug trafficking over the past decade, and that while there had been an increase in child sex abuse related prosecutions, many of those offences were historical.
The taskforce found no evidence of organised child sexual abuse networks. Child neglect remained the most common form of child abuse, and can result in children as young as five "wandering the streets at night".
A spokeswoman for Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion said the issues raised by the taskforce remained a concern, but did not clarify the cost of the investigation.
Shadow Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Shayne Neumann, said the report illustrated the need for national funding for Indigenous affairs, rather than the state-based model supported by the Abbott Government which had endangered some remote communities in Western Australia.
18 Aug 2006, 8:25pm
A new report shows sophisticated drug-running networks are making handsome profits by inundating remote Indigenous communities with cannabis.
A survey of remote communities in the Northern Territory, Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia has found that cannabis supply and use has increased dramatically in the past three years.
Peter Veth from the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies says it is alarming.
"People as young as 11 or 12 were actually engaging in mixing of alcohol, and binge cannabis smoking, so 20 cones or joints perhaps in one sitting," he said.
The Northern Territory's Assistant Police Commissioner Mark Payne says it is clear sophisticated drug-running networks are targeting remote communities.
"Certainly from what we're seeing on Aboriginal communities, it's a lot more organised than we thought it was," he said.
The report says drugs in remote communities fetch up to 50 times the going rate.