• Thomas Mayor protests the new youth bail laws in the Northern Territory. (NITV)Source: NITV
After a tragic start to the week, there was plenty to cover on The Point.
Neil McMahon

The Point
13 May 2021 - 4:09 PM  UPDATED 13 May 2021 - 4:09 PM


The Point opened with Tuesday’s tragic and heartbreaking news of the death of a 13-year-old, killed when the bin he was sleeping in with two other boys was collected by a garbage truck.

The tragedy has stunned the community in Port Lincoln, South Australia.

“This is a very tight-knit, relatively small community and everyone in this community will be impacted either directly or indirectly by this event,” said SA Police Superintendent Paul Bahr.

“We’ve spoken to both the (surviving) boys. Clearly, they're traumatised by what occurred. I think by the time that the truck driver was alerted there were people in the bin, it was at that point of being too late to stop the skip from tipping.

“It is tragic across a number of levels and that's just one of the levels of tragedy as to why these three children thought they needed to be sleeping in the bin. We are not aware of any reports of kids sleeping in bins in Port Lincoln. This is the first time we have become aware of it.”

Superintendent Bahr said police were appealing for witnesses to the accident.

Federal Labor Indigenous Affairs spokeswoman Linda Burney told the program the accident was “really tragic”.

“It has to be asked why there were children, three children, sleeping in a dump bin. This is going to be devastating, not only for the survivors of the accident, but for the community. It is devastating news and I think there is still a long way to go with this story.”


The program delved into controversial new laws that this week passed the Northern Territory parliament in the face of fierce opposition.

They are described as having the toughest ever consequences for young people.

Among the provisions in the legislation: increased use of electronic monitoring devices, mandatory detention of young people for any breaches of bail conditions and breath-testing of minors. Critics says the new laws go against the recommendations of the Don Dale royal commission.

The Point covered the protests against the reforms to the Bail Act, including rallies at the NT parliament.

John Paterson from the NT’s Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance (AMSANT) said: “We believe this is a knee-jerk reaction by the Northern Territory Labor Party. This is not the solution to deal with youths that are finding themselves in these situations.

"It totally is in opposition and breaches the recommendations of the recent royal commission of children in detention.”

A key finding of the royal commission was that detention should be the last option for children and recommended increased eligibility for diversion programs.

In an interview, Senator Malarndirri McCarthy said: “It’s been rushed through the Northern Territory parliament. I have been speaking with stakeholders across the Northern Territory and I’ve also been speaking with ministers in the Northern Territory cabinet and asked for a briefing on it and I have certainly requested that they consult fairly...

"Unfortunately that is not the case and I think that is quite regretful.”

"I do believe that if we’re talking of a cohort of around 100 children… then I do think the Northern Territory is well placed, with all those youth workers right across the Northern Territory, to have an injection of funds to assist those young people.

“We see such a high incarceration rates of First Nations people across the country and we don’t want to see that...

"I don’t think what’s going on in the NT Assembly is going to reduce the rates of recidivism or incarceration.”


Reporter Sarah Collard delivered the latest on Tuesday’s federal budget live from Canberra, with a focus on its impact on Indigenous people.

Beyond the big headline reforms - on aged care, job creation and a heavy focus on “women’s issues” - Collard said “you'd have to dig a little deeper to find some of those investments that are targeting our communities but there are quite a lot in there”.

“The big-ticket items for our people are women's safety groups. There's around $60 million earmarked for women's safety, in particular [for] Indigenous women. So they are trying to combat the high rates of violence that we are seeing in our communities.

“Education is also one that is getting some investment, in particular girls academy and encouraging women's participation in STEM.

“There's a number of other issues that are also getting a boost including cultural heritage, education and the arts sector.

“The government is also investing in training and employment opportunities targeting our communities to really boost employment opportunities there.

"One of the biggest issues that we saw with the budget is the scrapping of the remote communities Work for the Dole program, the communities development program that is looking like it will be scrapped by the end of 2023. Around $100 million is earmarked... to work with Indigenous communities in remote (areas) to find a program that is actually working and is tailored for the particular needs of communities on the ground there who, as we know, have really struggled to enter the job market there.”

Asked what was missing from the budget for Indigenous people, Collard noted weak cultural protection laws despite the notorious destruction of Jukkan George by Rio Tinto.

She said the government had earmarked $500,000 over two years to examine cultural protection laws and Indigenous sites “which I think many people will see as not being nearly enough”.


Sarah Collard also joined the Tiwi Strong Women’s Group, a group of senior community leaders from the Tiwi Islands who travelled to the capital for the city’s international music festival.

The group performed ancient songs at the festival, which have gained new life through recovered footage in the National Film and Sound Archive of the Tiwi music and dance from decades past.

Vocalist Calista Kantilla said: “Dad used to teach me how to dance rainbow. That's my women, rainbow. Take the culture and make it strong and I pass it on to my grandchildren and other families and teach them how to speak in Tiwi, proper Tiwi language, and our culture and I teach them how to sing crocodile and other things, dingo, shark, turtle.”

The footage was shot on Bathurst Island in 1912.

Dr Genevieve Campbell from the University of Sydney has worked alongside the community for more than a decade since the footage was unearthed.

“There is really no point in having this stuff sitting on a shelf gathering dust,” Dr Campbell said.

“There were reel-to-reels, in the case of the audio their 1912 audio was on wax cylinders, so even just the process of going through the reparation then triggered that material being preserved.”

Some of the collection was taken back to the Tiwi Islands in 2009, while some of the Islanders saw the footage for the first time at the Canberra festival.


On a similar subject, The Point looked at the Wunungu Awara project, which has worked with more than 20 communities to preserve language and song, which are then brought to life using 3D animations.

Managing director Fred Leone said: “We work with endangered Aboriginal languages around the country.

“We work with communities right across the whole nation taking the stories, either narrative or a song or it could be part of a section of songline if the community want that, and we will record it … then work with the animation team, back and forth with the community we will take it, and then put together a 3D literal visual interpretation of the meaning of that song.

"Which is months and months of consultation, and having elders tell me this is right or this isn't right and back and forth.”

Once the works are finished, they belong to the community.

“As black fellas we know that institutions hold a lot of our knowledge and they hold it and they own it and suddenly they become the gatekeepers to that knowledge,” he said.

“With this program what is different is the communities own copyright to it … they own it outright. When it is done and dusted at the end of the day we ask for permission to put it up on our website to show other people but nobody can download it. We send them straight to the community.”


April Lawrie, the South Australian Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young People, spoke to The Point about the Family Matters National Week of Action, running from May 9-15, about the goals for the 2021 event.

Ms Laurie said the call this year was for establishment of a National Commissioner, and also for states and territories that did not already have such a role to begin developing it, “to provide a sharper focus with holding systems to account, creating systemic change for our Aboriginal children and young people”.

The national and state roles would help ensure co-ordination and changes across areas such as child protection, education and youth justice.

Other areas of focus this week were the “out of control levels of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children being removed and going into care away from their families”.

“That is a fundamental look at the way we place the importance of a child's connection to their family, their community, their culture and placing those five key elements in legislation, so it is more than just a decision to place a child with family but how do we ensure that their child is benefiting from the partnerships we have, that they're connecting to culture and identity, that there's a focus on prevention.

“We have far too many children from our communities unnecessarily being removed. We are not offering our children and their families the option of early help services. Far too often our services are talking about our distressed family, our vulnerable children and young people without affording them the much-needed services that they need.”


Singer Mitch Tambo told The Point of the inspiration behind his new song, Dreamtime Princess. The song, released just before Mother’s Day, explores domestic violence, and Tambo says he hopes it will help empower First Nations women to feel honoured and celebrated.

“I started to have a conversation with the sisters around me and they started to share their experience of domestic violence and it really hit me and I wanted to do this song that celebrates our beautiful matriarchs in all their beauty and nurture and care and just everything,” Tambo said.

“Just celebrate it with the hope it flows out into the wider community and that other brothers from other walks of life and cultures can celebrate their beautiful women too, and we can open up the conversation around domestic violence because it is full-on and it is serious. We need to talk about it and we need to put a stop to it.”