Election officials have undertaken remarkable journeys to reach remote communities across the Northern Territory to ensure everyone gets a say in the federal election.
Last week, voters cast their ballot papers in Ngukurr – a remote Arnhem Land community 600km southeast of Darwin where political candidates are a rare sight.
The activist group GetUp was on the hustings handing out “scorecards” ranking political parties on Indigenous issues including remote housing, deaths in custody and the Northern Territory Intervention.
Greens candidate George Hanna was given a perfect score and Labor Party incumbent Warren Snowdon also rated highly. However, the group gave the thumbs down to Country Liberal Party challenger Jacinta Price plus nominees from Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party and the newly formed 1 Territory Party.
Yet not everybody will be voting. Despite efforts by the Australian Electoral Commission, one in three Indigenous adults in remote parts of the Northern Territory are not enrolled to vote.
GetUp campaigner Larissa Baldwin said she was heartbroken to see dozens of young voters turned away from the polling booth in Ngukurr because they were not enrolled.
“There is a right to vote in this country,” she told NITV News.
“We actually need to do more to make sure that our remote communities especially and our young people are informed about how they get on the rolls if they want to vote.”
Obstacles include people living in remote communities listing the post office as their official address and customary name changes after the death of a relative.
“We need to be more active,” she said. “We can’t rely on the Australian Electoral Commission to do it and we can’t rely on governments."
Ms Baldwin said that when “mob work together” they can get results.
“There are six seats in this country where the Aboriginal voting population is bigger than the margin,” she said.
“I just think we have an ability to make sure our issues set agendas in these seats.”