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Norfolk Island

Norfolk Island

Summary

The Australian territories of Norfolk Island and Heard and McDonald Islands are administered by different departments in the Australian government. 1 1 http://regional.gov.au/territories/

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Environment
Family
Human Rights
Education
Poverty
Religion
Clean Water
Economy
Government
Health
Children
Animals

Environment

Norfolk Island has a tropical, temperate, maritime climate. Its isolated location makes it home to many endemic and unique species of birds, animals, and plants. 1 Before the island was settled by British explorers, it was almost entirely covered in rainforest. Human settlement led to clearance of almost all natural rainforests and the introduction of deadly alien species. 2 Today, the island’s administration has set aside land as a national park in order to conserve as much wildlife as possible.

Family

Family is a central structure on Norfolk island. Children are disciplined by the community rather than the law, and older or weaker residents survive because family members take care of them. 1 The 2011 census showed that the most recent population count of Norfolk Island is just over 2,000. Age distribution shows that people aged 60-64 are the largest population group on the island, while the percentage of younger people has decreased since the last census. 2

Human Rights

Part of the goal of the Australian legal reforms in 2016 was to ensure fair conditions for workers on Norfolk Island. Prior to 2016, there was no minimum wage or limit to working hours in a week.1 While the reforms are an attempt to restore order and stability to the island, many inhabitants view the government takeover as a violation of their right to self-determination. The UN denied their request for protection and allowed the Australian government to proceed with their plans. 2

Education

Education on Norfolk Island is free and available from ages 6-15. After age 15, students have the choice to continue their education on mainland Australia or stay on the island and learn vocational skills. 1

Poverty

Low incomes on Norfolk Island are a result of residents not paying income or land tax, with government money instead coming through a high goods and services tax. This also means that goods are more expensive and therefore less affordable for lower income residents. 1

Religion

Over 60% of the population of Norfolk Island identifies as Christian, while almost 25% do not affiliate with any religion. 1

Clean Water

There is no shortage of clean water on Norfolk Island. Drinking water is either collected rainwater in tanks or purified groundwater. 1

Economy

Norfolk Island locals worried that local businesses would take a hit when Australia enforced labor laws and tax systems in 2016. The high goods tax that funded the government for years drove away tourism, dropping the total revenue base by $26 million in 2016. 1 The majority of residents are employed in agriculture and fishing, which are sufficient to sustain the island but not export. Australian officials hope that the new legal plans for the island will make it self-sufficient by 2025, providing a boost to the economy through tourism and more exports. 2

Government

In 2015, after years of providing Norfolk Island with subsidies to keep their economy afloat, the Australian government announced reforms to officially take over Norfolk Island’s governance. The reforms included a new tax system that would fund social and welfare programs. The announcement dismayed many native citizens of the island, who pride themselves on self-governance and an identity totally separate from Australia. They worried that the new government would take away important tradition and their reliance on land and family for sustenance instead of government welfare. 1 The new reforms make enrollment in government elections compulsory for citizens of the island and represents in them in a single electorate on the mainland. 2

Health

When Australia took over Norfolk Island in 2015, it provided residents with access to more affordable medical care. Before that, only wealthy residents could afford medical care, and poorer residents didn’t receive any medical attention until they were in critical condition. 1

Children

The percentage of residents on Norfolk Island dropped from 19% to 16% between 2006 and 2011, which is believed to be a result of younger citizens leaving the island in search of better opportunities. 1 In 2016, Australian reformers suggested changes in order to improve opportunities for youth on Norfolk Island while still allowing them to retain their cultural identity. The Australian government provides financial assistance to low-income families who lack the resources to escape poverty and receive necessities like health care. 2

Animals

The introduction of species such as pigs and goats was responsible for the destruction of native rainforests and soil on Norfolk Island. Local species, such as the green parrot, which were once over-crowded on the island, are now alarmingly endangered. 1 The Park and Wildlife service runs a captive breeding service for several endangered species, as well as providing a safe space of conservation in the Norfolk Island National Park. 2

Norfolk Island

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