It’s time for a change in Indigenous Affairs

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It's time for a change in Indigenous Affairs

10th September 2010

The CEO of the NSW Aboriginal Land Council, Geoff Scott, has called on the federal government to adopt a new approach to dealing with Aboriginal Australians.

"If the Labor government is serious about resetting - or in fact even establishing - a relationship with the bulk of Aboriginal people, then it must change the Minister," Mr Scott said.

"Jenny Macklin has proven to be an ineffective Minister, displaying an inability to assess her own performance and the outcomes of her policies and activities.

"On the issue of Aboriginal human rights, the Australian Government and its advisors are considered a joke in the international arena. The belligerent and hostile attitude that underpins this ongoing policy of denial must change.

"At both the domestic and international level the Australian Government has displayed disdain in regard to any advice or comment which does not support her positions. The environment is plagued by a lack of honesty and integrity.

"The level of trust between Aboriginal people and the Australian government is at an all-time low.

"But removing Minister Macklin is not enough. The cabal of advisors must also go. We cannot accept business as usual.

"Many Aboriginal people have attempted to engage with the Labor government and been treated with disdain and outright hostility.

"Aboriginal people generally agree on the issues that need attention. In particular we are united in our condemnation of the lack of sustainable progress in alleviating the many problems facing Aboriginal Australians given the level of resourcing and effort being expended.

"It is time to broaden the scope and range of advice and ideas. The focus of government must be on people. It must be about bettering the everyday lives of Aboriginal people. This must include working with people, not against them.

"The sycophantic relationship the Labor government has established with a narrow band of Aboriginal people is driving this lazy, narrow and short-sighted policy approach. It must be challenged.

"We should and must do better. The current environment is an indictment on all Australians. We can only make progress if we work together. We must utilise the collective intelligence available to us. We are dealing with people here, not statistics. We must do better.

"The NSW Aboriginal Land Council stands ready to work with any Minister who wishes to act positively and will assist and support any policies or proposals which would result in progress."

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Media contact: Chris Graham - 0407 555 328