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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 8 Hansard (26 August) . . Page.. 2490 ..

MR QUINLAN (continuing):

Alice Springs, Halls Creek and Derby and see the situation first-hand. Some of the elements of this motion do apply. The absence of economic independence is quite clear. The disadvantage that exists is quite clear.

Being the simple fellow I am, I would like to see reconciliation - not tokenism or superficial ceremony - taken to the point where we can reconcile the preservation of the values, the belief systems and the freedoms of the original Australians from some of the materialistic baggage that we carry around and I would like to see them preserved while we are able at the same time to extend the benefits of modern society, such as advances in health and education. Beyond what we put together in these draft strategies, we really have to get down sooner or later as a society and genuinely resolve those dichotomous situations. I can do nothing else but support the motion.

MS TUCKER (12.04): This cross-party motion on reconciliation represents a beginning, not an end. It is entirely appropriate that all members of this Assembly support this motion and, in doing so, support the process of national consultation that is currently being undertaken by the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation in the draft document for reconciliation and the four national strategies to advance reconciliation. Australia's indigenous and non-indigenous people, including the millions of people who have so sincerely committed themselves to the reconciliation process already, are looking to Australian parliaments to make genuine, substantial, practical and real commitments to reconciliation.

As the reconciliation document reminds us, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are the poorest, unhealthiest, least employed, worst housed and most imprisoned Australians. You need only to look at statistics from the 1996 census of the ABS to be reminded of the extent of ongoing indigenous disadvantage. In 1996, 23 per cent of the indigenous people were unemployed nationally, compared with 9 per cent for the non-indigenous people. Only 11 per cent of the indigenous people had post-school educational qualifications, compared with 31 per cent of the non-indigenous population. The median weekly income for indigenous males was $189, compared with $415 for non-indigenous males.

A recent study by John Taylor of the ANU Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy projected that Aboriginal disadvantage in employment will only increase. He estimates unemployment in the Aboriginal population in the ACT, let alone in the rest of Australia, could be as high as 48 per cent by 2006, because Aboriginals face serious and growing disadvantage in an increasingly sophisticated job market that is requiring more highly-skilled employees.

Indigenous children and adults are over-represented in juvenile justice facilities and gaols. In 1996, 40 per cent of the children in corrective institutions for children were identified as indigenous and 19 per cent of the adult prison population were identified as indigenous. The imprisonment rate for indigenous adults is more than 14 times that for non-indigenous adults. Indigenous people are also more likely to be homeless, with indigenous people comprising 12 per cent of adult clients of the supported accommodation assistance program, despite comprising less than 2 per cent of the adult

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