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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 13 Hansard (20 November) . . Page.. 3829 ..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

areas, acknowledging the enormous over-representation of indigenous people in the criminal justice system.

In relation to reconciliation and the work that is being done, members would be aware that the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation acknowledges that there are four aspects to achieving reconciliation at the national level: recognising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander rights; promoting economic independence; sustaining reconciliation; and overcoming disadvantage. Today's lunch touched on and dealt with each of those particular issues and talked about progress being made for recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander rights-and much has been done in that regard in the ACT.

Just the simple notion of erecting at each of the entrances to the ACT a sign welcoming people to Ngunnawal country is an enormous, powerful symbol of prior ownership of this place. The Ngunnawal Elders Council had on its agenda a proposal to consider the double naming of geographical features around the ACT. I have not received its advice on that yet, but I am one that supports that proposal very strongly.

On the issue of promoting economic independence, the guest speaker today was Dr Mick Dodson. He took as the theme for his speech the challenges facing indigenous people, and he used himself as the case example, in seeking to establish a business or to enter employment. He said that at the heart of it, of course, is the incipient racism or the overt racism which indigenous people in many instances still confront-although, we hope, at ever-decreasing levels.

Sustaining reconciliation is the challenge for all of us. I think there is a view abroad that as a community we have not sustained the challenge of reconciliation as well as we should, and it was very much a theme. On overcoming disadvantage: we all know the work that needs to be done to overcome disadvantage in indigenous communities.

I will conclude by mentioning discussions I had with Agnes Shea as the spokesperson for the Ngunnawal Elders Council. They identified as the number one issue facing their community the level of alcohol and other drug abuse by indigenous people, in particular young indigenous men and indigenous men.

This has been identified, in the discussions yesterday and today, as the primary issue facing indigenous people in the ACT, and an issue which they would like the government to further concentrate on. Of course, it has to be said that issues around alcohol and other drug abuse are very much symptomatic of disadvantage and, indeed, in relation to indigenous people, discrimination. It is a major challenge for us that this continues to be such a significant problem in the Canberra community.

Gold Creek joint venture

MS DUNDAS: My question is directed to the Minister for Planning. I ask this question here in the chamber because I believe I raised it in estimates and I have asked a number of times since then with your office. The information has not been forthcoming, so I will ask it again.

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