Page 3074 - Week 10 - Tuesday, 23 August 2005

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had recently been successful in acquiring further funding to run health-related programs, they have been unsuccessful in their attempts to acquire further funding for administration, middle management in particular.

Winnunga is currently surviving on the dedication and unpaid overtime provided by project officers but, as we all know, this is unsustainable because project officers wear out and programs thus will be prevented from achieving their full capability. Core administration funding is vital to any organisation, and I hope that the Assembly will consider this in its discussion today and beyond. I would also appreciate it if the ACT government could address this problem in its response to members today and indicate how it is tackling it.

In regard to the “I want to be heard” report and the five-year Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health plan, it was really pleasing last week to receive such a positive response to the report, which provides an analysis of the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander drug users in the ACT and the region for treatment and other services. The report made 22 recommendations. I note that the ACT government is currently investigating one of those, that is, the establishment of a healing farm. I also understand that the ACT government, the Australian government and Winnunga have developed a five-year plan for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and family wellbeing in the ACT, and that the plan will be released in the near future following the final consultation phase, which will be conducted in the coming weeks.

I will be very interested to see if, and how, the recommendations of the “I want to be heard” report are included in this plan, and if Winnunga is happy with the outcome of the plan. But having a plan and discussing recommendations mean nothing if they are not implemented. An ANU PhD student is conducting an assessment of the implementation of the “I want to be heard” report’s recommendations and the Greens will be following this very closely.

I cannot really talk about indigenous issues in the ACT without talking about the Aboriginal tent embassy. The tent embassy is part of Canberra’s physical and political landscape. The embassy began in the early 1970s as a response to the then coalition government’s refusal to recognise land rights. It has existed intermittently on the lawns of the old Parliament House since Australia Day 1972 and permanently since Australia Day 1992. In that time it has achieved legendary status in Aboriginal political history.

The choice of Canberra for the tent embassy is logical and significant as the simple act of hanging the name “embassy” on the tent is only really appropriate in the nation’s capital. It was a highly symbolic statement that indigenous people were being treated as aliens, foreigners, and as such they needed an embassy in their own country.

Many have said since the inception of the embassy that it is an eyesore. In 1972, embassy spokesperson John Newfong countered the first of these accusations by stating, “If people think this is an eyesore, well it is the way it is on Government settlements. The place is beginning to look as tired as we are … we all wish we were in other places doing other things. But we know we have to stay here until we get what we want.” Thirty-three years later the argument has not changed.

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